Monetising my travel blog with a long list of tasks (and a stats update)

Well, it seems that there are plenty of you out there keen to see how my journey to monetise my travel blog goes, judging by the feedback I got to my first post inviting you along for the monetisation ride. I wasn’t planning to update monthly (more likely quarterly) but since I have other relevant stuff to mention I decided I would this month – and we’ll see how we go from here on in! If I have exciting enough news, I guess I will report in more often!

Why my blog traffic rose in February

Here are the stats for the second chunk of the year – following straight on from what I showed last time.

Not A Ballerina traffic statistics – all looking better since last time

Now there’s nothing majorly spectacular to report except that everything is going up. Visits, uniques and pageviews have all risen somewhere around the 40% mark. This, of course, would be super-exciting if I thought it would be a continuing trend every month, but remember that I had a blogging break in January so much of this is the result of simply blogging. (Oh yeah. Big reminder to self. Important to blog consistently!)

I have also tried to be a bit more regular with my social media promotion across all the major platforms but I am still struggling with having so few working hours now that my son’s at school (much shorter hours than daycare!) and I’ve been teaching UWA Extension courses left, right and centre.

But still, it is much better than the traffic going down, and next month when I’ll have been blogging and promoting a bit more consisently should be more telling and hopefully a bigger cause for optimism.

What I’m planning to do to improve my blog traffic in 2014

Oh goodness, what am I not planning to do? I have a rather long list. Some of it is stuff I have known about forever and only half-heartedly done. Some of it is new ideas. Some of it is quick stuff, some of it time-consuming. If my life was my blog, I’d have done it all by now but this blog gets worked on around the corners and edges of a rather full life, and that’s OK.

Anyway, there’s nothing magical or secret about some of the plans I have. In the hope that it might give you some ideas (or inspire you to tell me other things I should do), here’s my list, or at least the “so far” list as I keep adding to it. (In no particular order, I might add.)

  1. Make an editorial calendar and stick to it with minimum of 2 posts per week (this is working so far, yippee)
  2. Create a giveaway for those who sign up to my newsletter list (part way there, watch this space!)
  3. Work on an income-producing product (ebook of some kind)
  4. Create more postcards for good posts (especially for Pinterest but for promotion in general)
    Example of a Not A Ballerina postcard
  5. Update more of the old posts into the new categories (necessary after a revamp of direction/topic/theme from a year or so ago)
  6. Pin more of the archived posts to Pinterest
  7. Add “Tweet this” links into some of the best/most popular posts
  8. Schedule promotion (Twitter, Facebook, etc) for good archives
  9. List and contact more potential advertisers
  10. Follow up for more work with previous PR/sponsors/etc
  11. Do some guest posting
  12. Increase frequency of Instagram posts from blog (I’ve started this lately with Schedugr.am which allows me to schedule Instagram posts for the middle of my night, which is the time when the largest part of my travel blog’s audience – North Americans – are online, thanks to the time difference)
  13. Look at the pages (eg Country Guides) and re-do, revamp, delete, optimise
  14. Create an editorial calendar for the newsletter and ensure it is always sent on time
  15. Look at travel blogger groups on LinkedIn
  16. Update my media kit (great tips from Brand Meets Blog post)
  17. Add headlines and other SEO-related optimisations
  18. Continue to comment on the other travel blogs I feel are closest to my niche (something I do regularly at the moment but should still be on the list)
  19. Continue refining my ideal customer profiles
  20. Transfer the blog from Blogger to WordPress
Phew. That’s it for now.

What about you? Is there something on this list you want to do straight away? Or do you have any suggestions for me?

How to use our Facebook group for Perth bloggers – WABAK

One of my blogging students had the fabulous idea of starting a Facebook group for Perth bloggers who met in my courses, so that they could all keep in touch and follow each other’s blogging journeys. WABAK: Western Australian Bloggers Amanda Knows was born in a hurried fashion as a result, and the odd name seems to have stuck. In fact, Rae from I Opened My Mouth and It Ran Away Without Me told me one afternoon we should absolutely change it but then came back the next day saying the opposite, with this justification:

So here’s why I don’t think it should change:
Western
Australia – not discriminatory includes country WA
Bloggers – proud to be a blogger that is who we are
Amanda – Amanda is our founder and fearless leader
Knows – Amanda brings us together, gives us the opportunity to share and discuss via this group, alerts us as to what is happening in our blogging world
Sounded out Wayback – was way back when we started
I think that we should share and contribute as individuals such as what we are doing and how it has hleped us to either improve/change/direct/focus our blogging world be it either business or pleasure/hobby. Sharing journeys allows other members who are interested to see how we/they can develop should they be interested. I like being nosey!

And I think Rae sums up exactly what I’d like this group to be all about. (Although I am not sure about being a fearless leader.) The only thing she failed to mention was that one of the key results of coming together in our Facebook group is the ability to organise physical meet ups, which must include cake. Very important!

WABAK blogger meet up in February 2014

How to use our Facebook group for WABAK

Now, I know that some of our members have never had the cause to be involved in a Facebook group before, and I promised to give a bit of a how to guide to help them out. To start with, if you haven’t joined the group yet, head to WABAK on Facebook (assuming you have a Facebook account) and hit the “Join Group” button – I’ll be notified that you’ve asked to join and will approve you, unless I don’t know who you are, of course!

So, what can you do in this group?

  1. Respond to posts in the group – some of them are from me, some from other group members. You can “like” or comment just like any other Facebook post. However, only people who are in the group can see it (it’s a “closed” group).
  2. Post an update, a question, a link or an image yourself. Stick to posting stuff that is useful for other WA bloggers (if anyone gets too self-promotional we will get out a big stick). When we have meet ups I definitely encourage you to post any photos you take afterwards. Makes the fun last longer! 
  3. Edit files. Yes, we have files! Facebook groups give you the ability to have basic documents. See the image below for the spot where you can click “Files” – at the moment, we have just one document, a list of the blogs written by group members. When you open the document, there’s an option in the top right to “Edit” – click that and edit away, then click “Save” at the bottom.

Menu options for the WABAK Facebook group – using Files

So, those are the three main functions you can use in our group at the moment – simple, right? Oh, and before you ask, the arrangement of the members’ profile pictures across the top (you can see them in this graphic) is based on who has previously left a comment or made an update – the most recent updater is on the left. So it’s constantly changing.

Have you got some more questions about using our Facebook group? Let me know in the comments and if there’s something important that I’ve missed I’ll add it in to this blog post.

Why my Perth blogging courses make my own blog better

It has been a very bloggy fortnight.
(And yes, bloggy is too a word.)

In the last two weeks I’ve run the Becoming a Blogger beginner course AND the Better Blogging advanced course at UWA Extension and what with seeing so many of my old blogging students at the Perth Problogger Event as well, it has been blogs and bloggers galore here.

And I’m a tad exhausted, and have been rather busy, but guess what? I have been working harder on my own blogs than ever before! There are several reasons for this and it’s an interesting study in motivation, I think.

Checking my blogs practice what I preach

When I’m about to teach a blogging course, I double check that my blogs – which I’ll inevitably use to demonstrate stuff – are up to scratch. In the past I have had those terrible moments when I’ve been going on and on about the importance of your About page, giving lists of what should be on it, only to click over to mine and see – oops – my About page is in desperate need of an update.

Similarly, I make sure that my blogs have several recent posts on them before I confront a room full of blogging students. I can hardly answer their (inevitable) question “How often should I blog?” correctly if they can see very obviously that my blog has been inactive for a few weeks.

Getting inspiration for my blogging

During the courses, I get so inspired by ideas from my students, and often make notes about what I will write about on my blog after hearing what they have in mind. (And not in the plagiaristic way that sounds like, I promise!) The lunch break when we get to chat about how blogging fits into our lives, while enjoying this rather inspiring view, also helps.

The view from our favourite blogging course lunchtime spot, Perth

Immersed in blogs, working on my blog

Teaching my students “best practice” for running a blog reminds me of what I am actually striving for. I am a bit hit and miss, for example, on having an editorial calendar, even though I know that using one always makes me blog absolutely regularly, and spreads my content out across the right topics, and all kinds of other advantages which I rattle off to my students. Late on Saturday evening, after teaching the advanced blogging course all day, I finally got a properly-planned editorial calendar together again for both my blogs, and just a couple of days later I can report I am already a couple of weeks ahead on my blog plans. Perfect!

So yes, I might be a bit sleep-deprived, and I might have a head swimming with ideas to help a dozen different bloggers in all industries and niches, and I might even feel that I missed out on having a weekend, but all in all, spending a day with bloggers is always inspiring and invigorating, and that’s why I do it.

Why do you do what you do?

#businesspics and why using Instagram for business is my big 2014 tip

Heard me mention Instagram before? I am a bit of a fan and have been using Instagram since it was just two months old. If you need the beginners’ guide, head back to my first post on what Instagram is, but otherwise, let me tell you what I’ve been loving about Instagram lately:

  • It’s the perfect way to be personal, and personal is good for your brand. Instagram is a clean and simple app, with relatively few functions, and it’s very much focused on creativity and sharing. 
  • It’s fast, simple and done on the go on your smartphone, which is perfect for someone like me who doesn’t always get to sit down at my desk during the course of a day.
  • There’s very little overt promotion, and that means you have to think outside the box. You can’t leave links everywhere (or at least it is strongly discouraged and most users stick to this), so you need to focus on the kinds of messages you can give your followers about you and your business in a more subtle manner.
  • It has great engagement. If you look at the proportion of your followers who “like” or comment on your Instagram posts, it’s usually a much higher percentage than on any other social media. 
  • You can share it to other platforms. Occasionally, I’ll share an Instagram picture to Twitter (usually if my caption is pretty short, so it won’t be annoyingly cut off) and quite regularly, I share the images to my Facebook business pages. I find it a great way to add to the content coming through on Facebook and because it’s also very image-based my Instagram posts usually work really well there and have great engagement too.
  • Advertising is just starting up on Instagram but they are promising they’ll keep it true to the spirit of the app. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out but there could be some interesting opportunities there.
  • Heaps of social media experts are predicting that Instagram will be important in 2014. Even Forbes and Social Media Today are saying so. Personally, I hope they’re right.

    #businesspics for March 2014

    Some of you may have participated in my #businesspics Instagram challenge in 2013 – well, now it’s back! You can play along on Facebook instead if you’re not on Instagram but I would strongly urge you to try Instagram out. This month I’ve grouped the photo prompts according to some key areas I think are important to show your customers and clients: your workplace, your clients or customers themselves, your products or services, and perhaps most importantly, YOU!

    #businesspics Instagram photo prompts for March 2014

    The numbers in the prompt image are dates in March; join in when you feel inspired or try to take an image for every day of the month (that’s my plan!). If you want a reminder email each time a new round of #businesspics starts (and a mid-month pep talk) sign up to my #businesspics reminder email list. I look forward to seeing your gorgeous pictures and helping you create interesting and engaging content for your social media … remember to hashtag your images with #businesspics and tag me @amandakendle so I see it straight away!

    Learning MORE about blogging from the Perth Problogger Event 2014

    I have lamented (often) that my lovely home city is the most isolated and oft-neglected city on the planet, but today, a megastar in my universe was here. Yes, “the” Problogger, Darren Rowse, came over to run a small Problogger Event (big shout out to Kelly Exeter for convincing him) and it was marvellous.

    In all honesty, I was expecting to feel inspired by whatever Darren had to say, because he’s an inspiring speaker, but knowing that it was just a 2-hour event for bloggers of all kinds and stages, I didn’t expect to actually learn a lot. But I did! I have pages and pages of notes, and while most of it I “know” (and quite a lot of it I have even told my students and clients in the past), I don’t actually always DO it. (Which is a point Darren himself made in his talk.) I think that my new emphasis on my own travel blog and my plans to monetise it probably had me sitting there with a completely different perspective to usual and I really did learn a bunch of things that I want to share – both as a reminder to me and for those poor pals of mine who couldn’t make it today.

    Darren Rowse aka Problogger speaking at the Perth Problogger Event

    Darren shared a huge number of lessons and tips from his own blogging experience and I’m going to pick out the best – well, I’ll admit, the ones that are most useful for me, and are sitting in my notebook with a big asterisk next to them:

    • Your blog won’t become big overnight – it’s about lots and lots (AND LOTS) of small, consistent actions over a long time. (A tweet here, a Facebook update there, a connection here, and of course, a post there …)
    • Whatever your goal is for your blog (income generation, world domination, whatever), take it seriously and take the next step towards your goal (right now).
    • Take time to properly identify who your readers are. Darren suggested creating profiles/avatars of your typical readers and I can see how this would really shape the content you write and, well, pretty much everything you do with your blog. It made me realise (big whack in the head moment) that I actually have very little idea about the audience for Not A Ballerina and it’s intensely obvious that I should figure this out.
    • Darren talked about how a blog post should either inform, inspire or encourage interaction. Some might do more than one but I can see the value of focusing on just one at a time. And your particular blog might have a bias towards one of these. But he spoke about how they do this on Digital Photography School and on Problogger – eg a post early in the week which is a “how to” about a topic, a mid-week post showcasing an inspirational version of that “how to” (an interview; some amazing photos; whatever) and then a late-week post encouraging the readers to get involved – setting them a challenge, encouraging a discussion or debate, or something.
    • As usual Darren talked about what I call the soft side of blogging – the human side, perhaps – stuff like figuring out what really gives you energy about your blog and doing more of that. So important, I think.
    • And finally, another point about the readers – focus on the readers you already have, aim to have a big impact on them, and (basically) getting new readers will arise from a lot of those efforts anyway. A lot of bloggers are focused simply on getting more readers. Don’t be. Excellent advice.
    Bloggy friends at PBevent
    So, those are the big tips I got from this afternoon’s talk – but of course the talk wasn’t the only important part of the event. We all carried on to the sundowner part of the event and I got to talk to many of the almost a hundred bloggers who’d showed up. There was a big bunch of my former students (I confess, when I arrived I got slightly nervous that I had basically bullied about 20 or so people into coming to the event, I really hoped they liked it – thankfully, they did, of course), a bunch of people I knew from Twitter, and even a famous-to-me travel blogger who’s just moved to Perth (hello Chris!) yet I hadn’t caught up on that news! I think only fellow bloggers will really understand that there’s nothing quite like being in a room full of people who actually know what a blog is. I enjoy myself thoroughly every time.

    And so – a huge thank you to Darren Rowse for making the trek over here – as Kelly mentioned in her introduction, we are so lucky (and proud) that one of the biggest bloggers on the world stage is just a normal Aussie bloke from Melbourne. She also made the point that she thinks it’s because of Darren that the blogging community in Australia is so friendly and cooperative, and I agree. Here’s to many more years of blogging and Problogger events!

    How to: Add an Instagram feed to your blog

    This post about how to add an Instagram feed to your main blog page is for my dear blogging friend Rae, because she asked nicely. And it’s for anyone else who wants to have a go at this. It’s funny, actually, how often people see my Instagram feed on my blog (somewhere over there —> or maybe down a little!) and ask me about it.

    By the way, there are all kinds of different ways to do this (you know, like the whole skinning a cat thing, except without the animal cruelty) but this is the way I’ve done it. I use SnapWidget because someone recommended it ages ago and it has worked ever since. (I am big on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” theory.) So, here goes Rae!

    1. Go to SnapWidget and scroll down a bit until you can see the stuff about “Basic Widget”. I use the free version and it has been everything I need.
    2. Choose the options you want in the “Customize your widget” section. You can put in your Instagram username (eg @amandakendle) or you can choose a hashtag instead. Most of the time you’ll probably just want to use your username, and that’s what I do on this blog. Sometimes you will want to use a hashtag instead – like I do on my travel blog where (at the moment) I’m displaying photos from my Penang trip using the #amandaspenangtrip hashtag I used. If you do use the hashtag version then remember that if someone else uses the same hashtag, their pictures will show up too.
    3. You also need to choose the Widget Type; most of the names are self-explanatory really – if you want one to sit in your sidebar like mine then Slideshow works well. You might need to adjust the Widget Width (for example, mine is 300 pixels wide).
    4. Click on “Get Widget” and you’ll get a fancy chunk of html code. Copy it.
    5. Now you need to add it to your blog. If you’re using Blogger like Rae is, go to Layout, click on Add a Gadget in your sidebar, and choose HTML/JavaScript, and paste the code into it. The process is similar in WordPress.
    6. Voila! You should now have your lovely Instagram feed flowing into your blog. Here’s mine at my travel blog.
    So, fingers crossed that has worked beautifully (especially for you Rae!). I’m still all excited about Instagram and its possibilities and you will definitely hear more about it from me this year. If you’re not on it, try it out quick – it is heaps of fun and has so much usefulness as well.

    Monetising my travel blog – come along for the ride

    I’ve got a big and important goal this year: to turn my nearly nine-year-old travel blog Not A Ballerina into something that doesn’t just sit there on the internet looking pretty, but actually puts a decent amount of food on the table.

    I am really keen to monetise my blog properly – for lots of reasons:

    1. It is OLD in blog terms. Nearly nine years – that’s nearly retirement age in dog years, and positively ancient in blog years. All of those hours spent playing around with it over the years really should amount to something.
    2. I need to earn a bigger chunk of my income online (and preferably, passively – in other words, without me doing too much!). There are several reasons for that, but the main one this year is that my son has started kindergarten and between the school days being much shorter than daycare and the scary regularity of school holidays, I’m going to have a lot less working hours available to me for face-to-face consulting and training. I’m also looking ahead – I’d like to keep increasing the amount of travel I do (usually with my son, since I’m training him to be a star traveller!), and perhaps even spend a half a year or so back in Germany so that he can go to school there. To do that, I would definitely need to have a decent online income.
    3. I actually love my travel blog, and the messages I try to broadcast there – about why travel is important and what we can learn from it – are messages that I really want to spread. I actually believe lots of things about the world could be better if more people travelled, and did it in meaningful, open-minded ways. 
    So, I’ve got lots of reasons, but do I have a strategy? Well, not yet, to be honest. But I thought you’d all like to come along for the ride and so I’m giving you the real behind-the-scenes info. First off, my travel blog has made me a decent (if irregular) income over the years. Initially, it was a basis for getting freebies (usually hotels and museum entries) when I lived in Europe. Later, before selling links was frowned upon, I did that and it certainly helped me pay the mortgage. In the last couple of years, I’ve done sponsored posts (but only (a) for companies that I deemed OK and (b) if I was able to write the post in my own normal style); I’ve experimented with some sidebar advertising; I’ve had a couple of affiliate programs running; and I’ve done a few reviews in exchange for lovely stuff that I actually needed. But in most cases, the sponsor/advertiser/link buyer came to me, rather than me going looking, so obviously, there are plenty more opportunities out there.
    Now, I’ve long been a big fan of bloggers who are really transparent about how they monetise their blogs, especially because we can learn so much from them. My favourite is actually from a food blog called Pinch of Yum, where they publish a monthly post about income, traffic and blogging tips. Given that they’ve increased their monthly profit from around $5,000 a month to $17,000 a month in the past year, I figure they are onto something, plus they break it all down so you can see their diverse income streams, traffic sources, and more. My idea is to do something similar as I work on monetising Not A Ballerina – although I think I’ll report back on a quarterly basis.
    So, some brief facts via Google Analytics so that we have something to compare next time round:
    At first I thought – oh no, what a terrible month for my blog (my first post FOR THE YEAR! was just this week) but I’ve realised this is really a good thing: next time I report in, I should have (fingers crossed) considerably better figures than this and I’ll be able to demonstrate lots of improvements! But yes, to be honest, bear in mind that I’ve had a blogging break over the summer school holidays, so when my figures rise next time it may not be as wonderful as it sounds – it could just be a result of actually blogging! In any case, my traffic figures are really low for a PR4 (Google Page Rank of 4, if you’ve been in my classes but forgotten what PR means) and I would hope to really increase them during 2013.
    In terms of income, given that I didn’t blog in January I haven’t made much money at all – I still have a unit of Google Adsense on (I don’t expect it will stay there long-term) but with little traffic it made less than $10 this month! My sidebar advertisers expired late last year and I haven’t done any sponsored posts this month. That makes for a quick and easy report!
    Over the next few weeks I’m going to devise a more detailed strategy for monetising Not A Ballerina, and I’ve made some great bloggy friends to mastermind this with, both face-to-face in Perth and in other parts of the world – it’s so handy to be sharing our wisdom and exchanging ideas. So – check back in a few months and you will see the results of all these discussion and planning sessions!

    How hashtags make me happy (and how and why you can use hashtags)

    What on earth is a hashtag?

    If you’ve been wanting to ask me this question, you are definitely not alone.

    Let’s start off with the basics. A hashtag is like a topic marker, a way to describe in a word or short phrase what the topic of your post is about. And the point of using a hashtag is that people can click on it and then find lots of other posts about the same topic (usually from all different people).

    Hashtags have a few special qualities:

    • Of course, they have to start with a #. (This has got to be one of the few recent examples of British English triumphing over US English.)
    • They can’t have spaces. You can use more than one word but you have to join them together. For example, #AmandaKendleConsulting if you wanted to make a hashtag out of my business name. 
    • They’re not case-sensitive so you could also use #amandakendleconsulting and if you clicked on that you’d get the same results as the one with the initial capitals. Sometimes I use the initial capitals just to make the phrase clearer. Sometimes I don’t!
    • They are taking over the world. Okay, they are taking over the social media world. They started off on Twitter but have since spread to basically every social media platform there is, even Facebook. But if you click on a hashtag in Facebook, for example, you’ll only see other Facebook posts that have the same hashtag. (A more advanced bit about this later.)
    So then the next obvious question is why should we use hashtags? The main reason is so that more people can find the stuff we’re posting on social media. So, for example, if you post a photo on Instagram of the beach and use a few hashtags like #perth #scarboroughbeach #workathome (see, that’s throwing words together without spaces … you get used to it!) then you might get the attention of people who don’t actually follow you on Instagram. Someone who searches for Perth, for example, will see your image, and that might entice them to look around at your other pictures, and perhaps follow you. And it works the same way no matter which platform you’re talking about – although it’s fair to say that hashtags are more widely used on Twitter and Instagram at the moment, more than on other social media sites.
    The other great time to use hashtags is so that people who know about the hashtag can use it to, so that you can all see what the others are doing. For example, at the Problogger conference last month, the hashtag was advertised as being #PBevent and this meant we all posted our thoughts and updates (and pictures of cake) using the #PBevent hashtag – and could then easily see what other attendees were saying about it, too. And of course with our #businesspics challenge on Instagram, our participants use the #businesspics hashtag and then anyone can tap on it and find all of the different posts from everyone.

    I asked my Facebook page followers what their hashtag questions were, so let me answer them here:

    Can you have your very own hashtag?
    And related – how do you start a hashtag? Well, basically, a hashtag is public property. If you want to have a hashtag that gathers only your own posts together, then you want to make it pretty unique – #AmandaKendleConsulting would work here, #myhouse would not – but you can’t stop someone else from using it as well. To “start” a hashtag, you simply use it. Once you post a hashtag it just becomes one, and it’s clickable, even if it’s only that one post you’ve done that will pop up.

    How do you decide what hashtag to use?
    This gets easier with practice but there are basically three different ways I decide which hashtags to add:

    • By guessing/using a kind of common sense – for example, if I’m posting about a blog post I wrote about Japan, I would use #Japan
    • By searching to see what exists already – I might search to see if #OsakaSightseeing is already a hashtag, or #OsakaSights, and if one of them has a lot of posts, choose that, in the hope that more people will see my post
    • By watching what other people do and copying them!
    You can also research conglomeration of posts from different platforms that have been hashtagged with the same thing at a service like Tagboard.

    How many hashtags should you use?
    I tend to use a maximum of three or four regardless of the platform (often less on Twitter, they take up too many characters!). I read a Mashable report about Instagram recently which showed more hashtags are better, up to about five hashtags, and then from then on you don’t get much benefit. And yes, to answer the person who asked me on Facebook, if you use twenty hashtags every time you may lose some followers, I know I for one get kind of annoyed when there is a mass of hashtags to navigate past.

    Some other random bits and pieces about hashtags that might interest you:
    • You can put a hashtag in the middle of a sentence. This is especially OK on Twitter where you have to fit so much in to a small space. So I could say

      Not sure why but my #Germany post on visiting Heilbronn (where I used to live) is having a big resurgence on the blog http://t.co/DtQYSrznME
      — Amanda Kendle (@amandakendle) October 14, 2013

    • On Twitter, people sometimes use hashtags to be funny. Or to try to be funny. Like me.

      I just unfollowed someone who complained about having to get up at 8am. #grumpymum
      — Amanda Kendle (@amandakendle) October 2, 2013

    • You can save hashtag searches for Twitter in particular so that you can easily click in and check up on your favourite topic (especially useful for conferences too).
    • Remember this is titled “How hashtags make me happy”? The main reason is that when I’ve got a few spare minutes to surf around then hashtags take me on weird and wonderful journeys around the internet. Weird, wonderful but focused journeys! Go hashtags.

    Any more hashtag questions?
    So, hopefully that’s answered some of the questions but I’m sure there will be more. Ask them in the comments below and I’ll take care of them. #ifican 🙂

    Social media haters: what to do when people say mean things on Facebook or Twitter

    When I’m helping clients set up their social media platforms, one of the most common questions I get asked concerns crisis management. What do we do when people leave horrible comments? they ask, nearly always. They’re really scared of opening up the possibility for disgruntled clients or customers or nasty members of the general public to say something bad about them.

    So far the only disgruntled client comments I’ve had have been from hungry bellies
    wondering when the chocolate cake will be served at our workshops.

    My answer usually goes something like this:

    First of all, I tell them that if people have complaints about your business, they’ll very likely talk about you online anyway, on their own profiles or platforms or wherever, so you’re definitely better off having an online presence so that they can talk about you where you can see them and and do something about it.

    Next, I tell them that they’d be surprised at how infrequently this happens. I’ve worked with all kinds of clients in all kinds of industries over the years and do you know how many have come back and actually said somebody had commented nastily on their Facebook page or sent them a mean tweet? None. Not one! That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. And in certain industries, of course, it’s more likely to happen than others. I’m talking about unnecessarily nasty stuff, not just a complaint about service or product with some kind of legitimate (or at least vaguely reasonable) cause.

    But, if it happens, then I tell them that the best strategy is not to engage with the content of the comment online, but to politely thank them and give them a way to take it further offline (like giving them a way to contact you by email or phone so you can talk to them privately). I’ve always said that deleting the comment is likely to get them further annoyed and do it again, whereas if you’ve acknowledged them and given them an opportunity to continue the conversation elsewhere then they look pretty stupid if they keep commenting. The other bonus of a social media community, assuming you’ve kind of been taking care of them, is that your advocates/fans will often jump in and tell them to shut up, basically!

    (It’s probably better not to use Basil Fawlty’s methods of dealing with complaints, as in this video …)

    However, at the Problogger Event I heard a different answer from two very experienced people – Amy Porterfield (my favourite Facebook guru) and Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs. Amy started off saying that she used to say pretty much exactly what I’ve just said – but that recently she’s changed her mind. Kind of to my surprise, she says these days if nasty comments come up on her page – people who have said nothing constructive but just nasty or hateful things – she just deletes them – and bans them from the page! Trey Ratcliff agreed although he had a great alternative if you were after some more fun – let them stay on and “your community will have great fun tearing them apart!”

    So basically, it’s up to you. Reply or delete – that’s the two basic choices – but the best news is that for most of you, you’ll never actually have to decide.

    But have you ever had anyone leave a nasty comment? What did you do?

    How to: Link Instagram to your Facebook profile or page

    I started the #businesspics prompts on Instagram for several reasons, but a key one is to encourage both my clients and other Instagrammers to use the images they produce to support their business – Instagram pictures can be a fantastic way to give your followers a glimpse into the everyday life of your business, especially if you share them beyond Instagram to, for example, your Facebook page.

    And then one of our participants said – wait – how do I do that? And so of course I realised that I’ve missed a step. Fortunately it’s not tricky but it can take a bit of hunting to find the connection so here’s the method:

    The first step is to head to your profile (the bottom right button in Instagram, which always reminds me of a microwave oven) and tap the cog wheel at the top right.

    If your version looks a bit different to mine, fingers crossed it functions in the same way! I’ve updated to iOS 7 which might explain the difference if you’re on an iPhone.

     The next trick is to find the share settings – scroll down first through the Options page first (keep going!):

    Then find and tap on “Share Settings” under Preferences.

    You’ll get a few choices on the Share Settings screen but for now tap on Facebook (if you haven’t connected yet, it’ll be greyed out).

    To configure it you’ll need to tap “Share to …” to take Instagram through to your Facebook login. You’ll need to log in (even if you want to use a business page, you will log in to your personal Facebook profile and later you get the chance to choose to share to a business page if you want).

    I highly recommend NOT agreeing to “Share Likes to Timeline” – this means that every time you like an image on Instagram this action will appear on your Facebook feed – yep, that would be pretty annoying for your followers or friends!

    Once Instagram and Facebook have started talking (in other words, you’ve entered your Facebook log in details and Instagram remembers them) you’ll have the option of sharing to your Timeline or to a Facebook page you manage. You can see in the diagram below that I’ve got my Instagram feed set up to share to my Amanda Kendle Consulting Facebook page. Once you’ve selected the right page, you’re done, just hit another icon along the bottom (home, for example) and get back into Instagramming. 

    Now that you’re set up, when you post an Instagram picture, you can tap on the Facebook icon on the page where you type in your caption and it’ll then share immediately to your Facebook profile or page (whichever you’ve set up).

    One kind of annoying thing about Instagram is that there is no quick and easy way to change this – you have to go all the way through these menus if you want to change it and it’s not something that can be done mid-post. Sometimes I’d like to share some photos to my personal profile but it’s such an effort that I pretty much just leave it always set to post to my business page and only post some of my images (usually only one a day to my Facebook page – don’t want to overload people!).

    So – does this make sense? Yell if my step-by-steps aren’t clear – it’s easy to overlook mentioning something that is clear to me but not to a normal person! And finally, if you want to join us for the rest of October’s #businesspics challenges, the prompts are below. It’s never too late to start and you don’t need to take part every day.