Have you done these three things today on social media?

Every day I talk to people about social media and a few of them have asked me “what should I start doing?”. There are many things that I would recommend but the ones in this blog would have the most impact.

So, here are the top three things I would recommend people do straight away!

Stop selling and start talking!
Most people go onto social media and put posts out and not interact with people. This is forgetting the “Social” part of social media. You will gain more business and talk to more people by spending 80% of your time talking to people and the following 20% of your time selling.

The benefit of this is when they do see your selling posts, they will be more interested as they have spoken to you and like you.

Make sure you are posting consistently on the platforms that your customers are on. 
If you haven’t posted in the last day on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or LinkedIn then write a post and send it out. Most people do not post enough and as social media moves so quickly, your new visitor might have missed your posts. Aim to post on Facebook and LinkedIn once a day, Instagram- twice a day and Twitter- five times a day.

Post a picture, video or a Facebook Live
Pictures, Videos, and Live Streaming are brilliant tools that some people love or hate. The truth is they have a few brilliant benefits for people who do them:

  1. They get better engagement than a post with just text.
  2. People will look at them for longer and more likely to interact with them.
  3. They accelerate the buying process as people feel they already know you.
  4. They actually save you time as you can use this content on each of the different platforms (just keep videos between 60-90 seconds long and they will be ok on each platform).
  5. You will get better the more you do them. In the next few years, videos are only going to get more prominent on social media and I personally want to make all my mistakes now rather than then!

If you are not sure about what to post, give the viewers a top tip, talk about a Blog, your story or where you have been today. The best bit? You don’t have to post it if you don’t want to but at least you have practiced it!

I hope you enjoyed this blog and please do not be afraid to do any of the above. The worst thing to do is not post at all!

Speak to you soon!

“O Romeo Romeo…” – a review of Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo and Juliet

Artcile by Rachael Richardson-Bullock 27.07.16


If you’ve read my streaming theatre article, you’ll know I love Shakespeare! So when my best friend bought tickets for us to watch Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo and Juliet streamed live from The Garrick in the Spa Centre, I could not say no! We were the youngest people in the cinema, but we didn’t care; plus the screen was packed, which made us happy.

Branagh is Shakespearean acting royalty, joining the Royal Shakespeare Company at aged just 23. On stage and screen he has played a number of roles including Hamlet, Henry V and Romeo. This time though, he is directing. Teaming up once again with Lilly James, Richard Madden and Derek Jacobi who Branagh also directed in 2015’s live action Cinderella.

Now, I have a confession to make. I didn’t like Cinderella, despite my huge excitement for it. Visually it was stunning, but unfortunately I didn’t feel a lot of chemistry between James and Madden. Their romance seemed a bit forced, a bit too quiet, a bit unbelievable…yes I’m aware it’s a fairy tale! So I was a bit apprehensive. Perhaps without the restrictions of a children’s story and the U BBFC rating they could blossom together as actors, and that they did!

Before I move onto them, let me first talk about the play itself. I have seen many adaptations so was intrigued to see how Branagh would put his stamp on it. Initially when the cinema attendant told us the play would be screened in black and white, I was disappointed. However, this quickly subsided as it became obvious what Branagh was offering us. This wasn’t Shakespeare, this was an Italian drama, punctuated with much beautifully spoken Italian by actors in 1950s attire and staged as if it was a film noir or silent film. These elements seem random, but when they were thrown together under Branagh’s direction the play truly shined; it was enticing, it was modern and stunning to look at, which is not always a given for Shakespeare.

Though Branagh had announced before the play started that Madden had an ankle injury and would try his best, there was no sign whatsoever of his discomfort or fragility. He was unbelievably relaxed and genuine; I have never seen a Romeo like him. The language rolled off his tongue as if it was all he had ever spoken, his comedic timing was faultless and his passion was heart breaking. I would go so far to say he’s the best Romeo I’ve seen…yes even ahead of Leonardo DiCaprio!

I was concerned about James at first, I’ll be honest. At the party where she meets Romeo, she came across as a little whiny. She is of course meant to be playing a 14 year old, but I’ve never liked the dumb teenager interpretation, for me it spoils the story. However, when she stepped onto the balcony, she was entirely different. She spoke maturely, even with some comedy thrown in, and the chemistry between herself and Madden was electric. As the play went on, became darker and more challenging for Juliet, James excelled. I was immensely impressed.

I sobbed at the end. Madden’s lonely death wasn’t overacted, it was emotional and raw. James’ too, a little rushed perhaps, but still well timed and executed. Branagh did not glamorise their deaths, bringing the tragedy to its rightful conclusion.

Branagh’s real achievement here, for me at least, was that he made this play real to me in a way I have never experienced before. It was new again and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Romeo and Juliet runs until the end of August at The Garrick in London. For information please click here. I’m tempted to go to London myself and see them in the flesh and in colour!

Rachael Richardson-Bullock is a novelist and blogger living in Leamington Spa.

Blog and Copy Writers. Who needs ’em?

Article by Sandra Ashford 22.06.16

I don’t need anyone to write my blogs/social media/web copy. Why would I when I can do it myself. But can you?  

Do you see your business from your customers point of view or are you just seeing it from your point of view? Is it too technical so that no one will understand it? Well quite frankly yes, some of you are! 


Now don’t get me wrong, there are some people who really can do their own and make an excellent job of it, but then again there are those who just can’t.

So what makes a good blog? It needs to be engaging and even conversationally styled, enough words to keep you hooked but not too many to put you to sleep. Blogs are not bedtime reading, or at least they shouldn’t be.

Think about who you are writing the blog for, what does it need to achieve, where are you going to showcase it?  

Another question you have to ask yourself, and you need to be objective here, not easy I know, but are all your blogs sounding too similar? Quite often a new perspective and fresh eye can do wonders for your brand or business.

So next time someone asks you if they could write you a blog or give you some ideas for your social media keep an open mind and give it a go. Who knows what it could do for your business.

You know what they say, a change is as good as a rest!  

So if you fancy a change then take a look at footprintsocialmedia.co.uk.  

Sandra Ashford

Footprint Social Media

07877760411

http://footprintsocialmedia.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/footprintsocialmedia2/

Are you being Sun Safe??

Article by Helen Chidgey 25.05.16


We all know the links between sun exposure and the incidence of skin cancers so most of us have a bottle of suntan cream to hand but are we really sure of how to apply it properly and how to stay Sun Safe??

Eight out of ten people are failing to adequately apply sunscreen before going out in the sun, according to a survey carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists to mark Sun Awareness Week (9th-15th May 2016).

The survey also found that 70 per cent of people fail to reapply sunscreen every two hours as recommended.

No surprise then that 72% of people admit to having been sunburnt in the last year.  A troubling statistic given the risk of developing melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – more than doubles in people with a history of sunburn compared with people who have never been sunburned.

So what do I recommend to stay Sun Safe? Here are my 5 top tips!

1.BE AN UNDERCOVER  AGENT!

UVA/UVB rays can still reach your skin and cause damage, even when it’s cloudy or when you’re in the shade. So when you’re sipping cocktails under cover at the beach remember to apply your Sun Screen to help prevent a surprise sunburn, OUCH!

 2. APPLY THIS WAY

Make sure you apply your sunscreen half an hour before you go out and just before exposure too.  Pay extra attention to the areas most likely to catch the sun and the ones not exposed very often!


3. SHELF LIFE MATTERS

You know those sunscreens you have hiding in the back of your cupboard past their expiry date? Don’t worry, we all have them but it’s about time we threw them all away! That’s because you can’t rely on the SPF protection of products past their expiration date!

4. REAPPLY REGULARLY

Keep your sunscreen topped up by reapplying at least every 2 hours, to provide maximum coverage (but I’d recommend even more often, depending on your skin type). Always reapply after being in water, even with water resistant creams you will have lost some protection during your little paddle!

5. DON’T FORGET YOUR FACE!!

Body Sunscreen can be applied from head to toe, but if you’ve got a sunny date you want to look your best for, using makeup that includes a high SPF is an easy way to keep your skin protected and you looking gorgeous!

 

www.tropicskincare.co.uk/shop/helenchidgey

 

FB: Tropic Skincare Stratford with Helen

Twitter: @tropicstratford

Spring into Action this Spring

Article by Daniel Browne 23.03.16

Winter is coming to an end, which means spring will soon be here. We’ve already seen signs of it as we head towards the end of February, with beautiful sunny days gracing us.

Spring is my favourite season. I love everything about it – the warmer weather, sunnier and longer days, seeing all the new-born lambs in fields, noticing more wildlife, and the general lifting of everyone’s mood as the gloom of winter is dusted away. It’s a wonderful time of year and perfect for getting things done.

It’s around this time of year that I typically start talking about spring cleaning your mind. In fact, I wrote an article about spring cleaning your mind for Grow Leamington last year. It’s a great way of making sure you’re happy with all areas of your life and identifying any changes that need to be made. I’m going to give that a miss on this occasion, but do have a look at that previous article.

At the turn of the year you may have made New Year’s resolutions. It’s good to have goals for the year ahead and to work on achieving them. However, it can be quite difficult to do so during the winter months and so many people simply give up by the end of January. That is why, if you’ve got any goals to achieve, now is the time to spring into action. With everything seeming a bit better as winter comes to an end, and with summer soon to be in sight, the beginning of March is a perfect time to get cracking on achieving your goals.

Maybe you want to lose weight. Perhaps you want to finally give up smoking. Or maybe there’s another positive change you’d like to make in your life. It’s never too late to get started. In fact, in the last few months I’ve helped a 75 year old man lose weight and an 81 year old lady quit smoking after she’d smoked for 65 years! See… It’s never too late to achieve your goals.

So as we head into spring, what will you be working on achieving?
  
Daniel Browne is a hypnotherapist with practices in Warwick and Evesham. Please visit http://www.daniel-browne.co.uk to discover more about his work.

Mindfulness for Baby Swimming?

Article by Jo 22.02.16

Of course, there are always the obvious benefits of baby swimming that have always been there… 

Physical: strengthen heart/lungs

Social: learning to take turns, making friends.

Vital safety skills: turning to the side, back floating, rotations.

  
But has anyone thought of it having also having the most powerful notion of teaching parents to relax, live in the moment, and to have open hearts? 

In today’s busy world, baby swimming could have an ever greater role to play in teaching our water parents to ‘live in the moment and to really connect’ with their baby. Facilitating strong, powerful bonds between parent and baby.

  
Due to our busy lives, one where we are constantly bombarded with images and words via the Internet. We are becoming so connected to the tech world that we have forgotten to connect to the people around us.
We have become a society that creates ‘to do lists’, planning and thinking about the future and sometimes we get caught up in comparing our lives with others. Do we have a true sense of identity or have we lost who we are as we are surrounded by what others are doing? Our minds are preoccupied with taking photos or writing the moment for others, that we actually forget to live and enjoy the moment our self. How many of us check in daily with our heart and soul? Feel the sun, smell the aromas around us, listen or feel our breath?
We often miss the beauty around us. Opening our hearts and minds and offering compassion and love.

Children are so much better than us, living in the moment… But as they grow and adapt their environment …

Perhaps baby swimming can facilitate mindful practises for both parent and child?

Can we help increase our awareness of our senses, which in turn might help reduce anxieties and fears? 
  
How can baby swimming help promote a mindful presence?

*We can ask our swimming parents to check in. Are they participating in the classes or just going through the motions?

* We can offer a couple of moments at the start of the class to have ‘an open awareness’. To take a deep breath in and to release any tensions. 

* To start in a wide stance on the pool floor … To feel safe and grounded. allowing gentle movements to flow naturally.

You don’t have to go into full ‘yogic detail’ but just a few kind words, to create a sense of calm at the start of the class… A gentle reminder to watch our babies cues, ensuring they are happy throughout all of our swimming practises. And by ending the class with a lovely swim together, where parent and child can connect and enjoy the moment….

Reminding our selves to tune into their laughter, smiles, playful nature that the water brings. Creating a non-competitive environment through our swimming practises, where our swimming parents feel nurtured, safe our babies feel protected.

An environment where we are NOT teaching our babies to swim…. As that will just happen over time with patience…

But one that creates a powerful environment where we can truly relax, enjoy the water ….

One where we can escape just for 1/2 hour with our babies and dream and grow together. 

  

Rediscover Your Mojo

Article by Daniel Browne 17.02.15

Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your mojo? I’m sure we’ve all had that thought at some point and wondered where the hell it ran off to. You know, that feeling when you wake up in the morning and simply cannot be bothered to do anything. It’s not a nice way to feel, but it only needs to be a temporary issue as there are a number of ways to rediscover your lost mojo.

Losing your mojo isn’t simply having an off day. Every single one of us will have had an off day from time to time, but found that it soon passes and we feel good again. Unfortunately, losing your mojo can be the start of a downward spiral, during which you lose all motivation and feel overwhelmed by life. If you identify with this, read on for my top tips for rediscovering your mojo. After all, you have a life to enjoy.

1. Take some time out. When was the last time you had some ‘me time’? When did you last take the time to recharge? If you can’t remember, or it’s been longer than a couple of months, it has been too long. Taking a little bit of time out for yourself can do wonders, so be sure to commit to doing that. Make sure it’s on a regular basis too. That will reduce the risk of losing your mojo again in the future. Taking time out for yourself isn’t selfish; it’s an essential part of your wellbeing.

2. Be strict with yourself. If you have a huge to do list but haven’t been very productive for a period of more than half an hour, have a break. Go and do something else and then come back to your to do list with a commitment to work through it. Switch off all distractions, including Facebook. You’ll thank yourself for it.

3. Have a look at your environment and take notice of how it makes you feel. Does the space you are in inspire you? If not, have a clear-out or make some changes. The trick here is to create a space that inspires and empowers you. An uninspiring space isn’t good for your mojo.

4. If you have a huge to do list, allocate a set amount of time for each task. Getting on with stuff in that way doesn’t leave room for procrastination. By giving yourself an allocated time for each task, you may discover just how productive you can be.

5. Reward yourself when you have done something that you needed to do. That feeling of knowing you have something nice to look forward to at the end of something should inspire you to simply crack on. So go on, you deserve it.

You can apply these tips to any area of your life; whether it’s personal or professional, and by following these tips you will soon rediscover your mojo and never lose it again.

Daniel Browne is a hypnotherapist who can help you to find your mojo. See http://www.daniel-browne.co.uk to discover more.

15 content hacks to help your social media strategy thrive

Article by Lisa-Marie Nelson 06.01.16

(follow me @PRBirdie)

If you’re reading this post then you understand creating and sharing quality content can really elevate your business.

Chances are you’re probably stuck for ideas too, but that’s okay, content marketing is hard.

You may be surprised to know even professional communicators suffer from writers’ block from time to time.

It can be particularly hard to remain creative and gain cut-through against an ever-growing fast-paced torrent of social media content.

As a professional communicator who hates the fluffy stuff, I believe in order to add value you must be strategic.

That doesn’t mean you have to create everything yourself or spend an arm or a leg on development – curating content can be just as good if not better.

The fact is, sometimes we need a little help to get our creative juices flowing. And, the quickest and easiest way is to take inspiration from others.

To help with content planning brain fog, I’ve mixed a few of my own suggestions with some from Social Media Content Ideas to get you started.

In no particular order, here are some of my favourite quick wins:

#1 Fill in the blanks

Get people to show their creative side. Do it just for fun or run a competition to help promote a new product or service.

  Figure 1 OREO Cookie fill in the blank Twitter contest

#2 Promote social networks

Don’t be shy, let people know where else they can find you and start building a more complete customer profile.

#3 Feel good quotes

Make people smile. Share a feel good quote on a Monday or the mid-week hump and ask people to like, RT or share the love.

  

Figure 2 Feel good quote from Mandy Hale on Instagram

#4 Promote your events

Tell people about events you’re hosting, attending or sponsoring. Include relevant hashtags, stand numbers and @ mention the organiser for RTs/shares.

#5 Fan of the week

Celebrate your audience and give a fan a shout out! If someone has shared their experience with you use it tell others and thank them at the same time.

  Figure 3 Skittles “Rainbro” fan profile on Facebook

#6 Share your successes

Keep your audience up-to-date with your successes it aids transparency and builds trust. Post business results, awards, review and client wins.

#7 Use seasonal hooks 

There’s an awareness day for almost everything so make the most of the hype. Be selective; consider the audience and the value you can add.

  Figure 4 NFU Mutual teamed up with AGA to help promote Breakfast Week

#8 Facts and insights

Help people get to know you better. Share an interesting piece of your history, unknown fact or share quirky customer stories.

#9 Photo of the day

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words so use it to your advantage. Post a captivating picture illustrating what you do or re-post one from a customer.

  Figure 5 Farmers’ Weekly photography competition entry

#10 And our survey says…

Are you really listening to your customers? Are you using the 10 best survey questions to ask your customers?

#11 Offers and promotions

Offer a freebie or discount. Why not work with another brand which complements your offering and will help grow your audience?

  Figure 6 NFU Mutual teamed up with Emma Cornes to giveaway one of her bags

#12 Post job openings

A cheap way to promote your growth and recruit. Your followers have a vested interest in your businesses so they could well aspire to work for it too!

#13 It’s for charity mate!

If you support a charity tell people about it; chances are you picked a cause that’s close to your customers’ hearts so they’ll be interested to know.

  Figure 7 Jess Glynne’s Take Me Home has been named as this year’s official single for BBC Children in Need.

#14 Call to action

Don’t just broadcast information; tell people what you want them to do with it. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a RT, like or share and helps with reach and engagement.

#15 Read all about it

If you’ve worked hard to get good press shout about it. Share news stories and @ mention the publication or website. If you have a press centre drive traffic to it.  

 Figure 8 Coverage in The Independent: The John Lewis Christmas advert 2015.

That’s all folks! I hope you’ve scribbled down a few nuggets to try out. If you found it useful please like and share it to help others struggling for inspiration.

Let me know what you of this article or share your own words of wisdom by connecting with me on Twitter using @PRBirdie or find me on LinkedIn.

Happy content planning!

 

Stay Cool This Christmas

Article by Daniel Browne 16.12.15

Christmas is supposedly a time for peace, love and joy to all mankind. However, it can so often become a stressful period fraught with worrying, fall outs, and trying to live up to what society has come to view as being a perfect Christmas. It doesn’t need to be like that, though.

With so many people saying that the festive period is a stressful time of year, I’d like to share my top tips for ensuring Christmas is indeed filled with peace, love and joy.

Cut down the ‘to do’ list

There’s just so much we have to do at Christmas time, right? Wrong. The question to ask yourself here is ‘what will happen if I don’t do this?’ If the answer is anything less than COMPLETE DISASTER, consider removing it from the list. The aim here is to cut down on the amount you have to do at Christmas by realising that you don’t actually have to do all those things.

Reduce the gift list

Have a look at the gift list you’ve written and consider whether you need to buy presents for all of those people. If you only see someone once a year (at Christmas), is it really necessary to buy them a present? Thinking about who you really need to buy presents for should help you reduce your gift list and in the process alleviate any stress you may feel about affording to buy all the presents or wondering what on Earth to get someone.

Tell yourself that grand gestures are not really necessary

It can be easy to get carried away at Christmas, but are the grand gestures really worth the stress that can accompany them? If you feel the need to get a present for someone, it doesn’t need to be expensive. Smaller, simpler gestures can often mean more to the recipient, so keep this tip in mind when planning for the big day.

Wrap as you go

I don’t think anyone likes to spend Christmas Eve wrapping all of the presents. It can be time consuming and you could be doing more enjoyable things with your time. Wrapping presents as you buy them can make it seem like less of a chore.

Cut down on the obsessive cleaning

If you have family or friends coming to visit you over the festive period, by all means clean up the public areas of your home, such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room. The private areas of your home (i.e. the rooms where your guests won’t be going) can wait though. Letting standards slip slightly over Christmas isn’t such a bad thing. Once the festivities are over you’ll be able to get all of the housework done, but it’s good to be able to take some time out to enjoy yourself and not worry about how clean the house is.

A bit of cheating is ok

It’s lovely if everything is homemade and perfect, but the reality is that it’s time consuming, often more expensive, and can be stressful. Buying items such as ready-made stuffing, gravy granules, and an easy to carve turkey crown can save you time, money, and a whole lot of stress. This allows you to relax a bit more and enjoy the day.

It’s all in the planning

I’m a big fan of making lists for just about everything in life. It provides a focus and shows a concrete plan for something. Making a list in advance of all the things you need to do in the lead up to Christmas can help bring order to chaos and you may well find that everything runs a bit smoother than usual. Plan who you are going to buy presents, what you are going to buy them, and what your budget for gifts is. Work out what food you need for the period and start buying items in advance. Doing things this way can be much easier than leaving it all until the last minute and going into meltdown.

Delegate

It’s not all up to you. If you have a partner, children or other family members, be sure to get them involved and delegate certain tasks to them. Not only will it make your role a bit easier; it’s also positive to involve others in the preparation for this special time of year. Even if you feel something may be done quicker if you do it yourself, involving others could help them to feel part of the festive preparations and it will surely relieve any pressure you feel.

Make sure you have some ‘me time’

It can be so easy to get caught up in the Christmas whirlwind that we end up neglecting our own needs. ‘Me time’ is important all year round, but it’s even more crucial during the festive season. Whether it’s taking the dog for a walk, meeting friends for coffee, or sending everyone out for the day so you have the house to yourself, taking some time out to indulge in yourself is something that you’ll thank yourself for later (and your family may thank you for it too).
I wish you a very merry Christmas.

Daniel Browne

Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness Expert

http://www.daniel-browne.co.uk