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How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Industry in 2018

How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Industry in 2018

BThought Leader eing a thought leader in your industry is very good for business. And I mean very very good, because who doesn’t want to buy off or work with a known expert?

In 2018 the days of hiding behind your brand are well and truly over. The reality for business owners and professionals is that YOU are your brand. Your reputation has a direct impact on your business. So, keep a low profile and reap no rewards. Or, establish your reputation as a thought leader in your industry and stand by for doors to open!

Of course, becoming a thought leader is far easier said than done! It takes time, effort and determination. It certainly won’t happen overnight and there is no guarantee of success.

That said, there are some colour-by-number actions you can take to help get you on the right path. In this article I’m going to share 10 steps to help you build your reputation as a thought leader in your industry. You’ll learn what it really means to ‘get yourself out there’ and be ready to start building your thought leadership profile today!

Let’s dive straight in!

1. Understand what a Thought Leader is and What Your Thought Leadership slant is!

This may seem like an obvious first point, but it’s important to clarify what a thought leader in business actually is.

A thought leader is someone who drives innovation and new ideas in their given industry. They are experts in their area. They’re highly respected, connected and valued. Being a thought leader is about sharing your ideas and your unique professional opinion of your industry… so what’s yours?

It’s crucial to understand that thought leadership should be relatively narrow in focus. You may very well be a Jack of all trades when it comes to the day to day application of your job, but if you want to be a thought leader you’re better off being the master of one!

If your subject area is too broad then it’s hard to make waves. Think about your specialist subject. What area of your business do you know inside out and what area are you most passionate about? Can you identify any knowledge gaps where your expertise would be welcomed? Use your unique expertise to become an authority in that area rather than a generalist in all.

Now that you know your niche, think about who you would like to be a thought leader for. Is it your fellow industry peers, or is it customers? Who are they and what will they look to you for? Knowing your audience persona will help you to fine tune your message.

2. Own up to your brand!

As I mentioned above, YOU are your brand. You therefore need to treat your personal professional profile with the same care you show to the brand identity of your business or employer. That means consistency in brand rules and messaging.

Don’t be overwhelmed by this! It’s just a matter of getting all your ducks in a row. And make sure that your professional social media channels are singing off the same song sheet. For example, if you are positioning yourself as a thought leader in the area of Robo-journalism on Twitter or on a dedicated blog then this should be reflected on your LinkedIn profile.

All your professional accounts should be up to date and to generally tell the same story about you. Share content in and around your area of expertise, stay on message and pay close attention to detail. And please, please make sure you use a high quality professional profile picture of yourself! It speaks volumes about who you and your brand are. I recently got some expert tips on how to get your business profile photo right from professional profile expert Joseph McGuire. Check out this article if you want to learn more.

3. Blog, blog, blog

Producing quality content is crucial to thought leadership. A blog provides the perfect space for you to self-publish material for your audience.

If you haven’t already started a blog then find a time machine and go back a few years and do it. If that isn’t feasible for you right now then start today instead.

The golden rule of blogging is to consistently give value. Post at least once a week and make sure your content is exceptional. You really need to put in the work at the initial blog stage and it’s crucial you maintain it as you move on to other thought leadership steps.

Think of blogging as a brand investment. The more posts you have the better. Realistically you won’t be taken very seriously until you have a catalogue of at least 30 posts. This content defines who you are as a thought leader so remember to never compromise on quality and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.

4. Join in the Conversation on Social

Being active on social media is an absolute must for thought leaders. You don’t have to be on all social media channels, just the ones your audience choose, be it Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest or another. But you do need to have a LinkedIn presence. Even if you don’t see the value in it right now you will in time.

You’ll use social media as a key distribution point for your content. But do not stop there. Social networking is far more than just sharing your content. You need to join in the conversation.

Communicating on social media is not a one-way flow, so engage with your audience and other industry figures and influencers by joining in and contributing to discussions and asking or answering questions.

Share other people’s content if it is relevant to your audience and ties in with your general stance. This shows your followers that you are thinking of them beyond the goal of merely plugging your own stuff. Moreover, it will put you in the good books of other influencers. Chances are, in time, they may share your content to their followers. At the very least it puts you on their radar.

5. Network

Never underestimate the power of face to face networking. For sure, we live in a digital world where social media dominates our lives. But trust me, the relationships that you build in person are far stronger and long-lasting.

That’s not to say that initial contact can’t be made through online social networks. Likewise one outcome of face to face networking will be to connect and cross-promote on social. But face-time gives you a much greater opportunity to impress yourself on people and learn more about what other people do. In-person conversations are deeper and more meaningful than online only interactions. Attend industry events and consider joining a dedicated networking organisation — the more the merrier.

Networking can help you to make sales for your business. But this shouldn’t be front and centre in your mind when you attend industry and networking events. It’s more of a long term strategy to build your connections and grow your community.

You’ll encounter far more people who will never be your customers than you will real sales leads. But don’t just walk away from these non-prospects because the truth is — they could hold even more value for you than a quick deal.

Treat every networking contact as someone who could potentially refer you to one of their contacts. Moreover, think about ways the people you meet could help you to advance your thought leadership profile.

Could they offer you any potential opportunities to guest blog or to speak at an industry event? These of course are the next two steps in your thought leadership journey that I’m going to address. Segway alert!

6. Guest blog

Guest blogging is a great way to reach new audiences and to get good quality back links to your own website, which is great for SEO.

Writing on someone else’s blog is a valuable opportunity to find new audience members for your own. If their audience like your article they’ll click on your web link to see what else you’ve got up your sleeve. Here’s where it’s important to have a decent catalogue of original content behind you so that newbies arriving to your site have plenty to keep them there!

Flipping guest posting on its head, you should also consider hosting guest posts on your own blog. Invite other influencers to write a relevant article for your audience. Like you, they’ll be happy for the opportunity to reach new people. They’ll share links to their article on your site on their own social media pages which will send their followers over to you. All going well a few of them will hang around to become your followers too.

7. Speak at Events

The very second someone stands on stage to give a speech or a presentation we slack them a bit of respect for being an authority on what they’re speaking about. Now, we can take these kudos away pretty quick if their presentation doesn’t hit the mark, but the point is that speaking at an event provides a major opportunity to raise your profile as a thought leader.

It doesn’t matter how small these events are to start with. Just say yes. If it goes well you may be asked back or indeed a member of the audience might peg you for another.

So how do you make it go well? Simple: Know your stuff, put effort into preparing for the event and be engaging. Many people find public speaking difficult at first. But don’t just give up by yielding the excuse “I’m just not a good public speaker”. To be frank, that’s a cop out.

Everyone can improve their public speaking techniques (and courage) if they work on it. There is lots of help out there including brilliant training programmes like Toastmasters, where everyone is in the same boat. If you see real value in developing your profile as a thought leader then fine tuning your presentation skills will be a huge asset to you.

As for getting the gig in the first place, if you’ve scoured the land for opportunities and been turned away from the inn more times than you like to remember then there’s only one thing for it: Host an event of your own.

Again this doesn’t have to be a big affair. Organise a lunchtime talk in your co-working office or an information evening in your local community hall. You could even find a complimentary speaker and host a joint event. Make the theme timely and relevant and pitch the event to guests in terms of what it will do for them (not you!).

8. Produce Premium Content

Premium content is generally long-form and extremely high value. This is content that people may pay for, even if it is just with their contact details.

Premium content could be extensive guides, annual industry reports, white papers, industry surveys, research or webinars. Hosting a regular podcast is a great way to set yourself up as a gatekeeper of industry knowledge. You can invite other influencers on to be interviewed thereby promoting them as thought leaders while simultaneously promoting you and your podcast.

The single best way to assert your profile as an authority in your area is one of the oldest tricks in the book. In fact, it is a book! Writing a book is the perfect way to demonstrate your expertise. There’s a lot of work involved but it will pay off in time. Plus you’ll be a published author which is pretty damn cool!

9. Give your time for free

A sure sign that your thought leadership status is on the up is the holy grail potential that you’ll be paid to take part in events. Happy flippin’ days! But don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re not a Rockstar!

Just because your (thought leadership) star is rising it does not mean that your price follows accordingly. You’ll still be asked to speak for free, most likely more than ever. It’s a good idea not to turn all of these opportunities down, because they are, after all, sill opportunities to build your profile.

Leaving aside the purely humanitarian objectives for helping out a charity, giving your time for free to help out a good cause does no harm at all for your public profile. Speaking at universities gives you credibility, speaking to students at lower levels shows you care. And being asked to judge, consult or to mentor is flattering and again solidifies your status as an authority. Curate these opportunities wisely.

10. Finally, be BOLD and Pitch

I’m going to end this article by reaffirming what I said in step 1 — understand your role as a thought leader. Remember that you are a driver of innovation and new ideas. You don’t have to hammer the same points home until you die. It’s ok to grow, adjust viewpoints and take on new passions. But take your audience on this journey with you by sharing these new ideas and provoking discussion and debate.

Don’t be a sheep, be a shepherd. Be bold and above all else, don’t be afraid to be wrong. Just say it as you see it. And since you are well able to ‘get yourself out there’ it’s time to be bolder than ever — and that means PITCH!

Quit waiting around for opportunities and start creating them. Say you want to get on TV, or maybe by now you’ve set your sights on a newspaper column, then take the bull by the horns and pitch to the right people. The very worst thing that can happen is that you get turned down. Even if this happens, at least now they know who you are.

Get yourself out there

Now that you’ve got a very rough blueprint to work off it’s time to start getting yourself out there. After reading this article you’ll know yourself what step you’re at. Now it’s time to take another!

If you have any questions on this subject or would like to share some advice of your own please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

*This article was first published by Sinead Gillett on the Iconic Offices Blog.

Face Facts: Your Profile Picture is Part of Your Business Brand

Face Facts: Your Profile Picture is Part of Your Business Brand

Profile Picture of a businessmanHow much thought have you put into your LinkedIn profile pic? Or the profile photo you use for the ‘About Us’ page of your business website? They’re probably the same photo and chances are you may not have considered the massive impact your own photograph has for your brand.

Over 60% of the electrical energy of our brains is geared towards vision and our photo is an essential part of our business communications. It provides the most immediate and vital first impression when a potential client or business partner views our profile. Even a cursory glance through our own connections may reveal quite a range of images from the conservative professional to the decidedly casual.

Whatever your background or occupation there are some key recommendations I would make:

5 Tips to Nailing a Successful Business Profile Picture 

1. Choosing not to display a profile photo is NOT an option

If you are one of that select band who hasn’t got a LinkedIn photo it gives the impression that you can’t be bothered, a decidedly poor first impression! Leaving the image section of your professional profile blank is like having a’closed’ sign on your business door. It sends the message that you don’t want to do business.

When it comes to your business website including your own biography and those of other staff members, along with your photos, is vital. People want to buy from people, not just from a logo or brand. Remember that you are your brand and so you need to stand in front of it.

2. Consult with Customers and Colleagues Before Choosing your Profile Picture 

Before deciding on your LinkedIn photo or website profile image I suggest you ask 5 of your best clients how they perceive you and what your best qualities are. This may or may not be in line with your own perception but it should certainly inform your choice of photo. You want to appeal in the best way possible to your marketplace. Making sure your professional profile picture reflects the perceptions of your clients is therefore prudent.

3. Use a Professional Corporate Headshot Photographer 

Find a good professional photographer. The best photographers will engage fully with you to understand exactly what you wish to convey. They will take photos from a variety of angles, and you should remember to bring a number of jackets and shirts to see what shows you in the best light. If you have chosen wisely then trust your photographer. Remember a picture paints a thousand words.

Profile Picture Checklist – Dos & Don’ts
  • Depending on what you wish to convey a smile may be ideal.
  • Avoid holding pets or children or drinks. This makes you appear totally unprofessional.
  • Unless you are in a business partnership your photo should be of you and you only.
  • A head shot gives a clearer and stronger impression that one that includes the torso.
  • Unless it is relevant to your occupation outdoor scenes are best avoided.
  • Make sure you use a human image unless you wish to appear very childish.
  • Use humour with caution unless you’re a professional comedian or cartoonist.
4. Colour Code your Profile Pic

Depending on your industry colour may be very important. As a rule we expect those in a corporate environment, or professionals such as accountants or lawyers etc to present a serious and sober image. IT professionals are more likely to adopt an altogether more casual impression. Colours convey subliminal messages.

  • Blues imply calmness;
  • Black and grey imply solidity;
  • Brown is often viewed as dull and unimaginative;
  • Red is high energy, sometimes verging on aggression;
  • Yellow is best left to creative types who wish to stand out as being different;
  • Greens vary in shades ranging from conservative to decidedly ‘out there’.

Take advice and choose wisely!

5. Practice Makes Perfect

Many of us do not like having our photos taken. Set any such feelings aside. You are not doing this for yourself. This is part of advertising your business and how you come across is a vital part of your presentation. If you’re nervous or simply reluctant to be photographed I suggest you practice. Ask a friend to take multiple shots of you using a phone. Put on some music you like or have someone crack jokes as the camera clicks. Whatever it takes to allow you relax AND appear confident. The two do not always go hand in hand but subliminally we associate confidence with competence.

Final Words of Wisdom! 

Finally, remember that no matter who you are or how talented not everyone will like you or your photo. Being clear and confident about what you wish to convey is the most important starting point. You can always change your photo later if you want to refresh your profile.

Here’s another article worth reading when considering your LinkedIn profile.

Thanks for taking the time out to read this article and to CONKER for inviting me to guest post.

Joseph McGuire, Clearsight Communications

Owner

Joeseph McGuire Profile PictureJoseph McGuire is the owner of Clearsight Communications who provide personal evaluation services in the areas of senior level recruitment/promotion, negotiations, sales and HR. Individual consultation sessions are available both in person and via Skype. He is also available for group presentations, private functions and conferences.

For further information email: info@clearsightcommunications.com or call 087-246 1853.

5 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Should AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!

5 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Should AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!

social media mistakes we do not likeWhether social media is the primary lead generator for your business, or just one aspect of your brand communications it’s crucial you approach it with professionalism and with a strategy. In this article I’m going to outline some of the most common social media mistakes that businesses make, and give you some tips and advice on how you can avoid them and put your best social media foot forward.  

So, let’s kick off! 

1. Inconsistent Branding


Akin to all areas of business communication it is vital to maintain a clear and consistent brand identity on social media. This means setting brand rules and sticking to them. Your Instagram profile or ‘collage’ is a really good example of why brand consistency is so important. Customers don’t always see your social media post one at a time. They’ll click through to view your profile as a whole. Your Instagram posts therefore need to work together as part of an overall brand story.   

Make sure your colour scheme reflects your brand and is harmonious across your posts.  For example, a children’s entertainment company can work with vibrant primary colours like red, blue and yellow, whereas a company that manufactures outdoor clothing may want a more natural earthy palette. Imagine if the outdoor clothing company randomly added a bright yellow image to its Instagram or Facebook account. It would stand out like a sore thumb and confuse the brand altogether.

The same goes for typography.  Pick a font family and stick to it, and be consistent with the size of the font you use when adding text to images. Other things to look out for are the placement and size of your logo if/when you add it to an image. Generally, you’ll also have rules about what you say in your social media posts which will relate back to your overall brand vision.  If you’re business is B2B in the legal profession, for instance, you should be posting about news and subjects relevant to your industry. Don’t muddy the water with random off-topic throw-ins.  

Likewise, never mix business and personal. There’s no room for family pics on LinkedIn – save them for your personal Facebook profile. The important thing to remember is that social media provides an outlet for you to build brand awareness. By being consistent with your messaging you’ll develop a pattern which in turn elicits brand recognition and familiarity with your customers. Ultimately you want a customer to see a stand-alone social media post of yours and for them to say- ‘that looks/sounds like it’s from (Your Business)’. 

2. Under or Over-posting

One of the most common social media mistakes is being inconsistent with how much you post. The problem works both ways. Posting too little shows a lack of investment and interest. Posting too much, on the other hand,  can appear spammy and annoying.

Let’s do the Goldielocks test.

Goldielocks social media bowls, too much, too little, just right

 

Too Much
Who annoys you on social media? Chances are it’s not the brand we’ve just discussed that only pops their head up on social sporadically. It’s the person or business who clogs up your feed with lots and lots of content.  And what do we tend to do with it? Skim, skip, dismiss.

My old teacher Mr O’Connor used to warn us chatterboxes that “empty vessels make the most noise”.  While it’s not necessarily true that chronic over-posters produce poor content, this is unfortunately the lasting impression that post saturation gives. Do you need 10 snapshots from your shop a day? 

Too Little
Long gaps between posts will not do you any favours when it comes to the Facebook algorithm. It punishes infrequency, and once you drop the ball on engagement it can be hard to get back.  Aside from the bots you need to think about your customers. Put the shoe on the other foot. If you’re planning on using a business – let’s say a boutique hotel – and you visit their Facebook page to see what’s been happening there recently, only to find nothing has been posted in the last 5 months. What does that say to you? To me it says the hotel isn’t overly bothered about how it appears to its customers, and it would make me think twice about booking.

Just Right
The best thing to do is to look at your engagement levels as a way to gauge your post frequency. If your engagement is consistently high then the demand for your social media content is there – so go for it. If engagement patterns fluctuate significantly then focus on high quality over high quantity at regular, but not rapid, intervals. For some ballpark guidance on posting it’s ok to post 3-5 times per week to Facebook and Instagram, whereas a Tweet a day is OK. In fact, Twitter is set up for more frequent posting, so if you’ve got more than one thing to say in a day feel free to Tweet away! (There’s a poem in there somewhere….).

3. Not Engaging


The whole point of social media is to engage with your target audience. That means being in conversation with them and not just sending messages their way. One way to engage with your social media followers is by responding to comments promptly. Be prepared to respond to messages outside of your traditional business hours. You should be responding to all comments, good or (it happens!) bad.  Don’t miss an opportunity to demonstrate your quality customer service when facing negative comments or complaints. Respond in a timely and appropriate manner. If you manage to placate the situation you just might be on to PR gold. Lemons, lemonade and all that!  

turn social media lemons into lemonade

The other thing to remember is not to neglect good comments! They’re valuable endorsements for your business and you should show appreciation to those who post them. Thanking them and sharing these posts will likely encourage others to share their happy thoughts about your business too.

Another easy way to engage is by promoting user-generated content. But make sure to credit the source! You should also think about ways to engage with other businesses in your local area. This will allow you to garner the attention of their followers. It also allows for cross-promotion and other mutually beneficial opportunities. It’s not called social media networking for nothing.

4. Being Overly Promotional


If your social media plan is to sell, sell, sell, then you’re setting yourself up to fail, fail, fail! 

Time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes again. Do you buy a magazine purely to browse the ads? No! You’re interested in the editorial content – and the same goes for social media. Your brand should therefore position itself as a publisher of content rather than an overt point of sale. It’s about delighting your customers and interacting with them rather than just advertising to them.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t throw a sale in every now and then, plug some products, introduce new services and so on. The idea is to get the balance right. My recommendation is to go with the 80/20 rule. Make 80% of your content valuable to your audience, be it informative or entertaining or useful – whatever works for your brand. You can then keep 20% for more promotional material and Calls To Action. 

For example, if your company is in Fintech, you could share information about financial markets, tips for managing finance, relevant news stories and industry trends. With this balance your customers will appreciate your content and be far more open to your promotions.  

5. Using Poor Visuals

A picture tells a thousand words. This has never been truer than when it comes to social media. In today’s fast paced digital world we’re lucky to have a customer scan our social media posts let alone read them. You have a split second to capture someone’s attention and text alone simply will not cut it.

You ALWAYS need to include a visual element in your social media posts. Furthermore, it needs to be eye-catching and of high-quality. Read more on this here where I discuss 7 DIY tips to enhance your social media images.

Now, we need to talk about video. If a picture tells a thousand words then a video tells a thousand pictures. Motion catches the eye like nothing else. As consumers we are getting more and more used to receiving content this way so your brand needs to keep up. Your videos don’t need to be Hollywood productions. Just make sure they are clear and that they fit with your brand!   

Fail to Prepare – Prepare to Fail


This was another one of Mr. O’Connor’s favourite sayings, and he used it interchangeably with the tongue twister: “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”.

 I want to end this post by talking about planning. I haven’t included Failing to Plan as one of my key points, because it’s implicit in all of the social media mistakes I’ve discussed. There’s plenty of occasion for reactive and spur of the moment social media posting. This is, after all, the original premise of Instagram. However, and this is a big however, approaching social media for business as a purely ad-hoc and sporadic exercise will do you no favours.  

Best practice is to design and plan your social media calendar. This should feed off your businesses wider content strategy and the insights you yield from analysing your social media analytics.

There are tons of dates and events that we can be proactive about scheduling posts for rather than reactive. Take St. Patrick’s Day. If leveraging this event fits with your brand identity then why not plan for it in advance. Thinking ahead about your content will give you time to produce something of really high quality, rather than panicking on the day to put something out.

Setting time aside to strategise and populate your social media calendar will save you heaps of time in the long run and will help your business be more consistent and engaging on social media.  

Let’s get social!

Now you know what to do and more importantly what not to do it’s time for your business to get social 🙂

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or on CONKER’S social media – Twitter, Facebook, Linked in – and let me know who you are so I can share the love back.

Zombie Frappuccinos & Other Tricks: 5 Ways to Make Halloween a Howling Marketing Success for Your Business 

Zombie Frappuccinos & Other Tricks: 5 Ways to Make Halloween a Howling Marketing Success for Your Business 

Zombie Frappuccino anyone? It’s Halloween after all so why the hell not!

zombie hand holding a frappuccino

If you choose to skip over Halloween in your marketing plan then it’s time to wake up and smell the zombie frappuccino! Full monster-mode is not essential, but a little Halloween never hurt anyone. On the contrary, could help to boost business.

Halloween is basically a free pass for businesses of all shapes and sizes to get creative and have some freaky fun. It’s the perfect opportunity to engage with your customers and show them the personality behind your brand.

And there’s pretty much nothing to be frightened of! In fact, the only thing you should be scared of is missing the opportunity Halloween presents for marketing your business.

Starbucks certainly aren’t missing a trick (or treat) by launching their zombie frappuccino this Halloween season. Twitter has been buzzing with news of the green and pink drink reportedly going on sale from Oct 26-31. If the anticipation alone is anything to go by the macabre coffee is a bonafide hit before a single drop of brain juice has been poured.

So how can we emulate the zombie frappuccino factor in our own businesses?  In this article I’m going to look at 5 ways we can leverage Halloween in our marketing and communications efforts.

1. Seasonality

Cadbury’s know exactly what they’re doing by re-releasing the Cream Egg each year in the lead up to Easter and limiting supply to certain months. If you’re a fan like me then you’ll understand the flurry of excitement I get when I see the Cream Egg basket reinstated in my local shop once more. And you’ll probably also understand why I might take a snap and send it to my partner in Cream Egg crime.

The Shamrock Shake is another excellent example of the lure of limited supply; Making sure I drop in to McDonald’s to get one has become a mandatory part of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for me, and judging by the queues – many others.

I’m in little doubt that the Zombie Frappuccino can achieve similar cult status.

Seasonal items are by their nature limited. That means we have to have them now or miss our chance, hence why I never walk past a Cream Egg basket without picking one up; and hence why I ordered a pumpkin late this morning instead of an Americano. Never under estimate the curiosity factor – the urge we feel to ‘try’ something!

Can you introduce a seasonal offering to your customers around the Halloween period? It needs to be a product, service or event you only offer around Halloween. The more you get in the spirit of things the more appealing it will be.

Some examples? If you are a beauty parlour you could offer a pumpkin facial or, better still, sell a secret witches potion. A restaurant could put blue ‘monster mash’ on the menu – sounds gross but every kid I know would order it. Or maybe run an annual monster munch lunch,  A gym could run a Zombie apocalypse assault course event.

All you need to create a seasonal offering is a bit of  imagination.

 

2. Halloween Promotion

Not all businesses can do a seasonal Halloween offer. However, you can still leverage Halloween as a promotional opportunity.

The promotion itself may have nothing whatsoever to do with Halloween bar the words used. It nevertheless shows that you are up for a bit of Halloween fun and are embracing the holiday. For copywriters like me Halloween promotions offer lots of scope for word play and a good old Halloween pun, or punkin whahaha!

  • Prices so low they’re scary
  • Spooktacular Sale
  • Eat, Drink and be Scary!
  • Dare to…
  • Unearth Big Halloween Savings
  • Wonderfully Wicked
  • Halloween Offers to Fright and Delight
  • Wickedly delicious
  • Goulish goodies
  • Beware of these bewitching X
  • No tricks, just treats

3.  Get Spooky on Social media

Halloween is all about letting your hair down – or putting your wig on even. It’s a great chance to show your customers a bit of personality and to let them know that your business is run by real humans, even if they have to dress like monsters to prove it!

  • Document what’s happening in your business on social by sharing photos of your decorated premises or office.
  • Share photos or videos of your staff in fancy dress.
  • Wish your customers a Happy Halloween using  a fun video or graphic.
  • Spook up your profile picture for the day

 

4. User-generated content on social media

Social media is of course a two-way flow of communication.  Rather than just showing your customers what your business is up to for Halloween you can let them be part of it!  Halloween is the perfect opportunity for user-generated content which has the absolute highest levels of engagement,

Why not host a competition for the best fancy dress, best pumpkin carving, Halloween recipes or just about anything you can conjure up in your cauldron!  Put up a nice prize and you are guaranteed entries. Make the competition a public vote and you’ll be as happy as a trick or treater with a full bag of new fans!

5. Halloween-themed Content Marketing

If publishing content online is part of your digital marketing strategy then consider using Halloween as a content hook. I guarantee this can work for all business types.

You can simply use the language of Halloween to frame your content or you can delve into spooky themes more directly. Either way you’ll be able to create eye-grabbing titles and editorial structures to capture the attention of your audience.

Here are some examples from a variety of industry:

  • For an accountancy firm: What’s scarier than Dracula and Frankenstein put together? Not paying your taxes!
  • For An Estate Agent: Beware of moving next door to the Adam’s Family: 10 ways to suss out if you’ve got good neighbours!
  • For a bookshop: Putting the Boo in Book: The 5 Most Terrifying Horrors of all time.

Happy Halloween

Now that the pumpkin seed of Halloween has been planted in your marketing strategy it’s time to get creative! The tips in this article will help you zone in on what exactly you will focus on this Halloween and hopefully give you a few ideas to play with.

As you can tell from reading this article I’m an absolute blood sucker for Halloween. I’d love to hear what you do, or plan to do in your business around Halloween and see any photos or videos you’d like to share! You can haunt my blog by sharing your spooktacular stories in the comment box below.

Happy Halloween!

Sinead Gillett

Creative Director

7 DIY Tips to Enhance Your Social Media Images For Business

7 DIY Tips to Enhance Your Social Media Images For Business

Social media images are not easy to get right. But that’s not an excuse for poor visuals!  If building a customer base by way of social media marketing is part of your business strategy then you absolutely must master the art of engaging the eye online.

A picture tells a thousand words. This has never been truer than when it comes to social media.  In today’s fast paced digital world we’re lucky to have a customer scan our social media posts let alone read them. You have a split second to capture someone’s attention so your image needs to be good. And I mean really good!

There are 3 key ways to get good social media images: Professional photography, stock images and DIY. There are pros and cons to each, but for many business owners it simply comes down to cost. DIY is often the only realistic long-term option available to us. So we need to figure out how to crack the art of eye-catching social posts.

If you haven’t got ‘the eye’ get ‘the head !  

If you’re like me then you’re nowhere close to being a talented photographer or graphic designer. In Ireland we talk about people who ‘have an eye for it’ – I’m not one of them! However I do believe that you can develop a bit of a ‘head for it’ if you simply learn a few social media tricks that can enhance your images.

With that in mind I’m going to share some basic social media image tips and advice with you. Not all of these will be directly relevant to your product or service industry, but guaranteed you’ll find some actionable take-aways.

So let’s get started

 

1. Always accompany a social media post with an image (even on Twitter)

This is a bit of a precursor to the rest of my tips which are about enhancing social media images. However, I just want to stress the point from the outset that using visuals on social media is ESSENTIAL.

Don’t bother with text-only posts -they’ve been shown to get far less engagement. And if you’re not attaching an image make sure you are attaching something else visual like videos, infographics, memes or boomerang videos

 

2. Quality Control

Only use high quality, high resolution images.  Pixilated or blurry photographs are a No-No.

Irregardless of your other brand personality traits, all businesses need to appear professional. Low quality images do not send that message. So be hard on yourself when it comes to selecting images for your business social media posts.

The ‘try the other shoe social media approach’ can help. It’s easy. Take off your business owner or manager hat and examine your photograph or image as if you’re just a regular Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter (or other) user.  Would you be hitting the like button or wrinkling your nose and moving swiftly along. 

 

3. Find the light!

When taking photographs on your mobile – or, even better, with an SLR digital camera – you need to think about your light. Granted, this is easier said than done when it comes to capturing in the moment situations. However, staged images such as those of people, premises or products can be planned.  

Natural light is 100% always your best option. Take your products outdoors to shoot them if you can. If it is a building or fixed structure you are photographing think about the time of day, or take photos at different times of the day to see when the light is best.

If you are taking a photograph indoors try and position it to receive natural light. If this is not possible then under a good source of artificial light. It can also help to shine a light from the side to backlight or give extra illumination.

Don’t mix natural and artificial light.  This is probably the most basic tip you will get, but also the most important. Once you’ve seen the light you’ll never go back!  

 

4. Gain some photo editing skills

Don’t flinch! Photo editing is not just for professionals or techies. Learning some basic editing skills such as cropping, colour enhancing and filters can improve your images no end.  

Your desktop computer will have some kind of inbuilt software that will help you with things like resizing, cropping, adding text and so on. There are also premium products like Photoshop which everyone has heard of and is industry standard for professionals. For something between these two levels I am personally a fan of Pixlr.  It’s a free online app that offers a fairly sophisticated editing suite.  Getting to grips with it can be a little frustrating to start with. Like everything in life, however, the more you do of it the easier it gets. So stick with it and when you hit a block go straight to YouTube!  

 

5. It’s not all about photos.  

Graphic images also work well on social media. Twitter cards and infographics are great for sharing knowledge in a visually appealing way. Indeed, graphics can be used to jazz up text-based information on Facebook for example sharing a quote or seasonal message.

You can also pair graphics with photos to great effect.

This may sound complicated to you, but there are fantastic applications out there that are specially designed to help people create shareable social media images. My favourite is the freemium site Canva.  It’s foolproof and dare I say it, a lot of fun!  

6. Be consistent

Akin to all areas of business communication it is vital to maintain a clear and consistent brand identity on social media. This means setting brand rules and sticking to them.

Your Instagram profile or ‘collage’ is a really good example of why brand consistency is so important. Customers do not always see your social media post one at a time. They will click through to view your profile as a whole. Your Instagram posts therefore need to work together as part of an overall brand story.  

Make sure your colour scheme reflects your brand and is harmonious across your posts.  For example, a children’s entertainment company can work with vibrant primary colours like red, blue and yellow whereas a company that manufactures outdoor clothing may want a more natural earthy palette. Imagine if the outdoor clothing company randomly added a bright yellow image to its Instagram or Facebook account. It would stand out like a sore thumb and confuse the brand altogether.

The same goes for typography.  Pick a font family and stick to it, and be consistent with the size of the font you use when adding text to images.  

Other things to look out for are the placement and size of your logo if/when you add it to an image. Generally, you will also have rules about what you depict in your social media posts which will relate back to your overall brand vision.  

The important thing to remember is that social media provides an outlet for you to build brand awareness. By being consistent with your visuals you’ll develop a pattern which in turn elicits brand recognition and familiarity with your customers. Ultimately you want a customer to see a stand alone social media image of yours and for them to say ‘that looks like it’s from …(Your Business)’.

7.Learn about  Design Elements

If you’re committed to improving your social media images with tips 1 through 6 then you’re well on the way to eye-catching social media success. In fact, I would go as far as saying you’ve graduated and can officially call yourself a jack of the trade!  

If you want to raise it up a notch to Master level the next step is to take on board a little education about design elements. I’m not telling you to go off and do a graphic design degree or even a course – what business owner has the time for that!  But it’s worthwhile doing some tip of the iceberg reading on design to learn about the various elements within an image you should consider – things like colour, contrast, weight, shapes, lines, pattern, negative space and so on.  Honestly, this is one of those times when you really can put theory into practice!  

If you read nothing else then this design tips article from Buffer Social will  give you a quick lesson.  

 

Time to get cracking!

Enough of these words! Let’s see some images! Now that you’ve got a few DIY tips for your tool belt you it’s time to get cracking on making visible improvements to your social media. I’d love to see how you get on so feel free to connect with my social media channels and I’ll be sure to swing by yours to take a look.

In the meantime if you have any specific questions relating to social media, content or digital marketing then please leave a comment or drop me a mail. I’m always happy to hear from readers and find out what you want to know so I an address it here on the blog.

 

Sinead Gillett

Creative Director