This is the presentation I gave at the PA Expo 2016. I thought I would share it with you.

9 years in corporate IT combined with 12 years owning a web design and development business gave me great foundations to be digital Trainer. I help many business owners to understand how to use the internet to effectively market their business in a cost effective way. This includes teaching Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, email marketing techniques, building your own website and analyzing data.

When modern Social Media platforms like Facebook appeared in 2006/7 I made a point of joining each one as soon as I could, not that I’m a total Geek. I wanted to learn as much as I could not just about how a platform worked but also about how people were using it.

There is no getting away from the important role Social Media currently plays in marketing your business. Many of your customers and potential customers are actively using Social Media every week, many use it every day. An average of 60% of the UK population have a Facebook Account.

Many of your competitors have a Social Media presence for their business. You’ve probably been told you NEED to have a Facebook page or you simply must start using Twitter? Even Google seems very keen on using Social Media for your business. Your engagement on Social Media platforms now factors into how high up the Google rankings you come. It seems that if you want to get your website on page 1 of Google then you are more likely to achieve this by being active on at least 1 Social Media platform.

But Social Media wasn’t designed as a promotional platform. Over the years business has seen an opportunity to promote through Social Media in a similar way that Adverts made their way onto our TV screens.

Most small business owners have found themselves using Social Media with no training. Many employees have been handed the job of running the company Social Media simply because they had a personal Facebook profile. Are those scenarios familiar to any of you?

I’m going to share with you today just some of what I teach. I’d like to give you some guidelines about using Social Media as a business. Bear in mind that technology advances very quickly and that Social Media is constantly changing. I’m still learning and I think I always will be.

You may already be aware of some of what we cover today and some you may even disagree with. We will be holding a question and answer session following the short presentation and I encourage you to ask any Social Media related questions then. In my book the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

Let’s start with what I consider to be one of the most important things I teach. One that I see many people get wrong – even big brands. So my first tip on the do’s and don’ts of Social Media is:

DON’T SELL: The clue to this tip is in the name ‘Social’ media. This is people’s down time, their time to relax. They are on Social Media for a bit of fun, a conversation. They sit with a cuppa and their feet up reading Facebook. They stand on the train to work flicking through Twitter. They mooch through fashion ideas on Pinterest in their lunch break.

What they aren’t doing is actively looking for adverts. Personally I’ve never met somebody who preferred to watch the adverts rather than the TV programs. Overtly selling on Social Media is like trying to sell the guests at a party Double glazing. Please assure me you wouldn’t do that!

Your job is to provide useful, fun or informative content. Tell people how you personally feel about your product. Share how a customer felt about your service. Join in the conversation. Start a conversation. Rather than posting “Here is another Blue Giraffe for sale” instead put some feeling into it.

“Oh wow! I’m totally in love! Have you seen the latest in our collection of Blue Giraffes? His name is Jeremy. I think he is so adorable. What about you?”

DON’T BE RUDE: manners are important. Don’t be pushy. Private messaging somebody to ask them to join your Network marketing business is a little rude if they haven’t already expressed an interest. Adding people to groups without their consent is normally a great way to make yourself very unpopular.

Use clear language, don’t be ambiguous. You don’t want your message misconstrued. I hope I don’t really need to say this but no swearing. I know it’s very easy to get carried away when you are feeling strong emotions but no bad language, ever, when representing your business.

Remember to say Thank you! If somebody is sharing your stuff then thank them. They will probably keep doing it!

DON’T BE SELFISH: In the same vein as good manners remember you are posting for the benefit of your audience not your ego! Every single member of your audience is only interested in WIFFM – What’s in it for me! They don’t want to know what you do, only what you can do for them. So are you entertaining them or educating them – or both?

Social Media works best when you write from the heart. Be emotive. Create yourself a tribe who love you just as much as they love what you sell or do. Position yourself as somebody to turn to for help or advice. If you sell Blue Giraffes then make sure you position yourself as an expert on everything Blue Giraffe. Your raging fans become your advocates. These are the people who share your posts, recommend you to others and generally enthuse about you and your business.

POST ENOUGH: Be aware of how often you post. Once per day on Facebook is fine but it’s nowhere near enough for Twitter. 10 times a day may be fine on Twitter but if you post that often on Facebook you will be very unpopular!

Think about how your audience use the platform and post appropriately.

Alongside that goes one of my controversial tips.

DON’T CROSS POST: Don’t use automated software to share every Facebook post to Twitter or every Tweet back to Facebook. They are two very different animals.

I like to describe Facebook as more like your mum. Sitting comfortably with a cup of tea and a French Fancy leafing through the Woman’s Weekly. Twitter is more like your kids. Never sitting still. Flitting from one topic to the next. Generally always on the go. Now you wouldn’t talk to your mum the way you talk to your kids, if she is anything like my mum then a verbal slap would be forthcoming.

Use language appropriate to your audience. Many people stay on Facebook because they don’t get Twitter. Don’t alienate them by using Twitter speak. And don’t waste an opportunity to say more, you aren’t limited to 140 characters. On the other side people on Twitter rarely have the time or inclination to click on read more when your Tweet is too long.

BE ACTIVE on your chosen Social Media platform. You don’t want people to feel you don’t care, don’t have time or are closed. You don’t have to be on every Social Media platform. You don’t have time. Pick one and learn to do it well and in 10 minutes per day. Then move onto including another one only when you feel you can successfully manage it. Don’t feel pushed by others into taking on something you know you aren’t going to do justice to.

DON’T BE NEGATIVE: there is lots of sadness and negativity in the world today. People are using Social Media for a social experience. Be positive, people like happy. Socialising is supposed to be a positive experience, contribute to that.

DON’T BELIEVE everything you read. This is true for the internet in general but particularly true for Facebook. Remember that quote “If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is”? Bear that in mind.

There are plenty of fake Facebook profiles, pages competitions and plain bad advice floating around Facebook on daily basis. Think it through. Are Apple really going to give away a very expensive phone simply because the packaging is a little damaged? Can that Disney Cruise ship really not sail with one empty cabin? Personally I would love to win a Lamborghini, but it’s not going to happen through Facebook.

These things are generally being used to dupe people into liking fake pages (which are subsequently sold) or worse they link to nasty little programs called Malware and Viruses. Check your facts with websites like Hoax Slayer and Snopes.

USE COMMON SENSE: This applies to making friends on Facebook in particular. If that burly looking soldier from the USA or that busty blonde from Russia keep sending you friends requests – ask yourself why? Do you actually know them? Just because you have friends in common doesn’t mean you want to add that person to your friends list. You may not be too keen on getting private messages from them with inappropriate images and comments.

That takes us nicely onto…

PRIVACY AND SECURITY: Know what the settings are for each platform you use. I would recommend setting your privacy and security settings to their max.  As part of this make sure you use a strong password. No dictionary words, no birthdays and not the name of your dog. A strong password should have at least 7 characters, use a mix of lower and uppercase letters, include a number or two and one symbol like an exclamation mark or asterisk. If the platform you are using has additional security measures like send a PIN to your mobile phone, switch them on. There are plenty of horrid people out there with way too much time on their hands.

FACEBOOK is still the most popular platform with over 60% of the UK population having an account. This is also the platform where people seemed more inclined to break the rules. I have picked up the pieces more than once when business owners have flouted the rules and found themselves heavily penalised.

The main DON’T specifically for Facebook is…

DON’T USE YOUR PERSONAL PROFILE FOR BUSINESS: There is a massive temptation to break this rule as people hear that Facebook limit exposure of your posts to only 1% of your fan base. Please don’t be tempted to list your mate who tells you their mate has been using a Facebook profile to sell their stuff and is raking it in. It is likely either untrue or unsustainable.

If you break Facebook’s rules then expect to be punished. Imagine building up a friends list of 500 people on your profile. All potential or actual customers. Facebook sees you breaking the rules and shuts down your profile. All those contacts are gone – with no warning. If you are lucky Facebook may give you the opportunity to convert your profile into a Business page – but don’t bank on that. How gutted would you be to lose all that hard work?

Create yourself a proper business page then make sure your personal profile lists your page as your place of work! While you are at it make sure all your business pages list a link back to your website on every platform you use.

To get the most from Social Media in the easiest way – be yourself! You are unique. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but then not everyone is your ideal customer.

ONE LAST but very important point about using Social Media for business. Don’t build your business entirely on any Social Media platform. I’ve heard many people say that you only need a Facebook page to sell your products. NO! Facebook own your page. Facebook control your page. Facebook can take it away at any time. What do I mean?

Here is my story. An untrue allegation of Trade Mark infringement was made to Facebook about one of business pages. Facebook didn’t check if the allegation was true. They didn’t ask me if it were true. They notified me of the allegation AFTER they took my page down. I’m still fighting to get my page 3 months later. I was totally within the rules posting original content, in fact I own the Trade Mark. Facebook didn’t care. Had all my business come through my Facebook page where would that have left me?

Social Media is only one part of your Digital Marketing Strategy – not the whole of it.