I’ve been lucky enough to make it to the finals at the awards several times over the years in various categories, the most poignant being 4 weeks after starting this site here which led to me gaining the confidence to return to TV directing before eventually making blogging and vlogging my full time career.
Honest Mum will be 6 years old in November 2016 and the last 4 years have seen me work prolifically as a blogger, vlogger and digital influencer, now with a small team at HM HQ.
I’ve had posts here and on social media go viral several times and this site is now regarded as being in the top 5% of blogs worldwide.
I’m also going to be speaking about my career at BritMums Live, sharing my experience and expertise in how you can thrive in this digital field. I hope you can make my session.
…I define myself as a ‘digital storyteller’ connecting with readers across all platforms from this site here to Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Stumble Upon, Linkedin and Tumblr, creating content which includes photos, videos, gifs as well as of course the written word in a personal, honest and hopefully fun and inspiring way.
I also work with global brands on international campaigns in primarily the beauty, food, family and style sectors.
…Content might vary from a sumptuous Greek salad on the blog to a quote on how tough parenting can be on Facebook, with the same end-goal: to connect genuinely with others in a meaningful way.
Here are my top 10 social media tips to help maximise your presence online.
Always Be Yourself
It goes without saying but I’m saying it anyway! It’s as crucial to be yourself online, as it is IRL.
Not everyone will get you, nor you, them, but that’s OK. Don’t try and be someone you’re not and don’t go changing either!
Know that you are putting yourself out there and everyone’s a critic but you can handle it. Start growing a thick skin and reminding yourself of how fly you are.
And I mean REMIND YOURSELF.
The brain is plastic, the more you practice self-confidence (and keep telling yourself how awesome you are), the easier it becomes to re-wire and re-educate yourself until you truly believe it. It’s science. Don’t argue with science!
The beautiful thing about blogging and social media is that for the majority of the time (hey there trolls) ‘like meets like’ so people interested in the thing you’re posting will discover you, and hopefully, will keep coming back.
This is how organic SEO (search engine optimisation) works-people ask the internet questions and search engines come up with answers/ recommend sites.
Yes, the websites which are deemed the highest quality/authority are usually those which have been around the longest or pay for advertising to be listed first, but people will eventually find your blog so keep plugging away.
Content is king, always so make it cracking.
For further clarity on the ways you can gain traffic to your site your site, Jon Marrow of Smart Blogger breaks it down:
Social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Social bookmarking (Pinterest, Reddit, etc.)
But back to being yourself. To be successful long term, you have to be true to you. It will be too draining to keep up the pretence.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired by others. Read widely and analyse why you like what you do, but know unequivocally that what makes you original and unique, is your voice.
It distinguishes you from every other creator out there so own it!
Also please note that everything ANYONE who shares ANYTHING online is doing so in a selective way. Unless they were streaming unedited footage on them 24 hours a day, content is an edited version of events.
That is the nature of social media and all things creative.
As a director, narratives would always be constructed, whatever the medium- and that’s exactly what we do as creators online.
That doesn’t mean we can’t be genuine, it just means we are in control of what we share. And how empowering is that?!
2. Write What You Want to Read and Watch, Yourself
It’s so important to share your passions and write/create what you would want to read and view yourself.
My site is an online magazine sharing my love of family, as well as food, fashion, beauty, culture and travel. It is a reflection of my life and interests. I would personally feel limited to stick to just one single niche, although it works for others.
You don’t have to be a niche blogger to be successful. You are your niche!
3. Add Value to People’s Lives
Whether you’re a beauty YouTuber or a car blogger, you need to add value to people’s lives.
Be it sharing beautiful blooms into people’s feeds to make them smile or giving advice on how to breed dogs, create and share what makes you happy but don’t forget to think about your end-user: your audience.
Writing and sharing content online is not dissimilar to filmmaking. We are ultimately creating EMOTION ON SCREEN. Making people care.
Blogging, vlogging and social media are means for entertainment and education. They are vehicles to transport others across time, space and location. They are change-makers.
A way to share our point of view of the world, with the world.
Storytelling is cathartic, empowering and a lifeline to us as humans. We ‘need’ as people to connect, love and share.
It really is as simple as that.
Always ask yourself the intention of your work.
Who does it add value to and why?
What is the theme of your post, the meaning of your work.
The driving force of this post is to help others improve their social media presence.
4. Become your own Best Publicist
I’ve written about this before, in my post Be Your Best Publicist and while I have a super publicist as part of my team, I’ve always been adept at my own PR.
It’s crucial you work at self-promotion too.
You might have the most captivating must-read blog or compelling product but if no one knows about them, how will they find/buy from you?
The movie industry spends 50% of a film’s budget on P&A (press and advertising). Makes you think huh!
But how to increase PR and visibility?
Contact local and national press (email addresses are easy to find via search engines), find an angle for your work/product/story and don’t forget to reach out on twitter and other sm to bloggers and journalists.
They too are always seeking stories. I run a popular Wonderful Women interview series where bloggers, business owners and PR’s regularly contact me to feature their or their clients’ work.
A Contact Page is a vital addition too (most of my requests come through there despite having an email button)-as is keeping all your social media buttons high, at the top of your page for easy-access.
PR is also commenting on other people’s sites from well known bloggers to your own friends. Leaving comments allows readers to discover your own blogs and businesses and depending on the commenting tool and set up, leaving your url can help with SEO too.
Do use the same gravatar image of you/your business everywhere online and in press to help with instant recognition and PR and don’t forget to include urls of your social media handles on ALL of your pages and handles online (as well as including them in the description box on YT videos) and other sites you write for.
I also advise creating a logo or commissioning a designer to make one for you. Whether you want to monetise your site or not, start thinking of and presenting yourself as a brand.
It’s time to get slick!
5. Analyse and Reflect on Which Content Works Best & Where
It’s time to start analysing which posts and social media posts gain the most engagement and traction.
I know, for example that funny images about parenting work best on my FB blog page so I stick to those where possible.
I also know which posts on my site are the most read, thanks to Google Analytics: opinion, food and style.
On YouTube, it’s travel and beauty and hair how-to’s which fits the medium.
I also often ask my readers what they like to read most.
You can run a poll tweet on twitter or ask your likers on FB in a status what they’d like to see more of or even send out a questionnaire to your subscribers or write a post appealing for feedback.
…When it comes to Instagram, I try and keep photos to those taken with my Canon G7X or 7D so they look as professional and crisp as possible (with only a few phone ones interspersed).
I always use the free app Snapseed to edit photos in-camera if I am using phone shots and I often look at my gallery as a whole to just how photos can be best curated together.
I mix up content to reflect the different aspects of my life.
I would advise to always add tags to your images (you can use Tags For Likes or simply search popular tags on the app) and don’t forget to tag brands and locations in to your photos to help with searches too.
I have personally found that style, beauty and travel posts work best for me on that platform.
Instagram has always been the fashion and beauty-bloggers’ sm of choice so it makes sense, but of course parenting Instagrammers and others are thriving too!
6. Social Media is Picture-Heavy So Get Shooting
Know that all social media platforms are picture-heavy. Use imagery to entice readers in to read your words. Ensure that when you share pictures on twitter and fb they are landscape images, and portrait for Pinterest.
Shoot with the light falling on your face/subject so never pointing directly into a window for example and consider taking a photographic course to improve your skills.
7. Use Social Media Scheduling
Whether blogging is your job or not, I would advise you schedule content to make your life easier. This allows you to be visible online and reach people even when you’re not active there.
That doesn’t mean not being present online too, social media is about conversation so don’t forget to actually connect there too.
…I use Social Oomph to schedule evergreen posts on my blog-mostly recipes on twitter and popular opinion pieces which will literally run until I stop them.
This keeps my timeline busy, vibrant and engaging.
Tail Wind is a useful scheduler for Pinterest for scheduling content.
8. Embrace Video
The 30+ market is only at the start of their YouTube journey, whereas younger generations literally grew up with online tutorials and vlogs, making the likes of Tanya Burr and Zoella, household names.
As this younger audience matures, the content you are creating now will appeal to them (even if takes a few years) and you will grow in popularity. Think of the long term.
You really are missing a trick if you don’t start creating video content, be it on YT, Facebook Live, Snapchat, Periscope or in shorter form on Instagram (do it all if you can).
You can point and shoot using your phone and there are some simple in-phone editing apps you can use if you’re a beginner or just want to make things easy.
I love my Canon G7X which is a simple and lightweight camera (and the YouTubers’ favourite), making it ideal for vlogging on the run.
I use Adobe Premiere to edit on the PC (you can use it on the Mac too). You can also use it on your phone.
Do get to grips with video because it’s going nowhere!
9. You Don’t Have to Do Everything All of the Time
I know what you’re thinking. How can I possibly do all this and lead a normal life? Well you don’t have to do it all and not all of the time, either.
Some creators find they want to focus on YT and grow their audience there, others are committed to FB as that suits their material etc…I would say the ideal is to have a blog and a YT channel with twitter, instagram, pinterest and FB platforms supporting those at the very least.
Blogging and YT go hand in hand as you can embed your videos into your blog and you should add your blog urls in corresponding videos in the description box to help with SEO and cross promotion.
You should also upload video content natively on the platforms you are using so don’t plug YT videos on FB (Facebook will only include a small viewing box with YT links to prevent people bouncing off their site over to their competitor) so upload your YT video as a video onto Facebook.
The same goes for Instagram-upload 10 second clips from your YT film to entice people to head to YT to see the full cut.
My Instagram account is also connected to my other social media accounts so I can easily share images/video posted there on FB, twitter, tumblr etc if I choose too, so link up your accounts to save time.
It’s also important to curate different content for different platforms.
I rarely tend to share personal posts on Linkedin for example, as my connections there are mostly from the film/media and business sectors so my content reflects their interests.
Don’t just focus on sharing your own content on your channels too, share others’ your audience will relate to from blogging friends to well known sites.
Look at trends on BuzzSumo which lists viral content determined by category for inspiration.
10. Ultimately, Be Kind to Yourself
This is not a race. Stop competing. Don’t compare yourself on day 1 to someone who is on day 101 or a million and one.
This is your very own journey, it is unlike anyone else’s and everyone started at the beginning. There will always be someone behind you and someone ahead.
Ask yourself if you enjoy what you do, whether you feel stimulated, stretched and excited about your work for the majority of the time (we all have bad days, don’t forget)! If the answer is YES, then keep truckin’.
I get how easy it is to feel that in the mammoth sea that is the internet, your voice might not matter but please know, it’s just as important as anyone else’s.
There is space on the internet for all and enough success to go around, OK!
My Mum was my very first reader on the blog and she still reads it today.
If she was STILL the only one reading, I’d still keep creating. Hi Mum!
Know that being scared is natural, inevitable and actually truly positive.
It means you really want something- and while pursuing your dreams is frightening, we only grow and flourish when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. (My good friend, media psychologist Emma Kenny of Make Your Switch always reminds me of this)!
So, go push yourself. Create, make ‘mistakes’ and learn from them, celebrate your triumphs and simply enjoy the process!