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Announcement - after three years together



After three years together, including some ups and downs, Zebra and I would like to announce that this week Zebra Consulting Group became a limited company.

Nothing is really changing about our relationship except for a few things financially and legally.  Effectively it’s just a piece of paper that offers me some protection financially.

We’re both changing our names – I’m changing from Owner to Managing Director and Zebra is simply adding Ltd to the end of his / her name.

The practicalities of the ceremony only took about 10 minutes online with gov.uk (it was done privately, with no flashy ceremony, just as I wished).  I like to think that Zebra and I have had a long and relatively happy engagement.

Being with Zebra has let me do other things which working full time for others couldn’t give me, such as flexibility in hours, time to work on other projects, the ability to prioritise my children and to have greater say over my working hours and pay: Zebra understands I want to see friends and have hobbies.  Zebra has allowed me to change and grow and yet still be there.  We’ve grown together.

I’d like to thank all our friends and family who have been very supportive of me and the black and white one.  We look forward to a long and happy future together.

The brick wall of content creation


Ever felt like this when it comes to content creation?



I've heard people responsible for marketing and content creation admit to the following feelings:

“It’s 4pm and I think sh** I haven’t posted on social media today and I have no idea what to write!”

“My manager thinks I can just produce stuff to post on social media out of thin air but some days I’m just not feeling it. I have 20 emails to work through, someone knocking at my door and a to do list as long as my arm. Social media is the last thing on my mind.”

“The last time I took a photo to post on social media no one smiled. I can’t post this, it will make us look ridiculous."

"Everyone expects you to post happy positive upbeat stuff on social media, but it's not reality to be like that every part of every day. I can't get the words out to sound right."



STOP!

Relax. Let's think and plan.

We all have off days and too many days when we’re too busy to plan out what on earth to post on social media. In the meantime we're comparing ourselves to other businesses and brands who are nailing it online and posting live videos about how their crushing their business goals, which makes us feel even more like we're failing.

That’s when you need a stock of go-to-happy-sounding posts that will go out and do the work for you whilst you carry on with the humdrum of every day.

There's also huge value in planning your content in advance so that you know you have a stock of decent photos, key messages and your regular calls to action going out even when you're not in the mood to post something original.

If you've hit a brick wall when it comes to your content creation, strategy and scheduling for social media, I can help.  It might be advice or someone to listen and chew over the problem with you to get a strategy sorted, or you may need more practical help with creating a good block of content that can go out while you concentrate on other things that don't involve brick walls.

Simple Ways to Increase Quality Followers on Twitter




Right from the off with Zebra, I was posting about the perils of fake followers and I've talked about it for 3 years relentlessly.

Even during the very early start-up phase of business I was already being asked by more than 1 client (no naming and shaming here) to remove their followers who are not genuine.  Groan – me thinking why did you DO THAT in the first place?

Purchasing “fake followers” and “phoney likes”.  Because these companies have painfully worked out that despite it being extremely cheap to buy thousands of followers, you get zero return on your ‘investment’.  Spammy accounts can even make your business look bad too which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.  Oh and did I mention you can get your social media account closed down for this?  Just ask Paul Hollywood.

Whilst it might be tempting to grow your follower list by buying in the thousands at a time, stop and think.  Followers for the sake of followers doesn’t bring in money and CANNOT achieve your business objectives.  Today I’m sharing some realistic thoughts on how to increase ‘quality’ followers.

How to Increase Quality Followers:

1.       Set your goals for who you want to follow you and why.  Do you want more exposure, or to connect with people who can provide you with information, or do you want to connect with like-minded people in your field? Or do you simply want to reach out to more potential customers i.e. the ultimate business goal of profit?  Do some research on the types of profiles that exist.  Write it down.  Be clear.

2.       Make sure your Twitter profile stacks up with what your business does. A good quality profile picture and banner are essential.  They must be consistent with your other graphics across your website and other social media platforms.  Your bio needs to quickly and simply convey what you do and / or what you stand for.

3.       Go to the accounts of the people or companies you want to connect with and check out who they are following. You can quickly build up your follower list with the right people by connecting with these active accounts

4.       Create lists – this way you organise the accounts you follow which will later help you target the right people / companies.  Also, people tend to be flattered when you add them to your list – and they may be more inclined to follow you back (as long as your profile stacks up)

5.       Add links to your website – people are looking on Twitter for information – always - so by giving them something else to click on you are giving your audience what they want

6.       Write articles and post items that are interesting, error free and inspiring – many folks are looking for information for learning or simply to retweet

7.       Polite and appropriate engagement with your followers and those whom you follow (thanking new followers, thanking those who share your articles)

8.       Got an interesting article or news topic or burning question that you’d love to share? Good! Twitter is the place. Make sure to mention someone appropriate in your tweet which goes a long way to building the all-important engagement and interaction

You’ll want to increase the flow of money coming into your organisation, make valuable connections with the right influencers, forge long term partnerships and build a solid, credible reputation.
Fake followers are not paying customers.  Better to have a small following of people who will follow you back, read your posts, read your blogs, get to know you and ultimately, buy something from you or recommend your company and its services to someone else.

Speak truth even if your voice shakes


Easier said than done whether this is face to face, at home, in business, or on social media. But getting to the truth and being your authentic self is the only way forward.

The world is transforming at a startling pace.  We hear about digital transformation and innovation all the time.  But to move forward with this, we also have to innovate within ourselves and go through a personal transformation.

Transformation starts with a commitment to speaking truth.  When we see leaders role modelling speaking their own truth within organisations, there’s something very empowering about that for those who work with them.  It gives people permission to be themselves and to add their own voices which promotes self-worth and motivation.

When human beings hear the truth, it holds power - the power of connection, of knowing, of joy.

I’m here to help businesses and business owners connect with their own truth about what they’re offering, and to whom, and to enable them to speak it online in the most authentic way possible.

If your voice shakes?  We'll write it instead.  We'll turn it into a picture.

Why Being Authentic Matters On Social Media




Authenticity is my middle name.  Actually, it’s Jane, but perhaps we’ll get onto that another time.

Back to authenticity: since setting up Zebra I’ve talked a lot about authenticity.  What I really mean is that Zebra is a values-based business where being truthful and open matters – and that runs into how we present ourselves and our businesses online.

Being truly yourself in your social media presence isn’t just good for your wellbeing and personal development, it’s great for your business, too.

Are you really and TRULY yourself on social media?  Do you need to be for your business to thrive and for you to make the most meaningful connections with the right people, to get you from where you are now to where you really want to be?

I’d go as far as saying that if a potential client comes to me and something about their personality or business offering doesn’t stack up (i.e. they have an issue with authenticity) then I’m highly unlikely to work with them.  Learnt THAT one through painful experience.

They too, in response, would be highly unlikely to warm to my values-based, call a spade a spade approach.

I’ve had a few times when a business owner has asked me to “do their social media marketing” but upon trying to dig deeper there’s nothing at all to dig into and you’re left with two choices – (1) whether to polish a turd or (2) say goodbye.  Option 1 is soul destroying and impossible once you’ve committed to authenticity.

Social media is all about growing and deepening your connections – hopefully resulting in sales, but also picking up fans, new opportunities, insights, training, mentors and collaborators along the way.

Authenticity is uncovering those aspects of you and your business that speak to the masses.  Your USP always comes from your people so by showing people the REAL you, you cannot fail to make the right connections.

Having an authentic presence on social media enables you to find and develop meaningful contacts who love what you do and stand for, and ultimately will help you grow your business.

What’s stopping you?

I’m living proof that people are their own worst nightmares when it comes to creating blocks for themselves.  I’ve got walls that would make Donald Trump proud and I’ve been trying to smash them down for the past few years.  I’m one of those people who finds that easier to do for others than for myself, like so many people in helping professions.

Reasons why people shy away from being themselves on social media:

1.      Fear of success (self-talk goes like “shit, what if I’m really good and my business grows beyond my wildest dreams! How will I cope?”)  This is more common than you might think

2.      Fear of what others will say (imagined talk of others “who does she think she is? Oh gosh what if they have a point – who do I think I am? Better get back in line”.)

But please don’t!  Please don’t get back in line.  If you have a great message, one of information sharing, one of truth, one of progress, then I’m not only on your side, I’m here to help you shine more brightly than you thought was possible.

Let my knowledge and skills boost you and your business to be the best version of yourself and your business.

I hear you.  Really – I’m a good listener.  But also, I HEAR YOU on a deeper level.  I can hear the passion in your voice, I notice when your eyes light up, I hear when your voice gets stronger and I feel it when your energy animates your entire body, even if you’re on the other side of the world and we’re chatting over Skype.

I see all the spaces in between what you’re saying and then I find a creative and authentic way to replicate that online so that you feel what you’re saying OUT THERE is also what your heart is saying IN THERE.  I can give as much or as little input as you need.

I’ll help you find the best hashtags and the best fit accounts to start you on a path to building relationships with the people that fit you.

Sometimes we can’t see ourselves clearly – but I’ll see you.  And I’m there to help you be your best self.  I’m your springboard away from fear and toward the life and the business you want.

Just come to me with your authentic self and I’ll do the same back.

5 Steps to proving your worth on Instagram


Instagram is not all pretty pink chair and fluffy rugs
but a bit of eye candy won't hurt


How can you prove your worth on Instagram?

Let’s firstly take a look at what NOT to do

I’m going to put this out there.  Instagram images that are all about making money make me wanna puke.  You may have seen them – a celebrity picture that has little or nothing to do with the quote or a really expensive car.  The photo will be garish with yellow or red writing.  Seriously - red writing – just don’t!  Instagram is not a horror movie.  There will be copious dollar signs and possibly a behind the scenes shot of some geezer smoking a cigar.  This is a masterclass in how NOT to provide worthy content.  It’s bullshit and will attract bullshitters.

How do I know what’s worthy then?

1.       Research competitors’ pages. Research your competitors and people you admire.  Work out what are their most popular posts. Emulate them.  I said emulate, not copy.

2.       Research your clients existing clients / customers. What else do they follow? What else do they like? What do they engage with?  Give them more of what they want.  This may mean tweaking your services or products or the way you present them.  Go with what is most popular and do it really well.

3.       Feedback. Pay attention to feedback from your customers and clients. What is it that they most value about what you know, do, say, give, make, share, etc?  Feedback is one way to discover your worth. I’m lucky – as a trainer people give me feedback all the time. Face to face, real time feedback (that tends to be the positive stuff!).  The stuff that people respond positively to, provides me with content.

4.       Work out who are you valuable to? Your worth holds value to someone – or many. It’s simply a matter of finding the people who need what you currently know or have or do or create – and then sharing it with them.  These people may be location dependent or a particular demographic. Take time to segment your market and figure out where they are.

5.       Acid test. Is what you’re about to post extrinsically or intrinsically worthy?  Example from my own IG feed – extrinsic worth are the free tips and actions that followers can go away and implement to improve their own accounts.  It’s business-related. It’s social media related. A follower can take it and use it and I’m ok with that.  Posts with intrinsic worth are quotes, meaningful statements and truths.  They will make your followers stick.  If you take time to create content that holds meaning, that is worthy in itself and people recognise that.

6 Easy Methods That Will Dramatically Improve Your Blogging Success




1.       Do your competitor research. Spend some time on Google finding out which of your competitors’ blogs are reaching the top spots. There’s a good reason why those blogs end up at the top of the search rankings!  If you’re at a starting point with your blog, seek to emulate their content. At least you know it will drive some content to your site.

2.       Produce at least 10 blogs per month to drive enough fresh relevant traffic to your website.

3.       Don’t go it all alone! Whether you need to hire a writer with experience of SEO and online marketing or whether it’s just a case of getting someone to cast an eye over your blog to prevent mistakes, make sure there are at least 2 of you on the job.

4.       Check that a link to your business blog can be found from your home page. Easily. You won’t even believe me that many companies fail to do this, but it’s true.  If your readers can’t find your blog, you’re missing vital clicks!

5.       Know your audience. Oh gosh yes, you’re like “I ALREADY KNOW THAT! I did English at school.” But get deeper with it because this matters.  Do you really know your customers and know what makes them tick? What emotions do they connect with? Give them that. Get to know them. When your audience reads your blog, they have to know you and feel like they want to know you more.  So yes, engage a blog writer to help with your blogging.  But make sure you give them LOADS of information about what your customers like about your company and what they want more of.  If you’re unsure – ask them!

6.       Make it conversational. Like you’re having an actual chat with the reader.  Blogging is intentionally informal.  Imagine yourself genuinely having a chat with the reader.  Like you’re sitting down having a cuppa, looking them in the eyes when you’re talking.  Like their ears can hear your voice.

There is a lot more to blogging than this but following these 6 simple steps will ensure you are well on your way to blogging success.
If you’re looking to hire a blog writer, give me a call on 07544461914. I will be happy to discuss your blogging needs.