27 April 2012

A Guide to Social Networking

I have recently been inspired to write this post, by a few of our clients, who are just entering the somewhat daunting world of social networking. So how important can these platforms be for your business? How often should you use them? And how should you use them?

Social networks are like little windows...

The way that I often describe social networks to our clients is that they are like little windows into businesses. When you are first starting out, and no one yet knows about you - or even when you are established and you need to broaden your audience - social networks can be an invaluable way of introducing your company to your community, fellow businesses, and, well, the world.

Advertising can be so great if you hit the right places, but so often I hear of people regretting the big hole that they have gouged out of their tiny small-business budget, having invested it in expensive advertising that has turned up little result. So, unless you are sure that you have found a really great platform to advertise on, I would say that social networking is a fantastic tool to use for the exact same purpose - and it is free!

The other reason that I think social networks are great, lies in the name itself - it is sociable and it is a great networking platform. It can get quite lonely, running your own business, and I really think there is a lot to be said for being linked up on these platforms, for this very reason alone. Even if you are not actually in dialogue with anyone, it can really help to read what other people are up to during their day, and in their businesses. It enthuses you - energises you - and really develops your business skills. There are so many ideas, there is so much support, and so many sources of inspiration to be found on them.

It is however very daunting to get into social networking when you are so new to it - I know this - but once you have bagged a few good pointers, it really is easy - and if it doesn't end up paying off for you, there is absolutely nothing in the way of you stopping.

Make them work for and not against you...

This is one of the major hindrances with social pages I think - they are high maintenance. After all, they are an ongoing means of communication between you and your audience, and so your readers will expect regular updates and dialogue from you.

I think that everyone that has had social pages for their businesses, will have experienced a time where they felt that it was taking up too much of their day. I myself have felt this way. The real secret is to schedule your time on them, and stick to it - if you do this from the very beginning, you will not only find them easier to use, but your posts will have far more substance to them.

A good rule of thumb would be to schedule, say, 10 minutes 3 times a day to spend on your pages like Facebook and Twitter. During this time, you can create posts, and keep in touch with other pages / companies / people that you are linked up with. As for your blog, checking it once a day would suffice, to respond to any comments on your posts, and to keep up to date with other blogs that you are following.

Speaking of blog posts, these are things that can take up huge chunks of your time all by themselves, but it is important that you try to stick to regular blogging - your audience will appreciate the consistency and it helps them to know when to expect a new post, which is how you are going to gain regular readers.

Releasing a new blog post once a week is sufficient - and sometimes more often if you can. Once a week is easy enough to fit in, and at your busiest times, you can easily schedule your post writing to be done at the end of a day or during an evening, so that it is not interfering too much with your working day. Remember that the point of your blog is to enjoy it!

Lastly, at the end of every week, it is good practice to review your statistics, in order to keep check on how your Facebook page and your blog is performing.

Achieving a strong social presence is key...

There is a whole load of information that I could give you on this topic - it is a minefield - but here are some staples for creating a strong social presence...

• Do implement your brand carefully and consistently across your social pages.
  - Both visually in the design and physically in the names that you give to your pages.

• Do make use of filling out all of the information in your profiles.
  - Blank / half filled out information fields won't cut it!

• Don't get too personal.
  - There is a fine line between showing your personality and being unprofessional.

• Do use proper English.
  - The use of slang, bad language and slack punctuation just looks unprofessional.

• Don't bad mouth other people, including your customers.
  - You never know who is reading it, and it just isn't necessary.

• Do think about your brand when posting.
  - Certain things may reflect negatively on your company.

• Do support other people and businesses.
  - This is how you make important connections and build relationships.

• Don't only use your pages to advertise yourself.
  - Your audience will tire of this stiff, corporate approach.

If you haven't already connected with us on Facebook or Twitter, then head on over to our pages here and here - it would be great to see you over there! If you have any tips of your own that you think might benefit others, then please do leave them in the comments box!

20 April 2012

Dancing in the Rain...

This crazy weather has got me all excited - I know most people like to complain about the heavy rain / hail - but honestly? It inspires me. It makes me want to watch it, hear it and feel it all at once. It makes me want to run out and dance in it...

Oh how I would love to own these things - they are a recipe for a great day out - and perhaps even an adventure! But really, I'm quite happy to just look at them, and feel excited by their enthusiasm.

• Seaside Raincoat, $375 - Lizz Basinger Designs
• Design an Umbrella Kit, $16 - Pomme
• Water resistant French Messenger, $59 - ikabags
• Windy Day Dress, $59 - Wild Things Dresses
• Travel Planning Dress, $72 - ModCloth

All imagery borrowed from the sites of the owners (linked above).

P.S. I think I will do more posts like this - I'm inspired by things like this every day, but I never think to share them because they are so random.

18 April 2012

Leaff at the Fair

I thought it would be nice to share some pictures of Leaff at the Worcester Baby & Children's Fair last Saturday. As I have already declared on Facebook, we had a whale of a time - we met some really lovely people and local business owners alike, and it felt so great to introduce Leaff to some new faces.

Our table at the fair (and me, clearly in my element!)

We filled our table with the products from our Shop, and examples of our commissioned stationery service. Our 10 packs of cards were packaged up carefully, and filled our basket to the brim - it felt like Christmas! Individual cards were placed in biodegradable cellophane, and we proudly displayed our little robin card - 'Magic Little Christmas', which is soon to be reprinted for release into our Shop in September. Incidentally, if you are not yet subscribed to our mailing list, and would like a friendly nudge when these Christmas cards are released, just pop an email over to us with 'Subscribe' in the message field, here.

Our stall was right next to our lovely friends at Laura Elizabeth Cakes, who spent the whole day dishing out bite-sized cake samples in scrummy flavours - thank you again girls, you made it like a party in there! Peppa Pig did the rounds, and there were some awesome examples of face painting on excitable passing children - which was all in aid of Acorns.

So all in all, it was a very fun, very productive day, which we thoroughly enjoyed. A huge thank you to the organisers of the event, Cheerful Cherubs, and big waves to the other local businesses that we were lucky enough to meet at the fair - it was so great to meet you all.

11 April 2012

Worcester City Baby & Children's Fair

It has been a manic few weeks at Leaff HQ, with lots of different projects - and this week, the preparations for a fair this coming Saturday.

The Worcester City Baby & Children's Fair will be held at the beautiful Guildhall on Worcester High Street, on Saturday 14th April. The fair will be running from 10am - 4pm, and admission is free to all.

There will be an array of exhibitors there - from children's photographers and antenatal massage specialists, to children's handmade keepsakes and - of course - special stationers like ourselves! Furthermore, there will even be face painting and an appearance by Peppa Pig from 10am -12pm, to keep the children more than entertained.

Leaff will be there to showcase our range of baby cards, along with a couple of other products from our shop, all on special offer for that day only. We will also be displaying a few examples of some stationery commissions that we have previously worked on - for both baby and weddings. Visitors will be able to buy our shop products there and then, or place orders for stationery commissions with us.

We are really looking forward to getting Leaff out among the local community; putting my face to this little company, and being able to meet people like you, who (somewhat anonymously) support us. So, if you can make it, please pop on over to the fair and say hello - it would be such a pleasure to meet you.
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