FREE 3 week Facebook for Business schedule

This week was a cool one. We had the opportunity to train a group of local business owners about Facebook for Business, and it was great. I love training, I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but when you have an audience like we did on Wednesday, it’s just this great environment to throw ideas around and get a great conversion going.

I’d like to write more about some of the topics we discussed in another blog, but one of the key things we spoke about was the importance of posting quality content.

Unfortunately, I am not a cafe with luscious, mouthwatering goodies that seem to make getting engagement easy. Good content for service-based businesses that will actually get more than one like can be very tough to find.

Let’s face it, we’re boring.

So with the help of Winmill Creative‘s incredibly helpful training video on how to make a weekly meal plan in Canva, I made a 3-week schedule to help plan your posts for a service-based business’ Facebook page.

So here it is: 3 week Facebook scheduling plan

Just to explain a bit:

Current – Something you read that day and that has very recently happened, like a picture from that day, a before and after image etc

Blog/Repost – Something you have found elsewhere or wrote yourself, but something with guts to it.

Informational/informative – I try to make this a video so people can lie in bed at night and watch something interesting that will help them the next day.

Personal – Give your page some life and connect with your followers somehow

Question – Ask a question, engage with your followers.

So that’s it in a nutshell, and that’s all it is, a nutshell. There is SO much strategy when it comes to posting on Facebook in order to ensure you receive that much desired genuine engagement, but this wee schedule is at least a start. If you’re feeling a bit “ugh, what should I post today?” hopefully this can give you some inspiration.

Enjoy! And if you have any questions please contact us, and of course, make sure you follow us on Facebook.

5 Reasons to Use Facebook Live

I find making and watching videos of myself embarrassing. I also don’t care about how I look online, and I may in time come to regret that. However, the more I learn about Facebook in particular, the more I realise I need to get over myself and get into Facebook Live.

I’m pretty annoyed with myself because I read something about Facebook Live a few weeks ago and why it is so effective, but can’t find any trace of it (blame my head cold). What I do have is Mark Zuckerberg from 2014 saying that in 5 years Facebook will be mostly videos and to date, his prediction is pretty much spot on (for more info see Facebook hits 8 Billion Daily Video Views). I also have read feedback from some serious Facebook users and social media “influencers” stating that compared to their other posts, their video reach is huge.

Reach is important because it represents engagement, and social media algorithms love engagement. The more likes and comments you receive on your posts, the more likely your content will show up in people’s newsfeeds. This improves your business’ online presence. I spoke about the importance of this topic in 10 ways to improve your online presence, but just to remind you all again, a good online presence breeds loyalty from you followers, who will hopefully turn into loyal customers.

After some research I’ve compiled the following list:

5 Reasons to Use Facebook Live

  1. Higher engagement – I’ll explain a bit about Facebook live. When you are live, your followers can like and comment live too. You can acknowledge people who are commenting while you film which makes the followers feel acknowledged when you interact with them. They in turn with comment, and keep commenting. A photo or pre-recorder video generally only produces one comment from your followers, if any at all.
  2. Humanises your brand – Once the live stream is over, the video will show in the feed of your other social media followers. Viewers will see you interacting with others, making you and your brand appear more relatable. If your customer already trusts you and your brand, making a sale is a lot easier.
  3. Saves Time – Writing posts takes quite a while. Most of my posts take around 15 minutes to construct and find an appropriate image to go with it. A live video takes as long as required, and much of the time you will be on the move to make it more interesting. Much better than constructing a post.
  4. It’s Prioritised – Facebook in particular are prioritising Facebook live over other posts. Your followers will also receive a notification that you either are live, or were live. You have more chance of people seeing your live post than any other forum, and what’s the point in doing this if it’s not going to show up.
  5. Instant Feedback – It’s a great way to gather information from your followers instantly. You and your followers are pretty well put on the spot, and it’s a good thing. It’s no different to being able to turn to a colleague and ask a question instantly compared to sending an email and waiting for a reply that you may never receive.

Facebook Live has its risks. You need to watch your language, and you never know what’s going to happen at any point in time, which is an issue you don’t have with pre-recorded material. If that makes you nervous, try to be in a controlled environment where possible (i.e. somewhere quiet). The uncertainty is why I’ve steered clear, but I’ve realised that if I’m going to be a part of Facebook I need to get into live streaming.

Now, I know I’ve written a lot about online presence and Facebook lately, but the simple fact is that I have been asked to. If you’d like me to write about something else, well you’ll have to ask. Feel free to comment below, or get in touch.

If you want to see me give Facebook live a crack, like our Facebook Page, and if this has inspired you to you’ll have to let me know your Facebook page so I can keep an eye out and provide support where ever I can. I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone goes, good luck!

5 Reasons to Pay Supplier Invoices On Time

I wanted to write this because as you may already know, I’m not a fan of chasing receivables (refer to 7 tips to stay on top of receivables.)

Our clients at Virtual Assist are excellent; late payments are something we don’t need to worry about in our current state. However, we spend a lot of time at other businesses where invoice due dates are regularly ignored.

To acknowledge this difficulty, I wanted to dedicate this week’s blog to all those struggling small businesses that need invoices to be paid on time with:

5 Reasons to Pay Supplier Invoices On Time

  1. Reputation – It doesn’t cost much to pay an invoice on time, but it could cost your relationship with your supplier. It doesn’t take long for your company to move down the priority list if you are marked as a late payer.
  2. Recommendations – This is an additional aspect of reputation, as I find suppliers will be more likely to speak of your company in high regard if you are timely at paying your bills. Personally, I am not going to vouch for a business that doesn’t see the importance in paying when due.
  3. Save funds – Virtual Assist offers a cheaper rate if paying upfront (the reasons for this are also in 7 tips to stay on top of receivables). You could always ask your supplier if they are interested in a similar arrangement. It is worth asking as it will benefit both parties.
  4. Credit history – If your late payments end up being referred to a credit agency it can impact on your chance of receiving lines of credit in the future. It’s not worth the risk or the hassle just because you couldn’t manage your receivables appropriately.
  5. Flexibility (when you may need it most) – You may hit hard times, so it is a good idea to pay on time in the times that you just in case you ever hit a patch where you can’t pay, your suppliers will be more likely to afford you some leeway, or even payment options.

Unfortunately, the tone of this blog is a bit “smack on the back of the hand”, but it does seriously get to someone like me. Do you feel the same way? I would be interested to know. Just a warning though, you would need to have a pretty convincing argument to sway my views on it….


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10 Ways to Improve Your Online Presence

Something I learnt this week is that having a group of strangers audit your website in front of you is, for lack of a better word, rough.

It is for someone like me anyway. I put a lot of thought into most things, and my website is no exception. So having it critiqued unexpectedly in a group session was not easy.

The story is that I was attending a lunchtime training facilitated by Mike Clark from ThinkRight, which was focusing on optimising your online presence. I thought he was going to go through the importance of a good headshot, how to manage your social media etc. Instead, Mike searched our websites, brought them up on a projected screen and had a qualified website developer review them along with the other attendees.

Mine was first up. Funnily enough, I had just spent the weekend changing the theme to our website because I wasn’t feeling it anymore. I had chosen a theme with a BIG revolving banner where I could place three services Virtual Assist provides. Once I was happy with the new look I sent it to some peers in the Virtual Assistant (VA) world to review and didn’t look at it again.

And that there was my fatal error.

Three things happened:

  • One person asked “so what do you do? It doesn’t say anything”. My answer was “well it’s just a banner, which is just an overview”.
  • “What’s your company name?” Good question, since my fancy new revolving banner did not include my logo.
  • Another questioned, “so where are your services?” My answer; “well you scroll down”. “Oh. I didn’t realise; it’s not something I knew you could do”.

All completely valid points. Do you know why my peers had missed them? These people live and breathe websites. They know: my company and its branding; a banner is just a teaser of what your business offers; and that you automatically scroll down when you land on a webpage.

Do you know who didn’t know this? THE PEOPLE USING MY WEBSITE! I got so much out of this training session, and I wanted to share this will you all.

I spoke with Mike and he kindly agreed to help me compile the list below in the hopes of helping others with their own online media presence:

10 Ways to Improve Your Online Presence

  1. Be professional – No swearing, no whining, be positive. All of your content on every online platform must adhere to this. People respect professionalism; it’s that simple.
  2. Establish target audience and focus on them – Who is looking for you online? Think gender, occupation, interests, age group, location. All these factors will dictate the look of your online presence in every way, even down to the time you post something on Facebook. You must know this before you start so you can target it appropriately.
  3. Branding, branding, branding! – Please, no headshots at your uncle’s 50 with someone’s arm around your shoulder. It looks bad. Just pay a good photographer (I recommend Avodah for those in the Manawatu. $80. One hour. That’s it), and you’ll receive some amazing images that you will be proud to use over the next five years.

Also, make sure you use consistent background images and logos across all platforms. That way, customers can go from Linkedin to Facebook to your website and know they are in the right place since everything flows and looks similar.

  1. Be clear on your purpose – Are you selling a product? Are you providing a service? What is the reason you have an online presence at all? You must have a clear objective, and then communicate that on your online medium. Otherwise, your audience will be lost and disinterested which makes the whole process a waste of time and money.
  2. Think about your “Call to action” – A call to action is what you want to happen when customers view you online. Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to read your blog on Linkedin? Do you want them to like your Facebook page? What ever you want them to do, make that very clear, the first thing they see in fact, so they then do exactly that.
  3. Optimise your layout – Don’t have your main objective at the very bottom of your website. It must be the first thing people see. For example, many individuals don’t know what a VA does, so I have pinned a blog about what a VA is to the top of my Facebook page. Use what’s on offer to showcase your services.
  4. Understand the online platform – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is something you need to know about, as well as the Facebook algorithm. If you do not understand how they work or their terms of conditions, it will not only decrease your ranking but potentially result in a suspension if you don’t know the rules. It’s very real; I know businesses have been affected.

N.B. the Instagram algorithm has also just been updated, and it has changed the reach of images to your followers.

  1. Play the game – Did you know that if your images are highly pixelated or if your website is unresponsive that it decreases your search ranking? Even verifying your business Facebook page or registering for Google for Business can make a huge difference to your SEO. It doesn’t take long (well actually, Virtual Assist’s Facebook page is still not verified because as a sole trader it’s virtually impossible, but I digress…)
  2. Humanise yourself online – Your customers want to know that they are dealing with a respectful, approachable business and that humans are working there happily. They want to hear about your progress in the business world and feel like they are apart of that journey. By humanising yourself and posting relatable content online, you will build up an interested and loyal following of customers, who will then refer interested and loyal customers to you.
  3. Update your content regularly – I update the Virtual Assist website a lot, not only for practice but to stay relevant. It also increases your SEO. Facebook, in particular, will not work at all if you don’t post regularly because of the algorithm. There’s a fine line between regular and spam though, so be careful otherwise you will lose followers and potential customers.

It’s a big list this week, but incredibly important, because if you don’t know what you’re doing with your online presence, you will lose customers, and completely waste your time in the process.

Mike is an excellent trainer across many subjects. If you are interested in learning more, you can contact him via the ThinkRight website or Facebook page.

I will also be holding a training that focuses on Facebook for Business shortly (looks like October) so stay tuned for information on that. Also, I would love to hear your feedback on this article, so feel free to comment below or contact us here, and for more tips for business, like us on Facebook.

6 Reasons to Have a (Decent) Business Facebook Page

For me, this week has been all about Facebook.

Not only have I spoken to a lot of business owners about it and how it has impacted their bottom line (all said increased their exposure to potential customers as well as their profits), but I have had a positive experience with it in the last 7 days.

Here’s the story – one of our clients has been considering holding a DIY night for some time. They understand the importance of nights like this and how successful they can be, but the last one they had run was a lot of effort with only a little payoff. I could see why they were stand offish; that is not overly motivating.

So, rather than relying on word of mouth I suggested we create an event on Facebook and promote it accordingly. Worst case, it doesn’t work, and we don’t do it again. In just two weeks the attendance list went from 6 to 40, many of the attendees were brand new customers, and we sold more of the product we promoted in 3 days than was usually sold in a year.

Of course, it wasn’t just Facebook. We had a very talented speaker who was open and honest about the product, and we thought long and hard about our advertising campaign/target audience. However, none of that would have mattered if we didn’t market the night to the people who were genuinely interested in attending. For an event like this you need a bit of experience in marketing, as well as creating and managing a Facebook event, but the point I am trying to make is that Facebook is a beast, and if used correctly it can pay off significantly.

What did we do in this instance? We promoted the event on Facebook for $30 and targeted women between 25-65+ in the local area who were interested in DIY and interior design. All up it took 10 minutes to boost this event to these people.

After this experience, I wanted to create a list of reasons why businesses should have a Facebook Page. In fairness I sometimes question the point. Virtual Assist does not have many Facebook followers or page likes at this stage, but it is growing. I know the likes I have are genuine (more on that in Why Social Media Likes Don’t Pay the Bills by Stevie Says Social, who I HIGHLY recommend following on Facebook), and my take is that the more businesses using Facebook correctly, the better. Facebook should be more about education and quality than pictures of people travelling and making me very jealous. So here we go…

6 Reasons to Have a (Decent) Business Facebook Page:

  1. Helps SEO optimisation – What you post on your Facebook Page can directly link to your website, which helps your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This results in a higher ranking (i.e. whether you are at the top of a Google search). If you are not sure what SEO is and its benefits, refer to SEO Strategy in 2017: What’s Most Important, because it is REALLY important.
  2. Increases your exposure to potential customers – On March 2017 there were 1.94 billion active users of Facebook, which increases 18% per year. 76% of females and 66% of males of the world’s population is on Facebook. All of this may mean nothing to you because you are a local business working with locals, but you can easily figure out if it should matter with a little trick I have. If you have a Facebook page, have a look at “boosting” a Facebook post. You don’t have to complete the boost, but it will tell you exactly how many possible users are in your target market at any given time, and how much it would cost to reach them.
  3. Lower your marketing expenses – Starting a page costs exactly $0, particularly if you already have your branding sorted. Facebook ads are relatively inexpensive when compared to other forms of advertising (which all have their place).
  4. Reach a highly targeted audience – Who do you want to reach? How much are you willing to pay for that? Answer those two questions and then promote your page. Not only will your page show up in the feeds of your target audience, but Facebook will provide you with feedback on your promotion. There are not many forms of marketing that will give you such detailed information.
  5. Facebook insights – When you promote anything on Facebook, you will receive an insight into this promotion. No more guessing if your ideal customers received your advert. Insights tells you how many likes you received, its overall reach, it’s performance. Everything. This knowledge helps establish what works and what doesn’t when it comes to advertising your products or services.
  6. It builds loyalty – If you provide your followers with valuable and even entertaining information, your followers will stay loyal. They will remain so even if you make a mistake because it is all about how you manage it. If you are respectful and educational, people will appreciate it and want to repay you with loyalty.

There is a reason I added “decent” in the title , and it’s because of these crucial points about managing Facebook:

  • It’s time-consuming – I spoke with the owner of About Thyme this week, which is an excellent local business in my area, and the owner stated that she could spend at least an hour on Social Media per day engaging with followers. That may seem like a lot, but it was benefiting her bottom line so much she felt that it more than paid for her time. In other words, you will need to designate time to Facebook, so make sure it will pay off before you go ahead.
  • Do it right – as a consumer and a business owner, if you are going to have a Facebook Page you need to do it right. No one respects an average/below average page. If done properly it will work, and you will get business out of it. Several apps that can help with this are referenced in 10 Free Tools to Help Streamline Your Business, and my biggest piece of advice in this area is to find someone who does Facebook well within your industry, and follow their lead.

I hope this has motivated you to pay attention to how Facebook can help your business. If you would like any further information please get in touch.

On another note, I am currently in talks with the Manawatu Chamber of Commerce to host a more detailed training which focuses on Facebook for business. If you are in the region and would like to attend, either comment below and I can email you the details once confirmed, or (even better) like Virtual Assist on Facebook, as I will be posting a link to the event on there.
I can assure you that the more you use it the easier it is, and a training may be just what you need to get started on your Facebook for Business journey.