Building Your Community

  • Getting started on LinkedIn as a small business owner

    Getting started on LinkedIn as a small business owner

    Getting started on LinkedIn as a small business owner can feel a little daunting. After all, it’s not got that cuddly vibe of Instagram or the opinionated, soap-box feel of Twitter. Is it worth investing your time in yet another social media channel? 

    Well, first and foremost LinkedIn isn’t a social media channel – it’s easy to think it is, but it sees itself a ‘professional network on the internet’ and this is what it is geared towards. 

    The great thing about LinkedIn being a little different is there’s no algorithm to try and negotiate. You’re not jumping through the usual hoops in order to get noticed. It’s just a great way to connect with other like-minded people and grow your network of contacts – which often leads to enquiries and leads along the way. 

    In this post, you’ll learn a few easy steps to get started on LinkedIn so you’re no longer facing the overwhelm of where to even begin.

    What is LinkedIn?

    Essentially LinkedIn is a marketing tool – to help you promote yourself and your business to a wider network of business-to-business (B2B) professionals. Now, this can seem quite daunting, especially if you’re just starting out on your self-employed journey and you thought B2B was a Star Wars character.

    After all, a whole new platform means you’re probably not quite sure who’ll be reading about you or your product/service; maybe it feels outside your ‘safe and established network.’

    You may have also heard that LinkedIn is a serious place, for serious people – no sharing funny GIFS or last night’s dinner on your feed unless you wish to be cast out as an imposter, albeit one wearing a business suit and kitten heels to try and fit in around the metaphorical water cooler.  

    But LinkedIn has moved on from the stuffy, boardroom type feel it had a few years ago. It’s actually a fantastic platform to be part of and can provide many benefits for small business owners like you. But before we delve into exactly what you need to have on your LinkedIn profile to gain these benefits, let’s turn the clock back to those heady days at the start of your business journey and get intentional about your LinkedIn usage.

    Your LinkedIn account and your business goals

    Your LinkedIn account and your business goals

    Now we’ve travelled back in time, let’s settle in, shall we? It’s time to get a little honest with yourself. Why did you start your business? What did you want to achieve? What were your goals? 

    If you can’t remember, take a look at your business plan and remind yourself. No doubt it was because you had a great idea or you were filling a gap in the marketplace. Maybe the lure of being your own boss was terribly tempting and you were keen to be as successful and profitable as possible. 

    You probably created your LinkedIn account at the point of starting out – one of those ‘must dos’ you were given by a well-meaning biz buddy to help get yourself established. Equally, you may have thought LinkedIn wasn’t for you – you were a small one-person business and LinkedIn was for big corporate groups – therefore it didn’t fit your business profile. You’d also thrown away your kitten heels…

    Whatever the case, I would guess that, right now, your LinkedIn account is either non-existent or sits in the background, ticking over but not really working for you. Unlike your social media channels, it lies dormant – apart from the occasional connection requests from someone you vaguely remember from school or one of those ‘coaches’ who can definitely help you make £3million an hour.

    But fear not, we’ve all been there – it’s so easy to get caught up in the ‘now’ of running a business that some things slip. So let’s look at a couple of things you can do right now to get more active on LinkedIn and start connecting with people who will enhance your business and generate more leads.

    Jennifer Cooper Timesaver LinkedIn Profile

    Your LinkedIn Profile 

    This is the first thing people will read about you on LinkedIn, so it’s really important to keep it up-to-date. Your profile is all about your story – i.e. who you are and what you do. Here’s a look at mine.

    Before you begin composing, or if you already have a profile, take a good look at it and ask yourself these questions:

    • Does your profile reflect what you want it to?  

    • Is it specific and clear about what it is you do?  

    You probably think I’m stating the obvious but it’s surprising how many people get caught up in the ‘writing’ they go off-point and these two key questions aren’t addressed. 

    Now let’s move on to some other points you’ll need to look at: 

    • Profile image – it’s so important to have a picture on your LinkedIn profile – ideally a professional headshot of you. Stats show that a lack of a photo means you miss out on people connecting with you.

    • Cover Image – this sits at the top of your profile – acting as a header to your page. This needs to reflect your brand, so you could incorporate your company logo or any graphics that show you in a work setting or ‘in action’ at work – now’s your chance to pull on those kitten heels…

    So there you have it – a few easy steps to start using LinkedIn to grow your business. As with all marketing, try not to overwhelm yourself with too many things to do otherwise, it’s tempting to do none of them at all. Even just doing the few suggestions in this post will get you off on the right foot.   

    If you’d like any help with your LinkedIn account, saving you time to get on with the ‘business side of your business,’ then do get in contact. We’re here to help you expand and grow – you don’t have to do this alone. 


  • How to engage with others on Instagram 

    How to engage with others on Instagram

    As a small business owner, you know you should engage with others on Instagram, but how do you do it in an authentic way that actually provides results for your business? Maybe you already spend lots of time on social media but aren’t getting much back from it? It can feel incredibly frustrating and you’re no doubt wondering if it’s worth all the time you’re investing. 

    You may be tempted just to blame the algorithm, which seems to change its mind more often than people change their underwear, but it’s actually less about IG moving the goalposts and more about how you use the app to your advantage. It’s about taking intentional action to engage with others consistently. 

    To help you do this, I’m sharing my six top tips to use your time wisely and get results.

    Tip 1 – Identify your target audience

    It can be challenging to find your ideal client on social media; we’ve all been there. Creating a list of people from your target audience makes it easier to know who you should be communicating with. Build your list up over a period of time and start with as many or as little as you like. 

    You might be wondering what information to put on it. It only needs simple details such as their name, business name and social media handles.

    Once you’ve built your list, go ahead and follow those connections. This is an important step, so don’t miss it. If you don’t follow them, you won’t see what they’re posting. If you’re really keen, you can even turn on notifications so you know when they’ve posted. Turn these notifications on and off as you need to.

    Tip 2 – Start to engage

    Now it’s time to engage. To begin engaging with your ideal clients, start by commenting and liking their posts. A few different ways to do this include: 

    • Sharing your opinion on something they’ve posted
    • Letting them know if something resonates with you
    • Talking to them about something industry-related

    Not only does this help your ideal client see you’ve got something worth saying or that you’re knowledgeable about your area of expertise, it also enables other people to see that too. Often new followers will come to your account via comments you’ve made on other people’s posts – you’ve peeked their interest and curiosity and they want to hear more from you.

    However, don’t forget about engagement on your own posts too. If you’ve posted and people are commenting, you need to respond to what they’ve said. ‘Don’t post and ghost’ is a great rule to live by on Instagram. 

    After all, social media is just that… social. And the more social you are, the better your engagement will be. If you don’t respond to comments, people won’t bother commenting – it’s as simple as that. 

    Some of the biggest accounts on Instagram hire people just to engage with their community in the comments, responding and interacting with people – it’s that important.

    Tip 3 – Hashtags

    Let’s tackle the burning question. Should you use 10 hashtags or all 30? In late 2021, Instagram changed its bloomers yet again and announced that using 3-5 hashtags would be the optimum number. This was probably because some Instagram users were spamming the 30 hashtag rule and ruining the party for the rest of us. The app is also using a more SEO-based approach, therefore recommending fewer, more relevant hashtags makes sense to them.

    But according to research done by Later, posts with all 30 hashtags are still performing the best. Here at Jennifer Cooper Timesaver, we’re following Later’s philosophy of ‘go big or go home’ and mostly use all 30. In our opinion (and the research backs this up), the more hashtags you use, the more it increases your chances of your ideal client finding you and thus improving your engagement rates.

    Having said that, it’s important to do the research and use the right hashtags for your business – you want to attract your ideal client to your business, not just randoms who are hanging out and spamming your comments with chances to win the latest iPhone. 

    You can even follow relevant hashtags so that posts using that hashtag come up in your feed. When you click into that hashtag, you have the option to view the best performing posts or the most recent. For better results, choose the most recent posts to engage with and start getting to know people by following the steps in the first tip above.

    Tip 4 – Stories 

    Using stories is the ideal way to give your audience a chance to glimpse behind the scenes of your business. As much as beautifully crafted grid posts or videos definitely have their value, stories are the place where people can get to know a bit more about you. Sharing typical parts of your day, e.g. the coffee you enjoy or the walk you’ve done at lunchtime, can prompt greater engagement as your audience interacts with you. 

    Use all the features that Instagram has to offer too. You could create polls on topics that could spark conversation with your audience or use the question feature to find out what your audience is thinking.

    You might like to consider using that question feature to further engage your audience by taking a question someone has asked and using it as a topic for an IG live. Or if speaking live makes you want to change your underwear, expand on a question within the stories feature itself. 

    Some of the best accounts do a weekly ‘ask me anything’ on their stories, using the question sticker, and show up consistently to answer those questions for their audience. 

    The ‘close friends’ feature is a great tool because it enables you to ask for feedback or to gain market research with a smaller audience that you trust. It makes people feel special if you add them to your close friends list – why not offer it to your audience and let them know they’ll get even more great content that’s not available to all followers?

    Tip 5 – Conversation in the DMs

    Want to know the secret to engaging effectively with people on social media? You’ve guessed it, send them a DM. Start a conversation. Often this helps to build a closer relationship as you can start to get to know them on a personal level first before mentioning anything business-related. 

    You may find this a little intimidating at first – and that’s perfectly normal. It’s a little like going up to someone new at a networking event and chatting to them for the first time – all the while hoping you haven’t got bits of custard cream between your teeth. But starting small and simple is the best way forward. 

    So, once again, see if there’s anything in their bio, stories, posts or highlights that you resonate with. Get to know them. Remember that having a conversation is a two-way street and relationships take work. 

    Keep the word ‘relationship’ at the forefront of your mind – imagine how you’d want someone to interact with you for the first time on social media and go from there. Take a genuine interest – people tend to get annoyed if you try to get to know them just to pitch your services or products to them after two messages. I’m sure you’ve met those people in your own DMs.

    You’ll know when the time is right for selling or pitching. You may find your ideal clients even approach you first if they’re interested and have engaged with your profile. 

    Tip 6 – Reward yourself

    Running a business is hard work. Social media is a fantastic way to market your business for free. We acknowledge that it takes hard work and dedication to see results. Rewarding yourself for the hard work you’re doing can be easily overlooked.

    To help you reach your bigger goals, set yourself smaller daily/weekly goals. When you reach them, treat yourself. It’s important to celebrate your wins no matter how big or small they are.

    You may feel as though you have to spend hours on these engagement tips every day. But you don’t. Try spending just 30-minutes a day interacting and engaging with others on their posts and on yours. If you do consistently, you’ll soon see results. Some experts suggest the ‘5-5-5’ approach. Use your social media time to:

    • Follow 5 new people from your target audience
    • Comment on 5 posts from your ideal clients
    • Send 5 new DMs to people you’re building relationships with

    The real key to success is consistency and patience. Show up regularly and engage with those around you. You’ll soon find your own corner of Instagram that really feels like your community. Not only full of your ideal clients but full of other small business owners too. 

    And while these tips are for Instagram, you can implement them across other platforms too. By following our simple steps of creating a list, engaging with others using the different features and rewarding yourself, you can continue to engage effectively with your target audience – and grow your business.

    If you would like more support with building your Instagram audience, please get in touch here.