Online Communication for Small Businesses

March 6, 2013 in Online Marketing, Small Business Advice, Social Media

Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, isn’t the only one who despairs at the damage texting is doing to our grasp of grammar and punctuation. C U Wed is pretty easy to understand, but what do you do when faced with something like PT t brg X bz?*

Writing to friends doesn’t have to be formal, but when text-speak spills over into business communication, you are looking at a completely different ballgame. Be honest: would you want to do business with someone who could not communicate clearly? Would you want to hire someone who couldn’t write a proper sentence?

But text-speak isn’t the only problem small business owners face. With the growth of email, web sites and social media, we are under increasing pressure to join the cyber race – and that means Tweets, Facebook messages, blogs, and so on. For those lacking natural writing skills, the prospect of turning out Internet copy can be daunting, whatever form it takes. Can I use text-speak in a Tweet? How personal should I be? Do I have to use proper English, proper grammar?  Can’t I be much less formal when I write for the Internet than when producing printed documents?

Yes, the Internet is less formal  – but writing Tweets and blogs carry their own rules. Tweets have to be short, of course, so you need to understand how to get the message across in just 140 characters. No padding there, then. What is it you want to tell people? Say you are promoting a special offer. No point in using the term special offer: it wastes 13 characters. Instead, just put the offer in the Tweet, e.g.: Reiki sessions three for price of two, XX Healing Today (or whatever your business is called) – just 54 characters – and/or your web site.

Facebook page? Keep that short, too, but as there are no length restrictions, you can get a little more descriptive, such as: Reiki transfers universal energy through the healer’s palms to create a state of equilibrium. Ideal for the stressed out modern world Try three taster sessions for the price of two at XX Healing Today.

Blogs can be any length, but the shorter the better. If it’s too long, unless you are another Danielle Steele or Lee Child, readers won’t make it to the end. Don’t ramble. Decide what you want to say before you start, and make sure there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. If you’re not sure how to do that, look at this one and try to determine which is the beginning – and why; how it moves into the middle (the main message); and how it finishes up.

Blogs are not actually that different from printed material. You’ve got room to play around, room to include more information, thoughts, ideas, advice. But make sure you actually do have information, thoughts, ideas, advice; don’t waffle.

Whatever you write, avoid superlatives: you are probably not the only whatever you do in north London, and possibly not the best, either; if you say you are, you had better be able to prove it. Be concrete. Everything you put out there should be easy to read and understand – and that means an ability to explain things clearly, a reasonable grasp of grammar and punctuation – and no text speak, ever.

*Party tomorrow, bring extra booze.

Small Business Network Muswell Hill Meeting Report September 2012

October 10, 2012 in Business Networking, Facebook, Marketing, Meetings, Muswell Hill Meetings, Online Marketing, Small Business Networking, Social Media

Business coaching and business management services emerged as a key theme to this month’s Small Business Network meeting held on 17 September at the usual venue of the lovely Sable D’Or in London’s Muswell Hill.

Lara Ogunbawo and Bidemi Alabi, both work for Business Excel UK, a business management consultancy which helps small businesses break into new markets, develop pricing strategies and profit forecasts, write business plans and obtain funding for your small business. Lara started two other small businesses this year with the help of Business Excel, so she is now promoting this company to other small business networking contacts.

Danielle Monro, attending just her second Small Business Network meeting, can also help small businesses obtain finance through her company Ashley Business Cash. Loans are based on credit and debit card takings.

Read the rest of this entry →

Report on the West Hampstead November 2011 Meeting

November 2, 2011 in Facebook, Meetings, Online Marketing, West Hampstead Meetings

We had 12 attendees, 4 new visitors, and a very useful and interesting masterclass with the delightful Alicia Cowan, who made marketing your business with Facebook sound like a cinch!

It was obvious that quite a few people had made a special effort to come to this meeting because they are struggling with Facebook, or even with the idea of setting up a business Facebook page. Alicia deconstructed the mystery that is Facebook, and succintly described the exact set up process, also giving some tips on what to call your page: ‘Your Name – Your Business Description’ is a good combination.

Read the rest of this entry →