How to run effective (and shorter) meetings

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Meetings can be a real bore and, if not run properly, are guaranteed to waste a good chunk of your precious work day. We’ve all been in unfocussed meetings that go on several tangents, don’t produce any results, and only wrap up once someone starts complaining they’re hungry because the meeting has run over time….as usual.

Meetings don’t need to be this way! We’ve put together some tried and tested tips to help you run more effective meetings so you can get back to online shopping running the world.

Keep it exclusive
Keep your guest list small and only invite people who really need to be there. Sometimes you’ll find three representatives from one department present when only one was needed. The name of the game here is efficiency.

Bonus tip: if you’ve been invited to a meeting that you don’t need to attend, don’t be afraid to politely decline. If you’re not a key decision maker, skip it and do something more productive.

Always have an agenda
Concisely outline everything you need to cover in a meeting, including clear goals or outcomes that the meeting needs to achieve. This will ensure everyone is on the same page (literally) and serve as a tool to keep the meeting on track.

Write the agenda up in advance and send it out to your colleagues so they can prep and bring their ideas to the table.

Bonus tip: if you run regular meetings where you need others to contribute to the agenda, keep the document somewhere that everyone can add to it themselves rather than emailing you (you’ve got better things to do). Asana is a great tool for this.

Assign a chairperson and timekeeper
Keep the team on task with a chairperson to halt any discussion that doesn’t further the meeting goals and ensure everyone sticks to the agenda. They will also act as timekeeper to end the meeting on time (yes, it’s possible!) and recap any action points before everyone leaves the room.

Bonus tip: shorter meetings can create a sense of urgency and force everyone to focus so if you only need 20 minutes, only schedule 20 minutes, not 45mins ‘just in case’.

Tomi is a journalist, communications specialist and social media enthusiast. You can follow her at @tomiellis0.

Free tools to help you master social media

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We all need a little help now and then, and nowhere have we found this truer than in the world of social media.

There are so many online (and free!) tools to help you automate, organise, and pimp your social media content. Here are a few of our faves:

  • Hootsuite – draft and schedule social media posts in this customisable dashboard so your social media need never sleep (even if you need to!). You can also reply directly to messages from here.
  • Canva – makes it super easy to create new graphics for your social media or blog. Some images or options do have a small fee but you can easily avoid these if you’re on a tight budget.
  • PicMonkey – great for simple editing. It’s especially handy for cropping or resizing images.
  • Mailchimp – link your social media to your email marketing campaigns through Mailchimp. So easy to use and free for up to 2000 subscribers. It can even auto-tweet or Facebook post your enews.
  • Grammarly – typos are embarrassing and can potentially lead to your message getting lost. Enter, Grammarly. This free browser extension will check your posts for errors to make sure your message is loud and clear. 
  • VCOS – a user-friendly app that you can use to quickly edit your photos. You can upload to your social media directly from the app.

Have any different favourite tools you love to use? We’d love to hear from you!

Tomi is a journalist, communications specialist and social media enthusiast. You can follow her at @tomiellis0.

How to save time on your social media like a boss

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Social media is an amazing tool, letting you reach a huge number of people with the click of a button. It can, however, also be a bit of a black hole for your time. So how do you build up your presence on social media and use your time effectively?

Pick your platforms
The most important step in your businesses social media plan is choosing the right platforms. There are multiple platforms out there but there’s no need to stretch yourself thin across all of them. Pick a couple of platforms based on where your audience is ‘hanging out’ and what your social media goals are. Read our breakdown on the most popular channels here.

Establish a routine
Check your channels at certain times of the day and schedule in time to respond directly to messages (make it a meeting in your diary so you can’t put it off – quick responses are vital). It might also help to check your platforms in the same order each morning so that you don’t accidentally miss anything.

Plan your content
A content calendar is the best way to plan what you’re going to post, when you’re going to post it, and what platforms you’re going to post on. Make sure to include your image ideas and any links in your calendar – often images are one of the most time-consuming things to find!

Schedule everything
Schedule your content weekly or monthly depending on your business and you’ll have more time to curate external content and reply to messages. There are plenty of scheduling tools available to help you out here; our favourite is Hootsuite.

Measure your success not everything
If you try to record too many statistics, you might find yourself overwhelmed. Stick to monitoring the information that is useful to your goals to stop yourself from getting lost in all the numbers and pretty graphs.

Have a procedure for complaints and emergencies
To stop you wasting time panicking or figuring out what to do if something does go awry on your social media, make sure you have an action plan in place before it happens. The size and type of your business will dictate what this looks like.

Have any other tips that save you serious time on your social media game? Let us know!

Tomi is a journalist, communications specialist and social media enthusiast. You can follow her at @tomiellis0.

The social media channels you should be using

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Social media is an accessible and affordable way for you to grow your brand reputation, extend your reach, increase traffic to your website, and better your customer service, but it’s important to choose the right platforms for your audience to achieve this.

Figuring out what channels your audience are using before you start posting means you will get the most bang for your buck and not waste your time on channels that aren’t likely to work.

We’ve put together a brief overview of the most popular social media channels below to help you figure out which ones are right for you.

Facebook
Facebook is the most popular channel by far; there are over 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook and this number is still growing!

Many people are now searching for companies directly on Facebook so it’s worth having an active presence here, plus it’s a fantastic way to communicate with your customers.

Users are approximately 50/50 male and female and cover all ages over 18 years.

It’s also very affordable to advertise through Facebook to a targeted audience.

Twitter
Short and sweet is the name of the game on Twitter and, like most social media, images are key. Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks than Tweets without images.

There are 317 million users worldwide on Twitter, with 37% of users between 18 and 29 years old and 25% of users between 30 and 49 years old.

There are slightly more males than females on Twitter. 29% of internet users with college degrees are using the platform.

Instagram
Instagram is all about the perfect picture so you’ll need to be creative on this one to get some attention.

It’s most popular with younger females between 18 and 29 years old, with a total of 600 million users; 400 million of who are active daily.

Make sure you use hashtags to help your engagement. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag average almost 13% more engagement than those without.

LinkedIn 
LinkedIn is a professional networking site with more than 450 million user profiles (39% of who pay for monthly premium accounts).

The split of male and female users is quite even with slightly more male users than female.

13% of millennials (15-34 years) use LinkedIn and it’s most popular for job seeking and long-form articles.

YouTube
If video content is your thing then you should definitely be on YouTube; it’s one of the most popular websites in the world.

Male and female viewers are on par with slightly more males than females.

There are pockets within Youtube for all ages but the site is especially popular with 18 to 44-year-olds.

A good intro is vital for your videos; approximately 20% of the people who start your video will leave after the first 10 seconds (we never said social media was easy!).

Pinterest
While many people still view Pinterest as a bit of fun rather than a serious social networking site, the stats are proving Pinterest is increasingly becoming a valuable business tool.

It now has over 150 million monthly active users and some studies have shown over 90% of users use the platform to plan or make purchases.

67% of users are under 40 years old and many of these make a higher average income than non-users.

While these are the big fish in the Australian social media sea, there are plenty more social media websites. If you use different platforms, we’d love to hear from you!

Tomi is a journalist, communications specialist and social media enthusiast. You can follow her at @tomiellis0.