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Making your hashtags work for you and not against you.

So today we’re talking about #hashtags and how to get the best out of them from your social selling on the various platforms.

A hashtag is a word or group of word that can be used to categorise posts and can be used to search for content/ products/ offers. They are a great way of being able to find topics to “listen” to and to join in conversations.

On most platforms you have the option to find the latest/ most recent or the top/ most relevant hashtags.

They can be anything you like as long as they only contain alphanumeric characters and emojis – no punctuation or spaces allowed. But basically, they should be your keywords or short phrases that people would use naturally when searching for you, your products or your business. If you use a short phrase it is good practice to capitalise the first letter of each word to make it easier for people to read them as you intended – which also prompts the reminder to check what other people are using the same hashtag for. You don’t want to have a nasty surprise.

Another great benefit of using hashtags correctly is that if you post content on multiple platforms you can use the same hashtags so that people find content in different places – just make sure that it is different and relevant content to the different audiences and not just the same stuff cross-posted.


And now onto maximising the impact on the different platforms:

Facebook: use a maximum of 2 hashtags on any post. The stats show a huge decrease in engagement and visibility of your post if you even just use 3. So, DON’T DO IT!

The ones you see with multiple, multiple tags are just cross posted from Instagram.


Twitter: no more than 3 in a tweet and put them all at the end of the tweet – simply because it makes the tweet easier to read! But more than 3 and you do start to look like the post has come form somewhere else, so use you characters for a link or something more engaging for your reader.


LinkedIn: Use them in your posts and articles – it’s a waste to use them in your headline or your profile because LinkedIn doesn’t recognise them as hashtags, just as the keywords you should eb packing your profile with.

Use about 3-5 per post – but look at the suggestion they offer – they know what other people are looking for so it can help you.


Instagram: you can use a maximum of 30 per post (10 if it’s a story). You can use them in either the captions or the comments, but they will count and if you use 20 in the captions and try to put 20 in the comments it won’t let you post the comment!!

to see our video version of this blog please click here:

If you want to download our top tips for hashtags (and lots of other great business stuff) then come and join our BIG business group on Facebook – sign up here and get your first month free………




How to ask for a recommendation or a testimonial



Recommendations are one of the best ways of being able to build your credibility with new clients. It is really important to be able to prove your credentials and a 3rd party saying “yes, they can do it” is way more powerful than you saying you can do it.

But you need to make sure that you can use the recommendations and testimonials you are given. It isn’t much use having the most amazing testimonials if you can’t share them with anyone – and this is down to the dreaded GDPR regulations!

If you are sent an email (or even a letter) containing a testimonial, then you will need to write and ask for permission to use the testimonial either in your marketing materials or to show to other clients/ potential clients.


If you gather video or audio testimonials just ask the question at the beginning or the end to ask if it’s OK for you to use them for marketing purposes (you don’t have to post that question when you use the video, but you can keep the original file for reference) .

But the best way to have something that you can use wherever and whenever you like is to have something that has been published in the public domain. For most business owners that means a recommendation on LinkedIn (especially if you are in the business to business space).


So, what content makes a great recommendation?

We’ve all seen the so-called gurus who have 4 million recommendations which say, “I met Zorro at a networking event – he was great” and that’s a great ego boost for Zorro I’m sure, but it doesn’t help me with my buying decisions. I want to know that you can help me with my problem – you need to tell me what’s in it for me!

The recommendations that are the most useful are those that say what you did, how you did it, what the results were, what the benefits were to their business and why they worked with you and not Joe Bloggs.


So, when you ask for a recommendation on LinkedIn why not prompt them and say something like….


“When we were talking about the project we’ve just completed you said that our help with project x led to a cost saving to the firm of £y. That we delivered the project on time and on budget and the feedback from your clients has been that they are receiving their products quicker.”


That gives them the frame work of what you did/ results/ benefits without saying “can you write a recommendation that says …….”


And of course, why not ask for more than 1 from the same company? How powerful is it to show that they buy repeatedly from you, or you have a long-term relationship with them?

Make it part of your relationship with your clients – tell them that you will be asking them to write you a recommendation at certain points of your relationship.

And of course, why not return the favour and give them a recommendation too? Our only word of caution about that would be not to do it at the same time that they give you one. The value to your SSI score will be diluted if you only do reciprocal ones and might raise flags to your customers if all your recommendations are on the same day as someone giving you one. Make a diary note and return the favour, but do it a month or so apart.


Don’t forget to let us know the feedback and celebrate the recommendations you get – telling people you have one makes a great social media post!!


If you want to watch our video blog on this you can find it here

And for more business support and top tips then come and join our BIG Business group  and get your first month free…

The B word! and it’s not Business

The B word!

Business Ignition Group blog Brexit Business


Yes,  today we are going to be talking about THAT dreaded B word ….. BREXIT!

We don’t want to get political but we finally feel we have to make some sort of comment on the process from the perspective of running a business – the UK economy!

This week we should be entering the new world of being separate from the EU. Whether you originally voted Leave or Remain that’s what everyone has expected to happen, but here we are, April 2019 and we are still a member, but very much on the outside of the other 27 member states and with our politicians seemingly unable to make a decision. Any decision. And as I write this, still without any sort of plan or timescale to leave.


Now I don’t want to go into the politics of what’s been happening, but I do want to talk about the impact this has had for the last 2 years and is still having on businesses, large and small.


Almost every business has to do some forward planning. In terms of workflow, resources, cashflow, time, diary management – all sorts of things. For larger business this planning can be for years forward, for most smaller businesses it is weeks, perhaps up to 12 months. But BREXIT has put a hold on all that planning for a lot of businesses. They can’t fix prices because they don’t know what the cost of raw materials will be that they need to create their product, they don’t know what the exchange rate will be. We don’t know how freely goods will leave and enter our country; and if they will be taxed or not. We don’t know how business travel to the continent will be affected.

But this isn’t root of the problem. The issue is that we should all have been able to plan for Brexit. And even more fundamentally – the government (and I include all parties in this – this isn’t a criticism of any particular party or specific politician, let’s keep that for elsewhere) should have planned for all outcomes of the referendum. Prior to that both Remain and Leave should have had full and detailed plans that had been at least discussed with the EU and had an outline agreement; BEFORE those plans were outlined to the public. If this had happened business could have formulated plans that incorporated both outcomes, and when the vote was known there would have been a degree of certainty that the leave plans voted for were going to remain, in the main, unchanged through the process.

Instead businesses have had to put their business on hold, and keep them on hold, until they have the details that will allow them to move forward into whatever future finally unfolds.  It is no wonder that some have got so frustrated that they have left the UK, or are in the process of moving to somewhere where the future is reasonably certain and they can get on with the business of doing business. And if we do, s some commentators are saying we will, crash out with a no deal, where does that leave everyone – no plans have been made because no one knows what it will look like.


As someone who specialises in getting the planning right for a business and project managing large projects the whole process has been the perfect case study in how not to run a project of any kind!

So if you’d like to run your projects with a certainty of outcome and decent plans to back the options up then please get in touch and I guarantee we’ll deliver you a far better outcome in a much shorter time frame!

LinkedIn – What’s in a name?

On a couple of our recent LinkedIn courses we’ve spent some time as a group discussing why you shouldn’t put anything other than your name in the name box on your LinkedIn profile.

A couple of people said that they have been encouraged to put their job title/ phone number/ slogan/ interesting characters or even emoji’s as well as their name because otherwise there are wasted characters in the box.

Your name may not use all the characters available in that box, but it’s called a name box for a reason. If someone searches for you by your surname and you have “Joe Bloggs – transmogrification guru” as your name, google is programmed to search for guru as your last name. (I have checked – no one has this particular epithet – yet). This means that you could be missing out on connections/ interviews/ offers of work by not showing up in as many results as you would if you didn’t have anything after your surname.

Also, if someone is looking for a “transmogrification guru” the search engines will look for that title in the headline box, job titles and text of your profile before it looks in your name. This means that you can again be pushed down the rankings or show in fewer searches.

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My Bullet Journal Journey – I’m really into the flow now!


Layouts:  The main thing I learned from my practice journal was what I found useful and what I didn’t. Setting up some of the layouts can take some time so it is worth finding the ones it is worth investing the time in and which you won’t use/ keep up with so don’t bother.

I like the idea of having a full year diary at the beginning just to keep track of the overall look of the year, to mark any holidays/ events/ yearly reminders. Or just to check which days of the week things fall on, so for me setting these few pages up is a worthwhile investment and I’ve opted for doing it with a quarter year per page – it fits in with other plans/ tools I use in my business.

The next page for me is a yearly overview – I have created one of these – not sure if I’ll keep up with it for the full 12 months but at the moment I’ve put it in there.

I’ve then set aside a couple of pages for lists – I have a list of business books that have either been recommended to me and I need to buy/ download, or that I already own but have never read. Continue reading

Should you choose a Mentor, an Advisor or a Consultant to help you in your business? Or all 3?


As time goes on the number of people at networking meetings who are describing themselves as a business mentor is increasing rapidly. It made me wonder about the differences (perceived or otherwise) about the roles of a business mentor, a business advisor and a business consultant.

So I decided to see what the dictionary definitions of these roles were in a business context and came up with the following:


Mentor noun business a more senior or experienced colleague appointed to help and support a junior employee

Adviser or advisor noun someone who advises.

Advice noun 1 suggestions or opinions given to someone about what they should do in a particular situation. take advice 1 to ask someone for an opinion about what one should do. 2 to act on advice given.

Consultant noun  someone who gives professional advice.

So interesting, but certainly not the whole story from these definitions.


So I next spoke to some people who describe themselves as either mentors, advisors or consultants about this to see what their thoughts were. The consensus seemed to be:

A mentor is someone who has been there, done it, wears the T-shirt proudly, shouts loudly about it and is capable of helping someone else to do the same thing. This probably means that they have worked at the same level, in the same industry or something very similar, to be able to mentor effectively. It’s why a mentor in a corporate world is so effective in successful career development.

An advisor is someone who has a far broader skill set. Has more experience and the ability to question the business owner on their decisions in order to help develop plans. They take an overall view of a business and help define a strategy and plan to move the business forward. They understand all the roles within an organisation and the implications of any changes proposed and then help implement them in a very hands on way.

A consultant is someone with an even greater field of experience. They help steer a business in a very strategic way, but they don’t become involved in the day to day implementation of plans in a business.


So each has a distinct role to play within a business, maybe at different times within the life of a business. But the choice is down to the owner/ decision maker and they need to ask what makes anyone fit to do the job they say they can do within an organisation. And then check out either the references or the profile of the person.

It may also be that the same person can perform each role within a different organisation, but you need to be clear about how hands on you want someone to be in your business and agree that upfront… but that’s the topic for another post!

So which do you think could be of most use to you and your business? And how will you make sure that whoever you pick has the relevant skills and experiences?

Bullet journalling journey – my kit


So, after a trial in a cheap notebook I would highly recommend investing in a Leuchterm 1917 dotted or gridded page notebook for your bullet journal journey – the reason is simple – they have enough dots/ grids for a month on the long side of the page as well as some notes/ titles. The cheap one I started with didn’t have this, so I ended up having to have a 2-page spread for every month.


I would recommend the bullets/ grids rather than the lined books because you won’t always be using the book in portrait mode – for some layouts the landscape view is better, and the dots mean  you can keep your straight lines.


They also have an index page at the front and all the pages are prenumbered, which saves time & you don’t have to remember to leave space.


As I expect my book to last a year and because I’m using it for project tracking as well as a to-do list I’ve kept a couple of extra pages at the front for additional index pages.


Other kit would be a set of fine nibbed pens in multiple colours – again this is my preference as I find it helps me organise tasks by project/ client. I suggest fine nibbed because if you are filling in each box on the page they are quite small so it’s just easier to make sure you’re keeping in a straight line, in the specific box. I had a set of Stabilo fine point (0.4mm) pens already so I’ve been using these so far and they work great.


I’ve seen some people using washi tape as index tabs but haven’t tried this yet. I’ll see if that or some sticky index tabs I already have/use elsewhere work better for me and let you know.


More soon…….

Has your LinkedIn account been limited/ suspended or removed? You’re not alone!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing lots of stories of people having their LinkedIn accounts suspended or even removed.  For those who have spent a long time building a genuine following and a decent network this can be, understandably, incredibly frustrating.

So here are a couple of tips to make sure you don’t fall foul of the LinkedIn police!

  1. Do you outsource any form of LinkedIn lead generation? If so you are at a high risk of having your account removed.

LinkedIn are monitoring accounts for at least 40 programmes/ browser extensions that “scrape” your contacts / or search in certain ways. So, check with your outsourced supplier, or if you have used any of the following be aware that you need to be very careful.

If you are using any of the following extensions while using LinkedIn your account could be at risk: Continue reading

What colour is your belt?

I see more and more business advisors saying that they can help businesses because they have a lean/ six sigma/ lean six sigma qualification and then go on to state that they have a green belt qualification.

Please, please don’t believe that these people can help you or your business!

And here is the reason why….

The belts in all these qualifications relate to the experience and the number of tools that the participant has been trained in and are qualified to use in a lean six sigma project. As per the origins of the terminology – the darker the colour of the belt the more experienced the practitioner.

A white belt understands the terminology and is perhaps a senior manager who will allow the staff the time/ resources to carry out a project. They have no experience in running a project but are there to remove roadblocks to the project.

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