Posts tagged marketing
Dorset foodie uses social media to spice up her business

IIlana Smith of Hari Hari is an inspiration to anyone who wants to set up a small business based around food. She’s combined her passion for cooking with her Sri Lankan roots to create a brand that’s getting noticed, and, of course, she’s using social media to get the word out. I recently spoke with Illana to learn more about the origins of Hari Hari and the part that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have played in her story so far.

Dorset foodie
Dorset foodie

The seeds of a spice shop

Illana’s professional background is HR and training in bigger companies. Like so many of us, she wanted to work for herself, which meant looking at the resources and opportunities available.

Being half-Sri Lankan, and having lived there for many years, she had a deep appreciation for Sri Lankan curries, which she loves to cook. The difference in taste means she prefers to use spices shipped directly from Sri Lanka, rather than those bought in the UK.

Turning these spices into meal-ready packages seemed to be a great way for Illana to combine her curry passion with her business ambitions.

She spent a year planning the business. Advice she received early on was to set a high standard of presentation from the start, making it important that her branding and packaging was right from day one.

Dorset foodie cooking
Dorset foodie cooking

Growing a business through networking

Hari Hari began in 2014 with a website and a Facebook Page. Illana then discovered and joined The Anonymous Travelling Market, which promotes local food and craft in the South West. That led her to Dorset Food & Drink, where she made the most of every networking opportunity on offer, picking up loads of advice from fellow producers at every event.

One of the most useful revelations was the power of Twitter to connect small businesses. Through Twitter, Illana has made lots of useful new contacts with other small producers and local retailers.

Because retailers have seen Hari Hari being talked about on Twitter, they’re more open to putting the spice packages on their shelves. Whereas some shops were initially wary, some are now approaching Illana in order to stock her products.

Another revelation to Illana was supper clubs, where foodies gather around a table to share a meal and get to know one another better. She has gone on to develop a supper club in conjunction with Comins Tea House in Sturminster Newton.

Hari Hari food
Hari Hari food

How people and social media have helped Hari Hari

Illana effectively launched her business at the school gate, supported by a website and Facebook Page. Today that Page has well over 400 likes. She also has over 800 followers on Twitter and over 1,100 followers on Instagram.

As a sole trader, Illana struggles to give more time to social media. She’s also very happy with the follower numbers because, while they’re not high, they deliver results.

Illana’s approach to Facebook and Instagram is to share the journey that she’s on, while Twitter is more about connecting with other businesses. She usually posts at least one Instagram picture per day, and posts on Facebook two or three times a week. Because they’re important channels, she keeps up with them during the day.

If you’re thinking of setting up a business, or already run one, here are some tips from Illana:

  • Give social media time - it takes one or two years to really start getting results.
  • Be patient about sales - it took around a year for her website sales to go from zero to frequent.
  • Have a way to measure success - for Illana this is repeat customers. A very high percentage of those who buy from her come back for more.

Dorset is well known for its specialist, artisan food producers. Hari Hari is a part of that vibrant community, both online and offline. It’s a great example of how someone is making a success of their business ambitions by connecting with their passion and harnessing the power of social media.

Hari Hari is a 2016 Taste of the West gold award winner.

Click here to learn more about Hari Hari spices.

Hari Hari packs
Hari Hari packs
How to use Twitter lists

Is your Twitter timeline so busy that it’s sometimes hard to spot the tweets from the people you really want to hear from? Do you wish there was an easy way to find and follow particular types of Twitter user, such as those offering a similar service, or are based in the same area?

Twitter lists can solve both of these problems for you, and more besides. Lists are an underappreciated feature of Twitter. They’re simple to use yet can be extremely powerful. Let’s explore what lists are and how to use them...

What is a Twitter list?

A Twitter list is nothing more than a list of Twitter users. These lists can be surprisingly useful.

Let’s say you’re planning a wedding and you want to keep track of various wedding suppliers on Twitter. You create a list called ‘Wedding Suppliers’ and then add each tweeter to it. Now you’ve made it really easy to find all those wedding-oriented Twitter accounts.

When you create a list, you can choose whether to make it private or public. A private list can only be viewed by you, while a public list is accessible by anyone. When you visit someone’s Twitter profile, you can choose to view their public lists.


A Twitter list is a filter

You have three options when viewing a list. You can choose to view:

  • Twitter accounts on the list (List Members)
  • Tweets from accounts on the list
  • Accounts that have subscribed to your list, if it’s public

The second of these three, tweets from accounts on the list, is where the list acts as a filter.

Are there people whose tweets you don’t want to miss? Put them in a list called ‘My top tweeters’ or something like that, and then choose to view just the tweets from people in that list. You’ve effectively got a timeline containing just the tweets from those people, excluding everyone else you follow.

When you’re following thousands of Twitter accounts, using lists helps you to find the tweets you don’t want to miss. I know some Twitter users who do follow thousands and they never look at their main timeline - they use their lists to control the number of tweets they see.



Subscribing to a Twitter list

People can subscribe to a public list created by someone else, meaning they can also use that list as a filter. Subscribing to someone else’s list also lets you create what’s effectively a list of lists.

You can see who else has subscribed to a list, either one of yours or a list set up by someone else.

How to add someone to a Twitter list


It’s really easy. When you’re looking at their Twitter profile page, use the menu option or user action and choose ‘Add to List’. Then select which list you want to add them to.

You can’t add someone to a list set up by another Twitter user.

When you add someone to a public list, they receive a notification.

Removing someone from a list is also really easy when you’re using Twitter in a browser, such as from a laptop or desktop.

Have you been added to any Twitter lists? There is no way of knowing whether you’re on a private list, but in the lists area of your Twitter profile you can see which lists you’ve been made a member of (added to).

No follow required

Want to keep an eye on your competitors’ tweets without actually following them? That’s simple - just create a private list and add them to it. They’ll never know, and in the same way, you don’t know whose private lists you are on!

You can add people to lists without following them, and you can subscribe to lists set up by people you don’t follow.

The only way to stop someone adding you to a list is to block them.

What you can’t do with a Twitter list

You can’t send a tweet to just to people on a Twitter list. Lists are not a way to facilitate group discussions, whether private or public. Nor can you add yourself to a list set up by someone else - except by asking them.

The only way to remove yourself from someone’s list is by blocking them, or again, by asking.

You can take advantage of the Twitter list function

Here are some of the ways that you can use Twitter lists to your advantage:

  • Filter out all the background noise and focus on just the tweets you want to read.
  • Keep an eye on tweets from your competitors or others in your industry.
  • Create lists that are useful for others and promote them.
  • Get people’s attention by adding them to a list.

Twitter lists can be a useful way to find other Twitter users to follow. Let’s say you want to follow Twitter accounts in Dorset that provide services associated with weddings - click through here and you’ll see that I’ve already made a list for you. Lists made by other Twitter users may be equally useful. Unfortunately, there is no way of searching for lists within Twitter.


Ideas for Twitter lists you might want to set up:

  • Current suppliers
  • Potential future suppliers and freelancers
  • People who often retweet you
  • Important sources of information for your industry
  • Organisations you’re targeting as potential customers
  • Your employees

Used well, Twitter lists can be hugely powerful, giving you much more control over your Twitter experience. They can also reinforce your position as an influencer in your particular sector.

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How to start using Google Analytics

How to start using Google Analytics

I was recently invited to help a group of local business owners understand how to start making sense of Google Analytics - a service that’s free for everyone. They all had websites that promoted holiday accommodation and some were already using Analytics, but they weren’t really sure what it was telling them other than the number of people visiting their website.

If you’ve ever looked at Google Analytics you’ll know that it’s packed with data. What people find difficult is converting that data into useful information. The aim of this article is to help you start making business decisions based on the information that you see.

I will look at how to:

  • Activate Google Analytics
  • See how many people are visiting your website
  • Discover the routes people are using to find your website
  • See which pages they are visiting on your website.

Google Analytics can become very complex very quickly, because there is so much data and not all the terminology is easy to understand. In this article I’m sharing my approach to looking at the information presented to me, while trying to keep it relatively simple and easy to understand.

How to switch on Google Analytics

To sign up for Google Analytics, click here and follow the instructions. The process includes adding a piece of code to your website, giving Google permission to capture analytics data and share it with you.

You should be able to add the code yourself, depending on how your website is built and managed. If you can’t do it, your website developer will be able to.

Once the code is in place, Google will begin collecting the data that’s presented in Analytics. To see this, you’ll need to log into Google Analytics.

How many people are visiting your website?

Analytics has a menu of options of the left side of the screen, with all the data displayed on the right as a series of tables and graphs. For a new user, these can be quite overwhelming.

Look out for the menu item on the left that says ‘Audience’. Click this and choose ‘Overview’. You’re now seeing a summary of information about visits to your website over the last month. The main graph shows visits per day. By changing the dates (top right) you can select a different period of time.

What’s good to look for here are trends and spikes. If you’ve been working to grow visitor numbers, the trend will, hopefully, be upwards. Spikes, where visitor numbers shoot up (or down) on a particular day, suggest that something happened to make a serious difference to visitor numbers.

Try to identify what caused those spikes, because it can help you understand what may bring more people to your site. For example, I had a spike in traffic to my site in the week before I wrote this. As we go through this article, I’ll explain what I learned from that spike. For me it was a major event because traffic to my website jumped by over 1,000%!

What screen are people using to look at your site?

Another option under ‘Audience’ is ‘Mobile’. Select this and then ‘Overview’. The table displayed shows you what percentage of your site visitors looked at your site on a mobile, a desktop or a tablet.

Over half of the people visiting my website come from a mobile, meaning they’re looking at it on a smartphone. This tells me that I need to be sure that my website looks good when viewed on a mobile phone.

When did you last look at how your website appeared on a smartphone? If, like me, you tend to work on a desktop or laptop computer, it’s easy to forget that the majority of the people browsing the web now do so from a phone.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s time you got that fixed. Google offers a useful tool that checks whether your site is, in its opinion, mobile-friendly - click here to access it.

How are people finding your website?

Going down from ‘Audience’, look at ‘Acquisition’ and again, ‘Overview’. This helps you understand how people find your website. The pie chart and table both indicate routes bringing people to you, and these are:

  • Social - social media, such as Twitter, Facebook etc. Click on this for more detail.
  • Organic search - this is when someone types something into Google and they choose one of the links presented by the search engine.
  • Direct - people who have come directly to the website, by typing in the link or from a bookmark they use. Direct can also include visitors from other sources.
  • Referral - these are visitors who have come via another website, which referred them on to yours.

This information is useful because it tells you how the majority of people come to your website and gives you some figures for benchmarking. Let’s say that you decide to start making better use of social media to bring people to your site. A way to measure this would be to look at how the proportion of visitors coming via social changes over time.

Going back to the example of my recent website traffic spike - I used the date options on Google Analytics to look at the acquisition sources over the last few days, compared with over the last month. The figures showed that the Social percentage jumped up and, in particular, Twitter. So the spike in my visitor numbers seemed to be generated from Twitter.

What are people doing when they’re on your website?

We’re now looking at ‘Behaviour’ and ‘Overview’, because this tells us what people are viewing on your website.

A table of data will show you the top ten pages people are looking at, and what you see may surprise you. From this, you should be able to assess what is of most interest to the people visiting your website.

Now think about what it is that you want people to do after they’ve landed on your site and consider the design of your web page. Are you making it really easy for them to take that action? Don’t forget that many, possibly the majority, will be looking at the page on a smartphone. Be warned - you may decide to redesign your page as a result of this!

In the example from my website, where traffic spiked by over 1,000%, I immediately saw that lots of website visitors had landed on a page where I had reviewed a specific social media product.

Then I remembered that a couple of days ago the company whose product I reviewed had tweeted a link to my article. Checking back, I discovered that they have hundreds of thousands of followers. Clearly a small percentage of these followers (which was still a large number) had clicked through to my website.

Armed with this knowledge, I took another look at how that article appeared on my smartphone and, more importantly, how easy I was making it for them to do what I wanted them to do, which was to sign up for my mailing list.

I was shocked to realise that despite the efforts I had put into the design of the site, it was unlikely that they’d seen a call to action to sign up to my mailing list. So my next action was to fix that immediately - I added a call to action to the end of each article. Time will tell whether that will make a difference.


Google Analytics - summary and bounce rate

In this article I have described how you can:  

  • Turn on  Google Analytics
  • See how many people are visiting your website
  • Discover the routes these people are taking to arrive at your website
  • See which pages on your website they are visiting

Finally, I’ll cover one more important number: bounce rate. You may have spotted this number, which appears in various places. You can see it under Audience>Overview and Behaviour>Overview.

Bounce rate tells you the percentage of people who, having arrived at your website, take a look at just one page and then leave again. If you have a bounce rate of 80%, this means eight out of ten website visitors take a look at just one page and then leave.

What’s a good bounce rate? This depends on what you want your website to do for you. If you’re just sharing information, a high bounce rate may be okay. But if you want people to click through your site to find a ‘buy now’ button or to sign up to your mailing list, a high bounce rate suggests that your strategies for keeping people on your site aren’t working too well.

If you have any questions about using Google Analytics, please get in touch through email, Twitter or Facebook.

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Dorset businesses that blog

Blogging is a great way to keep adding fresh, highly quality  content to your website, something that Google recommends as a way of keeping your visibility high on search engines. Blogging is also a great way to demonstrate credibility to potential customers, because it shows that you know what you're talking about.

This post is a list of the Dorset businesses and charities I know of that blog. No doubt there are others and if you know of one, please tell me.


List updated April 2016

Cater Data

Christchurch Harbour Hotel

Comins Tea House

Concept Photographic

Dorset Orthopaedic

Dream Cottages

Dorset Wildlife Trust

Fox Inn Ansty

Goldhill Organics

Hixons Business Advisors

In the Bag PR


IT Support 365


Morris Lane Chartered Accountants

Roving Press

Salterns Harbourside Hotel

The Eastbury Hotel

Yellow Book Interiors

Criteria to be included on this list of Dorset businesses that blog:

- The blog must be written by a business or charity based or headquartered in Dorset. - The latest post must be dated no more than six months earlier than the date when I visit the blog. - There must be at least five posts on the blog, with varying dates. - Ideally the blog posts should be dated, or at least give a clue to their date, to indicate how current they are.

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Stop selling and start telling

You put people off by shouting about your wares Old fashioned advertising (that is, pre-social media) was easy. You created an ad that said ‘Buy this from me’ and put it into a newspaper, a magazine or online.

Whether you were selling scuba gear, holiday accommodation or bookkeeping services, the process was more or less the same.

So what happened when social media came along? You opened an account for your business and started doing the same thing as you’d always done: ‘Buy this from me, buy this from me.’

Except it doesn’t work. Why?

Because when people use social media, it’s not like reading a magazine or brochure. They don’t just want information coming at them, they want to exchange information. And they want to talk about things that interest them.

So stop selling

Here are some of the selling actions that annoy people on social media:

  • Promoting your product and service in every post you put out.
  • Hijacking hashtags and Twitter chats simply to promote yourself.
  • Sending people Direct Messages on Twitter, saying ‘Thank for following us, now come and buy our stuff’ (or words to that effect).

Take a look at the Dorset firms that use a lot of social media, like Goldhill Organics or Dorset Cereals. Are all their posts pushing their products? No, they're not. They often share posts from others and while they often mention their own products, there are no pleas for you to buy from them.

And start telling

What’s the difference between selling and telling?

Selling is: ‘Buy from me.’ Telling is: ‘This is what we do and why we do it.’ Telling is often about stories.

A great example of telling not selling
A great example of telling not selling

Ways that you can ‘tell’ on social media include:

  • Sharing about the background to your products, such as where you source from and why.
  • Talking about the people in your business: staff, suppliers, customers.
  • Post pictures of the wonderful area we live and work in. Dorset is so photogenic!
  • Encouraging discussion about subjects that could interest your followers and have nothing to do with your business.

People are increasingly making choices about who they buy from based on how much a business cares about the environment, its staff and its customers.

By ‘telling’ you can encourage people to feel positive about your business, increasing the chances of them buying from you.

The bad news is that ‘telling’ takes time.


The good news is that social media makes it really easy to follow businesses that are interesting and ignore those that just sell.

So be sure to be interesting!

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