Last night I attended September's DigitalSurrey, ashamedly the first of my career at theblueballroom. And I'm glad I did!

The guest speaker, all the way from America no less, was  Andrea Vahl, a social media consultant and speaker who is very clearly passionate about social media and helping businesses leverage its power and grow. 

Barlow Robbins office, Guildford


These are my top takeaways from her talk:


  • Don't be afraid to use humour on Facebook
  • The shelf-life of a tweet is 5-10 minutes
  • Google+ is still alive and great for SEO
  • Create a company profile as well as a personal profile on LinkedIn
  • Pinterest isn't just for women!
  • The ability to link is coming to Instagram (YES!) 

Optimise your profile:
Make sure you use the ABOUT sections to the max. You can put a lot of information in them, including keywords, links, phone numbers, email addresses and testimonials. Change your profile pictures regularly  - and keep them timely.

Optimise your content:
Spice it up a bit, vary your posts and topics. It doesn't always have to be blogs, videos get the highest reach with audiences. Don't forget to post that video once on Facebook for your followers and then again on YouTube for the rest of the world.

Optimise how you post:
Use the right language for the right platform! Use properly sized images and tag pages and people appropriately. Use hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, not so much on Facebook.

How many hashtags should you use?:

  • Twitter - 1-3
  • Instagram - 11 
  • Google+ - 1-2

Top mistakes people make on social media:

  • Not posting enough - up your content and get better reach!
  • Only posting your own content - it's important to interact, participate in other communities and pages in order to grow your visibility
  • Not having a measurement strategy - Google Analytics is a must

Quick ways to grow your following:

  • Use your warm market - they can be your biggest advocates. Email your current customers to let them know about your social sites - tell them why to follow you. Connect with friends and they will follow you back.
  • Cross promote your skills - multiple platforms are used are different times for different purposes
  • Follow targeted people - again, follow them and they will follow you back
  • Post great content - not just yours
  • Advertise - target your ads

And as a final piece of advice, Andrea said that if you do anything, make sure you just rock one social site!

What I really liked about Andrea was her style of presenting. She's authentic - honest - laid back and most of all, she's fun! Her pseudonym Grandma Mary definitely promotes that fun, but that's another story!  

Grandma Mary!

A big thanks to the Guildford team at Barlow Robbins for sponsoring the event, for your brilliant catering and special treatment - you really pulled out all the stops and we're so grateful.