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Social Media Advice

A while ago I gave a talk about social media and how to use it well. I intended to write up my notes afterwards into an amazing, comprehensive blog post.

But I still  have not got round to it, and now concede that I probably never will.

So here are my notes. I hope you might be able to take some useful stuff from my brain dump. (Though I say so myself, it was a blooming good talk.)


  • Establish authority in niche

  • Help others

  • Your personal aim’¦?


  • What is your brand? Elevator pitch 1-sentence summary. (Compare your opinion with Google – search for yourself)

  • What is your authority? (What do you know more about than anyone in this room?)

  • Who are your current clients? What pays the bills?

  • What is your dream client audience?

  • For this do you need a large audience, a specialist audience, or a more-engaged audience? (1000 True fans is essential reading.)

  • What 3 things do you need people to know about what you do?


  • Bare essential is to have a home page – $5./mo. Cover page.

  • Look at your website on a computer and on a phone. Is it mobile optimised?
  • What is the aim of the site? Three things max

  • Today – not relying on SEO to bring you traffic – relying on social media

  • Build email newsletter – subscribe box. Popup on screen. Link in email footer. Start today.

  • Do you want to blog? Nothing = better than intermittent. Social media does the job for many these days.

  • Email signature – call to action


  • Useful for everyone (presidents to pop stars) – If only for people Googling you, Contacting you

  • Amuse / Entertain / Inform / Help people / Conversation / Self promote – Useful to remember

  • Imagine you are at a large and noisy dinner party. You need to talk a bit, be interesting. You also need to listen, answer questions. Be helpful. Entertain and inform.

  • What is your brand? Is this personal or work? (My online persona diff to my ‘˜real one’™, but it’™s still ‘˜true’™)

  • Let your personal voice come through – even for brands. Better than bland ‘˜brand speak’™.

  • What is your message? Stay on message (My struggle here is between ‘˜adventure’™, ‘˜motivation’™ and ‘˜creativity’™.) Repeat, repeat.

  • What niche do you occupy?

  • Pinned Tweet – useful

  • Biography, portrait, cover all useful and important. Include link. Check on mobile and desktop. Colour scheme (Mano)

  • Authority:

  • Teach people.

  • Be a hub of content – share good stuff (Buffer perfect for this)

  • Answer people’™s questions (both your ‘˜fans’™ and the ‘˜experts’™) [. before @name]

  • Ask questions (‘œhow can I help you ?’ – people like this.)

  • Engage:

  • Who are the key people in your niche? Answer their questions, comment on their stuff. Comment and show them your own stuff. (Like being at school – jostling in playground.)

  • @reply to people who ask you questions, especially if the questions are good, or the person is important, or if they love you (1000 True Fans).

  • Content:

  • What does a good Tweet look like?

  • What is the point of your Tweet?

  • Better to say nothing than be boring.

  • Photos are key.

  • Make them Shareable. (This is how your audience grows)

  • Calls to action. Use sparingly. Crucial (using up your ‘˜capital’™).

  • Amuse / Entertain / Inform / Help people / Conversation / Self promote. (The right aim, the right ratio. 1:6)

  • Ideas for content:

  • Cool stuff you’™ve been doing (user response = envy, aspiration, trust, credibility, interesting)

  • Trickle of archive content

  • Theme of the Day / Week (bothys / books)

  • Behind the scenes. Preparation, equipment

  • Human stories

  • Top Tips

  • Quotes / Wisdom

  • Self promote sparingly (build up / use up goodwill)

  • Ads – haven’™t really felt benefits

  • Hashtags

  • Exposes you to new people

  • Keeping track of conversations

  • Look at Tagboard
  • Etiquette:

  • Don’™t brag with RTs (‘œJust met @al_humphreys – he is amazing and sexy.’)

  • Follow <0.5 of Followers #

  • How often per day? You must notice people who post too often. (Who? How often? Why annoying?) You won’™t notice people who post too infrequently.

  • Spread out use / RT sparingly / Buffer

  • Lists

  • friends, best in your niche you want to engage with

  • Search for yourself


  • Amuse / Entertain / Inform / Self promote.

  • Ideally different content to Twitter. The audience and the engagement is very different. Ask more questions.
  • Not good for sharing links / enticing people away to other sites

  • Loyal audience, high engagement within the site

  • Biography, portrait, cover all useful and important. Include link. Check on mobile and desktop, About section, Call to Action. Call to action buttons.

  • Facebook algorithms.

  • Boost posts – target audience. Essential.

  • Power of visual content. Video even more strong.

  • Write like blog posts – stories, lessons, how-to’™s

  • Shareable

  • Video must be native

  • Page not Profile after 5000 followers – separate early your private and your ‘brand’ life

  • Pinned Post

  • To Buy Fans or Not Buy Fans: decreases authenticity. But increases (superficially and initially) the perception of authority. Up to you where you sit on that moral spectrum! I have bounced to and fro about social media. Having a large audience helps. Being an expert in a small niche works. Only a very few manage both, and they take over the world!

  • Branded message not personal stuff. But let your personal voice come through. Better than bland ‘˜brand speak’™.

  • Scheduling posts is handy
  • Advertising your posts (boost) is crucial


  • Try to have same @name as on Twitter

  • Vertical engagement – difficulty of growing audience

  • I can’t be bothered with ‘stories’ but they are very popular and get good engagement
  • Heart = vanity. No sharing (except naming in comments)

  • Hashtags therefore important. Be specific and relevant. #fun #pointless vs #bristol #interiordesign

  • Really popular hashtags you get lost with

  • Pics need to be bright and bold to grab attention.
  • Video is powerful
  • Biography, portrait, cover all useful and important. Include link. Check on mobile and desktop

  • Links in posts do not work – entice them to find out more about you

  • Engaging with key people important, but difficult

  • Telling story, building brand

  • Let your personal voice come through. Better than bland ‘˜brand speak’™.

  • Behind the scenes is good

  • Kit layout pics

  • #throwbackthursday #tbt

  • Instagram great for non-current archive posts

  • Hard to use on computer

  • Click on ‘˜Following’™ ‘˜Activity’™ to find new stuff

  • Contests

  • Easy way to get content on to lots of sites

  • Filters / Edit tools / Snapseed / VSCO

  • 1 second to grab interest – what stands out?

  • VLOG option

  • Photo map


  • ‘Later’ is a useful app for scheduling Instagram


  • Long term – not fleeting. Massive benefit. Content has long shelf life.

  • Establish authority

  • Build Brand

  • Useful for Google SEO

  • Browser extension

  • Share on other media

  • Add a Pin It button to your blog

  • Find your competitors. Follow their followers.

  • Build up content. Quality descriptions

  • Join Group boards

  • ‘˜Rich Pins’™

  • Repin other content from experts in your niche


  • Increase your visibility – adding connections, you increase likelihood

  • Connect to your past – businesses, university etc.

  • Tentacles across the internet (like commenting everywhere)

  • Snooping into the lives of people you’™re about to chat to (Googling them before meetings)

  • ‘˜About’™ section – make it strong, honest, true

  • Think of your ‘˜image’™ – choose photo carefully

  • Join ‘˜Groups’™. Participate! Search at top of page.

  • See who’™s viewed your profile

  • Link to Buffer

  • (quality > quantity) (Connection > Collection). Temptation! Rush = disaster (v diff to Facebook etc)

  • Help others

  • Sharing updates just like all the other sites

  • Don’™t try to be an ‘˜expert’™ at everything. Pick 3 skills that you want people to endorse.

  • Accept everyone’™s request, but only seek out good ones.


  • Buffer

  • Later

  • (Loads of others – eg Tweetdeck /  Hootsuite.)




  • Reply to comments on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter

  • Retweet a few things on Twitter – build up authority, engage with experts

  • Add links to Buffer

  • Answer questions – be an expert

  • Themes for posting (Monday – photo; Tuesday – show how to do something; Thurs – #tbt)

  • Create new content specific for each site.
  • 10 mins a week – Instagram pic that goes to every other site. Reply to a few comments
  • 30 min / week – all above, plus buffer, plus do some Retweeting
  • 10 min / day – above, plus separate content on each site
  • 30 min / day – above, plus take time to engage with experts, and actively help people in your niche
  • 1 hour / day – making new, expert content, build up email list, schedule old content to be re-used


What is your USP? (Niche)

Read Comments

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  1. I’ll never be an internet celebrity, as I can’t be bothered to do any of this stuff. I just like the camping part!

    Did you do all of this first, and then parlay that into National Geographic. Or did the National Geographic part give you the traffic to build the internet fame?

    • Alastair Posted

      Haha! Good on ya!
      I did all the adventure stuff for many years, anonymous and happy. Then I began blogging / encouraging people to microadventure. That led to the Nat Geo award after that.

  2. I was initially so impressed by/interested in your work! In light of that, I was surprised to read that you condone buying Facebook followers – that seems quite off-putting to me. The mountaineers I grew up revering were men who barely had time for a computer, and I’m pretty sure I know what they would say to that…

    • Alastair Posted

      I have mixed feelings. In an ideal world people wouldn’t need to do it. But for people trying to make their living via the internet, a large social media profile can help. I used to really feel I needed a big audience to make my lifestyle viable. Now I don’t care! (Maybe because I’m older, maybe because my lifestyle has become viable and maybe then I’ve forgotten the worry and the hustle a little).

    • Alastair Posted

      PS – regarding the mountaineer heroes we both shared. I take your point. But also put it to Joe Brown or Don Whillans that they could get paid to go climbing by putting a few photos online and I think they would have bitten your arm off to accept!

    • Different era. There’s a minimum credibility threshold of a few hundred Facebook followers or friends. A few cheap FB ads get you there instantly so that you don”t need to bother about it any more. It’s not a merit thing. And people won’t notice that most of your likers are from Bosnia and Bangladesh. After that you can live organically.

  3. My best friend and I have been adventuring (primarily the micro-adventures) since childhood. We started a blog about a month ago and your site is a prime example of what we hope ours becomes one day! You are truly inspirational!
    Check out our site at



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