Being a Buffer Ambassador – the next step on my Buffer journey

**Full disclosure – I have received payment for writing this blog. I will be wearing a pair of Buffer socks with pride, in exchange for a few words about how and why I use Buffer! A fair swap I feel. And part of my growing SaaS sock collection alongside my MailChimp socks.**

Beginning my Buffer journey

I remember when I first heard about Buffer. I was at an event listening to a talk about social media from someone who worked at Hootsuite. He spoke about social in general, trends and ways to grow your audience. Someone asked him about using Hootsuite and this was what he said:

If you only have one account on each social channel then I would use Buffer instead.

I was quite shocked. Did I just hear someone recommend another solution that felt a lot like it might be their rival?

I was also intrigued. At the time I’d been learning everything I could about Hootsuite and playing around with all their functionality, I hadn’t heard of Buffer. What was Buffer? And what did it offer that made people recommend it so highly?

TL:DR – that was the day I became part of the Buffer community. I signed up straight away when I got back from the event and started using Buffer for my own social to start with. It was easy to set up and use, and with their Chrome extension it became part of my social toolkit in no time.

As my business has grown I’ve used Buffer myself, for clients, set up accounts for clients, spent time in their slack community and even been privileged to be part of their Twitter squad and tweet from their own account.

Buffer Values – at the heart of everything they do

So what makes Buffer different? For me it is the fact that everything they do is grounded in their core values. Once you understand this, it is totally natural that companies who others might think were their rivals would be recommending them. And they start with ‘Choose Positivity’ – nothing bad in the world ever started with ‘Choose Positivity.’

Buffer Values - Being a Buffer Ambassador

It sounds strange to speak about a company and go straight to their values. And I’m not sure there is any other business I would speak about in these terms.

So why do these values matter? Setting up my business back then, I decided to freelance and to work remotely. It is great and also greatly challenging. In the early days of my business I often struggled with not being sure where to find ‘trusted’ sources for work and advice, nice people for online watercooler chat, all those things you take for granted when you have the pre-made company environment around you.

The Buffer values helped me cut through all of that. Here was a company that was delivering a great product and growing an awesome community. Knowing the values were there meant I just felt at ease in their community, product and spaces from day one.

Joining the Buffer Community

After I’d set up my account and started to play around with Buffer, I joined in their weekly #bufferchat on Twitter. Following their accounts and joining in the chat I heard about their slack community.

Again, in the early days of my freelancing I was desperate to try out slack and join a community on the platform. Again, being an office of one has its downsides, there was no group to give it a try with. It was the new cool thing and I was keen to try it out.

Enter the Buffer slack community. Or that’s when I entered the Buffer slack community! An online slack community (hooray, my wish fulfilled) full of others looking for a community around social media. During my time in the slack community I set up and ran the Buffer Slack Community Bookclub. We came together to discuss a different book each month and one month I even managed to arrange for us to be joined by the author of our chosen book!

So, wait a minute, how do you actually use Buffer?!

Ah yes, the crucial question. I realise this blog has been much more about my relationship with Buffer. So, what does Buffer actually do?!

It is a tool to help you schedule posts to your social media channels. You can have all the social channels you manage in one account and schedule content and posts in advance to help you save time, see your social posting as a whole, plan campaigns and more. With Buffer Reply (formerly Respond) as part of the toolkit now too, you can also manage Customer Service and Community Engagement across all your accounts.

If you’re starting out with Buffer then you might like to look at it like this.

For my clients I suggest they start by looking at their social a week in advance. How often do you currently post, how often would you like to post, what is coming up that you want to talk about?

First, set your schedule in Buffer. You can customise posting days and times to make sure you are reaching our audience when they are around to hear from you.

Next, think about content. With the Buffer Chrome extension, I encourage clients to just click on it whenever they are reading an industry article or something in their niche that catches their eye. Straight away it comes up, you can choose what channels to share it to, write a quick update about why you like it and boom! Added to your queue in your schedule.

You can share retweets from Twitter, which are then scheduled for you. So, if you have 10 mins to scroll through your timeline on Twitter, you can retweet a bunch of great content you know your audience will love and have it sent out over a longer period of time, rather than a flurry of retweets all at once.

You can even schedule straight to Instagram these days. Straight. To. Instagram. We all love Insta’s mobile first vibe but sometimes you can improve on perfection, and scheduling directly to Instagram is the cherry on the top of that very delicious-looking Sundae in my book.

And this is just the beginning! As part of my role as Buffer Ambassador I’ll be looking at Buffer in more detail and sharing some of my top tips and tricks to get the best from your social using Buffer. Stay tuned!

Being a Buffer Ambassador

I’ll admit that recently my Buffer community credentials have been looking a little cobwebbed. I like tweets from the Buffer crew, but I missed the last ever #bufferchat and I’ve not checked in with the Slack community for a long time.

So it was wonderful to be contacted out of the blue by Arielle and invited to be a Buffer Ambassador as part of their beta for this new programme.

via GIPHY

To me, the ambassador programme is another great step for Buffer, giving something to their wonderful community that they have grown with care and attention throughout their journey.

I’m so pleased to be on board. Thank you for the invite y’all! Check back here soon for more fab Buffer content.

Have You Got What it Takes to Work Remotely?

Being a digital nomad, working from a co-working space, taking your laptop with you onto the beach. The remote working life promises so much.

But does it deliver? And how can you be sure you are up to it?

Here are a few key areas that you might want to consider before taking the plunge.

Work Remotely from any Timezone

So, where in the world are you working from this week? Or more importantly, what timezone are you in? GMT? UTC? ET? PT?

Want to organise a video call for your remote team? Which timezone are you going to base that on? Which one of you is going to stay up late/get up early/set their alarm for 3am to make it? See, the glamorous lifestyle is there for the taking, late nights waiting for a team meeting with other people who are sitting in sunny daylight waiting to speak to you.

Or are they? If you are like me then maybe you also have a habit of reading calendar invites/messages and seeing what you want to see rather than what is written there. This can result in you waiting online for a call at the wrong time, or even (as I have done more than once) the wrong day.

So it’s not just about clock watching, like it may have been when you worked in an office. Can you watch the clock, the calendar and then translate that into 4 different timezones and still make your meeting on time?

Co-Working Space

I’m pretty sure this is the most glamorous that it gets for me when it comes to remote working. Yes, you too could be sipping cocktails and working from the beach in digital nomad epicentre, Chiang Mai.

But let’s face it, you’re not. I’m sure, like me, the reality of working remotely is a little less glam.

My main co-working space is our dining room table. I can usually carve out about enough space for my laptop and notebook. My surroundings are not a minimalist dream. They are leftovers from this morning’s breakfast and whatever Lego creation the kids are currently working on. And if I’m really lucky, there’s probably a cat, either sat perched on top of a Lego creation, or trying to wedge itself onto my lap, tail in the air, waving around in the foreground of my video call.

There are other options. Coffee shops make a good ‘office away from home.’ Well, they can be, but if the few choices in the town where I live are anything to go by, they might not fit the bill. One has Wifi that kicks you off after an hour and a half, the one with unlimited Wifi is usually busy and the rest have no idea that offering Wifi might be a good business choice.

I’m a Brit so there is another option — the local pub that has free Wifi and an app that brings your food and drink order to your table! What could possibly go wrong there?!

And finally, the best Wifi in town is at the local library. A space where I’ve discovered the truth about the generation gap. It seems to be perfectly acceptable for older people to come into the library and chat to each other. I get that it’s a place for community after all. However, if anyone under the age of retirement speaks or has an electronic device that they haven’t put on silent then it’s glares all round from the older generation — how dare they?!

Dress Code

Be a digital nomad they said. Dress in your PJs all day they said.

This one quickly goes from win/win to win/no win. Yes, you could dress in your PJs all day. Score. But see the above note about video calls. Are they PJs that will look acceptable on your next Zoom call?

And it isn’t just your PJ top that needs to be up to scratch. You will definitely get someone – parcel delivery, concerned neighbour, random stranger – turn up on your doorstep after midday and, when you open the door, look at you like you grew a second head because you are still in your PJs.

And if you do get dressed? Well, the advice blogs would have you believe that’s a great thing. Dress for the job you want they say, and don’t let anything like remote working get in the way of that. Get up and get dressed just like you would for the office.

Except most of the things that you do during the day as a remote worker don’t really need the same level of smart casual/smasual (I can’t believe I actually just typed that word into a blog, I don’t know who I am any more) that is required in an office. Full office outfitting for a quick pop to the shops for some biscuits, which along with any other snack are the remote worker’s nemesis, just isn’t required.

And finally, dressing to be outdoors just leads to a far greater temptation to leave your desk and the house. Which can only lead to bad things and brings us on to…

Work/Life Balance

Living the remote working dream. Schedule work around your life. Take that morning yoga class, go to the cinema of an afternoon.

But what about the flipside of this? Yes, we’d all love to go to the cinema in the afternoon but then you’re stuck working of an evening when everyone else is out doing something fun. Without you. Outside of ‘normal’ working hours you find that everyone else is not working and is out enjoying themselves and posting it all gleefully on social media. That’s not the time anyone really wants to work. Is that afternoon cinema trip seeming like such a good idea now?

The real pitfall here is that we’ve constructed a situation where we want to do less work during working hours and not make it up at any other time. That’s just a part-time job. Or, taken to extremes, retirement.

Plus, if it’s not your inner voice talking you out of doing work and into daytime leisure activities, it’s everyone else you know who knows that you ‘work remotely.’ To them that just means ‘is around during the day.’ The invites to lunch, and other day time activities start to stack up. I’ve been asked to babysit because ‘you’re around during the day.’ I’m not sure that turning up to someone’s place of work to hand over a baby for a couple of hours during the day because ‘well, you’re nearby’ is quite acceptable, but with this remote working, you’ve got all these extra hours that have magically appeared when you decided to stop going in to an office every day.

So, what do you think? Have you got what it takes to be a remote worker?