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Dragon Interview: Nicky Kriel – Guildford’s Social Media Queen

Published on: 10 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 11 Mar, 2013

By Maria Rayner

With a conference to prepare for and a book out shortly, Nicky has deadlines to meet, but she agreed to talk to The Guildford Dragon NEWS about her take on social media and its usefulness to businesses.

Nicky Kriel

Nicky Kriel

“I’m a bit of a technophobe. If you were to see me you would laugh at how I use a mobile phone,” Nicky Kriel tells me, accompanied by gales of breezy laughter.

It’s easy to see how the 45-year-old has over 5000 followers on twitter, the micro-blogging site. She is friendly, personable and passionate about social networking.

In 2009 Nicky was a life coach when someone advised her to publicise her business with twitter. Initially she found it terrifying and “ran away” from it, however, that December she learnt how to use it properly. Within a few months she had over a thousand followers. Now she advises others.

“My workshops are more about how to use it rather than how it works,” Nicky explains. “People come to me because they realise they need to get on board with social media.”

With half of the UK population having facebook accounts, this is often a good place to start, but it’s complicated to get it right, particularly the right level of “chattiness”.

Nicky believes twitter to be a brilliant PR tool, used with a business mind. But it’s important not to overlook blogs and YouTube. “It’s not just cats doing funny things. You can use it educationally.”

This is a fast-moving sector. Nicky can hold a workshop in the morning about, say, LinkedIn and by the afternoon the site may have changed. “facebook is always changing. It’s quite frustrating but the benefits outweigh the snags.”

Using social media is not as complicated as people think… Nicky Kriel

When friends, seeing the success of her twitter account (number of followers and connections made) asked for her help, she started to run workshops. “I was in the right place at the right time, and I’m passionate about it.

“It is quite draining [managing social networks]. You have to feed the fire, put stuff out regularly. I do little bits and try to get some business from it every week.”

Nicky Giving a presentation to the federation of small business

Nicky giving a presentation to the federation of small business

Nicky has lived in the Guildford area for over 20 years, originally in Send. She’s fortunate to be able to work from home and believes it’s much more acceptable now than ever. People travel to her from all areas of the UK and she works on line.

“In Guildford we’re spoilt rotten. We have the benefits of the town and shops but also the countryside on our doorsteps. I love living in this neck of the woods; I like the people.

“I receive lots of support from business people. We have a large proportion of people who set up businesses in this area. Just look on LinkedIn.”

In Guildford we’re spoilt rotten… Nicky Kriel

Nicky can be overwhelmed by the gratitude of the business people she helps. “One client, who I’d dealt with over the phone and on line, gave me a big hug the first time we met in person.

“Using social media is not as complicated as people think at the start. Once you’ve learnt the jargon and mechanics, you know how to communicate already.”

Nicky’s other interest benefitted her blogging skills. “I joined Toastmasters [modestly, she didn’t tell me that she was Chairman of the Guildford Speakers, and founded Farnham Speakers] to gain confidence in public speaking. It’s free to pop along. We give positive feedback. People say, ‘Tell me the truth.’ Toastmasters turns it around so people realise how many good things they can do.”

As a businesswoman and mother she is aware of how confidence levels plummet when women are at home looking after children. “You have to learn to rediscover yourself and remember what you used to be able to do.”

More women than men attend Nicky’s courses, although the ratio is equal on one-to-one sessions. “Networking groups help women. They need to feel built up and supported – women’s groups can do this.”

When even the Surrey Police are using twitter, as Nicky says, social media and networks are here to stay: “It’s not just about insults on Blackberry messenger. We have to turn the technology to our advantage.”

Nicky is an expert on social media and follows the Guildford Dragon NEWS on Twitter. Need we say more? Get the Guildford news headlines first by joining Nicky and hundreds of others in our growing Twitter following. Just click @guildforddragon.

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