Are you Levy ready? 

By | Industry News | No Comments

With the Levy changes coming into effect on the 6th April we have covered some of the key questions you may have.

What is the Apprenticeship Levy?
The Apprenticeship Levy is at the heart of the government’s agenda to vocational education and is being introduced to fund the 3 million new apprenticeships pledged by 2020.

When will the Apprenticeship Levy be introduced?
The levy will take effect from 6th April 2017, in order to fund new apprenticeships from 1st May 2017.

How will the Levy affect training?
Vocational training is changing placing the company who receives the training in control.  With the new reforms, you can choose your training provider, you are assured that you are getting the value on your investment, driving the content and quality of the new standards and ensure that at the end of the apprenticeship your apprentice is competent in the role that you need them to do.

Who will have to pay the Apprenticeship Levy?
Employers with a total wage bill in excess of £3m will be required to pay the levy.

How is the Apprenticeship Levy calculated?
The levy is paid through PAYE every month and will be a 0.5% tax of the company’s total wage bill, after an allowance of £15,000.

Do the Government contribute anything to my Apprenticeship Training?
The Government will contribute a 10% top-up to the funds that are deposited in your levy account. The top-up funds will be deposited at the same time the levy payments enter your apprenticeship service account each month.

My company doesn’t meet the £3m pay bill threshold. What does the Apprenticeship Levy mean for me?
As a firm with a pay bill below £3m, and therefore not contributing to the levy, the Government will contribute 90% of the training costs of your apprentices; you will be required to fund the remaining 10%. This also applies to levy payers whose levy funds have run out.

Will the Apprenticeship Levy affect our current apprentices?
The levy will not affect the way that you fund training for your apprentices who started their programme before 1st May 2017. You will need to carry on funding these apprentices under the terms and conditions that were in place at the time in which the apprenticeship started.

If you are interested in up-skilling your team or hiring an apprenticeship before the Levy comes into action and it is 100% funded, fill in our contact form here.

Face a Larger Fine for Using Your Mobile Whilst Driving

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Drivers who are using their mobile phone behind the wheel will now be faced with a larger fine as of today. (01/03/2017)

Drivers will receive a fine of £200 and 6 points on their licence, and will not be given the chance to go onto a driving awareness course to revoke this. The new laws will result in drivers who have had their licence for less than 2 years will automatically have their licence revoked.

What you need to know about the new laws:

  • If you are driving any motor vehicle it is illegal to use any hand-held devices. This includes when you are stuck in traffic or stopped at a red light.
  • You can’t use any hand-held devices if you are supervising a learner driver.The police have right to stop you if they think you are distracted by an internet device, including sat-nav and hands-free.
  • The police have right to stop you if they think you are distracted by an internet device, including sat-nav and hands-free.
  • In cases where it is deemed “unsafe or impractical” to stop, drivers can use their phones to call emergency services.

Fines for using your mobile phone whilst driving were first introduced in 2003 and were at £30, and were then doubled in 20017 to £60 plus three points on your licence. In 2013 the fine was again raised to £100. Despite the consequences, The Department for Transport said that “there has been no sustained reduction in observed mobile phone use over time”

These changes are going to impact new and younger drivers as younger people are engaged more on social media, some even use their mobile phones to live stream and Snapchat whilst behind the wheel, if they are now caught using their mobile phone it will result in their licence taken off them as they accumulate six points.

Earlier this year, ministers had planned to meet with car manufacturers and mobile phone companies to discuss plans for technology that can automatically stop phones working in moving cars, making it impossible for drivers to receive or make phone calls and texts behind the wheel. They hope to do this with technology that will block phone signal for drivers.

The Department for Transport deems using a mobile device whilst driving just as dangerous and socially unexceptional as drunk driving.

These news laws should make everyone reconsider checking their notifications whilst driving, making the roads a much safer place for everyone.

7 Websites for Free Stock Images

By | Social Media Tips | No Comments

It can be extremely difficult to catch the attention of your audience with a simple text post on social media. Visual content became increasingly popular in 2016. With platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram on the rise, it became the norm to attach images/video to your post. Those browsing the internet tend to engage more with visual posts, with images on Facebook review 2.3x more interaction than those without (source)You’d be missing a trick if you did not spend the time putting together a post with attractive visuals.

However, it’s not always easy to take the perfect image for your post. Many companies don’t have the resources or time to have a full set of professional photos, and these companies rely on stock images to create the visual content that is needed to get the attention for their audience. The price of stock images can vary, but sometimes you may not have the budget to splash out on hundreds of images. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of websites where you can get royalty free stock images for both commercial and personal use.


Creative Commons:










Redirect yourself to the above websites by clicking the image

When you are downloading images, always make sure to check the copyright laws that come with the image, some authors may require that you credit them, others may be completely free to use. If you don’t know, don’t risk it – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Our Social Media for Business course will give you relevant information on copyright laws and how you can protect your own work online, and the best practices to stay safe online to avoid any potential trouble!

For more information and to sign up to your course, use our contact form.

10 Tips to Increase Productivity

By | Social Media Tips | No Comments

The use of social media within the workplace has become increasingly popular. Many businesses see the importance of marketing their products and services through various platforms in order to create relationships with a worldwide audience.

Employers want their company’s message to be promoted on social media. However, they don’t want staff to be using social media as a procrastination tool. Here are 10 top tips to increase your productivity while using social media for business.

Find the right platforms
There’s no point in posting on Pinterest when your target audience is on LinkedIn.
Analysing social media platforms for their main audience will give you a greater insight into what your target audience are using. You will avoid wasting time using platforms that aren’t going to suit your business.

Use the right dashboard
Social media management tools are key for organising your workload. A dashboard will allow you to publish and schedule your content; meaning that during you 9-5 job, you can also schedule any posts that are needed for the weekend.
A dashboard will also allow you to create channels so you can monitor your streams, engagement and even your competitors. We recommend Hootsuite or Buffer.

Cut out all distractions
This one goes without saying and can be applied to any job, it’s important that you cut out all distractions and know how to effectively manage your time and workload.
You may have just been mentioned in a tweet, but you need to take time out to focus on creating your email newsletter. Your reply on twitter can wait a couple of hours until you’ve finished the task you’ve initially set yourself, and a clear mind will lead to a better reply.

Embrace sharing content
Sharing other company’s content doesn’t mean that you are copying and pasting from another brand and claiming it as your own work. Sharing and retweeting is perfect to show social media activity and open the possibilities of a business to business engagement.
Sometimes you may see some content that you think your audience will love, don’t be afraid to share it; those share and retweet buttons are there for a reason!

Encourage activity across the business
You may be part of a business where a lot of things happen outside of the office, and sometimes you can be too busy to get out there and create some content. Encourage your co-workers to be sending you photos of what they’re up to during their working day, whether it’s from networking events to a personal success. It’s called social media for a reason!Create a content calendar
Create a calendar that highlights all of the important events going on so you can relate to these in your social media posts. Whether it be an event that your business is having, the launch of a new product, or something that is likely to be trending worldwide, it’s always good to use these as a hook for your business.
Creating a content calendar bi-annually will give you the time to plan content for events in advance.

Plan content in advance
It’s never good practice just winging something. If you have your content planned for at least a week in advance, it will take a lot of pressure off you as opposed to making something on a daily basis.
Taking a day or two out of your week to create and schedule your content will give you the rest of the week to analyse, engage and get on with any other work you may have.

Always engage with your followers
Your followers are the reason that you are using social media for business. If you’re not going to take the time to reply to their tweet, then they won’t take the time to tweet you again. Engagement is key with customers. If you have one customer that regularly engages with and shares your content, then that will also be going out to their network and can create a valuable connection for your business.
Show that you care about your customers by engaging with them at every opportunity.

Know when to take if offline
Engaging with your customers can lead to all kinds of opportunities, and it’s important that you know when an opportunity has arisen to take the conversation offline and deal with it in a more personal manner. Showing that you can deal with a matter online is important for your brand reputation, but it’s also important that customers won’t feel too exploited by providing so much information over a twitter thread.
Don’t be afraid to ask for direct contact details to deal with any matters offline.

Cross promote your channels
Are you wondering why your Facebook page has more followers than your Twitter? Maybe that is down to your Twitter followers not knowing that you are on Facebook. Encourage your followers to be active on all platforms and give them the incentive to want to see your posts across all their social media channels.
Cross promoting your channels will be great content as well as increasing engagement across all your platforms.


On that note… Make sure you keep up to date with our social media news across all of our platforms:






Social Media Management Tools

By | SMMTs | No Comments

Building your brand and authority on social media can be a tough challenge. Even harder can be staying on top of your social media platforms. Not many of us have the time or budget to create digital marketing content, schedule posts, engage with followers, curate content, share others’ content, monitor competitors and manage our various platforms.

When you invest your time in social media, you need to make sure that you’re getting the very best ROI. That’s why the only way to effectively manage social media is with the use of one or more social media management tools. Making you more productive and efficient, and over time giving you better results.

Here are our top five current social media tools to help you do just that! Save time and money with these essential tools.

Buffer Logo Buffer is an essential tool and one of the best ways to drive traffic, increase fan engagement and save time on social media. Buffer helps you reach your audience at the right times with optimised posts, can drive more clicks on your posts and traffic to your website.


HootsuiteHootsuite is the biggest and most popular social media management tool. It is a great platform that allows you to monitor not only all of your own social media platforms but those of your competitors and keywords. You can fully customise a dashboard to display exactly the ‘streams’ you need and use it to schedule your content across all of the platforms.
CanvaCanva is a fantastic free application that offers a myriad of graphic templates for you to use with your own pictures. You simply upload your own images to design social media cover photos, post images, presentations and posters, business cards and invitations.


BuzzsumoBuzzumo is a great tool for content curation. You can find content to share on your own social media based upon keywords and quantify and reach and who’s sharing it. You can also identify topic influencers who led conversations around it.
IFTTTIFTTT is an automation tool that is simple and easy to use. You just select a recipe you want in order to market your business on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks (automated replies to Page Likes, messages etc).


There are lots more tools on the market. At The Social Media Lab, we provide training on these tools and lots more. A Social Media for Business course will expand your skill set and give you the knowledge you need to grow your business. For more information on the courses that we offer, contact us.

Social Media Jobs

By | Company News | No Comments

Social Media is still fairly new and people are still getting used to using it. It’s mainly populated by millennials, with 90% of young adults having at least one social platform, and a third of millennials say social media is one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses. It’s becoming a lot more common now for businesses to use social media to drive their sales and engage with their customers by using various platforms. Social Media is helping give businesses a boost in sales, and even more companies are looking to hire someone to manage their social media.

Social Media jobs can be misunderstood and often seen as “just” someone being paid to scroll through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram all day. Universities are now incorporating Social Media skills into various degrees such as marketing and multimedia. The current, most direct route for young people to get a career in social media is through an apprenticeship or social media courses. This job role may entail a fair amount of scrolling through various social media platforms, but it’s all for a good reason.

Mobile Phone Logging Onto Twitter

It’s understandable that the phrase ‘Social Media’ makes people think of it as a recreational hobby,  often with a sole purpose of entertainment. But what about the people putting the entertainment out there?

When you scroll through Facebook and see an advert from one of your favourite brands you probably don’t spend much time thinking about it, you may give it a like and not realise the amount of work that went behind that post. One post on social media takes many processes, from coming up with post ideas that will stand out in a sea of other ideas, figuring out the purpose of your post and then the creation and publication of it.

Marketing, PR, advertising, blogging and media creation all fall under – social media for business. Doing social media for a business takes a professional and creative person, who’s going to be dedicated to representing the brand online and keeping up with what’s  trending.

The beauty of social media marketing is that you can get the same reach and brand awareness that comes with above the line marketing while being able to target specific audiences and getting measurable results. All companies want to be able to connect with their audience and make potential customers existing customers, and this can be done by analysing results and engagement on social media. No one has mastered a perfect marketing technique, but with technology such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights it makes it much easier to see what is working online and what audience you are appealing to.

Person typing on laptop in workspace

Jobs in social media are becoming more popular. Businesses are realising that they need someone who can market their business online while engaging with customers and creating a community. This is a career that needs to be taken seriously and have someone that can commit to being flexible, thinking with initiative and having a creative flair that will stand out.

Since Facebook became accessible to anyone over the age of 13 in 2006, it has since become the most popular social media platform with at least 60 million active business pages promoting their services worldwide. It’s become increasingly clear that social media is here to stay and it’s ever-evolving.


If you’re considering a career in social media, I would highly recommend that you get a start on your career now. Whether you’re currently an office assistant and want to contribute more to your company and show your worth or you’re currently looking for a new career start, now is the perfect time to apply for a social media for business qualification to learn new skills and contribute massively to your brands’ growth.

If you’d like more information regarding our Social Media for Business course, or would like to find out about any apprentice openings fill in our contact form.



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