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Phones 4U in administration

I’m rather surprised at the news that Phones 4U has gone in to administration. Not because I thought they had a water-tight business model, but because it was only a matter of weeks ago that I was approached about applying for a role with them as Content Manager.

When asked what the objective of the position was, I was told that they had ambitions to follow in the foot steps of  Red Bull and begin to start publishing on a greater scale. I was surprised by this and even at the time pondered whether they knew the extent to which Red Bull produced and syndicated media, owning radio channels, magazines and of course, putting a man on the edge of space. While I believe the Red Bull portfolio is fantastic and demonstrates exciting and innovative diversification, a model which many organisations have and could take inspiration from, this seemed a very ambitious proposition for Phones 4U and now, in the light of recent news, even more so.

I haven’t read much about the speculated future for Phones 4U. I hope their employees are being provided the support they undoubtedly need. In terms of their Newcastle-Under-Lyme office, there are an increasing number of jobs in the Midlands and I hope some of these opportunities will be suitable for employees based there.

We’ll see how this well known brand continues, if at all.

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Twitter Chat with Sainsbury’s

sainsburys

I’m converted! Grocery shopping is an unnecessary evil of the modern world and I’ve become increasingly infuriated with Asda’s poor fruit and veg quality (mouldy lemons, peppers that looks like a spider has been living inside them, squishy spinach) and I don’t have a local Tesco, so I’ve actually become quite fond of Sainsbury’s and this unexpected Twitter exchanged only reaffirmed my new found attraction to J.Sainsbury’s orange glow.

I really didn’t expect this exchange. Social Media Customer Service is becoming increasingly commonplace now, but many companies still aren’t getting the hang of utilising Social Media to demonstrate brand personality, which is where the real benefits.

The speed and manner of this response really did leave me with a positive impression of Sainsbury’s. Well done to their Social Media team.

Only one tiny complaint. It would have liked the whole conversation to be with the same Customer Service rep.

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As a Digital Marketer, I dream of the day when something I do goes viral. Though some times things go viral for the wrong reasons and you have a Social Media crisis on your hands – eek!

It’ll become pretty evident when you need to start worrying about Social Media issues, this post is about when not to worry.

Don’t worry if

  • You have had one tweet about something by someone that has a few followers, no one is going to see it
  • You have had one tweet from someone who tweets a lot, it will get lost in the noise.
  • The tweet your worried about has no retweets and no responses.
  • Your customer care team (if you have one) has it under control and hasn’t escalated it

Do worry if

The tweet comes from a celebrity. As frustrating as this is, some people hang on their favourite celebrity’s ever tweet, take their words as gospel and retweet them to propagate it’s spreading. Jump on this, let them know you’ll investigate and get them a resolution quick smart. However, be careful not to treat them (too) preferentially, other customers an potential customers may start to notice and they won’t be impressed.

If the person had a high Klout score (respond as above). Note: If they’re not a celebrity, they’re probably an expert in some field. If that’s a field that directly impacts your business the situation is a little more crucial.

You’ve done something potentially illegal, immoral, offensive, etc. and extraordinary (in a bad way) and it goes viral. PR need to get on this and get an official response out.

What to do in a Social Media crisis?

Don’t panic now. You should have a procedure in order to deal with this. If you don’t, now may be the time to start writing up your crisis management plan. This should include:

  • List of key people to contact regarding various topics, and their contact details
  • Timescales in which you should respond
  • Templated initial responses to acknowledge issue

How will I know if there is a crisis?

While some customer will expect this, no one else genuinely believes you’ll have someone watching your Social Media channels 24/7. You can set up an alert to let you know when anyone is talking about you. This is possible through most Social Media monitoring tools.

Need more help? You can always tweet me, Facebook me or send a good old fashioned telegramemail.

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A Very Quick Note on Improv

As I wrote about Improv here the other day, I just wanted to write a quick note about tonight.

Tonight was only the third time I have performed Improv. Firstly, it was such a rush as always. Performing is something I loved to do when I was younger and was possibly more willing back then, but I force myself to get in front of a crowd and it leaves me with a natural high afterwards, which is difficult to replicate artificially.

Secondly, the part of my performance this evening that I was most proud of was not a gag for once, but was eliciting a sympathetic “aww” from the audience. I’m not that funny, but it’s usually funny I’m aiming for. To be rewarded with something more emotional gave me a different sense of achievement, so I wanted to capture that I don’t always have to play for laughs. It totally helped that I had an awesome supporting cast though.

I practice improv with Birmingham’s Box of Frogs improv group, who meet every Tuesday in Moseley and perform on 3rd Monday of each month at the Blue Orange in the Jewellery Quarter.

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I’ve been going through my draft blog posts, trying to delete them or complete them. I stumbled upon this one. I’ve actually been in a relationship for over a year now with someone I met during my online dating adventures. Things are good, but I really miss how much material online dating gave me to write about, so I thought I’d finish the posts I’d started.

 Started 11/05/2013

Another week, another set of messages for me to attempt to respond to. This week I decided I would attempt to be less sarcastic and scathing in my messages. It didn’t last long.

Last week someone pointed out that I had been on Plenty Of Fish for 18 months now, so was I really qualified to be giving dating advice? Mmm, what does qualify someone to dish out advice? This is the internet and I think you’ll find there are a lot of people that don’t let lack of experience, qualifications or evidence stop them from chucking in their opinion. This is my website, named after my childhood nickname, set up by me on the hosting I pay for. Oh dear, I appear to be feeding the trolls. Anyway, the point of this rant was to segway in to another person that has been disappointed by me this week…

The Man I Disappoint

Remember, my headline is ‘smart, funny, great boobs.’ Inviting trouble, I know – it get’s a mixed response.

Him: How great are these boobies? X
Me: You may never know.
Him: That’s a shame. So are you a real red head? X
Me: Nope. Seems like I’m disappointing all round. I dye my hair this colour, have done for years. Anything else you want to ask me that I’ll probably come up short on? Oh, you should know that I am currently unemployed and living with my mum. We have a cat. He’s nearly dead though.

And that was the end of that conversation.

Written 19/07/2014

The Man I Didn’t Disappoint

So, he may not be disappointed, but he might be angered by this, however one particular chap responded to my headline like no other. He wrote something along the lines of

I like you’re headline, because what I’m looking for is a big sexy brain.

Jackpot! I had to meet this guy. Now, about 14 months on, I’m sitting in his garage (he’s a mechanic), completing this post as he fixes cars.

I’ve had a great time writing about Online Dating and I have a few more vicarious posts up my sleeve, but my foray in to Digital Courting is over. Thanks for being part of it.

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Faith

I’m not a religious person, but I get faith. I understand the idea of needing something to believe in and while I don’t have a god or deity, I believe, I believe in something greater.

  • I believe that nothing worth having comes easily
  • I believe that good things happen to good people
  • I believe with faith in yourself and the belief of others, you can accomplish incredible things
  • Whether you know your family and friends believe in you or your God believes in you I believe it’s all going to be OK

I wouldn’t be writing these words for you now without some self-belief and a little faith from others. I don’t have a problem with what anyone believes as long as it gets them through the day and doesn’t hurt others. No one should be going around killing others in the name of their faith.

Life’s hard enough without having a little something to pin your hopes on.

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Now I’ve taken up improvised comedy, I wanted to share some of the things I learned with you as I think you might find them helpful in your professional and personal life. Who knows, you might like to take up improv yourself.

1. Make offers

This means offering people something they can react to, jump on or develop. It usually gives them the option to add their own ideas.

2. Collaboration is about ‘yes and,’ not ‘yes but’

Collaboration is spoken about a lot in the work place, but more often than not it’s about putting road blocks in front of and shooting down other people’s ideas. This is not collaboration. In improv, the idea is to build upon ideas, offering ways in which they can be elaborated on and delivered in a supportive manner, not finding issues with them and reasons to scrap them or bringing in your own idea instead.

3. It’s always your turn

In any improv situation, you are always ‘on,’ always playing, it is always your turn. Even if you are doing nothing you might be expected to do something at any moment, so pay attention and keep your wits about you.

4. Be Present!

Leading on from the above point, you have to be very much in the moment. I’ve been applying this to both work and the gym. If I’m at a meeting at work, I no longer day dream, but pay attention and try to contribute. If I’m in an exercise class at the gym I go as hard as possible. I figure if I’m there, I might as well do my best, I might as well go for it.

5. Everyone else is a genius and you’re there to make them look good

I love this one, as it takes the pressure off somewhat and it’s the converse of the stand-up comedian mind set from what I’m told. You don’t have to have the best idea, the smartest quip, lead the revolution; supporting is a crucial role. I think the following explains this best. (FYI This was shown at a Leadership event at work).

[Sigh] There is so much I love about this video.

6. The person most aware of your mistakes is you

You might think you’ve made a mistake, every now and again the people you improv with might spot a mistake, 9 times out of 10 the audience won’t notice you’ve made a mistake and almost every other time they’ll find it funny.

They will, however, always notice if you stop mid scene because you think you’ve made a mistake. Style it out, gloss over it, take a bow, whatever, but don’t apologise. At least you’re having a go.

7. Comedy: Your reality is someone else’s hilarious fiction

When it comes to improvised comedy, draw from your own experiences. You don’t have time to craft some intelligent gag, your reality may be completely bizarre, yet entertaining to everyone else.

So there you have it. I’m learning more stuff all the time, so I may well add to this list.

I practice improv with Birmingham’s Box of Frogs improv group, who meet every Tuesday in Moseley and perform on 3rd Monday of each month at the Blue Orange in the Jewellery Quarter.

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I changed my Twitter handle to JoDtw

It’s been a busy day for me on the blog today. I have over 140 unfinished blog posts that I’ve been trying to complete, plus loads more ideas and I’ve also been tinkering with the design a bit (again).

But I just wanted to let you know, in case you follow me on Twitter, that my handle has changed from @Pose to @JoDtw. If you are already a follower, this won’t affect you as the account is still the same, but if you tweet me you just need to make sure you get the right name. So if you’re thinking about changing your @[name] on Twitter, which you can do in your account settings, you will retain all your followers and people you are following.

Why did I change my Twitter handle?

I changed my Twitter handle for a few reasons:

  1. I wanted people to be able to find my name easily when tweeting me. If you use Hootsuite, there is an auto-complete function whereby you start typing the first few letters of a handle and it shows you the potential usernames. As my name is Jo, it seemed more natural to me that people might start typing ‘Jo’ when starting to tweet me, rather than having to remember ‘Pose83.’
  2. I thought it was more professional. I actually don’t think Pose83 is unprofessional as such, but to most people it really doesn’t mean anything. I’ve been to a lot of conferences lately and done a lot of tweeting, so I wanted people to be able to associate my Twitter name with me.
  3. It’s shorter. This wasn’t actually intentional and I was amazed I managed to get a 5 letter handle as I thought 6 letters was pretty good going. I’m always surprised when I see Social Media professionals with long Twitter names. The fewer characters, the more content people can add when messaging or retweeting you.

What happens to @Pose83?

Well, before anyone tries to snap up my Twitter name, I actually still have registered to another email account. I didn’t want anyone attempting to try and become me on Twitter, in case anyone has such as desire, unlikely as that may be.

I would advise anyone switching their handle after a prolonged period of time to do the same thing. There is no period of time between relinquishing a Twitter name and someone else taking it, so if you’re going to switch, make sure you grab your old one on another email address/account ASAP.

How you changed your Twitter name and if so, why?

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Sales Messaging

This is a bit of a ranty post, for which I make no apologies. Bounce off the page now if you want to avoid.

Professionally, I get a lot of people trying to sell me stuff. It doesn’t seem to matter that I have very little responsibility for purchasing decisions, they’re looking for an ‘in.’

I don’t object to sales messaging completely, but there are some techniques that need some improvement.

Adding me on LinkedIn

People keep trying to LinkIn with me with the blatant intention of selling me their services. If you send me a generic invite, with out so much as a sentence providing me with a reason to connect with you, yet I can see on your profile that you own some SEO agency or are business development for some buzzword entitled software provider, I am highly disinclined to accept your invite. At least try and personalise the message.

LinkedIn Group Spammer

Worse than the above, but still on LinkedIn, you’ve found me in a group that you claim to be a part of and use this to strike up a conversation. If I’m not active in that group, I won’t care that we have this in common, and if I am active in the group, I’ll know whether or not you are. If you’re not active, I’ll call you out in the group as a spammer and you’ll most likely be banned. (This happened in the Marketing Over Coffee group).

You know me because you tried to sell me something previously

Now you work at another company and assure me your new company has a better product than the old one. I’m not sure I trust you any more. Unless we built up some kind of rapport previously, please don’t bother. It feels like you’re clutching at straws rather than truly considering my needs as a customer.

You jump into my Twitter conversation with someone else and go straight in to the sales pitch without adding any value

As soon I have any conversation about Social Media providers, there’s Salescloud, Meltwater Buzz, Pulsar and some other random provider telling me to contact them directly. How about showing me your expertise in Social and actually getting involved in my conversation. I get that your monitoring tool has picked me up on your social radar (keyword group), but that is the least I’d expect of a Social Media monitoring tool. I want you to prove yourself as an expert too.

I know it’s not easy selling something cold, so why try. Shouldn’t your company be offering trials, speaking at conferences and networking in person to build some interest?

Contact the businesses you genuinely believe you can help and demonstrate this through having a two way conversation with them and showing your expertise. Listening, personalising communications and offering trials are all good options.

Do you have any pet hates about sales messaging? Drop me a comment below.

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I heard it said today that if you aren’t putting the customer in the centre of your activities, you shouldn’t be in Marketing. I agree.

But do you always remember to employ customer centric marketing?

I also heard today a clever idea for keeping that sentiment present in everyone’s minds in your Marketing team and beyond.

A woman from a company I spoke to today at eConsultancy‘s Digital Cream event works for a company that had a variety of ‘customer muppets.’ These were different character puppets, which people carried around the organisation and took in to meetings.

Whenever a disagreement occurred and conversations became heated, someone would put their hand up a muppet to animate it and ask ‘what would the customer say?’ This had the effect of immediately lightening the mood, but also focusing conversations back on to what the customer wanted and needed. Simple, yet effective.

I thought this was a great idea and I wanted to share it. It made everyone at my table smile, so I doubt I’ll be the only one telling others about it.

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