Get Found: How to #Hashtag Like a Pro

Are you on a social media that uses hashtags? Of course you are.

map

Have you heard of Rite Tag? It’s a browser extension for your social media sites that measures how popular your hashtags are.

Why would I want to know that?

Well, you want to get found, don’t you? If you’re a smartphone dealer, there’s no point hashtagging ‘iphone’, because guess what? LOADS of other people are also hashtagging that. Your post is gonna get swallowed up into the big ol’ Twitter* chasm and no-one’s gonna see it. Boo hoo.

However, use a hashtag like ‘iphone6’ and you’re way more likely to get seen. Lots of people are using that hashtag, but not so many that your post will get swallowed up. You have much more chance of being seen.

Huzzah!

So how the hell does it work?

You write your post with your hashtags and Rite Tag tells you how good it is. It is that easy.

You get graded Red, Blue and Green. Red means Overused (lol. No-one will ever find you). Blue means Good (ok pal, you’re getting better). Green means Great (wow. You’re a hashtag boss).

rite tag

Ok, I’ve got it. What else?

It’s easy to use. Nothing to learn. Unless you’re not familiar with ze ways of ze Twitter.

It works. No more wasting time with lame tags that no-one can find you on.

30 day free trial. You know I mainly promote free things, right? Well, you can road-test Rite Tag and then decide if you want to sign up. Cheapest option is $10 p/month (if you bill yearly, $15 p/month if billed monthly).

KitKat, Spotify and Nestle use it. If it’s good enough for those mofos, it’s good enough for us. I know, isn’t Nestle a baddie? I can’t remember.

Search currently trending hashtags. Find out what people are using and if you want to get in on the action. It’s a much better way of using hashtags without blindly writing words in your industry, slapping a hashtag in front of it and hoping for the best.

iphone6

Have you used Rite Tag? How do you conduct your hashtag research? Lemme know in the comments below.

*<Insert favourite hashtag-using social media here>

Cool App Alert: Pocket

Ok, so do you really need to download another app? Well, dur…

pocket

Pocket. I spoke about it yesterday, but I really want to explain to you why it’s just so damn cool.

It’s free. So go on over to the app store and download it. (It’s ok, I’ll wait.)

The basic idea is that you can grab articles, news stories, videos or blogposts and store them here on Pocket to read later.

How does it work?

You know when you see something cool on the internet or Twitter and you think, ‘oh, I’d like to read that, but I don’t have time.’? Well, guess what? Somebody made an app to fix that.

Introducing Pocket. In a nutshell: You send articles to the app and read them later at your leisure.

Nice, right?

You can save articles through two methods:

Bookmarklet: Install this on your browser to one-click save articles to your app.

Email: Choose to email the link to your Pocket app.

What does it look like?

It looks a lot like this:

pocket

See? It’s just like Flipboard, (another worthwhile app), except you’ve curated the content. (Those guys in the pic above are some of my fav bloggers. Check them out.)

Why is it a must-have app?

Saves time: OK, so how many times have you been distracted by an oh-my-god-is-that-cat-for-real? feline video when you were meant to be working on the edit for that client?

Erm. Guilty.

Now, with Pocket, you have no excuses. Save those cat videos, sesame and peanut butter ball recipes and business blogs to read later. Like when you’re in the supermarket checkout line, lift queue, dentist waiting room or car park ticket machine queue… you get the picture.

Only read the hard stuff: No, not that kind of hard stuff. As you’re only saving news-worthy (for you) articles, you know everything in your Pocket account is going to be valuable. There’s no fluff here.

Organise like a boss: Pocket does categories. Us humans like categories. ’nuff said.

Read across platforms: Like all good applications, Pocket is available on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android device. Rejoice!

No more bunged-up bookmark bar: Alright, I know some of you are thinking, ‘Hey, Pocket sounds great, but I already have a bookmark facility – the browser bookmark.’

The trouble is that the bookmark bar gets bunged-up with stuff-to-read-later. Pocket lets you read and then delete or archive. You can even share the article on social media if you love it that much.

So really, that’s about it. It takes less than a minute to download and you can start using it right away. Oh, and you know I mentioned it’s free already, right? FREE.

What have you got to lose? Download this baby now!

Got Pocket already? How’re you finding it? Let me hear it!

How to Eat the Internet in Bite-Sized Chunks (RSS Feeds)

Heard of RSS feeds and readers? Probably. Know what they are? Maybe not.

rss feed

To be honest, neither did I until a few weeks ago. I mean, aren’t they just to do with news and stuff?

Yes. And no. (Of course.)

Ok, so what are they then?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary. Some say it stands for Really Simple Syndication. It definitely doesn’t stand for the Royal Statistical Society. Well, yes it does. But not in this blog post. Anyway, I digress.

So back to the topic. RSS feeds collect all of your favourite news information into one place. So if you like visiting lots of different sites to find out about the latest news from your niche or blog post from your fav blogger, instead of actually doing that – you can just get them on your RSS feed instead.

Use it for:

  • Newsy stuff
  • Job openings
  • Sports results
  • Forum posts
  • Calendar events
  • Blog comments

What’s in it for me?

Well, mainly – IT SAVES YOU TIME. We all want more time, right?

There’re many other good reasons. Things like:

  • Staying up to date with stuff in your industry. Without fingering every pie on the internet (Yes. I did just say that.)
  • You don’t have to give away your email address to sign up to the news. No more chock-a-block inbox! No more worries about publishers selling your email address! *party!*
  • If you’re the one publishing content that makes readers go wide-eyed and mouth wow, you don’t have to worry that your carefully crafted blogposts are ending up in someone’s dusty spam file. Ahh. Relief.

Sounds cool, what do I do?

First, you need to sign up to a reader. There’s dozens on the web, but the ones with the best reviews are:

Secondly, look for the RSS feed in the social buttons on the blog or website you want to follow. The RSS feed button looks like the one in this blog picture. But less… synthetic. If the website you’re using uses FeedBurner, you can search for your RSS feed reader in the list. Those little buttons are called chicklets. Cute, eh?

Thirdly, once you have a  nice selection of feeds, sort them into categories, like business, social media and lifestyle. Sit back and marvel at how wonderfully organised you are.

What else can I use RSS for?

Tweeting: Like Tweeting? Me too. If you’re tired of using Klout and want to decide what’s worth sharing yourself, you can find cool and useful news via your RSS feed. Send it to Twitter, share with your followers and voila! You’re like a trendy Moira Stewart.

Pocket: Scanning your newsfeed and see something hugely decent, but ffs, you don’t have time to read it? Fret not fellow internetter. Send your story to Pocket, read it at your pleasure later and then archive it, tick it off your list or do other creative and cool stuff with it.

Pocket is just the best read-me-later-I-know-you’re-busy app. More on this little beaut tomorrow.

You’re busy. We’re all busy. Who has time to flick through every.damn.blog? Get yourself set up with an RSS feed reader and you’re laughing. Well, if you’re signing up to funny stuff, that is.

What’s your favourite RSS feeder? Hit me up in the comments below.

 

What is KLOUT and Why Should You Care?

Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn. All crying out for your attention.

klout

Is this what it’s like to have kids? Probably not. But if you’re serious about growing your business, these networks need feeding all the same.

As a small business owner, you probably don’t have time for all the apps in the world. Jesus, you barely have time to eat and get a decent night’s sleep, let alone learning the ins and outs of another social media ‘thing’.

Introducing: Klout

“Klout? No really, I don’t have time to learn about another social media.”

Wait! It’s not a social media. It’s a website and app that measures social media activity and ranks users by social influence.

It’s also free. And you know how much we like free things, right?

“You’re right, I do like free things. But social influence? Really? Why should I care about that?”

Because that’s how people can find out about you, your blog, your products. Why shouldn’t you care about it? Word of mouth is the best advertising method. If you need a decent hairdresser or kitchen fitter, what do you do? Hit Google or ask your friends? Nine times out of ten, you’re going to ask your friends. Social influence. Get people talking about you and sharing your stuff. Don’t be shy.

“Ok, sounds interesting. How does it work?”

The foundations of Klout lay in the scoring system. A higher score, indicates more influence.

Scores range from 0 – 100.

So, for instance, Barak Obama currently ranks at 99. Stephen Fry ranks at 89. Katie Price ranks at 71. Eamon Holmes ranks at 42.

“Katie Price more influential than Eamon?” *weeps*

I know.

The Klout algorithm collects data from twelve social media sites and tots up how much influence you’re having over your network. Influence is measure in three ways:

  • True reach: The size of your engaged audience. How many people engage in your messages?
  • Amplification: How often are your messages getting likes, comments, shares etc?
  • Network: The amount of influential people you have in your network. Friends, fans, followers – that kind of thing.

In order to improve your score, you need to be doing all the things you should be doing anyway:

  • Creating and sharing useful content.
  • Engaging in conversations.
  • Answering online questions people might ask you.
  • Building relationships with followers. Professional relationships that is, unless you actually have time for a romantic relationship. Ha!

Klout say:

Posting a thousand times and getting zero responses is not as influential as posting once and getting a thousand responses. It isn’t about how much someone talks, but about how many people listen and respond.

Connect all of your social media accounts so Klout can get a good idea of how you are doing across a range of channels.

“I told you. I don’t really have time to create content right now.”

If you’re worried you’re not going to have time to ‘share useful content’, fear not. You can pick topics to share from a curated newsfeed from your industry.

Step one: Choose your weapon. (I mean, industry.)

klout topics

Step two: Aim and fire. (I mean, pick topics and schedule a share time.)

klout stories

“Ok, this is sounding interesting. How else can I use Klout?”

As well as making sure you’re banking in terms of social influence, you can use Klout in other nifty ways as well.

Find and connect: if you’re searching for someone from your industry to connect with, you can find out how influential they are based on their score.

Competitor analysis: How do you stack up against your competitors? It takes seconds to find out and compare scores.

Measuring impact: It’s easy to measure your own social media impact on the Klout graph. Is your social media strategy working? The numbers make it super easy to track.

Here is mine:

klout graph

“Are you sure it’s not time-consuming?”

No, really, it’s not. It takes about five minutes to set your Klout up for the day. Simply scroll through the content and choose what to share. You can set it up days or weeks in advance, so you know there’s always something being put out there on your social media channels.

Warning: Do not set up Klout and then leave your social media pages to wild abandon. It’s called social media for a reason. Namely, you need to get social, my friend.

Ok, so that’s it. Klout. Do you use it? What do you think?

What Ken Taught Me about Customers

I moved out of my childhood home at 19.

ken

*This isn’t a picture of the real Ken*

I was adamant I was moving. Much to my younger sister’s jealous resentment and my Dad promising me I wouldn’t be able to afford the rent and would have to live off beans on toast or one egg for dinner.

As it turned out, there was a time when I lived off one egg for dinner, but that’s another story.

Anyway, like all good 19 year olds, I wanted to prove my Dad wrong and show him, (and the world, god damn it), that I could work part-time, pay the bills, run my car, complete my degree and have enough money to hang out with friends.

I can be pretty determined when I want to be.

Working girl (no, not that kind)

So, I worked two jobs alongside my studies. The first job was in telesales.  I can’t even recall what I was selling now, but I remember if you made five sales, you got a large bottle of blue WKD.

The second job was as a home help assistant.

The advert had stated the job would involve ‘assisting elderly people with their evening routine’. Or words to that effect.

The reality was somewhat different. I was partnered with a more experienced member, Jo, and we would take it in turns to drive each other around Southend, Shoebury, Leigh and Chalkwell, helping old people out of their day clothes and into bed.

Before I started the job, I imagined all old people to be like my grandparents. Kind, friendly and warm characters, who made fruit cake and really good Yorkshire puddings.

And then I met Ken.

But more on him later.

Tea and commodes

Each home had its own routine, so no two homes were the same, but they did always follow a similar pattern. Jo and I would visit in the evening, after the customer had eaten dinner.

Jo and I would both engage in a cup of tea and a five minute chat with the customer. (These elderly people normally lived alone and always wanted to talk for longer. But in order to fit everyone in on our round, we could only spend thirty minutes in total at each home.)

After a chat, either Jo or I would get the commode ready. Once the customer had used the commode, one of us would empty and clean it, whilst the other person would prepare the bedroom (getting bed clothes out, lotions etc).

The next stage was to put the customer in their bed clothes. This would take time because older people are frail and we also had to wash them and apply lotions and creams before we put their bed clothes on.

Once, one of the ladies I was washing started crying. I asked her why she was upset and she just said she was so sorry I had to see her body. She said she was ashamed.

It was a pretty emotional job for a 19 year old.

After the person had been cleaned, we would then lift (always lift in a pair! Never by yourself!) the elderly person and get them into bed. If we were lucky, there would be a hoist, but more often than not, there wasn’t.

This part would take ages because:

  • Sometimes the person would be in lots of pain, so we had to go really slowly
  • Old people are heavier than they look. It was sometimes awkward for Jo and me to move heavier patients

Once they were in bed, we would fit catheters, if they needed one, or prepare colostomy bags. The less glamorous side of the job. Not that there was any glamour anyway.

Ken

Ken was a man on our round.

Ken had one leg, a thick white moustache and was very heavy.

Ken was our youngest customer, in his late sixties. He was as sharp as the army penknife he kept in his top pocket. He was no fool.

Ken lived alone in a small one-bedroom bungalow in a nice part of Southend. There were no photos in Ken’s home.

Ken told us, many times, how he used to be a high-ranking officer in the army. Jo and I would just nod politely and silently get on with the job whilst he spoke about his achievements and shared his misogynistic and racist views with us. He was not pleasant company. But we just did our job and kept our mouths shut when he would go off on one.

Once I was alone in the room with Ken and we had this exchange,

Ken: “You girls come round too early,”

Me: “But you said you wanted us round at 8pm, we always come round at 8pm,”

Ken: “I might not want to go to bed at 8pm. I want to go to bed at 9.30pm,”

Me: “Ken, we have seven people we have to see a in a night, everyone has to have a slot,”

Ken: “I want mine changed,”

So, when I went back to the office, to sign off and hand back the keys, I said to the duty manager that Ken wanted his slot changed to later in the evening.

The next week, I came in for my shift and Ken was last on our list. Just as he had requested, management had spoken to him and his slot had been changed.

But when we got round there, Ken was still not happy.

Ken: “Why did you change my slot?”

Me: “You said you wanted to go to bed at 9.30pm?”

Ken: “No, I didn’t,”

Men: “Ken, you said…”

Ken (through gritted teeth and narrowed eyes): “Listen, you stupid little girl, I know what I said. You women never listen. You will do as I say. You will change that slot.”

Ken then threw a load more abuse at me because he wasn’t happy with his new slot. Jo came back and he started swearing at her too.

We both left, feeling angry and upset. We tried to rationalise it, “oh, but he is old”, “he’s probably tired,”, “he didn’t mean it”.

But Ken was always like this. Rude, aggressive and just plain nasty. We had told management before about him, but they didn’t care. “Someone has to deal with him,” they would say to us.

I was so upset that night. I remember sitting in Jo’s car, chain-smoking and listening to the Prodigy, whilst we drove around Southend venting about our jobs. And Ken.

The lesson

The Ken incident was the first time I had dealt with conflict from a customer. But it’s definitely not been the last.

Ken taught me that a customer’s words and actions say more about them, than you. The way they deal with a problem, whether that’s spitting abuse from behind a snow-white moustache, or verbally abusing you over email or on the phone is a reflection on the type of person they are. Not you.

You don’t have to take shit from a customer. Or anyone. I took shit from Ken that night, and previous nights, because I was scared of him and thought keeping schtum and carrying on was the right thing to do.

We all have our tolerance levels. Now, if a customer is rude to me, I cease to work with them. Simple. There’s no begging or fake friendliness on the phone with crossed fingers behind my back.

I don’t deal with rude people. That’s it.

There’s some excellent examples of more shitty customer behaviour here.

If a customer doesn’t treat you with the same amount of respect you treat them with, it’s ok to say Adios. You’re not obligated to work with them and you don’t need any permission to leave them.

So what happened to Ken? Well, after that episode I handed in my notice and worked in a toy shop instead. Much easier. And more importantly, TOYS.

Years later, I saw Ken again, in Boots the Chemist. He looked at me and did a double-take. I felt a familiar pang of anxiety in my stomach and my mouth went dry.

I don’t know if he recognised me. I doubt it. But he did moan about the amount of customers in Boots and I caught his carer rolling her eyes.

Some customers are miserable. You don’t have to make yourself miserable by continuing to work with them.

Note: Ken isn’t his real name. Obviously.

Have you ever dealt with a horrible customer? What’s your story? Did they have a snow-white moustache too?

Remembrance Sunday

Sparing a thought this Remembrance Sunday for those who fought war… and those still fighting mental health issues because of it.

poppy

“Give Peace A Chance”

Two, one two three four
Ev’rybody’s talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, that-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m.All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

C’mon
Ev’rybody’s talking about Ministers,
Sinisters, Banisters and canisters
Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Pop eyes,
And bye bye, bye byes.

All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Let me tell you now
Ev’rybody’s talking about
Revolution, evolution, masturbation,
Flagellation, regulation, integrations,
Meditations, United Nations,
Congratulations.

Ev’rybody’s talking about
John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary,
Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan, Tommy Cooper,
Derek Taylor, Norman Mailer,
Alan Ginsberg, Hare Krishna,
Hare, Hare Krishna

John Lennon

 

 

Infographic: Where to Find Fresh Blog Content Ideas

This is a really quick post about an awesome infographic I found today.

Where to find new and fresh blog topic ideas? Read more @ http://www.twelveskip.com/guide/blogging/257/resources-dont-run-out-of-blog-topics

Pretty nifty, eh?

I was particularly intrigued by Flipboard and Scoop.it.

Flipboard is my go-to resource for fast round-ups on all the news I care about: music, culture, education etc. I do have a life outside of blogging and writing for other people! I never really thought of using it as a resource for blogging though. That’s a bit silly of me.

Then there’s Scoop.it. Scoop what? Never even heard of that one, so off to check it out this weekend.

I hope this has been useful for you. Have you got any other methods for generating fresh blog content?

Let me know!

Co-working Spaces: Yes or No?

In the UK, more than 4.2 million people work from home. Are you one of them?

co-working

If you do work from home, have you considered working from a co-working space instead?

A co-working space allows you to pay a monthly fee, which includes the rent of a desk and use of facilities, like the phone, photocopier and printer. You get to work with a bunch of other entrepreneurs and small businesses and enjoy all of the buzz of an office, but none of the office politics! Hurrah!

But, what if you end up next to sniffly Sandra, the woman who refuses to blow her nose? Or loud-mouth Larry, the guy who insists on escalating his voice the closer he gets to sealing a deal?

Are co-working spaces really all they’re cracked up to be?

Let’s have a look a closer look:

The argument against:

It seems silly to sit with a bunch of people you’ve never met. But what else makes co-working a bit of a no-no?

  • The cost: Budding entrepreneurs never have any money. Why skint yourself even further with the burden of a desk, when you can just work from home and save the money?
  • The colds: Seriously, do you really want to be catching colds and god knows what else from your new colleagues?
  • The confusion: People constantly coming and going, new people joining and then leaving, noise, conversation. It’s giving me a headache just thinking about it.
  • The colleagues: I know, anti-social right? Well, not really. But if you just want to work and there’s a constant buzz of meaningless gossip going on, it’s going to get you down.

The argument for:

Forget catching the odd cold or getting distracted, (hello? Headphones?) co-working is less of a no-no and more of a no-brainer!

What else makes shared spaces super?

  • Save on electricity at home: Let someone else pay the bills. Yes, you’re paying for your desk, but the chances are, you’ll be spending less money on utilities than you would if you were at home.
  • Networking: Ditch the 6am breakfast meetings and go to your shared space instead. Instant networking, right in your office.
  • Build a routine: The trouble with working from home, is that wearing pyjamas all day is just so appealing. In fact, why even bothering showering at all? I know, gross. Whatever. Working in a shared space gives you an opportunity to build a routine, keep some of your smart office clothes and put make-up on.
  • Enjoy the buzz: Being around creative people ignites a spark inside you to be even more creative. Bounce ideas around with colleagues and maybe even pass work to each other. Who knows what shared spaces can bring?

So, what’s the verdict? For me – co-working is a winner all the way. All that entrepreneurial electricity buzzing around you? Exciting, much? And if it’s all too noisy, stick in your headphones and get into your unshared zone!

What do you think of co-working spaces? Have you ever worked in one? Would you avoid them like the plague or sign-up straight away if there was one in your area?

Hit me up in the comments below…

How to Kill Your Blog

Every half a second, a new blog is born.

kill blog

Yet as fast as they are being created, thousands of blogs get abandoned daily. In fact, it’s estimated that 95% of blogs lie forgotten in the interwebs.

Are you shedding a tear yet?

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to keep your blog healthy. And it’s all available for free online. From getting the words right, to not slipping on design, I’ve rounded up my top tips to give your blog the best chance of survival in this cruel, cruel world.

Vague headlines

Your blog is going to be visible in Google search results, possibly Twitter and Facebook (hello Sarah Arrow’s gang!) too. Make sure your headline is clear and states a benefit.

You can also use trigger words to make your blog more likely to be read.

Words such as:

  • You
  • Free
  • Easy
  • Quick
  • Stop
  • Secrets
  • Money

Make our brains stop dead and think, woah. I need to read this. More hot-selling words here.

Not involving your reader

It’s all very well writing engaging copy, that’s well laid out and hooks the reader in straight from the headline, but if you don’t ask readers to comment on your blog once they have finished reading, you’re missing a trick.

Invite your readers to leave comments and if you can, reply to them! Build a community and establish yourself as a key person of influence.

People will start flocking to your blog because they know they get to hear from you and get an insight into other readers’ opinions too. Providing they’re commenting that is!

Crap copy

You can do better than writing big paragraphs and long, winding sentences.

When it comes to writing online copy, even a sentence like this, hovering in the ether, is allowed.

Forget everything you learned in GCSE English. Starting a sentence with ‘And’ or ‘Because’ is toootaalllyy ok. And you can write ‘totally’ like that too. If it’s appropriate, natch.

Make your writing conversational and your layout easy to scan. Brains are lazy. Help them out with scannable sentences and lots of white space.

Don’t blog

The most obvious way to kill a blog, is to not post at all! Write yourself a blogging schedule and stick to it. No-one is going to want to visit your blog if you’re not blogging regularly.

That’s it. Well, it’s not really. There’s loads of other things you could do to prevent your blog from dying a miserable death.

How do you keep your blog alive and kicking? Hit me up, in the comments below.

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