Monday, 15 August 2016

Not the greatest blog post 'ever'!

These Olympics have had many standout moments. The BBC’s coverage, as with 2012, has been exceptional too. And the athletes; well, what more can you say about their heroics.

Hasn’t this been the greatest Olympic Games - EVER?

Well, no. Or yes. It depends on where you’re from or who you are or what sport you love etc.

A feature of the British coverage and punditry has been the grating platitudinous way every fantastic record set has been called, e.g. “the fastest ever” or “the greatest ever”.

Ever. Ever. Ever!!!

Why does it have to be the “best ever”? Why can’t it just be recognised for what it is? Years worth of practise, dedication and sacrifice distilled into one glorious moment.

Do the athletes care about records when they have a medal proudly slung round their necks? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t. I respect the hell out of every one of them regardless of time/distance/height recorded (and even whether they got a medal or not).

We don’t have to be the best, or strongest, or fastest ever to deserve plaudits. If we set goals and perform well, beyond our own expectations then it's job done.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

I use these Chrome extensions. You should too.



Buffer (or Hootlet)




Nobody wants to see four Facebook posts in a row. Even on Twitter, multiple re-tweets from you on your follower's timeline can lead to a quick ‘unfollow’.


Buffer gives you the option to schedule for later and on the free version, you can add two accounts. I have my personal Twitter and Facebook pages linked. There are paid options to add more accounts and analytics.


The extension is probably the best I have come across both in terms of functionality but also in ease of use. When you find a webpage you want to share, simply hit the extension button and it will open up a post composition box. If like me, you have Facebook and Twitter connected, it will have two boxes. Each one completely set up for optimal posting on each channel, i.e. Twitter character limit, Facebook link preview etc. It even lets you edit the Facebook link preview right within Buffer, which I think gives it major kudos.


I also mentioned Hootlet, as this is the one I use at work. It’s not quite as great as Buffer but works on the same basis and is satisfactory if you are doing most of your stuff on Twitter.


Account required? Yes.


Pin It




I love Pinterest. And before anyone starts with the ‘only or middle aged women’ stuff, please stop. It’s boring and wrong. Follow me if you like and see how wrong your assumption really is.


Pinterest is positioning itself in search more than as a straight up social channel. But it is still super fun to use and does have elements such as ‘liking’ and comments on pins. I simply enjoy ‘pinning’ cool stuff I see for my own collection.


The ‘Pin It’ extension is essential then because it means that no matter where you are on the net (with a few exceptions) you can hit the extension button and pin an image from a page onto your Pinterest profile. As much as I love Pinterest, I spend the majority of my time on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t have as much time to go on Pinterest every day and have long pinning sessions, so being able to do it as and when, makes it much easier.


Account required? Yes


MediaCore


I have been using MediaCore Capture for a while now at work to record some on-screen tutorial videos. I know there are more powerful options out there but this is both free and super easy to use. It also records in HD and gives you the option to add audio as you record.


When you finish your recording, you can preview the video before naming it and downloading the file. The file can then be directly uploaded to YouTube for editing and publishing.

Account required? No.

Lightshot



Screen grabbing using your keyboard is okay to a point. Unless you use two screens, in which case it is a colossal pain in the ass (it grabs both screens, which means cropping etc.).


Lightshot is great because it lets you specifically pick the area of the screen you wish to grab through cursor selection. Once you have your selected area, you can add annotations and text as well as print your selection or share it via social media. I’ve found it useful lately as I’ve been creating some ‘How-To’ documents in work and it has saved me a ton of time.


When I think back to the dark days of Microsoft Picture Manager…*shudders*.


Account required? No.


Grammarly



Do not make a spelling mistake or use poor grammar again. There is no excuse with ‘Grammarly’. This free extension will highlight any instances of a misspelt word or punctuation errors.


The free version will also offer up synonyms as well as giving you the option to switch between British English and American English.


Account required? No.


Update: As I’ve just found out, Google Drive is not supported so it won’t work with Docs.


Save to Facebook


It does what it says it does. I do a heck of a lot of reading now using Facebook and I really don’t want to be dragged off the app to read an article elsewhere. This neat little extension allows me to save articles from anywhere online into my Facebook saved articles folder to read later.


You might also want to try out Pocket or Evernote but, you know, Facebook is taking over, so get with the programme.


Account required? Yes.


RiteTag
If you love making sure your hashtags are relevant to topical issues or trending lists then this extension is ideal. As you hit the ‘#’ and start typiing it will recognise your word and tell you whether or not it is widely used or not.


This is also handy for those of you who love hashtagging #absolutely #every #word #you #can #think #of. Because it will show you first hand what an arse you are being.


Additionally, if you click on the extension button it will take you to the RiteTag website witha list of current trending topics.


Account required? Yes.


Giphy for Chrome


Liven up your Facebook post or tweet with a ‘gif’. These are the wee looping images, usually with witty text overlaid, you see across social media.


A gif can transform your boring status update to something more fun, comical or even dark. Simply hit the button and search for whatever’s relevant to your post and paste the link into your post.


Account required? No.


Wunderlist


I have a terrible memory and so I write reminders. Having a desk cluttered by post-it notes however, is good for nobody and it’s 50/50 whether or not I look at my notebook.


Similarly, apps such as Evernote and Keep are great but often get cluttered by other documents and so the to-do’s get lost.


Wunderlist is a simple ‘to-do’ listing app for Chrome and mobile. The benefit of having the Chrome extension is that you can quickly add To-Do’s based on anything you come across on the web, e.g. a content idea for social that you want to revisit.


Both mobile app and extension are free.


Account required? Yes.


The Great Suspender


Finally, the Great Suspender is a practical little extension for Chrome, which ‘suspends’ any tabs you haven’t been using in a while. When you go back to the tab, you simply need to click the page and it will be restored.


The benefit is that your browser is not slowed by multiple tabs running lots of operations on your internet.


Account required? No.

Have you got any great recommendations?

Note: I got some inspiration for this post, and indeed, some extension tips from a Hootsuite blog recently. Read it at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/google-chrome-extensions/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=owned_social&utm_campaign=social_hootsuite&Last_Associated_Campaign__c=701a0000002JXk5&hootPostID=2cd4ee12a52b40ab661b1a533810bea7

Monday, 8 August 2016

Tales of the Irrational #1


‘Style’...what’s it all about? Is this something a guy should even be bothered writing about?


I like to think I’m not bothered about how I look. But I am. I’d like to state that I couldn’t care less about what I go to work in each day but I do. I get quite stressed about it, to be honest.


And it’s TOTALLY irrational.


Clothes are just clothes. Man made fabrics to cover our unsightly bits. So why the hell do we pay lots of money on them and create so much stress around them? There is no real reason.


People will say things like ‘clothes can make you confident’ or ‘clothes define your persona’. But that’s ultimately bullshit. It is BS because those kinds of statements are based on a false premise (that clothes are needed at all).


Hang onto your britches there boyo! There’s the irrational part. Of course, clothes are needed and therefore stress is going to occur and money is going to be spent. We are self-conscious animals.

I don’t think I will ever figure this out. Much like I will never figure out how to get a pair of chinos that fit perfectly.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

5 Ways to Get the Most from Your Instagram Page


So you finally caught up and created an Instagram account for your brand. You’d read so much about why your business is missing out on reaching tons of customers. And even though you wondered what the hell you would post, you’ve gone ahead anyway. After a week and a couple of photos of your company stationery, you are completely stumped as to what to do with this channel. I’ve been there.

If you are a brand with no obvious personality to front up as the ‘face’ it can be a challenge. Especially if you don’t sell extreme sports, luxury goods or impossible lifestyles.

Say instead, you are a website but don’t exactly rank as the coolest site in the world. Or you sell hardware and your audience is middle aged dudes. It’s difficult.

Fear not! It isn’t quite time to go throwing all your marketing pennies at Facebook Ads. You can still take advantage of Instagram’s greater audience reach. But be warned, it will take effort, time and above all else, a wee bit of imagination.

I’m talking from experience too. Working in Corporate Comms and Marketing can sometimes do for creativity what Donald Trump does for Mexican-U.S relations. It is easy in social media to find yourself morphed into a content churning monster. So, before you go all green and scaly, read these five suggestions and get creative!

Use Hyperlapse and Boomerang

These two apps from Instagram are your first port of call. If you can’t create something fun from Hyperlapse or Boomerang you need a big fat slice of fun cake pronto.

Hyperlapse allows you to create a timelapse video (everything goes super fast). So, you could painstakingly draw out a cool design (architecture, floor plans, quotes, fashion...anything) and your followers will be able to see the whole process in a fraction of the time. Perfect for the attention span-less social media user.

Boomerang is a micro-looping app. Basically, it will loop about two seconds of activity. So you have to give it a bit more thought than Hyperlapse, and timing is crucial. Let’s say you are showing off how to strike a nail into some timber (feel the manliness), this wee bit of looping could be a cool way to show it off. Or maybe you just have a group shot of your colleagues and you all leap into the air...insta jumpy madness. Social gold.

Take advantage of Snapchat filters

Snapchat lets you download your filtered, edited snaps. If you are unfamiliar with the channel; you can take a pic and add various acid inspired (probably) overlays to yours or someone else’s face as well as throw on some text and emojis.

Naturally then, if you want to a) appear relevant and b) show off a more fun side to you and your business, this is a good way to go. And if you’re comfortable with it, you can also ask your brand followers to follow your own Snapchat channel.

Best used for selfies or teamie pics.

Instagram Stories

Instagram has just launched its own version of Snapchat. It doesn’t (yet) have as many options by way of funny faces and geo-filters BUT it is native to Instagram so you have to make use of it.

The premise is that you take pics or vids and they collate to form your ‘story’, which will delete after 24 hours. So, as above, you want to use this to creative effect. Although, it might be fair to say that Instagram has a broader customer reach than Snapchat, which is pretty much about goofing off with your buddies. On Instagram, I’m thinking there could be stuff like mini-tutorials, day trip diaries and just about anything else you could imagine...that team day out at paintball, anyone?

Get pics from events

Are you headed off to a big glitzy awards do? Or maybe a plain old run of the mill trade show? It’s the perfect opportunity to get plenty of pics for your page.

Show off your stand, get some pics with you and other exhibitors/guests, give your followers some insight to your day or evening by using the video recording function.

Social media users love to be nosey, so give them what they want. Make sure you tag whoever you photograph and add your location so anyone else there can find you through location search. All the little details go a long way.

Use Hashtags

This is a no-brainer. People use hashtags to focus in on a particular topic, find other pages to follow and get inspiration. Instagram also uses hashtag click activity to highlight similar content to users based on how much they interact with those hashtags.

Therefore, it is absolutely essential that for every idea mentioned above (except Instagram Stories - you can’t), that you include hashtags in the text of your post. You can add in a whole load of them too as you don’t have the same character restriction as on Twitter. Include; the place, the topic, the subject, the guests, the theme, anything ironic, anything funny, sarcasm...anything. But don’t just throw in any old words or trending phrases. It has to be relevant or you’ll quickly look like a bit of a git. And people get turned off by gits.

The long and short of it

People trust people. If you approach Instagram with an endless stream of banal brand logos and products, you’ll only get so far. Show off your personality, even if that means getting in front of the camera occasionally.

You only have one spot for a clickable hyperlink in your user bio (which, by the way, you should update regularly to highlight new offer pages etc. And yes, that is six tips) so don’t worry about getting tons of web conversions from your posts. You’re playing the long game here; building relationships, trust and affinity. Be cool and eventually people will gravitate to what you have on offer.