International Women’s Day

After discovering that for some reason WordPress will not let me upload mp4s into my media section (what’s up with that WordPress!?) I did a Facebook Live this morning. Here’s a rough transcript of it.

Rough transcript

I believe that one of the reasons that conflict exists between human beings is because of that part of our nature that seeks to define what we are, what others are, how the way we look and behave differs to others. We are inquisitive and love to figure things out and whatever that is rooted in, some fight or flight response that assesses whether something different to us is harmful or similar to us is ok, we should by now have evolved past that and stopped judging others according to our standards or the collective standards of our society and we should definitely have evolved past being prejudiced towards them as a result.

When it comes to gender, to sexuality, to the way a person presents themselves – the reason that nobody can agree on a definition for what it is to be a woman is probably because actually it really is not necessary to have one. Each human being is an individual, is different and no one person can or will or even should experience the world as another person does. (This does not mean we should not try to empathise with others it’s really important to be intersectional, to be inclusive, but this means we should listen to how they wish to be defined, to accept their choice and not try to redefine them according to our own opinions or beliefs or the constructs of our society that have conditioned us to question what that person is telling us. Particularly if a person is trans or non binary, it’s harmful to force them to choose a gender identity just because it would make you more comfortable. It’s not about you. It’s their truth.

Whether you are a cis woman or trans woman; if deep in the heart and bones of you, your own self says that you are a woman, Happy International Women’s Day! It does not matter if you possess a vagina, whether you seduce or who you seduce, whether or how you reproduce or whether you present as a woman. It does not need to be defined by anybody other than you, or explained or debated or justified. You are a woman, phenomenally and whatever that means to you is exactly what it means. So happy International Women’s Day.

Patriarchy, the day to say “what about men is on November 19th.” Today is about amplifying women so be an ally and pick another day to make your tasteless jokes. #PressForProgress!

How to game Facebook in 2018

Ah planning season. A magical time devoted to changes in marketing strategy for the new year. Following Facebook’s latest revision of the mighty Edgerank algorithm, it has become clear that some brands will need to scrap their existing approach to social media and make some rather dramatic changes, or else increase their Facebook budget.

Mark Zuckerberg’s intention is for our timelines to reflect content that is meaningful rather than merely relevant with friends/family/groups being prioritised over business/brands/media. Unless of course the latter pay to boost the post or the engagement on these posts is superlative, you’re going to see much less of it. What Facebook intends to do is discourage mindless scrolling and passive sharing, and instead make the experience of Facebook more engaging, even if as a result we spend less time on the site. Yes it’s finally quality over quantity, people.
Personally I’d rather the evolution of Edgerank didn’t continue to polarise the internet and create bubbles of bigotry and ignorance, but don’t get me started on that.

So unless you as a page owner begin to pay for the privilege of having your content seen (a fine line to tread given that the more regularly you pay, the more you will eventually need to pay because Facebook knows where their bread is ultimately buttered) you are going to have to actively game the algorithm.

How to structure a successful Facebook post for free

Post media:
Until recently, natively hosted videos and images were the safest bet to ensure that your post was successful rather than links which are penalised by Edgerank. For good reason too; links to external content such as a blog or article are not in Facebook’s best interests to prioritise in the feed because they encourages people to leave the site. This is why Instagram don’t enable hyperlinks in their posts. If you want to share a link to Facebook without boosting the post, consider posting the link instead in the first comment of your post or better yet as part of the engagement your post generates.
Level up: Whilst Edgerank still likes images and videos, Facebook Live is by far the best way to get the attention of your audience. Take the plunge!

Post language: Also known as questions questions questions. If you want people to respond to your post, structuring it as a question is the logical way to achieve this result. In terms of language, clickbait continues to reign supreme and using “should, would, which and who” over “when, what, where, why and how” is one way to influence your audience. Yes/no questions are good, multiple choice questions with 3 options are better. Open ended questions are timeless classics, especially if you are asking your audience to share personal opinions or experiences.
Not right for your brand? Another good way to encourage responses is to tap into meme culture and ask your audience to caption a photo you have shared or create a fill in the blank post. Just be mindful of the information you ask for in case your audience mistakes you for a social engineer.
Level up: Pages used to game Edgerank by openly encouraging people to like/share/tag people in comments but Facebook now actively penalises this practise. It is possible to do it subtly though by asking your followers who they would like to buy a product for/tell about something. This will lead them to tag that person in the comments or share the post to them without you having used language that Facebook will detect and spank you for.

Post time: These days everybody is online virtually all the time and thanks to Edgerank their timeline is no organised by the most recent post but by the most popular or relevant. If Zuckerberg gets his way however, we will all be spending much less time on Facebook so familiarise yourself with your page analytics to calculate whether there is an ideal time for your scheduled posts based on the performance of similar ones. Your Insights tab is your friend, check out “when your fans are online.”
Level up: Don’t forget to compare yourself to your competition by making use of the “top posts from pages you watch” feature. You can add these to “pages to watch” in your overview.

Post engagement: Fact. If you like and respond to every comment, you will boost the rankings for your post. It really is that simple.
Level up: tag the person in your response and use an emoticon.
Yes emoticons are utterly cringeworthy and I am genuinely concerned that one day they will replace actual language in some Idiocracy-style future… but Edgerank loves them.

Bonus round
As a page, your post options are limited to the following with the bonus option of being able to schedule and backdate posts in your page timeline.

As a person however, you have a number of post formats to choose from and you can tag your page in these in order to encourage new likes and followers, and engage with groups and on other pages on behalf of your page or by tagging your page too.

As a result, when new people visit your page and hopefully engage, make sure you invite them to like your page by regularly checking the list of “others” who have commented on your post, identifying whether they like your page and inviting them if they do not.

Does this seem like a lot to take in or a lot of effort? Get in touch and I’ll do the hard work for you, or demystify it a little more over a cup of tea and a wodge of cake.

A data nerd’s perspective on Website Design

Recently I was working on a CRM data verification project which involved visiting close to two thousand websites over the period of a few days and it absolutely blew my mind. Not the scope and scale of the project itself, but what I learned about the value of good web design.

You had one job!
When it comes to designing your website, all of the fabulous plug ins, branding, corporate videos, advertising and search engine optimisation in the world are utterly wasted efforts if you have not considered the basic function of your website, which is to allow your customers to find out information about your company.
Whilst it is important to consider the journey of your customer to your site (via a tweet, a blog you shared on Facebook or LinkedIn, by Googling your business name – measuring the source of the visit empowers you to tailor your marketing activity accordingly) it is equally important to remember why they are there.

Are they there to find out what you do? Where you are? Are they there to find your contact information so they can call you with an enquiry? Look at your own website, are you meeting these basic requirements? Out of 1800 websites that I visited in order to check what the business did, find the postcode and phone number and their links to social media accounts only 22% of the websites allowed me to find this information easily. Seriously, 22%. That’s mind boggling.

We scrumpleswish your flibberts to provide value added burbleglumpfts and deliver visionglitter
So many of the companies had admittedly beautiful websites, but my experience was made so frustrating as a result of having to trawl through web copy which did not make it clear what the function of the business was. Jargon does not impress your audience, it alienates and frustrates them.

For the benefit of those who have learned from sales and marketing seminars or business books to “sell the benefits, not the features” (or rather to sell the sizzle not the steak…) your customers are not googling “I want to increase my business value proposition via the application of collaborative media integrations” they are googling a product or service in plain terms.

Navigation is key
However you choose to structure your site, it doesn’t matter whether the contact details are at the bottom, top, side of a page or whether they can be found via the menu – as long as they can easily be found. You should also consider the merits of a contact form versus giving your customer the option to call or email you directly.
Want an honest assessment of your website and constructive advice about how to make it more user friendly?
I offer a free hour of consultancy for small businesses so get in touch.

Total Warrior

I have to be brutally honest, as a passionate cyclist I came to love running relatively late in life, to be specific at the age of 33. In that year I bought my first sports bra, a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and with virtually no training (two 2K runs, one month beforehand) I completed Total Warrior in order to raise funds for my son’s school – Beechtree Steiner Initiative in Leeds.

Sitting a few feet from the finish line with my son and a well deserved can of gin and tonic, covered from head to toe with mud, every muscle in my body screaming I did not expect that a week later I would find myself putting on my Vibrams and going for another run.

But continue to run I did. #ThisGirlCan

My son attends Kindergarten three days per week at Beechtree Steiner so Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the days that I have available to work or meet with clients. I supplement this time with the odd hour in the evening when he’s sleeping or at the weekends so finding my balance as a working parent, honing my ability to focus on my work during the time that I have available is important.

If I start my day by cycling the school run, grabbing groceries from Leeds market on the way home and then going for a quick run before I start work, then I am my best self – full of energy with good mental clarity.

Over the Winter period the streets have been far too icy to make running safe so I have been mostly snuggled under a blanket eating mince pies and substituting a pot of black coconut tea for my run. As effective as caffeine is, I had better get back to the running next week however as I have signed up to raise funds for Beechtree Steiner Initiative again by completing Total Warrior on June 24th. Your donations are very welcome!

Be the solution, not the problem

“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” Leroy Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Party

Last year I wrote an article on LinkedIn called “It’s time to tackle the isms.” It’s an inarguable fact that we live in a world with many problems. So from the state of the environment to the state of society, how can your business make a positive difference?

Consider how you might be contributing to the problem.
Does your business make or sell products that perpetuate a harmful stereotype?
Your instinct may be to say no, but take a closer look. It may not be as obviously problematic as a range of products for him and her branded in pink and blue.

I find my clients are often surprised that the language and imagery that they use on their websites or via social media doesn’t necessarily reflect how liberal and inclusive that they are. If your pictures feature families for examples, are they really reflective of our society which has mixed race couples, same gender couples, couples with age gaps, single parents or adoptive or foster parents?

People buy from people and if your pictures are not representative of your audience, then your promotions will be less effective than those which your audience can identify with. It works the same when you’re recruiting – saying you’re an equal opportunities employer is one thing, but if every picture on your website is of a white, able man in his thirties wearing a suit, then consider how this may subconsciously alienate women, people of colour, older people or those with disabilities.

It may not seem like a big deal (and it may even be due to limited resources on stock image sites rather than your own photography choices) but unless you promote your business using imagery and language that seeks to normalise and celebrate existing differences in gender, age, race, ability, sexuality, belief and socioeconomic status, you are contributing to the drip feed of information that collectively creates harmful climates such as everyday sexism, toxic masculinity and even rape culture.

Make a change.
Whether you discover that you need to stop perpetuating harmful stereotypes, stop advertising in publications which are funding hatred or whether you begin a mission to reduce the waste produced by your business, be the change you want to see in the world. And if you’re really not sure where to start, here’s a gift to you my essential reading list for the intersectional feminist. Or get in touch for a consultation.