Now you can Tweet-Tweet with double the characters

If you’re not a huge Twitter fan, then you might not be aware that this week there’s been a major shakeup in the world of the Tweet.  The strict 140 character limit has now been replaced by a new one – you now have 280 characters in which to share your thoughts.

Twitter announced their plans to increase this limit some time ago, and a select group of users have been trialling it for the last month or so.  The logic being that people will now be able to express more of their thoughts, without running out of room.  I admit, given what some people think about and deem worthy of sharing, I remain to be convinced whether this is a good thing.

Many have taken the news quite badly, suggesting the whole point of Twitter, and its great appeal, is the brevity with which points have to be made.  Increasing the character limit will, they argue, make Tweets harder to read as there is more to get through. Not only that, but in our experience, if you give people the option to say more, they will – just because they can, not because it adds anything to the discussion.

Of course, one of the biggest complaints about the increase is that it detracts from some of the more fundamental problems with the platform.  Twitter has long been associated with rampant abuse, harassment and bullying – hooray, now people can abuse people using more words!

The limited data that has been made available from the trial sessions indicate that, once the novelty had worn off, those with access to Tweet 280 characters, tended not to go much above the original limits.  Equally, those who could Tweet slightly longer thoughts received more engagement, and spent longer on the network than other members.

It is worth noting, however, that it was a single figure percentage of overall users that were able to trial this option before today’s launch.  So I guess time will tell on this one.

Twitter’s logic appears to be with the aim of making the platform easier for newcomers to use, and I definitely think it will help.  In my experience, many businesses seem to avoid using Twitter in their social marketing mix for fear of the Tweet limitations.  With the option to say slightly more, hopefully people will find a renewed interest in engaging.

Let’s watch this space.

 

 

5 Things You Need To Do Before You Outsource Anything!

Here at Time Saving Heroes we’re clearly fans of outsourcing.  If you don’t have the time, knowledge or inclination to do something, there’s no reason why someone else can’t take it off your hands, and that someone doesn’t have to be a member of staff.

 

Outsourcing specific tasks can be a great way to keep overheads down, and remove the stress of having to actually manage a workforce. However, we also know it’s now always plain sailing.  Many of our clients have come through referrals, and most have had bad experienced with Virtual Assistants in the past.

 

How then do you make sure whoever you’re outsourcing a task to (whether it’s a HR firm, VA or web designer) is actually up to the job?  Here are Lu’s top tips to minimise heartbreak down the line.

 

#1 – Google them

This one should be pretty obvious, but if you’ve been given the name of an individual or company, actually look them up.  Ideally a search will bring them up on LinkedIn, and show their website – but what else do they have going on?

 

Hare they on Trust Pilot or any other independent review site?  Do they feature in affiliated bodies or on industry sites?  Find out as much as you can from the get go.

 

#2 – Social proof

Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are great ways to find out more about a company and/or individual.  What does their LinkedIn profile say?  Do they have any recommendations or endorsements?  What’s their approach to social media like, and do they actively get involved with other people online?

 

These are all valid questions no matter what you’re hiring for, but definitely take that in to account when looking for a self-confessed social media specialist.

 

#3 – Time management

Everyone charges differently, whether it by the hour or per job.  You need to make sure you understand your partner’s pricing structure, and how that can impact you.  If they do charge by the hour, is it full or part of?  Will they keep a timesheet so you can see precisely where that time is being spent?  If you block-book time, can you be sure that time is being used, and do you have control of how it’s used?  If you have multiple projects, will they allocate time equally, or based on urgency?  Are you in danger of 20 hours being used on one thing, and having to buy more time to get the other jobs done?

 

#4 – Payment terms

This goes for everything – find out what the payment terms are!  Don’t assume it’s 30 days, even if that’s your company standard.  Equally, ask about VAT and any other charges you might be expected to pay.

 

Are phone calls free, within reason?  Or does every single bit of contact cost you money?  Make sure you know what the score is before you sign up so as to avoid any nasty shocks down the line.

 

#5 – Sign a contract

Unexpected invoices can quickly sour relationships, so it’s important everyone knows where they stand.  You might be as good as your word, but are they?  Have a contract signed at the start so there are no arguments later on as to what was expected.

 

If they don’t have a contract as standard, run a mile!

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offers a wide range of services from content writing to social media management and invoicing to document preparation.  If there’s anything you don’t have time for, Time Saving Heroes can help.

 

Give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk

What to consider before you post that photo

Generally speaking I’m a pretty mild mannered individual; however, there are some things that really bug me. For example, the other day a Facebook friend I knew from my days as a playground Mum posted a photo of her daughter online. It was a great photo, and to be honest there was nothing wrong with it – apart from the comment she attached to it.

Essentially, she had asked her daughter for a photo, despite the fact said 8 year-old child wasn’t comfortable with it because of the outfit she was wearing. The daughter had agreed, apparently reluctantly, as long as the Mum didn’t share it on social media.

And yet, here I was, looking at the photo of an uncomfortable young girl, whose privacy had clearly been violated.

I won’t lie, it made me feel physically sick and really, really angry.

Then of course I calmed down, and realised it was an opportunity to blog – and that made me happy because I like feeling inspired (and getting on my soap box).

Everyone knows that when it comes to marketing, visual content sells. As social media marketing has taken an ever stronger hold more and more businesses are finding ways to reach out to their audiences and make a bigger impact.

If you sell a product, no matter what that is, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to take photos and create content around that. To make things more personable though, you may want to showcase images of your customers or clients using your products, or even pursuing your retail store.

However, there are legal ramifications involved in doing this, and it’s really important you think about the images you are taking, who they are of and what those peoples’ rights are, before you start sharing them as part of your online marketing strategy.

Admittedly there are laws that allow you to take photographs of people in public, but it’s important to realise these laws change when the person taking the photographs represents a business. Taking a photograph of a large crowd is one thing, but that’s unlikely to be an option for smaller businesses. This means that any photographs you take are going to be of people who are easily identifiable, and people may take exception to that.

I’ve said it before, and I will no doubt say it again, but what happens on social media stays on Google forever. You might post a picture of someone once, and whilst it will temporarily be on your timeline or appear in someone’s newsfeed, it will remain online forever. If you don’t have someone’s express permission, you could be in trouble.

What you need to think about it:

If you are taking photographs of people, and you want to use these as part of any marketing efforts, then you are using them for commercial purposes.

  • Reasonable expectations of privacy – even if someone is in public, if they are having what they believe is a private moment when you unexpectedly take their picture, you may not be able to use the generic public laws when it comes to photographs.
  • Consent – to avoid any confusion, it is always best to get people’s permission before you either take, or certainly use, photographs of them for any reason. In an ideal world, ask people to sign a consent form which you can keep as part of your ongoing records.

If you want to avoid any potential snags with customer photographs, there are some other options you can consider:

  • Why not set up a selfie board in store, and encourage your customers to come and have their photographs taken? You could enter them in to a prize draw so they could win something if they do.
  • Ask customers to send in photographs of them using your products on specific social media channels. Make sure they tag your account, and identify a specific # for them to use. This will help increase exposure as well.
  • If you want to avoid all legal pitfalls, why not just hire a photographer to take images of your products? You could even use images of your staff at work, and having a great time (as long as you have their permission first, of course).

 

Stand me up once, shame on you …

If you follow our Facebook page you will know this morning Lu got stood up. You’ll also know that she had well nice shoes, and was most unimpressed by the amount of rain falling from the skies, but that’s a whole other matter.

The good news is it appears there was a good explanation for the missed meeting today, and a new get together is going to be arranged. However, it seems to be quite a hot topic of conversation among many business owners – as her post missed-meeting rant has been getting quite a bit of attention.

How long would you wait?

Most people said if they had arranged to meet someone, they’d wait anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes (one person saying they’d happily wait 20 minutes) to see if they really were a no-show. The reality is people can easily get stuck in traffic, and not everyone has hands free and is able to make a call to let you know of an issue.

Equally, if you’re already sat waiting for them, you might as well use the time productively to catch up on emails or make any other calls you need to. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be a total waste of your time.

Would you get in touch with them?

Whilst you’re waiting, would you try to get in touch with the missing party? Most of us have been there at least once, somewhere along the way you’ve failed to put a date in your diary and before you know it, you’ve inadvertently stood someone up. We all like to think we’re above it, but alas, we’re all only human.

Phoning someone whilst you’re waiting is a good way to gauge where things are at. Did they simply forget, and if so, is it worth trying to rearrange? Was it a genuine mistake, or are they saying they don’t have the time to meet with you and give you their full attention?

Perhaps you can’t get in touch with them there and then, in which case, would you make contact with them when you get back to the office? Try to find out where they were? If not, why not?

Would you arrange a second meeting?

Most people we’ve heard from said that, depending on the reason for missing the meeting in the first place, they would probably arrange a second meeting. If someone seemed genuinely sorry, or it was clear there was a logical explanation for any mix up, then they’d be more than happy to move on and try again.

However, if they got a feeling the person was lying or trying to cover their tracks, didn’t apologise or wouldn’t take ownership for their mistake, then they wouldn’t bother.

One person we spoke to said the same person had stood him up three times. It was a potential client, and whilst the temptation is always there to try and chase down a sale, it’s certainly not wort it if you have to work that hard. A client who can treat you like that is one that’s unlikely to ever value what you offer, and will no doubt also be a bad payer.

 

 

5 examples of good LinkedIn etiquette

I’ve been doing this gig for a while now, yet it never fails to amaze me how bizarrely people act on social networks compared to how they would in real life.

It’s almost as though when you sit someone behind a screen and ask them to connect with a fellow human being, all rational thought and social etiquette goes out the window.

And it really gets my goat.

So here are my top 5 tips when it comes to LinkedIn etiquette.

# 1 – Be personal when connecting

If you’ve decided you want to connect with someone, take the time to send them a personalised connection request.

If you were in a face to face environment you wouldn’t just go up to someone and shove your business card in their face, hoping they’d get back in touch with you one day. That would be rude.

It kind of works the same way on LinkedIn.

Sending someone a generic message shows you can’t be bothered to explain to them why you’re reaching out. What is it about them that makes you want to connect?  What is it you think you can offer them that would be of benefit?

Yes, many people will accept your request regardless of how you ask them to connect, but they’re not going to be invested in you.  They’ll just ignore your posts, and ultimately might end up removing you as a connection anyway. So what’s the point?

Put the effort in now, and you have a much better chance of establishing a genuine networking relationship.

# 2 – Once you accept, send a message

Far too often when you accept a connection request from a random person they don’t actually get in touch.  That means there’s no interaction, which is kind of the whole point of LinkedIn. Isn’t it?

The best thing you can do is send someone a personalised message as soon as you accept their invitation.  This is a great way to get the conversation started, and also get a better feel for whether they’re genuine, or are just collecting names and bulking out their contacts list.

# 3 – Say thank you

No doubt your parents always taught you to say please and thank you – well that rule hasn’t gone out the window just because you’re on LinkedIn.

If someone has taken the time to endorse you for one of your skills, then you owe then a thank you.  After all, they’ve gone out of their way to do something that’s of no benefit to them, but could be of benefit to you.

They didn’t have to do that.

Don’t feel obligated to endorse them back, although, if you can genuinely recommended them for a skill they possess there’s no reason why you wouldn’t.  However, make sure you avoid the trap of trading endorsements when you have no idea what you’re really talking about.

# 4 – Keep it professional

Not all social networks are created equal, and nor do they have the same purpose.  LinkedIn is not the place for you to share photos of your kids, your dog or to moan about the weather.

LinkedIn is business focussed, which means anything you post should be business related.  You can post about what you’re up to, who you want to connect with, ask for information or assistance from your connections and discuss industry news.

But no one wants to see a picture of what you’re having for lunch.

# 5 – Introduce people

The whole point of networking is to increase your network. I know it sounds obvious, but apparently when it comes to LinkedIn many people seem to have forgotten this.

One of the best things you can do when it comes to using this amazing platform is take the time to introduce your contacts. If you know someone who’s looking for a web designer, and you happen to know a web designer, then take a minute to introduce them to each other.

Facilitate other people’s connections and you greatly increase your own social capital, as well as getting a warm fuzzy feeling for doing a good thing.

 

If you want more tips on Netiquette please email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or call 0161 883 2024 to find out when our next training session is.

When friends aren’t friends

As someone who uses social media to market my personal brand, my business, my author persona, and for my clients I often take my presence on many networking platforms for granted.

Of course I’m on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  I dabble in a few others, but those three are my stalwarts for communication.

Over the years as I’ve met more and more people through networking I’ve accumulated significantly more *friends*. In fact, as I write this I have 424 of them on Facebook.

I say *friends* because it’s obviously a bit of a misnomer.

The standard definition of a friend is: “a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations”.

Personally I feel the word affection oversells it a bit for a lot of my Facebook connections.  They’re alright, we perhaps get on, but that doesn’t necessarily make them my friends (any more than I am to them).

For me, a friend is someone you’d call up and invite round for a coffee.  You’d go out your way to phone a friend on their birthday. You’d actually check in with them once in a while.

I assure you I do not do that with the vast majority of my 424 *friends*.  And more’s the point, they don’t do it with me either.

Those of you that have had the pleasure of being friends with me on Facebook (or actually, shock horror, spend time with me in real life) will know I’m ever so slightly opinionated. I quite like a drink. I occasionally get selfie happy. And I swear far more than my Mother is comfortable with (sorry Mum, don’t know what happened there).

I’m loud, I’m proud and I’m gobby.  And just occasionally that really gets up people’s noses.

Whilst I understand and respect people’s rights to take a step back and think “oooh, she’s a bit whoa”, there’s not a tiny part of me that’s sorry.  You see, my Facebook profile is all about ME.  The good, the bad and the hungover.

On Facebook you see the real me. The piddled off with the world, frustrated Mum who wonders if it’s acceptable to drink at 2pm because it’s already been a long day. The Mum who can’t help but find it funny that her three year old can swear like a sailor in total context.  Yes, I know it’s not ideal, but he’s not beating the cr*p out of anyone or calling people names, so I’ll take that as a win. The Mum that sometimes thinks her autistic son is playing the ASD card a little too well, and might actually just be a kn*b at times.

Yeah, I said that.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking more about my social media presence. This whole accepting friends invites from people I barely know, but maybe met once at a networking event just because they asked and it would be rude not to isn’t sitting well with me.  I want to share photos of my babies, I want to moan about the client that hasn’t paid, I want to talk about my day and the idiot that wound me up without fear of recriminations.

I want to, and I will dag nammit.

So, I am having a legendary cull (though, because I’m not an attention seeking numpty I won’t be announcing it and then congratulating the people who were lucky enough to ‘survive’).  My cull isn’t meant to be the virtual equivalent of two fingers sticking up at a foe.

Instead it’s a nod to the fact that our relationship is, and should be, purely professional.  If you have been deleted (the ultimate virtual insult), please do not be offended.  Remember I am doing this because we are not mates, and that’s not a bad thing.  I want you to see me as the polished, consummate professional I pretend to be Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.  Well, some of the time between those hours, anyway.

Equally, I want to see you in the same way.

If I bump in to you at a networking event I don’t want my first thought to be “That was a lot of cleavage on Friday night”, or “Interesting adjectives you’ve been using for your ex-husband’s new girlfriend”, or “You come across as a self-indulged know-it-all in your look-at-me posts #LuckyGirl #Mumpreneur #LaptopLifestyle #HashtagAllTheThingsUntilSomethingSticks #IAmSoAmazingEveryoneWantsToBeLikeMe”.

They’re just examples from this week.

Some of them might be slightly exaggerated. To my knowledge nobody has used the last hashtag. Which is actually a shame. That would have been amusing.

Invariably we add people because we want to feel connected, but connection only comes from interaction.  When all your *friends* do is sit there and watch your life unfold before them, but aren’t actually part of your day to day doings, then that’s not friendship. That’s voyeurism.

Let’s just keep that, and the sales pitches to LinkedIn, shall we?

 

PS: Currently down to 260 actual friends.  It’s strangely cathartic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three types of people you should avoid on LinkedIn

So far this week I have done one-to-one LinkedIn Orientation with five people. OK, so that’s just a fancy way of saying I spent two hours going over the basics with five separate people who signed up, created a profile and promptly lost their password. One of them hadn’t been back on since uploading their profile photo, and that was ten years ago.

This is probably my favourite part of the “training” I do with people – taking someone who admits they know nothing, or have preconceived ideas about what LinkedIn is, and getting them to embrace it. Admittedly it’s baby steps, going from “member” to “daily interactor” doesn’t happen overnight, but you get my point.

One thing that often comes up, certainly with people who have had their accounts for a while is connections. Often I hear things like “who is this person? I don’t know them” or “why do strangers keep asking me to connect?” Equally typical is the query “why add me and then never communicate?”

The simple truth is LinkedIn is full of people who aren’t using it properly, and unfortunately when you aren’t confident in what you’re doing, you can find yourself looking to these people as the “experts”.

Here’s my list of three types of LinkedIn users you should probably try to avoid if you want to attain LinkedIn zen.

#1 The Door to Door Salesperson

We have all received an invitation to connect with someone we don’t know, only to receive a generic sales pitch via InMail the second you accept them.

If you have accepted someone who does this, do yourself a favour now, and remove them as a contact. They are not interested in two-way dialogue and relationship building. They just want to knock on your door and sell you something, then they will move on.

Equally, if you are this person please, on behalf of everyone else on LinkedIn, I beg you to STOP! Here’s why.

 

# 2 The Social Police

Every so often I see comments, on other people’s posts, about the validity and appropriateness of what they’re sharing.

“This is LinkedIn, not Facebook”

“This sort of thing doesn’t belong here”

“LinkedIn is a professional network – be PROFESSIONAL”

You get my point.

The sort of posts that get these comments are either family or pet photos, memes, or jokes to name a few. Now, don’t get me wrong, when I see these things I do invariably roll my eyes because, in all honesty, LinkedIn is not the place for them. However, I refrain from commenting on such posts because I am not the police of social interactions.

What annoys me more than inappropriate posts are the comments from the self-appointed social police. Their opinion of what is or isn’t appropriate on LinkedIn is just that – their opinion. There is no handbook that says “Thou shalt not post a meme of a cat wearing a watermelon as a helmet”. There is no LinkedIn code of conduct in that sense. I am a firm believer that if you don’t like it, you just don’t interact with it; or maybe, you can remove the offender as a connection. Believe it or not, you do have those options.

Personally I recommend avoiding the social interaction police at all costs. It takes a certain type of person to comment publicly on someone else’s post in a manner that comes across as nothing short of rude, and in some cases bullying. Who, if they genuinely wanted to educate and help their fellow connections, would rather hit out, instead of send a private InMail along the lines of “Hi Bob, funny meme earlier; however, LinkedIn really isn’t the sort of place for that sort of thing. You’d probably get more interaction if you …”

But hey, that’s just my opinion.

# 3 The Ego

We have all seen them, the LinkedIn users who have a headline along the lines of “MOST VIEWED LINKEDIN USER” or “The Midas of sales: Everything I touch turns to sold!”

No, really, I’ve seen the latter. I’m still cringing now.

There is a really fine line between confidence, and an overwhelming smugness, and the people who go too far are really difficult to build relationships with on LinkedIn. Which is why I always avoid them.

It’s such a shame really as you can guarantee in a genuine networking environment they wouldn’t stand up and say “I am awesome, I am great, I am perfect”. Well, some might, but very few. In the real world they may exude confidence, but they are probably capable of having a two-way conversation.

Online they are just narcissistic and are predominantly interested in either the sale (see point 1) or collecting numbers. Don’t be one of their numbers.

 

 

These are just the people I will always avoid, you may agree – you may not. However, the key here is that you do have a choice who you interact with online, as you do anywhere else. Don’t feel you have to accept everyone, and don’t feel once you have accepted that you can’t back out again. Keep the connections you want so you can customise your own LinkedIn experience.