I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Learning social media rules

I have been using a lot more social media (specifically twitter) recently as part of my Love Santa project. It because abundantly clear that some people have no idea (or don’t care) about how to effectively use Twitter. Follow TashWord on Twitter

Top most is having an understanding that twitter is for communicating and building relationships – not for blatant ads like old-fashioned media (e.g. a newspaper ad was a one way message). I saw a few businesses tweet their ad at least every couple of hours with no other messages in between. For one business, they had 3 variants of it and ran them in succession once every hour or so during their business hours. I wasn’t their audience anyway but seeing it so often bored and annoyed me, and gave me an uncomfortable feeling about them as a business.

Next is to have one honest profile. It because obvious when 3 supposedly different twitter users repeatedly sent the same tweet straight after each other – a number of times. It came across as trying to trick and con people, plus it seemed they were desperate for business rather than offering quality or showing a genuine interest in people watching their tweets.

The other behaviour that was annoying while I was on twitter a lot (I haven’t really seen it when just keeping up with people I follow on twitter) was an excessive use of hash tags*.

To me it was like reading a blog post or webpage written to show off keywords rather than actually communicate something – boring, annoying and an insult if they think I am impressed by such actions.

Adding # to key words within a message is fine, adding a keyword or two after the message is also fine, but the following wasn’t so fine:

  • adding five or more hashtags after a brief message
  • adding hashtags that were about advertising not the message (e.g. adding #santa after a message about a computer breaking down to get noticed for Christmas or adding #webdesign to a message about dreading a visit to the dentist)
  • making the entire message hashtags with a link

Tweets are like any other content you write – make it about the message and people reading it, not about SEO and getting noticed by more people, as that is what will genuinely get your message heard and distributed.

I can’t say what results those people get from their tweets, but I know I would never retweet or follow them (and I’m sure I’m not alone). I can say that most of the retweeted Love Santa tweets were those based on replying to someone else – in other words, ‘talking’ to people was appreciated and earned greater exposure to other tweeters.

Twitter can be a great marketing tool but it needs to be thought of as a relationship tool with marketing bonuses to have the best impact on your business.

Or maybe you are happy to read tweets with some of the above characteristics? Or have found them effective for viral marketing?

* A hashtag is simply adding # at the start of a word (or group of words without a space in between) that can be used to highlight a topic and make searching for relevant information on twitter easier.

Intranet for fun

What do you think a company intranet is for? Should it just be official and practical, or should it be personal and fun, maybe even wacky?

I think the main purpose of an intranet is to help staff do their jobs efficiently so it needs to contain information to help them. Having provided that information, I think an intranet can also include less formal items.

I see a number of advantages to a more friendly intranet:

  • it can aid staff communication and relationships
  • the occasional smile is good for staff productivity!
  • higher morale reduces staff turnover and makes it more likely staff will complete tasks rather than watch the clock

So what can be added?

  • daily weather updates – practical but nice if staff can see what other offices are experiencing
  • tips – could be semi-serious like word of the day or funny or a motivational quote
  • photo gallery of staff events and news (work Christmas parties, staff weddings, business launches, award ceremonies)
  • tipping competition and results (why limit it to football? Try cricket, basketball, athletics or triathlons)
  • information about charities staff/the business are involved in – and links for sponsorship
  • menus of local lunch spots
  • RSS feed of public transport updates in the area
  • funny corner – add those joke, cartoons, etc that everyone will just email each other anyway
  • health tips, recipes, office exercises, etc
  • interesting seminars, webinars, training courses, etc coming up

They’re just my ideas – what else can you add?

Email content is factual

Over the weekend I attended the second weekend of a training course. One session was on communications as part of relationships, and the instructor said something that stuck in my mind.

He said “emails are for facts, never emotions”.

[Tweet “Emails are for facts, never emotions”]

So, you can write an email “We will meet at 5 pm” or “Please write me a promotional article on woggles.” And it is ok to write something like “I am upset – can we please talk about it?”

young man on a phone in front of his laptop outside.

Using the phone is often better than email for emotional issues

No emotions in emails?

I had never thought of it quite that way, but it is a good point. What you write can be misinterpreted, especially when emotions are involved, which can cause more problems than you already have. It is also harder to  write clearly when you are feeling emotional so you are more likely to be negative than constructive.

If there is an issue to resolve, it is much better to deal with it face to face or via the phone than in an email. For one thing, tone of voice can impact on the understanding of the message and for another, it is more immediate – there can be delays in replying to each other via emails and that can also add to confusion, misunderstandings and problems.

And don’t think this is just referring to personal relationships. If there is an issue between you and a supplier or customer, grab the phone or arrange a meeting and get the issue resolved.

For a business situation, it isn’t just a matter of smoothing relationships either – it is your business’ reputation and having emotions in writing can be used out of context to your detriment.

So a simple rule to add to your business model – keep emails for facts, not emotions!

Use your words wisely.


*Image courtesy of  Frugo at 123rf 

Just giving out cards does not work

I have just been reading part of the Small Business Diva blog where she wrote about networking, and her 6th point reminded me of a networking breakfast I attended a month or so ago.

Donna-Marie wrote ” When at networking events, don’t try to talk to everyone there and shove as many business cards as possible into everyone’s hands nor push your products/services on people. ” And I couldn’t agree more. Networking is about building relationships, not getting your name in front of the maximum number of people.

At the breakfast I attended, I happened to sit next to a man who didn’t tell me his name or show much interest in talking to me (his choice, and it doesn’t bother me!) However, as he stood up to leave he handed a business card to everyone within reach, said good-bye and left. He still didn’t say his name or use mine (I had introduced myself).

The end result? I left his card on the table and he gained nothing from handing it to me.

Compare that to others I have met at networking events where we have swapped cards and later exchanged emails and possibly helped each other in some way, even if we never used each others’ services.

So don’t go to networking events with the aim to hand out heaps of cards; reserve your cards for the people you click with or who specifically ask for a card or information about your services.

Walking out of a networking event with two or three, or even one, good contact is a great feeling – and a successful event.