Social media haters: what to do when people say mean things on Facebook or Twitter

When I’m helping clients set up their social media platforms, one of the most common questions I get asked concerns crisis management. What do we do when people leave horrible comments? they ask, nearly always. They’re really scared of opening up the possibility for disgruntled clients or customers or nasty members of the general public to say something bad about them.

So far the only disgruntled client comments I’ve had have been from hungry bellies
wondering when the chocolate cake will be served at our workshops.

My answer usually goes something like this:

First of all, I tell them that if people have complaints about your business, they’ll very likely talk about you online anyway, on their own profiles or platforms or wherever, so you’re definitely better off having an online presence so that they can talk about you where you can see them and and do something about it.

Next, I tell them that they’d be surprised at how infrequently this happens. I’ve worked with all kinds of clients in all kinds of industries over the years and do you know how many have come back and actually said somebody had commented nastily on their Facebook page or sent them a mean tweet? None. Not one! That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. And in certain industries, of course, it’s more likely to happen than others. I’m talking about unnecessarily nasty stuff, not just a complaint about service or product with some kind of legitimate (or at least vaguely reasonable) cause.

But, if it happens, then I tell them that the best strategy is not to engage with the content of the comment online, but to politely thank them and give them a way to take it further offline (like giving them a way to contact you by email or phone so you can talk to them privately). I’ve always said that deleting the comment is likely to get them further annoyed and do it again, whereas if you’ve acknowledged them and given them an opportunity to continue the conversation elsewhere then they look pretty stupid if they keep commenting. The other bonus of a social media community, assuming you’ve kind of been taking care of them, is that your advocates/fans will often jump in and tell them to shut up, basically!

(It’s probably better not to use Basil Fawlty’s methods of dealing with complaints, as in this video …)

However, at the Problogger Event I heard a different answer from two very experienced people – Amy Porterfield (my favourite Facebook guru) and Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs. Amy started off saying that she used to say pretty much exactly what I’ve just said – but that recently she’s changed her mind. Kind of to my surprise, she says these days if nasty comments come up on her page – people who have said nothing constructive but just nasty or hateful things – she just deletes them – and bans them from the page! Trey Ratcliff agreed although he had a great alternative if you were after some more fun – let them stay on and “your community will have great fun tearing them apart!”

So basically, it’s up to you. Reply or delete – that’s the two basic choices – but the best news is that for most of you, you’ll never actually have to decide.

But have you ever had anyone leave a nasty comment? What did you do?

Chocolate and the power of the personal in social media

Anyone who has vaguely glanced at my Facebook page or even just read my Twitter profile will have an inkling that I am rather a fan of chocolate, in its many forms, be it freshly-baked chocolate cake, a steaming hot chocolate or just a plain ol’ block of chocolate. I even celebrated my travel blog’s birthday a couple of years back with a chocolate cake!

Mentions of chocolate weren’t an intentional social media strategy – I just found it hard to avoid talking about it! But looking back, I can see that introducing this personal element into my social media is not a bad thing at all. It might sound simple or even trivial, but enjoying chocolate is something a LOT of people can relate to, and provides a starting point for conversations that lead to something further, or at least encourage other people to join the discussion.

And of course there are a few perks. I made a presentation on social media at a Perth library once and one of the audience members came up to me before the talk started. She said she had googled me and discovered I loved chocolate, and she wanted to give me a gift of her favourite chocolate. Before she’d even heard me speak! And I have a few clients who are aware of my preferences and stock up on something chocolatey when they know I’m coming.

In fact, this tweet about hot chocolate was seen by the client I was meeting with the following day too, and he made sure to have a very tasty hot chocolate ready for me when I arrived!

But putting those personal taste bud bonuses to one (far) side, I really believe that introducing a personal element of something you love into your online persona is really important. I was thinking of examples of people who do and don’t do this, and how differently I feel about them.

For example, I’m a big fan of Valerie Khoo who wears numerous hats but among them is founder/managing director of the Australian Writers Centre, author of the excellent “Power Stories” (a book that stays on my desk) and also a slightly mad cat AND dog woman. And that final bit is something I’ve picked up from her Twitter feed, from podcasts, from various bits and pieces, and it makes me really feel that she is human, it gives me a connection point (I have cats!) (and isn’t she smart for having both? Nearly everyone is either a dog or a cat person!), and an extra reason to “know, like and trust” her, which is one of the big points of doing social media.

On the other hand, there is Facebook guru Amy Porterfield. I have followed her work for some time and I listen to her podcast, and I’m excited that I’ll be able to hear her speak at the ProBlogger conference later this year, but I don’t feel the same warmth and “trust” that I do with others – and, strangely perhaps, it’s because she seems too professional. On her Facebook page or in her podcast, I’ve very rarely heard her mention anything outside of work, and I don’t feel anything personally in common with her beyond our work. I still feel that she does her job very well, but that feeling that I “know” her just isn’t there. (I hope I’ll be able to meet her at ProBlogger and find out that she’s totally lovely and friendly!**)

I’m not suggesting for a minute that we all need to divulge intimate details of our personal life through social media. I don’t. But social media is all about being social, and to be social, you have to stop being 100% professional from time to time. For me, it’s mentioning chocolate or cake, or occasionally the antics of my son, and mixing these ingredients in with my usual professional and work-based posts. For you, it might be a pet, or an obsession with tea or coffee, or your love of exercise, anything in fact that is a bit tangential or even quite removed from your actual work, but gives people another connection point with you. It might just naturally happen, like it did for me, or it might be something you need to think about first, but whichever way, I really think it helps the people who follow you online to connect, like and trust you, and when they feel that way, the bottom line is they’re much more likely to buy your product or service, and that’s not a bad thing, right?

**PS Sept, 2013: I can confirm that Amy Porterfield is, indeed, a totally lovely and friendly lady. And interestingly she has been sharing a lot more personal information on her podcasts recently. Good work Amy!

So, a question for you to answer: what’s your quirk, or special like?

Location independence, digital nomads and what pretty much all my clients could learn from this

I’m having a mini-obsession with podcasts, blogs and people talking about location independence at the moment. It’s a buzz word that actually makes me buzz! The notion of being “location independent” or a “digital nomad” basically means that you’re doing work you can do from anywhere, which virtually always means you work online. Or even better, you don’t work too much at all but have started an online business which keeps sending money your way. (Not that I mind a bit of hard work. But I don’t have a whole lot of hours left in the each day, it seems.)

A random beach shot or … no, this will have relevance later. Trust me.

Anyway … while I’m listening to and reading people like Natalie Sisson from The Suitcase Entrepreneur and my lovely friend Nora from The Professional Hobo, I often think that although much of the discussion is about creating an online business so that you can travel a lot (as these ladies do), so many things that they say are also very relevant to people running a small business and promoting themselves online. In other words, the kind of people who are very often my clients, and of course, me as well.

There are so many ideas running around in my head about ways to help your business run with a bit less of your time, freeing you up to do other things which may mean travelling, but equally may mean spending time with your kids (I’m aiming for both of these), getting more involved in a hobby or a cause, or some other equally valid use of your spare time. To me it’s not about location independence, it’s more about freedom, and who doesn’t want a bit more of that? So, here are some of the tips I keep hearing that I think can work for many of us, not just the location independents:

  • Outsource when it makes sense. Small businesses – and especially one-person businesses, the kind I’m often involved with – can’t afford to hire staff. You can, however, afford to look into sites like oDesk or elance to find someone who can do a task for you at a low enough rate that it makes sense – you can go off and earn your normal rate and pay them to do a task (especially if (a) they’re better at it or (b) you really hate it) that saves your time. (Also, I still love Fiverr for some quick jobs like graphics and stuff.)
  • Batch your work. If you have been to my Social Media Strategising and Scheduling workshop you will have heard me talk about batching: grouping like tasks together and getting them all done at once. That might mean you take one day a month to write every blog post you intend to post that month, or it may be that you decided 9am on Monday is the hour you’ll spend scheduling your social media posts for the week. Whatever it is, the value of not having to “start” a similar task multiple times, plus that “in the groove” effect of doing the same thing for a while, makes you work so much more effectively. I’m writing this blog post on an evening when I’ve already written two others. It works!
  • Change your scenery. People who work for themselves need to be self-motivated and it’s not going to be easy 100% of the time. Whether you do the extreme location independent version of this and move to another country for a few months or you just pack up your laptop and take it to a local cafe for an afternoon, it can really make a productivity difference. (I have even taken my laptop to the beach – well, to the carpark near the beach. Too much sand at the actual beach!)
  • Make the most of technology. Having all the latest whiz-bang gadgets can be a trap BUT it can also work out well if you’re the one who’s in control. I have a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, USB WiFi, a Kindle, you name it (after all, I do work in blogging and social media!) and on occasion I let them take over my life. Most of the time though I exploit them and fit work in around other equally important parts of life. I may schedule a lot of my social media posts during a batching session but of course I still need to check in and reply to comments or other interactions – that’s something that’s easily done on my smartphone while I’m cooking dinner or waiting at an appointment.
  • Switch off and do fun stuff. This is a point where being a world-wandering digital nomad probably makes it easier, because if you’ve just moved to a small coastal Croatian town you’re very likely to want to abandon your computer at some stage and go exploring or at the very least have a quick dip in that glorious sea. If you’re just working from home then always thinking “just one more task” is an easy trap to fall into but the whole point of being your own boss is that you are allowed to switch off from work whenever you want to (well, more or less).
  • Figure out a passive income stream. This is (depending on your industry, perhaps) the trickier part but the bit that really turns you from a worker into someone who sometimes works and sometimes does other cool stuff. I’m still figuring this out too but there are so many options in the online world now to generate an income independent of the hours you put in (you know, earn while you sleep – yes please!) and this is obviously a way to free up some of your time. More on this in the future, when I get it better worked out myself!
The way I figure it, the digital nomads can wander the world, and people like me can just try to get on top of things so that there is time for work, time for play, and hopefully time for a few more overseas trips as well! Blogging and social media is surely a part of getting this sorted out. I’m working on it: watch this space. 
What ways could you make your work style more “digital nomad-ish” – or do you even want to?

The best social media podcasts which follow me around …

Working in social media means that it’s pretty important to stay on top of the latest news. Things change constantly and FAST. But, as well as work, I have a toddler and two shouty cats to deal with so I don’t have a whole lot of spare time for reading. Thankfully, I recently rediscovered that I love listening to podcasts (I was a real podcast addict when I worked in the city and commuted on the train) and not only that, I’ve realised that there are a few free moments for listening – mostly while driving or doing housework.

It’s taken me a couple of months to finalise a few podcasts that I reliably and consistently love but I’ve done it, and I thought I’d share them. (I’d also love some reader recommendations if you listen to something fantastic that’s not on my list.) By the way, rather than linking to the not-friendly-to-everyone iTunes feed for these podcasts, I’ve tried to find a suitable web page where you can either listen straight away or get a link through to iTunes if you want.

  • Social Media for Small Business (from the Australian Businesswomen’s Network). This is easily my favourite and probably that’s because I really fit perfectly into the target demographic, and I think that the majority of my clients would find the same – so if you only listen to one podcast, make it this one. Each episode focuses on an interview with an expert about one topic (perhaps Twitter; maybe Facebook ads; always useful) with a bit of chat about current social media news at the front and some recommendations for apps afterwards. The presenters, Suzi Dafnis and Cat Matson, are both Aussie women and so I guess it’s no surprise I feel an affinity towards them! Plus unlike pretty much every American-produced podcast I listen to, this one doesn’t have a scarily-hyped intro (just some nice music) and … well, it just really suits me. Try it.
  • Online Marketing Made Easy (Amy Porterfield) – I’ve long followed Amy Porterfield for quite a lot of useful social media stuff, and she has just recently started up this podcast. It’s really listenable and includes lots of information – I thought the second episode on Content Marketing on a Shoestring Budget was especially useful.
  • The Human Business Way comes from Chris Brogan who is totally famous to internet geeky people like me. He’s done all kinds of social media and blogging stuff in the past and this podcast comes out of his newish business “Human Business Works” which is perhaps a broader business/marketing kind of deal, but in any case the podcast has all kinds of interesting content that’s relevant to many of us. Fan tip: keep listening after you think the podcast has ended because Chris always includes a little bonus bit!
  • Copyblogger: Internet Marketing for Smart People – Copyblogger is another “totally famous to internet geeks like me” site and recent episodes have featured gurus like Seth Godin and Chris Brogan, whose names may not mean much to all my readers but they do to me – enough to recognise that there’s some quality stuff in here. 
Podcasts are pretty handy ways to keep in touch with what’s happening and changing in the social media world but also to be inspired by some amazing people who are really at the forefront of it all – this crazy new world! I heartily recommend you try some of these – let me know what you think.

Social media for artists, because artists amaze me

I am one super-lucky girl because I get to meet and work with some truly inspiring and fascinating people. And one subset of these is artists.

I am not artistic. (If you want some proof, see some of my childhood samples on my travel blog – this was the *peak* of my drawing ability!) But I am in absolute awe of anyone who can paint or draw or sculpt. In fact, I confess, my husband was very smart to bring one of his incredible paintings to hang on an empty wall in my apartment shortly after we’d met – I was thrilled at the idea of hanging out with someone who could paint!

And I’ve also been thrilled to be able to work with some artists over the last few years, artists who have been looking for help with blogging and social media as a way to get some more (well-deserved) attention to their artworks. Obviously, social media is an ideal place for artists to hang out. Most social media platforms are extremely visual and if you’re an artist with beautiful stuff to show then you’ve got it made.

One of the artists I was especially glad to meet is Jennifer Sulaj. She was wanting to get more serious about making painting her work and life and realised that social media would probably help her out, and despite being really not too keen on sitting in front of a computer when she could be in her studio instead, she’s now doing a marvellous job of it – have a look at Jennifer’s Facebook page and I’m sure you’ll agree. What I think she is doing right, and what I have suggested to other artists I’m lucky enough to work with, is to post these kinds of things on social media:

  • Images of some completed paintings along with a story about how they came to be, what they mean to the artist or something unusual that happened while painting it.
  • Photos of works in progress, because the process of painting is fascinating not only to artists but especially to non-artists like me, who can’t imagine how anyone can produce something so beautiful.
  • “Life of an artist” type posts, for example, images and stories of exhibitions, sales and even a simple thing like where and how they buy their paint or other supplies. (One of my favourite recent posts on Jennifer’s page was the tale of the mishap when she bought a new van and it broke down an hour later, meaning her paintings were delivered late to a new gallery – nice to know that artists are human, too!).
  • Short tales of inspiration for starting a painting, for keeping on going, for getting back to work when it’s hard to be inspired.
  • Sharing posts from other artists who inspire, or who have an interesting or different style.
  • Images of a studio, because for us non-artists it’s hard to imagine what really goes on in an artist’s studio.
I think that every kind of business has a place on social media – of course for some businesses, LinkedIn might work better, or Twitter, or something else – but for artists, one of the best has to be a Facebook business page. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in being fascinated by the life of an artist and they’ve got so much pretty stuff to share. A perfect match.

New year’s resolutions and your social media goals

First up, Happy New Year! And second up: new years are all about goals for me. I love the whole idea of a fresh start. And if you’ve attended pretty much any one of my courses (and particularly my Kitchen Table workshops) you’ve probably heard me ramble on about setting goals for your blogging and social media. This is normal for me: I’m a list-maker, a goal-writer, a resolution-setter, and I think it works. Whatever form it might take, figuring out an effective way to set some goals for yourself at the very least helps you think about what you want to achieve (giving you a better than average shot at it) and at best, keeps you focused and on track and actually achieving the goals!

When it comes to social media, this gets extra important. Remember my “dip in” theory of social media? It includes setting yourself a time budget for your use of social media (because it’s all too easy to get sucked into a vortex of Facebook updates and Twitter hashtags). Sticking to a sensible amount of time using social media (especially if it’s for your business) makes it less likely that you’ll waste time.

I wonder what goal I’ve got in mind for increasing my Facebook page “likers”?

But of course not wasting time isn’t enough. You have to use it well and the way I see it you have to have some goals to be able to do that. So, given that the new year is just beginning, it’s a good time for everyone to sit down and set some social media goals. They don’t need to be complicated or fancy but they have to exist! I tend to set “slightly beyond realistic but possibly achievable” targets for my social media goals – knowing I may or may not meet them, but I’ll be inspired to keep trying. I like having some concrete numbers to track throughout the year so that I can adjust my strategy if I see I’m not getting close enough to achieving the goals.

So what might these social media goals be? Keeping it simple is definitely the way to go so consider some of these possibilities, depending on what social media you’re using:

  • Number of Facebook page “likers”
  • Number of Twitter followers
  • Number of connections on LinkedIn (bearing in mind quality over quantity) or number of followers of your LinkedIn company page
  • Number of … you get the idea? Not that number is everything of course – anyone can buy thousands of fans from Cambodia or the Philippines for their Facebook page – so make sure your goal is to get quality followers who want to interact with you (and ultimately buy your product or service)
And if you’re a geeky stats lover and want to go a bit deeper (without spending too much time on it, of course!) then have a look at some of these:
  • Quality of Facebook “likers” – look in the demographics section and, for example, improve the proportion of likers who fit your targets (eg age group or gender); especially if you’re running a location-dependent business, then look in your demographics and try to improve the proportion of likers who live in your local area
  • Number of comments on your Facebook posts
  • Number of retweets and/or @mentions on Twitter
  • Interaction on your LinkedIn posts (comments, likes, shares)
You definitely need to decide for you which statistics are important (the fewer the better) and then figure out some numbers that work for you and your goals. I review them every month (or nearly. I admit I don’t always get to it. But do as I say, not as I do!). I’ve put down some new numbers to chase in 2013 and I’m looking forward to it already. 

Farewell 2012 and let’s bring on 2013 for some blogging and social media fun!

It’s not quite the end of 2012, but as far as my business is concerned, I’ve been nearly on holidays since last week. “Nearly on holidays” is as good as it’s going to get because this holiday season is actually a great time to fit in some preparation for 2013, having an extra babysitter at home for a fortnight! And that’s fine by me, since I actually love what I do – having a bit of time to do some work is quite a pleasure, and I can always interrupt it by going out for a splash in the pool if my office gets too hot. Or just indulge on the chocolate gifts I hope Santa is bringing me (I promise I’ve been good).

For the first time, I’ve been trying to do some more serious reflection on the business year that was, and think harder about the business year ahead. Given that my business kind of started itself back in 2010, and that since then I’ve been juggling two lives as the mother of a toddler and a small business owner, I’ve never really stopped to think about these things and it’s been a really valuable exercise. Especially in an area like social media which changes just SO rapidly, it’s probably important to do it even more than once a year.

I’ve had lots of favourite bits of 2012, but some of the highlights were probably being asked to speak at the Media140 conference (especially because the venue, outdoors at the Northbridge Piazza, was pretty cool!), starting up my Kitchen Table Social Media workshops and having all the courses fill up quickly (thanks gang!), and continuing to meet new bunches of beginner bloggers at my UWA Extension Becoming a Blogger courses (and I’m very proud that each of these sold out. Go blogging!!).

So, what’s in store for 2013?

If I knew the exact answer to this I’d be a squillionaire but I figure a bit of daydreaming doesn’t hurt (and I dare my clients to do it too – go on!).

One of the things that I know is happening that I’m really excited about is almost more back in my freelancer days but is still definitely in the training field and that’s the Globejotting: Learn to travel write course that I’m teaching from January. Also at UWA Extension I’ll be running my regular Becoming a Blogger courses, some social media for business, and my advanced blogging course will get an outing too (one of my favourites!).

I’ve been thinking about how to focus my business on the parts of it that I love the most, and face-to-face training keeps coming to mind and because of that I’ll definitely be running some more Kitchen Table workshops. Particularly since it’s another great excuse to eat cake (see a new possibility for workshop cake below – I trialled it today and my not-particularly-cake-mad mother asked for a second piece!). My absolute favourite of these courses so far was “Writing Better Blog Posts” because I got to combine my love of blogging and social media with my love of writing, so I’m going to look at some more of these kinds of workshops in the future too.

What else? Well, since I’m heading to Europe for a month (yay!!) I’m going to need to figure out some more “location independent” ways to operate my business and taking off on a trip gives me excellent motivation to do this. And yes, there’s a contradiction there in wanting to do lots of face-to-face training and then be location independent to travel but I figure it’s all just a continuation of the juggling act of life.

Thanks and see you in 2013!

So, to all readers, clients, friends and anyone who’s stumbled across this blog post hoping to learn more about social media or cake or both, I wish you all the best for the festive season and most importantly a fabulous 2013. Who knows what changes in social media await us in the coming year? Watch this space!

So you want to know all about Instagram?

Hi there! It’s me! On Instagram! I’ve been getting lots and lots of questions about Instagram lately, and no wonder, because it’s got at least 100 million users, and even amongst my circle of friends it’s used by a few people who otherwise don’t have much involvement with social media. So there must be something good about it, right? It is definitely fun. I’ve been using Instagram since December 2010 (and only just realised that it only started in October that year – for once I was right on the money!) and I know that if I had a few more minutes in each day, it’s something I’d use a lot more, mostly because of the fun aspect. So, to answer all those people who’ve been asking me: What on earth is Instagram?
Instagram is an app – which means you need to have a smartphone to use it (iPhone or Android). It’s an app that helps you turn normal looking photos into something either more fun or more beautiful or both. You can take a picture while you’re in the Instagram app, or you can use it (on your phone) to edit a photo you’ve got stored there.
Once you’ve either taken or chosen your photo, you can apply (just by tapping) different kinds of filters. They alter the colours, shades and style of your photo, and often add different borders too. I found it especially useful with my old iPhone since the photo quality wasn’t that great, but I could make a pretty bad photo look a whole lot better using Instagram filters. And not just better, but funkier! There are a few other editing tricks you can use like hitting the “tilt-shift” button (it looks like a raindrop) and making just one part of the picture remain in focus – like my cat’s eye, below. The other special thing about Instagram is that its images are all square – think back to the Polaroid days.
After that you can publish your photo to your Instagram stream (so other Instagram users can see it), you can email it to people, and you can share it on other social media like Facebook and Twitter (it’s a pretty simple matter to connect your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts to your Instagram account).
Once you’ve shared your photo, then that’s where the “social media” bit of Instagram comes into play. Other people can “like” your photo, or leave a comment, and you can “follow” other users whose images you like, as well. Just like any old social media, really!
The big news last week was that Instagram has finally released profile pages that you can see on the internet, not just through the app on your smartphone. It’ll be interesting to see where that leads. Oh, and you should know that although Instagram was started up by some clever Californians it was acquired by Facebook this year although they say they’ll allow it to “operate independently”, whatever that means.
If you’re on Instagram, or you download it to have a play after reading this, then connect with me so I can see the beautiful pictures you make – my username is the fairly predictable amandakendle. Happy Instagramming!

Being polite and formal enough in the social media age

Of the many varied jobs I’ve done in my life, quite a few of them have allowed me to exercise my “stickler-for-correct-grammar” gene. I’ve proofread academic journals, and I’ve taught English as a second language. I have emailed committee chair people to complain about a document that uses “it’s” when it should be “its”. Yes, it can be said, I like things to be correct, at least most of the time*.

Spotted in a bookshop, apparently! Eeekk!

With the advent of character limitations for text messages and for sites like Twitter, there is a kind of excuse out there for being lazy or slack about grammar rules, correct spelling and the like. And of course there are all those companies who use “R” in their name to represent “are”. Would an extra two letters really have killed you? But despite these excuses, I think that a good 95% of the time there is no reason not to use good English when you write something – especially if that something is going to be published online for all the world to see for eternity.

It’s not just about grammar and spelling, either. You have to use the level of formality and politeness that the situation demands. Call me a boring old Generation X-er but there is nothing wrong with being polite and friendly at the same time.

My rant: Replies to an advertisement

And I have some examples. Every year or so, I have to advertise to find a new tenant for a small apartment I own in Perth. Every year or so, I complain for days on end to anyone who’ll listen about the quality of the replies I get.

Just a few examples, with names changed to protect the not-so-innocent (oh, hang on … most of them didn’t even include their names!) … and note that the snippets below aren’t extracts, they are the entire email messages these people sent to me (yes, emails, with no limit on how many characters they could use).

hi
is this place still available?
John

Hello, Interested in this Rental. Would be able to rent ASAP. please contact me as I would like to view this property. 

 Hi there. Curious about this apartment As me and my partner are looking for somewhere to live. It seems perfect for the both of us. Willing to pay rent every week as we both work fulltime. Please get back to me. [This is better than others, but I love the fact that they are willing to pay the rent every week! Fantastic!]

The first thing that strikes me is this – if “ur” too lazy to use a few extra keystrokes, are you going to be too lazy to keep my unit clean? Or to pay the rent on time? And if they don’t feel introducing themselves is necessary, what’s that all about? I should add that there’s a massive demand for rentals in Perth at the moment so they really should be thinking about a better approach. Honestly – I just delete all of these ones and focus on the people who bother to introduce themselves.

What’s this got to do with social media?

So what about if you’re posting on Facebook or Twitter, or writing a blog post? It’s the same: get it right! Use correct spelling, check your grammar. Don’t use dumb abbreviations unless absolutely necessary (even on Twitter, I generally just rewrite an important tweet to avoid using “u” or “r” to stand in as words).

A lot of people confuse the idea of writing in a casual style with not caring about writing correctly. I can’t emphasise enough that they are totally different things. Even if a proportion of your readers don’t notice your spelling mistakes or aren’t annoyed by your abbreviations, I promise you that plenty of them will be annoyed by it. In a well-known example, online shoe store Zappos paid people to correct grammar and spelling errors in customer reviews and this increased their revenue – people place more faith in something they read when it’s accurate.

This may mean you need to get a friend to proofread your work … this may mean you need to get back to basics and brush up on grammar. I think it’d be worth it. The way I see it, the way what you write is perceived on social media is a vital part of the perception that people have of you and your business – and you definitely want that perception to be good, don’t you?

*And I hope to goodness that there are no such errors in this blog post!

Image credit: jma.work via Flickr/CC

Using social media on your travels

I spent yesterday evening at the Scarborough Library here in Perth chatting with a bunch of travel-mad locals about how best to use social media on your travels. As usual at these kind of library talks, I get to meet a variety of people with varying levels of expertise in social media but this group had another interest in common, which made for lots of interesting interaction.

What I hadn’t expected (although it’s logical, in retrospect) was that most of these attendees are planning incredible trips for 2013! One is headed to Everest Base Camp, another to scale Kilimanjaro, yet another to drive around the United States for a year, someone spending six months backpacking around South America … the list goes on. To say I was a little envious is an understatement!

Fortunately, I managed to (more or less) get over my jealousy and continue to tell them all about the possible social media tools they might consider using to keep family and friends back home informed about their travels, and to reach new friends (and even strangers!) to get information to help them on their trips.

We covered enormous ground in just an hour, talking about Facebook, Twitter, blogging and Instagram and you can imagine I was rather thrilled when it sounded like a few new blogs might be some of the aftermath of the talk! As usual, I also learned a lot – for example, I hadn’t realised to what extend Cuba blocks social media and this will be a communication stumbling block for one of last night’s attendees who’s planning to spend a month there as part of her South American jaunt.

Of course, being there is the best option but if you couldn’t make it, here’s the overview of what we talked about.

Thanks to Stig Nygaard for the Kilimanjaro pic