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7 things you didn’t know about me

There was a thing on Facebook a while back – ‘7 things you didn’t know about me’, I found out some really interesting things about my friends and enjoyed reading their posts. So here are mine to share with you. 1. My degree is in

Social media in the age of social distancing

social media social distancing

It’s been a while since my last blog, like many small business owners, I’ve been juggling the difficulties of lockdown, balancing homeschooling and work, a gradual return to some sort of normality, a lovely holiday last week, and now a new lockdown. For my clients

I’m dreaming of a West Jet Christmas

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Blues head to the top of the social media table

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Good tweets make good news

A lovely story in this weekend’s Scotsman newspaper, Sir Chris Hoy and his wife Sarra celebrating their baby son coming home from hospital.  It had all the right elements a nice photo, gratitude from both parents for the care received from hospital staff, and thanks to

The value of hyperlocal channels during incidents

I’ve been involved in the social media management of incidents many times, mostly flooding on behalf of the Environment Agency but also fires, and a major power cut too.

Yesterday was my first experience from the other side, as a resident and also as one of the admins for social media accounts in my local area.

I woke up to this tweet from Solihull Police

The location is about half a mile away from my house and so I retweeted the information on my own and the @balsallcom Twitter accounts.  I assumed it was a traffic accident and didn’t think too much more about it, until I saw some posts in a closed Facebook group of school mums indicating it was something very different. Shortly after that there were local news reports about the situation that I shared on both Twitter and Facebook. 

The incident was resolved around lunch time, and later in the day I was able to share confirmation that the road was open and the mother and child were no longer on the roof.

Experiencing this as a resident, there were three key things that I think it highlighted:

1. Hyperlocal social media channels are really important to communicate in an incident

They are the best way to engage with those that need to know what is happening.  The road in question is a busy one in and out of Balsall Common; the social media accounts for the village reach large numbers of local people who were then able to make alternative plans for their commute, school run, and other journeys. The Facebook post alerting people to the incident reached nearly 6000 people. From Facebook insights I can see that people reached and engaged this week live largely within a few miles of Balsall Common.

2. Don’t trust the wider media to pass on information correctly

The Daily Mirror got the geographical information horribly wrong. But even ITV Central had the wrong location on their map. Presumably they’d googled Kenilworth Road, Balsall Common and then uploaded the result to their website. Unfortunately they did this without realising the road is a few miles long and the pin was at least half a mile out of place. The true location was off the bottom of the screen shot they’d taken – not helpful for drivers and others needing to navigate around the incident. Also worrying for people living near the pin.

ITV Central map

ITV Central map and news story headline



3. Organisations need to tell people when an incident is over

From a practical point of view drivers and others need to know whether the road is open or not for their journey home. There was also huge concern for the woman and her child locally. Fellow mums and other residents were anxiously waiting to find out whether the situation had been resolved.  Informally some of us found out from nearby residents but it was a while before we had official confirmation from a trusted source.  Thanks to West Midlands Fire Service for letting us know via Facebook. Solihull Police sent a great initial tweet alerting people to the situation with precise road closure information, but more than 24 hours later that is still the most recent tweet they’ve sent.

A dramatic day and one that I hope isn’t repeated any time soon. Another local resident, summed up the thoughts of us all perfectly.

10 statistics from Facebook Boost your Business

Facebook for Business fbboostI attended a fascinating event today organised by Facebook to help businesses get more out of both Facebook and Instagram. The key messages were make sure your content and your business or organisation is mobile friendly and video is crucial to success – but soon you’ll need think about virtual reality and augmented reality too.

I’ll write up more of what I learned and share ideas you can try, but in the meantime here are 10 quick stats that were shared today.

1. 3 million advertisers use Facebook

2. Yet there is still huge potential, only 10% of all sales go through the internet

3. Smart watches are twice as fast as 1980s computers

4. There are more smart phones in the world than there are people on the planet

5. 63% of UK web browsing is done on a mobile

6. 45% of video views globally are on a mobile device

7. There are 30 million Facebook users in the UK; 93% of them only use it on a mobile

8. 6 of the top 10 apps downloaded worldwide are messaging apps

9. In 2015 more pictures were taken and shared than in the whole of the last 100 years; Instagram users alone share 80 million pictures a day

10. Facebook is very much about friends and family and two way relationships, on Instagram 54% of following is non-reciprocal.

Tips for Twitter networking

Twitter tips Social Media tips


We’re lucky in our area to have so many high quality Twitter networking hours. This week I’ll be helping Balsall Business Club members take part in #SolihullHour.

Twitter hours are a fantastic way to network with other local organisations and businesses. They are an hour of the week where you can guarantee other people will be on Twitter, looking at your tweets, and tweeting interesting things for you to read and share. All you have to do is tweet at the allocated time and include the hashtag in every one of your tweets during the hour. Sounds simple but they are often very busy so can be a bit daunting if you haven’t joined in before so here are my top tips to get involved.

1 Watch and Listen

Before you dive in, search Twitter for #solihullhour, see what comes up, who gets involved, which tweets catch your eye and why?

2 Plan
What do you want to say? Can you explain who you are in one tweet? The limit is 140 characters but by the time you’ve added the hashtag, an image and a website link, you’re down to around 75. Can you condense your crucial information to one sentence?

3 Use a laptop or desktop
While you get to grips with Twitter networking it is much easier if you use a computer rather than phone or tablet. A bigger screen makes it easier to follow the action and keep track of who is saying what and how your tweets are being received.

4 Try Tweetdeck
Tweetdeck is a great Twitter tool that allows you to have separate columns for notifications, searches, and anything else you choose. It can be really useful to help you to manage your twitter activity particularly during networking hours. You don’t need anything other than a Twitter account to get started.

Tweet deck screen shot










5 Be social
Social media is supposed to be social, so reply to other tweets, ask questions of your audience, and retweet other people’s messages. If you want other people to help to share your news and information it is polite to share theirs too. You wouldn’t go to an in-person networking event and only talk about yourself – would you?

And finally, always say thank you!

#SolihullHour takes place from 7-8pm every Tuesday evening

Other local Twitter hours to try are:
#Kenbizhour 11-noon on Tuesday mornings
#LeamingtonHour 4-5pm on Wednesday afternoons
#KenilworthHr (note the Hr not Hour at the end) 7-8pm on Thursday evenings
#CovHour 8-9pm on Thursday evenings
#BrumHour 8-9pm on Sunday evenings

Ground control to Major Tim

Like many people, I’ve been fascinated by Tim Peake’s journey into space, and I’ve learnt so much in the last few days.

As a family we have enjoyed researching the space station and life as an astronaut. The things my boys wanted to know were the popular things; two of the top four google search suggestions for ‘how do astro…’ are toilet related!
How do astronauts
Our journey highlights the way many of us now consume news and information. We don’t use one newspaper, website, or TV news programme.  Between us we used a wide range of sites and sources, including traditional books, but more often than not a computer, tablets, TV programmes watched on demand, and social media.

For today’s launch while I was at home I watched BBC News, while I was out and about I relied on Twitter to keep me up to date.  Tonight, when we realised our recording of the BBC special had ended before the big moment when the hatch opened and the astronauts entered the space station, we were saved by a tweet from @space_station with a video clip of history in the making.

Twitter is brilliant for live news and updates. This evening BBC News were using posts from the @space_station account for their live programme. So much easier for NASA than having to issue updates and images to journalists in any other way.

I’d urge Twitter to leave well alone with their ideas for changing news feeds. Live updates like this wouldn’t have worked on Facebook where the posts wouldn’t have gone to everyone and wouldn’t necessarily have been in chronological order. I haven’t had time to explore Twitter’s new moments tab yet but I haven’t seen much to encourage me so far.


One of the other things I love about Twitter is the ease with which people can connect. Tim Peake has had good luck messages from a huge variety of tweeters including @duranduran @JamesBlunt and @TheWho. Pre-Twitter it would have been much harder for those people to get in touch and have those conversations.


My favourite interaction has to be this one, only on Twitter could Simon Le Bon chat to NASA:


One of the key aims of Tim Peake’s mission is to inspire kids to want to become astronauts and so far I can say it has been hugely successful in our house, helped in no small part by some great tweeting. I’m looking forward to @astro_timpeake’s tweets from the Space Station.

Help says Hillary (and that’s OK) :-)

Photo credit: Marc Nozell https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcn/

Hillary Clinton was mocked last week for emailing an aide for help to use emoji on her new BlackBerry.

A cheap laugh for lots of websites and news organisations, but pretty unfair criticism I think. I admit to a quiet admiration for Hillary and I’ve defended her before.

It’s perfectly sensible to ask for help if you don’t know how to do something; that’s how we learn things. If the person you are asking is a specialist, chances are they’ve been asked before, and probably even more ‘simple’ questions than yours.

There are many things we don’t know how to do. No one is an expert on everything and while I’m pretty good at how to use emoji and many other areas of social media and technology, I’m willing to bet there is an awful lot that Hilllary knows that I don’t.

It’s great that she wants to keep up to date, use the full functionality of the technology that she has and bring a bit of life to her communications. Far too many politicians don’t use these tools as well as they could, or need someone else to do it for them.

I love helping people learn new things and I’m always happy to answer questions no matter how small or how silly they seem. If people leave one of my training sessions with unanswered questions – then I haven’t done my job properly.

Social media and technology change all the time and we need to ask questions to learn and keep up to date. Learning is exciting and I love sharing new things with clients and friends.

So if you’ve got any questions, no matter how silly you think they might be – ask away. Comment here, tweet, DM or email me. Whatever you are most comfortable with. I’ll blog the answers to any questions I get (without revealing the person asking the question of course).

Happy learning :-)

PS My favourite use of emojis has to be this post from Andy Murray on his wedding day.

Andy Murray wedding emoji


Hillary Clinton Photo Credit: Marc Nozell

Why Wow! Signal Communications?

I was asked again this week how I chose my company name. I have my husband to thank for it, and as soon as he suggested it I loved the idea.

We’ve been scanning the universe for years in the hope that we’re not alone. All we’ve heard is a steady background hum. That is until 1977, when a team of US scientists at the Big Ear radio telescope in Ohio picked up a one-off signal that fitted the profile of an alien transmission. It wasn’t at a frequency used by human beings, and it didn’t come from natural sources. Interstellar scintillation, the sound of a star twinkling, has also been ruled out.

As the instruments flicked into life, the computer chattered out a paper report. A scientist marked the extraordinary printout with a simple “Wow!” and the Wow! Signal was born. For nearly 40 years telescopes have scanned the part of the sky where the Wow! Signal came from. Silence.

Credit: The Ohio State University Radio Observatory and the North American AstroPhysical Observatory (NAAPO)

Credit: The Ohio State University Radio Observatory and the North American AstroPhysical Observatory (NAAPO)

It remains the only message to cut through the cosmic noise for decades.

In the eighteen months Wow! Signal Communications has been up and running I’ve loved cutting through the noise and getting messages through on behalf of local small businesses. Setting up my own business was a big step and I’ve been very lucky to have lots of family support and some great clients to make it a real success. I’m looking forward to the next eighteen months and more.

Who do we trust on social media?

Who do we trust? Not Facebook itself, that’s for sure. Another round of sharing of this status recently shows how suspicious we are of Facebook’s motives.

FB privacy scare

It’s interesting that we have such a low opinion of Facebook itself, ready to believe the latest story of how they’re going to make money from us or invade our privacy.

On the other side it also highlights how much we do trust what our friends post on Facebook. One of the main reasons people cut and paste the information is because they trust their friends who first posted it.

As a business or organisation if we can tap into this trust, build a reputation via Facebook, and have our supporters share our information it can have huge benefits.

A couple of weeks ago I needed a plumber as there was a leak under our kitchen sink. To find a plumber I asked the school mums Facebook group I am a member of. On a Thursday evening, within five minutes, I had four people reply, three of them recommending the same plumber. By Friday lunch time he’d assessed the problem, and by Monday lunch time he’d fixed it.

Unfortunately he doesn’t have a Facebook page or website but I did manage to find some contact details in an online directory. I’d love to be able to tell people how fabulous he was and leave him a 5* review but am sadly unable to.

Stacey’s business, Make up by SPR, does have a Facebook page, filled with great recommendations, lovely photos and easily accessible contact details. When a request went into a Solihull Mums and Dads Facebook group for a make up artist, Stacey was recommended by a number of people and they were able to link to her Facebook page, making it really easy for the person to get in touch with her. Stacey was booked, and this is the way a lot of people find her and her business. She is listed by Facebook as being very responsive to messages so potential customers have confidence that she will be in touch with them quickly.

Make up by SPR


Personal recommendations have always been vital to any business or organisation but today people look to Facebook and other social media channels for those recommendations, a good digital and social media presence can really enhance your reputation and allow customers to quickly and easily show their support for and recommend you and let other people know who they trust.

For more social media news and views you can like my Facebook page.

Bowled over by cricket’s social media approach #youbears

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It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog, largely thanks to a very busy summer, a fair proportion of which has been spent in and around the game of cricket.

In many ways it is still a very traditional sport including the (highly impractical for small boys) white clothing, and we’ve had some lovely afternoons eating picnics at picturesque grounds watching my eldest play.

cricket in summer

But it is also a sport that has changed massively in recent years and at every level is embracing the benefits that digital and social media can bring.

As a treat for good school reports I took my two eldest to see a Warwickshire T20 blast, we tweeted them our news, and not only was it retweeted, we had a lovely reply,

a great example of the friendly tone that works so well on social media, and to top it off the photo was shown on the big screen at the ground, which my kids thought was brilliant.  


My eldest was thrilled a couple of weeks later when he was invited by his local club to see day 2 of the Ashes test at Edgbaston.  I wasn’t lucky enough to be able to go with him, but thanks to this brilliant audioboo – a useful tool for broadcasting short conversations with star players and young hopefuls alike – I got to hear how much he was enjoying the day long before he arrived home (mine’s the one who likes Stuart Broad because they are both tall!).


The final highlight for the boys was being asked to be flag bearers for the Warwickshire T20 quarter final, again at Edbgaston, and slightly nervously the day we were flying back from our holidays in France.   My initial tweet was favourited by Warwickshire player Ateeq Javid and retweeted by the club and their T20 account.  

An interaction that wouldn’t have been possible through any other channel, and made us feel like we were already part of the day despite being sat in an airport in a different country.

Following the game the boys were lucky enough to meet Ian Bell.

Ian Bell

Along with the traditional photos and autographs, we’ve also got a favourite on Twitter from Ian Bell’s account. His is a nice example of a player who doesn’t just use his social media accounts for promotional purposes but uses them like a normal person and interacts with friends, team mates, and fans alike. As a Birmingham City fan there’s bit too much Aston Villa content for my liking this week, but no-one’s perfect!

We’ve had a wonderful summer of cricket, and are very lucky to have some fantastic memories as well as digital records of all that we’ve been up to.

My lovely little cricketers in grandma's home knits

My lovely little cricketers in grandma’s home knits

10 things I learned from Facebook for Business

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Facebook occasionally put on events to offer insights into their latest updates and developments, with a few interesting glimpses at what they are planning next. Although partly motivated by their desire to increase their revenue, nonetheless I spent a fascinating morning learning more about the latest News Feed changes and advertising options:

    1. Competition is growing for News Feed placement – at any one time there could be 200 updates in there from friends, family, groups and organisations


    1. Therefore organic reach for business is dropping rapidly and eventually is likely to be zero – Facebook are unapologetic about this, your content has to be brilliant to bump updates from friends and family or you have to pay


    1. If it’s not mobile friendly, don’t bother. 20 million out of the 25 million UK FB users on today view on a mobile, this number is getting bigger all the time


    1. The future of the news feed is ‘sight, sound, and motion’, video is becoming increasingly important


    1. Facebook offers the most sophisticated targeting platform for advertising, with a range of tailored options and the ability to select an audience by demographics, interests, behaviours, and even by device used to view.


    1. Facebook advertising works on an auction system so the cost of reaching a particular audience varies, young males are more expensive during big sporting events


    1. In general new mums are the most expensive people to advertise to because there is a lot of competition to reach them


    1. New features are being added all the time, the latest, Local Awareness advertising, allows you to reach customers within as little as a one mile radius of your business


    1. Messaging for pages is becoming more important as a customer service channel


  1. Instagram advertising is coming in September

If you’d like to know more about how Facebook advertising could help your business please get in touch.

Flying high in a crisis

WestJet run one of my all time favourite Twitter accounts, it’s friendly, humorous and useful. They have also produced one of the best ever Youtube videos from a company.

Recently they’ve been doing a great job in a much more challenging situation. A series of bomb threats to their planes has resulted in diversions, delays, speculation and a lot of questions.

They’ve handled it admirably with all the key ingredients of a good social media crisis response

1. Fast and authoritative updates


2. Shareable informative messages


3. Directing people to relevant information from partners


4. Not engaging in speculation and encouraging others not to speculate


5. Answering questions




6.Thanking supporters



7. Moving on with confidence

There’s a lot to be learned from their social media and crisis handling. They have a fantastic style and tone that really hits the mark no matter what the situation.

Let’s hope they can get back to fun YouTube videos soon.