26 Oct 2014

Taking Account

There is something about looking back that always makes me look to the future. This time the memories were triggered by an old grey calculator with my staff number painted on the back in red nail varnish. An item that feels reliable and links me to a previous career in the airlines in the days before digital dominated. The 90’s to be exact.

The old grey calculator accompanied me on many a night flight to Ibiza where the club 18 - 30 holidaymakers parted with their pesetas in exchange for vodka’s and coke or bottles of CKOne from the duty free trolley. It reminds me of the fun we had as a crew. The portable mirrorball we’d stick to the galley ceiling for ‘silent’ disco dance offs at 4am (whilst the passengers slept on each other’s shoulders, flaky sun burnt skin peeling onto the seats) or the view from the flight deck cruising at 30,000 feet over the Alps. ‘Pucka mate’ cockney geezers at Heathrow. Night stops in Brussels at the Hairy Canary. Petite dejeuner in Paris and a job that involved a daily balance of routine and the great unknown. Airports bursting with stories, life going around and around on the baggage carousel. Travellers in a daze, in despair, jovial, excited or full of hope.

There were parts of the job that were more of a challenge. Getting up at 3.30am, being thrown into the metal door handle during turbulence, aggressive passengers and being handed bags of warm sick don’t feature among my favourite moments. The airlines taught me a lot about people, communication, teamwork, problem-solving and quite frankly, just getting on with it. Valuable lessons and disciplines I lean on in my current working life.

I've had several jobs and a business since leaving the airline.The old grey calculator is now used for grown up ‘stuff’ like accounts and tax returns. I've swapped the notes on napkins for spreadsheets. I drink the coffee instead of serving it with a smile.

I love my current choice of career but as I approach my fourth anniversary as a marketing consultant it’s time to evaluate where I focus my time and energy. I was happy as a one woman show but after a fantastic summer contract working with a creative, motivated, fun loving team the thought of being an island again is less appealing. 

I’m definitely not looking for a permanent role. I enjoy self-employment and floating in and out of different offices and projects too much. I’m just evaluating what makes me happy in a working environment and thinking out loud about what direction to take.

I've a plane to catch in December to the other side of the world for a well-earned holiday and time with my family. Early 2015 I’ll be back in the UK and available for new projects.

If your team require support in social media, marketing, PR, content creation or business development feel free to get in touch. I no longer have the portable mirrorball but I've still got a sense of fun and as my client recommendations show, I deliver results.

13 Jul 2014

Games Fever - Let Glasgow Flourish

My heart belongs to Glasgow. It has done for years but lately in the run up to the Games the love is mixed with a real sense of pride. The city is dolled up to the nines and she’s looking gorgeous, all shiny and new. There’s something in the air and as the stories of sporting heroes unfold across the media it’s suddenly cool to be strutting your stuff in a tracksuit. The sun has been shining but forget the usual ‘Taps Aff’ at the park, it’s time for athletic, finely honed bodies, which function like powerful machines, to represent Glasgow on the world stage. 

Last week I found myself at a school event with 1,000 primary kids as part of the baton relay. Clyde was there whipping the kids into a frenzy and then a local boxer, in his early 20’s, ran in carrying the baton. The noise was deafening as they cheered and chanted his name. You could tell from his body language that he couldn't quite believe this was all happening. My chest puffed up and the tears filled my eyes even though I didn't know him. The kids hung on his every word as he spoke about how sport had changed his life and told the youngsters, if they worked hard, they too could achieve great things. This young guy from a deprived area taking every opportunity life gives him and grabbing it with both hands. There’s a message worth sharing. 

My personal experience in sport was limited until 2011. In years gone by I was the Primary Seven 400 metre champion but like a lot of teenage girls I lost interest in sport during high school. In the last few years I've worked on many sport related projects, from club level to national agencies and I am thankful for all it has taught me. People who are sporty, or who work in sport tend to have a ‘can do’ attitude to life. They meet up and work together to find solutions, instead of wasting hours talking about whose fault the problem was. They openly invite constructive criticism because their goal is to be the best they can. I am now used to an audience scoring my performance and I'm grateful for that chance to develop my business and for what I've learned as an individual. I place great value on that experience, it’s even motivated me to get my trainers on and get back running. I want to maintain that attitude, the motivation, the ability to get back up and keep moving forward. I want to be part of any team that has that drive, that passion.

So as the diversion signs go up, the roads close, the traffic builds and the airports are jam packed please take a deep breath and fight the urge to join the grumblers. Look at the bigger picture and the opportunity the Games offer for Glasgow, for Scotland, for all the children experiencing this sporting extravaganza on their own turf. Focus on all the blood, sweat and tears those athletes and their coaches and families have put in to get this far. They've made sacrifices for years to be at the very top of their game, to qualify and to travel across the world to this dear green place.

Some may laugh at my Games Fever but I’m caught up in the moment and I plan to enjoy every second. I've got tickets for two events and I’ll be there with a flag painted on my face, cheering like a mad woman. I will shed a few tears at National Anthems, at under dogs fighting back to win a medal, at soppy stories about athletes and coaches and families. I plan to soak up every second of it. I’m going to ditch the high heels and walk to work in trainers, looking at the faces and listening to the voices of all these international strangers, and I’m going to do my best to make them feel welcome in this wonderful city I’m proud to call home.

In the years ahead I’m going to be inspired every time I hear a youngster talk about their role model being Michael Jamieson or Eilidh Child, or any other athletes who achieve great things through hard work and commitment.

It's time to let Glasgow flourish. Hands up who’s with me?

21 Feb 2014

Switch off, Tune In

 Great advice from Coca-Cola. Step away from the smartphone, the tablet, the laptop this weekend. Ban them from the dinner table and invest time and your full attention in the people in your life that matter the most. It's ironic that the technology which enables us to stay so 'connected' can actually push us further apart.

This may seem a strange post for a social media consultant to be writing but my fascination is with people, in how we connect and communicate and I do believe that whilst social media is a very powerful and valuable marketing tool we do still need to pick up the phone, grab a coffee and see the faces of real people, in the real world to strengthen relationships and importantly to take time out and relax.

Comments welcome, enjoy you Friday!

6 Feb 2014

Lessons in Marketing - Happy Birthday Facebook

Do you remember your 10th birthday? Other than the presents it’s highly likely that the most exciting part was the party. A celebration involving your closest friends and family who were all focused on you. Yes, it was your birthday, your party and therefore only natural that you had the starring role, that you were the centre of attention. 

Facebook has just celebrated its 10th birthday. Refreshingly they understand that the majority of us are far more interested in what's happening in our own lives than what Mark Zuckerburg or his team in Silicon Valley are doing, so they made the smart decision to shine the spotlight on YOU.  Facebook users have the opportunity to visit this link and watch a video, created using their own posts and photographs on the network, to look back at their own life in the past 10 years. 

The 'A Look Back' video idea was a marketing dream as users clicked ‘share’ and liked, commented, laughed, had a wee tear in their eye and reminisced. I watched with interest as my close friends shared their video highlights and we all got a bit soppy. A few chose not to look back – mainly for broken hearted/ divorce reasons - but the majority were quite taken with the whole experience. (It reminded me of being a child, sitting crossed legged on the floor watching old cine films that my Uncle had made of family celebrations.)

I found it really interesting that amongst my hundred Facebook friends  that none were concerned about how much personal information they had shared online or that Facebook had access to such a personal record of their life history, from births, deaths and marriages to qualifications, career and  location information. We live in such a digital age that very few bat an eyelid any more. It has become the norm, Facebook has been part of our inner circle for a long time now.

I am frequently asked if Facebook is dead. The answer is No. I think Facebook still has a strong place in a marketers tool kit. It's important to remember that not all consumers are interested in the next big thing, using Vine or Instagram and not all consumers are digital whizz-kids. Yes, Facebook has changed and it is definitely more complicated now than it was even 5 years ago to get results from business pages, but with a little investment and creativity Facebook can still generate strong results. 

In my opinion Facebook's clever tenth birthday campaign has offered both marketers and businesses a valuable lesson. Focus on your customers, understand what THEY want from you and create content that is worth sharing.

Two tips;
1) A quick way to check what is publicly visible on your personal Facebook account is to sign in, go to your own Timeline and from the drop down box click on 'Activity Log' and 'View As'.

2) Take a few moments to watch this video about internet safety, and then check that your date of birth, home address or other important personal is not visible on your accounts. 

Feel free to comment, or if I can be of assistance with social media training, marketing strategy or reviews then get in touch via email; annie at annie boyd dot com.

17 Jan 2014

Value your Network - a LinkedIn tip

A new year and a whole new barrage of emails from LinkedIn connections. Fantastic, lots of new opportunities and sales leads and coffee invitations..... not quite. It seems to be more and more 'popular' for LinkedIn users to send the same Round Robin email to every single connection in their network regardless of sector, role, position within a company and interests. I've had three already this morning none of which have any relevance to the work I do, the work I want to do or personal interests. Does this approach deliver results?  

Above the actual message you'll notice that there is an option 'Report Spam' but that feels a bit harsh so I was very bold/ honest/ direct and replied to those who had sent the message and explained why this approach alienates me which I'm guessing is the opposite to the reaction they were aiming for. Do you consider this form of communication as spam or do you find it successful? I'd love to know your thoughts.

My approach to LinkedIn focuses less on 'Dear All' and more on building relationships with people as individuals. If I have general news to share I add it as a status update. If I have information that is relevant to a specific sector then I share it with a specific group. One of the most important assets I have in business is my network and the last thing I want to do is alienate people. 

My top tip for LinkedIn would be to place great value on your connections, invest time and effort into continuing and building relationships on and offline and remember that whilst people agreed to connect with you, they didn't sign up for a random mailing list.

If you are new to LinkedIn this article offers 5 tips for LinkedIn etiquette. If you've set up social media accounts but don't know where to start, and require training, reviews or strategic advice then feel free to contact me.