Tag Archives: tips

Getting the first 500 Twitter followers is the hardest

Labour Party Twitter Banter
Even political parties can have some banter on Twitter

I’ve dabbled with Twitter for a while. I opened my account over five years ago on the 16 January 2008.

In those five years I’ve described Twitter as pretty much everything from “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to the third best free social media website. The point is, if you are looking for web traffic, Twitter is an excellent tool that borders on the obligatory.

The problem I found is that your engagement with Twitter keeps plateauing. You get a number of followers, you find a number of people to follow, and it remains stagnant for a while.

I’ve been to presentations from Twitter users, such as Bill Boorman, who have large followings, but that didn’t work either. I had 200 followers when I went to the presentation in October 2011 and the advice didn’t seem to work for me.

I read The Tao of Twitter which is a great book and I recommend you read it with a highlighter pen. I read it twice in a few days, and started following the book’s advice. I quickly built up a bigger following. I then discovered other tricks to accelerate this further.

One golden rule before you start – whatever you do, don’t buy Twitter followers.

And here are the tips for getting quality Twitter followers relatively quickly:

  1. Tweet at least 3 times a day. Make sure it’s relevant content – so include some consistent keywords. Personal stuff works occasionally – see #4. Tips 6 & 7 will help you with content suggestions.
  2. Retweet other interesting or funny tweets. Use a blogger outreach platform to source content, such as Triberr. These websites are a win-win for the authors who are trying to promote their content and Twitter users looking for good content.
  3. Friendly banter with friends is good. Don’t make your feed too dry. Banter displays personality. Even if you’re a political party.
  4. Follow back new followers, except obvious spammers.
  5. When reading an article on say, a news website, express your opinion in a tweet. Always include a link to the article too. It’s difficult to condense an opinion into less than 140 characters, but try. In fact, you should try to use only 135 characters so that others can retweet your content prefixed with an “RT: “.
  6. When reading an article on your news or sports sites, if you see a snippet or “sound bite”, tweet it with a link back to the article.
  7. Find relevant industry/ topic tweet chats, and join in. I’ve usually accumulated an extra 25-50 followers (that’s a 5-10% growth) shortly after twitter chats.
  8. Use #ff (it stands for ‘Follow Friday’) on Fridays, especially to new followers from the week. Group similar users together in one #ff and another hash tag to describe their commonality. The chances are, they’ll retweet this to their followers.

Finally, please let me know if this article helps you and I may produce other similar guides.

Creating & timing the perfect post: infographic

Here’s a really good, practical, infographic on the ideal types of social media post including timing.

I’ve seen a number of similar infographics before but this one has been well summarised and kept simple. Try the tips below and let me know if you see any improvements.

How to create the perfect social media post is an infographic that was produced by mycleveragency

5 child safety online tips


I remember that when I started studying Computer Science at University (in those days it was a Polytechnic), in the first lecture we were told that at any social gathering we shouldn’t tell anyone we were studying Computer Science because the conversation would either stop immediately, or follow the route of “ah, that’s interesting, do you know how I can fix my [insert electrical item here]?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how I help my kids stay safe online.

I’ll start these tips with the viewpoint that the Internet is 99.9% a good thing for kids. I think it’s better than television, which is a passive, brain-switch-off experience. It’s a type of entertainment as much as educational experience for children (and adults) which should be embraced.

My kids range between five and nine years old although I think this advice is useful for any children up to about twelve. Here are my top tips:

  1. Keep the family computer in a visible place. I don’t agree with kids (under twelve) having a PC in their bedroom, or for that matter, a laptop which can move around the house. We have a family computer on the corner of our living room and kitchen, so we can always glance across and see what the kids are doing.
  2. Enable fast escalation. Our kids can approach my wife or I at any time and say “Why is this happening?” on the computer and we’ll always try to help. Like anything with children, if they feel they might be told off, they won’t talk to an adult, so whatever happens online we’ll always make them aware it’s not their fault.
  3. We use free Family filtering software – the Windows Live Family Safety filter. Each of the kids has their own user accounts and we have another one for guests. Family Safety provides time limits (which we enable for weekday mornings) as well as stopping some sites. For our five year old, it’s on maximum control setting and for the nine year old it’s set to block anything adult and allow most other sites. At the moment none of the kids are allowed Facebook, although we do allow YouTube because they like listening to music and you’d be surprised how young kids don’t realise that YouTube contains videos that aren’t music related. 
  4. Using the family filtering software we regularly check their accounts (it takes seconds) and make it very clear that we check what they’ve been doing online.
  5. Stay aware of latest scams, websites and general web trends and behaviour. This is easier for our household because of my job, but my wife is still aware of most online ‘problem areas’.

Even with all these tips, my wife phoned me at work last week to say one of the girls had asked her to look at a website she’d been using. On the site, which is a Flash games-based website aimed at young girls, there is a chat functionality, and someone on the site had been chatting to our daughter and been totally vulgar.

My wife took a number of screenshots, of which part of the chat window is shown above. I contacted the website to make them aware of the incident and haven’t heard anything back from them.

I started off with these tips saying how the Internet is 99.9% a good thing for kids. Our experience highlighted that you need to be extremely vigilant of that 0.1% element.

Double the length of your iPhone battery


Totally fed up with my iPhone battery lasting until mid afternoon after a full night’s charge, I started playing around with some settings. After a few weeks I’ve managed to get the battery to last….wait for the suspense….until late in the evening.

To do this, I turned Push email OFF, and set the phone to check my email hourly. Hourly? I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out…

It usually doesn’t matter if you push email to the iPhone – there’s no new email notification when the phone is in standby (i.e. when the screen is off) anyway. And if you’re like me and mainly use the phone for email, each time you switch the phone back on (to check if there are new emails), the email application will be open, and the phone instantly starts checking for new emails.

For the small price of 5 seconds for the phone to check for new emails when I switch it on each time, I’ve doubled the battery life.

6 top interview tips


First of all, a disclaimer. I wrote this article well before it’s appeared on the website.

I often delay these articles, writing them during evenings or even (sadly) weekends, and set them to appear in regular intervals during the week(s) ahead. I seem to get into a rhythm of writing several articles at once, and at other times have total writer’s block. So it makes sense to delay articles.

So I’m writing this article on a Sunday morning (I’ll repeat: sad) after performing a number of final interviews over the last fortnight, and I’ve set the article to appear quite a long time in the future. This article isn’t in direct response to any specific candidate, it’s a culmination of several interviews taking place over several years really.

The thought of writing this entry is that last year we worked on a competitive pitch for a client who was totally open with all suppliers. I say totally open – and he would keep a completely open communication channel, with the aim of everyone improving their bid response if they all knew what each other were thinking. It was a great process to go through (winning was part of the greatness), and it’s something I’ve adopted when running RFPs since that point. The level of quality improved significantly by sharing information openly across competitors. So I thought I would repeat this for interviewees, because at the end of the day, every interviewer only wants to see really good candidates.

  1. Mental preparation. Firstly, let’s expel a myth: interviewers aren’t trying to catch candidates out. They need someone for a specific role, and just want to find the right person. Your role as the interviewee is to project yourself as correct for that role. It’s vital you are alert for the interview. Nervousness is fine, to a degree, because if you’re being hired for a client facing role and you turn up at the job interview in a bad state, the company is going to wonder how you’ll perform under pressure in front of a difficult client. (In this case, you should question whether you want a client facing role anyway).
  2. Research the company. Research everything you can about the company you’re interviewing for. How did it start, how did it grow, who are the clients? This will give you a feel for the culture of the company.
  3. Research the interviewers. Go to LinkedIn and have a look at the profiles of who you’ll be interviewed by. More often their profiles will have links to blogs, articles, Twitter accounts, etc. – so you’ll get a feel for the people before you’ve met them. Have a look through their own employment history, both in terms of companies and positions. It will help you answer questions appropriately – if you know the interviewer has a technical background or a sales background, it will help you formulate answers. At a recent interview, the candidate started answering my questions with the same view as I’d written on this blog (without quoting they’d seen it). I told them that I was impressed with their research, but from that moment on, I wanted their view, and they shouldn’t just say what I wanted to hear.
  4. Dress appropriately. One of the things that annoys me is when a candidate comes back for a second or third interview – so they’ve been in our office before – and they are wearing really casual clothes. Dressing appropriately isn’t even correct – try to slightly overdress. If everyone is wearing chinos, wear a suit. If everyone is in a suit, wear a suit and tie. The reason for this, in a client facing role at least, is the employer wants to know that you’ll dress appropriately in client offices. On a similar note, arriving late and all those other golden rules of interviews also apply – if you’re late for the interview, how punctual are you going to be with the companies’ clients?
  5. Questions. Prepare and ask intelligent, related questions. I once heard a quote that you can tell how intelligent someone is, not from their answers but from their questions. In an interview this is the best indicator of bright candidates. Coming along with a list of prepared questions written down is only half as good as thinking of the questions during the interview though. So you need to be totally switched on and alert during the interview. The best interviews I’ve done, are when a candidate has put themselves into a mental state of arriving on their first day, and they ask questions around performing their new role.
  6. Be honest. Here’s a tip – if you don’t know an answer to a question, say you don’t know. 99% of the time, the interviewer will know the answer, so trying to guess (or worse) the answer is going to be an epic fail. There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t know. It shows honesty, and sometimes can present an opportunity. For example, saying “I don’t know, but can I go at providing an educated guess?” or asking the interviewer for the answer and then entering a discussion (such as “Oh, at my last company we had a different term for that – it was xyz. Is that similar?”), can result in good dialogue. Again, it’s unlikely the interviewer is asking you the question to catch you out – they just want to find the best candidate. So demonstrating aptitude after answering “I don’t know” is a great opportunity.

I hope this helps, and good luck with the interview.

Image courtesy of Quinn.Anya.


Design for a Slow Connection


One of the ‘benefits’ of being out of the office a lot is that I get to experience the Internet through the eyes of a large percentage of the Internet population – those who don’t have broadband or huge office connectivity. My trusty Orange USB dongle is good for downloading email, albeit very slowly, even when I’m in densely populated areas. As a good example, I’m currently in Uxbridge, where I can only pick up GPRS connectivity, and in real world data terms, I’ve downloaded 5.6Mb of emails in 28 minutes. Skype is running slowly, MSN Messenger won’t connect at all, and Windows Live Mail has crashed, leaving a window in the middle of the page with only an OK box, that doesn’t work! To make it more annoying, I can’t even move the window out of the way!

It’s all too easy to forget a huge percentage of the Internet population accesses the Web at this speed. I’m not just talking about developing countries – but business users as well.

We work with creative agencies who are only too happy to provide Flash files and graphics that are well over 2Mb – which means homepages end up being huge. In those cases, we’ll often ask the agency to compress those offending files to make them smaller. The next time I hear of this situation, I’ll bring the designer out to Uxbridge with my laptop & ‘3G’ card and get them to download the file themselves!

EasyJet Using Social Media Customer Service

A real world example of using Social Network tools for customer service.

This was during the snowstorms of 2009/10 – London’s Luton airport was shut, and Luton’s homepage went to the first screen.

This had a link to Easyjet’s customer information page, which in turn had a link to their Twitter feed.

The Twitter feed has the image of a person rather than a logo, so you know you’re dealing with a person, and they were trying to answer as many people’s questions as they could.

At the same time, Eurotunnel’s trains weren’t running, and the company was getting lots of criticism for lack of communication.