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Facebook Advertising Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts from a seasoned Pro!

As part of our first series of Facebook Lives on our free social media and digital marketing group, Social Souls – Sarah Kerrigan, social media evangelist and trainer at Jellyfish Agency, joined us for a LIVE. Sarah shared so many gems about how to optimise your Facebook Advertising campaigns. Talking, audience segmentation, how to optimise audience insights, getting your head round the practicalities of working with the Facebook Pixel and more… tune in here: 

Got any questions – come over and join the conversation over  Social Souls . 

Social Tech, Working Smarter and the Power of the Collective

A few weeks ago, I decided to set up Social Souls. A private group specifically for people who have questions around social media or digital marketing.

social media tips
Social Technologies helping us to harness the power of the collective and work smarter.

Why set up a group? Well, pretty much, on a weekly basis, I get an email or a message asking me a question. Largely, the message goes something along the lines of…

‘Hi Michelle – in your capacity as social media ‘queen’, ‘guru’, ‘expert’ … (of which I am none by the way), … what do you suggest…, how do I do…, do you know how I…? Etc, etc.

You get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong, I love helping and supporting, I’m a natural educator – and where I can, I do. But the reality is, that … I don’t know everything. Yep, very comfortable putting that out there.

And really, honestly, who does?

I love the saying, ‘If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room’ – and I couldn’t agree more as in this ever-changing world of social and digital – we’re all continuously learning. It’s part of keeping up.

So, it got me thinking about the best way to facilitate a useful solution and voila – a group, titled, Social Souls was created.

I toyed with putting the group on LinkedIn – but then in reality, I asked myself the question, when did I last visit a LinkedIn Group? For some reason, Groups on LinkedIn seem to have significantly lost their momentum over recent years. Personally, I’m hoping there’s a resurgence because gathering a collective of like-minded individuals all with the purpose of sharing knowledge, asking questions and encouraging everyone to learn more and get smarter – can only be a good thing. Right?

For now, the group is on Facebook. After all – who isn’t part of Zuckerberg’s empire?

It’s early days – but so far so good. There’s a mix of industry professionals, educators, business owners, individuals, marketers, social media managers, PR and comms people. And the conversations and support are a plenty. In fact, this week, I received a telephone call, on my landline, (I know, unheard of), from one of the Social Souls – simply calling to say how much value they were gaining from the group and thanking me for pulling it together and curating content and questions. The main takeaway – people enjoy the group, are learning and finding it really useful.

As an avid reader, in fact, total bookaholic – when writing my latest book, ‘Get Social – Social Media Strategy and Tactics for Leaders’, (shameless plug pre-order if you wish ;), I was recommended to follow and connect with a few people. And a few of them had published books, so of course, as an author in the space, I’m always keen to learn from others. I was introduced to John Stepper, and his book, Working out Loud, which discusses real world examples of how working and workplaces are being transformed by ‘working out loud’. At the same time, (I often read in tandem), I started to read, Isabel De Clercq’s book, Social Technologies in Business. Isabel’s book, brings together 13 influencers in the social technologies space, each penning their own chapter and sharing their professional viewpoint. In fact, in many ways, her book is a perfect example of ‘working out loud’.

This also got me thinking about Social Souls – and the great things that were starting to happen just by simply bringing together a collection of people, with a shared purpose of supporting one another – with no other intention than to share knowledge and learn.

No selling, no pitching, no advertorials and certainly NO EGOs.

A safe place where people can feel free to ask ‘stupid questions’, in the knowledge, that no question is a stupid question – it’s purely an opportunity to learn, one to many.

Social Souls is also a great example of ‘working out loud’ – we’re all learning so much from one another. We share our views, our work, our experiences, our challenges – and the wisdom of the crowd provides practical real world, fast learning and support.

In fact, in a recent ‘live stream’ I did into the group, I called us a ‘smart organisation’. We are rworking smarter. Gleaning information from one another, cutting out unnecessary strife, hassle and time by learning methodologies and short cuts from others.

Someone else may have already tested and measured a specific tactic. And instead of one test going on at a time – perhaps 4 or 5 are being conducted – all individually doing their own work, yet bringing their work and findings back to the group – to glean insights collectively. Brilliant. We’re like a human algorithm.

If we were a true organisation we would be working really smart. No silos, no departments – just knowledge, learning, shortcuts and transparency. My kind of organisation.

This way of working is starting to happen. Yet it’s very much fertile territory. Social technologies in organisations are starting to break down silos allowing information to flow more freely. But what about bringing other organisations into the conversation? In Social Souls there are other ‘consultants’ in the social media space, a few of us, do exactly the same work. And that’s the real wonder. The fact that – it doesn’t even matter. We’re all learning from each other. Instead of keeping everything close to our chest for FEAR of someone stealing our ideas – we’re sharing our ideas and helping to generate more creativity, insight and know-how. We’re all learning smarter… faster.

So, here’s my big thanks to Social Souls, and everyone participating so openly and transparently. And teaching me a thing or two about the benefits of ‘working out loud’.

Meantime, would love to hear your views about the future of work, collaborative working, and not only breaking down silos within organisation, but breaking down silos within industries and sectors.

Over to you…

Michelle Carvill – Helping leaders and organisations to ‘Get Social’. Making a difference one leader at a time. Founder of digital marketing and social media agency Carvill Creative, Curator of Social Souls. Author of Get Social.

Video Still Rules In 2018!

We’re pretty much at the start of a brand new year. And while we are on the subject, I’d like to wish you a very Happy New Year – are you looking forward to 2018? I certainly am!

I predict exciting developments ahead for marketing and social media this year – and if you take a look around at those predicting which trends are likely to have an impact, they agree.

So, what are the top predictions I hear you cry! Well… the main standout so far is yet again, video – both live streaming, recorded and ads – and how ‘video’ is set to continue to dominate our social media feeds.

At the beginning of last year Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, had said, ‘I see video as a mega trend’ – and sure enough here we are 12 months down the line and video consumption continues to rise. In fact Cisco forecasts that by 2021, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be video.  An incredible figure, but it doesn’t feel like we’re so far off that right now.

The amount of time people spend on social media continues to increase year on year – we only have to take a look at our own behaviour as well as those around us to work that out – and so the opportunities to attract and engage with new and existing customers using video are certainly set to increase.

Social Media Video

The majority of the time we spend on social media is via our mobile devices, so the battle for mobile video attention will only get tougher. And of course, whilst the platform of video is one thing, it’s the content aspect which is the all-important factor. To truly engage, content, regardless of media, has to be relevant. The challenge we as publishers face is not just about getting video views and clicks, (but that too is a factor), but primarily it’s about getting that relevant video in front of your target audience and understanding what they do after they have watched your video. Analytics in Facebook and Instagram Lives currently give you some decent indications on how many people have  viewed the video content, when, and for how long. And undoubtedly improved forms of analytics will evolve to be able to help businesses to achieve specific, and more importantly effective, business outcomes.

Jump forward a year and it will be interesting to revisit where we are with video in our feeds and indeed in our marketing and communication strategies.

Here at Carvill, whilst I love to get my musings down in written format – so too will we be picking up the pace with video. Facebook Lives, online training videos, webinars and even a podcast are all on our broadcasting horizon.

We’ll be using video for personal branding, thought leadership, training and education, how to, problem solving, FAQs, demos – it’s pretty much on the agenda to ramp up our competence and activity with video in all of these areas.   And encouraging our clients to either start or build upon their video activity.

My question to you therefore is – what you are doing around video content and how can you make video work as part of your communication strategy?

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Here’s to 2018


Michelle Carvill, business and marketing consultant, author of The Business of Being Social, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill Creative

Just finalised my third book: Get Social – Practical Strategies and Tactics for Leaders – to be published by Kogan Page in May 2018.

For information about how team Carvill can help you or your team with building meaningful connections with your audiences – simply get in touch.

Looking for conversation and support around digital marketing and social media when you need it? Become a Social Soul. Join our brand new, FREE to join Social Souls Facebook Group – the place for conversation around modern marketing, making things happen and mindset. Because… in an ever changing world of digital marketing and social media there are NO stupid questions.

Are you falling prey to ‘Cobbler’s Shoes’ syndrome?

Well, are you? I noted just this morning, that I am.

Let me explain what I mean.Cobblers Shoes

You may have heard the saying, ‘the cobbler’s shoes are always the worst heeled’ – meaning that whilst we’re good at giving great advice to others, and helping others to succeed, we don’t necessarily take or action our own advice.

I haven’t blogged for a while on the Carvill site as I’ve been head down writing my third book. Believe me, there are literally hundreds of stories and insights I’m going to be sharing once it’s over the line, (and it nearly is), but for the past 6 months any writing focus has been purely on building great content for my chapters.

That said, as is always the case, there’s a fair bit of plate spinning happening. And we’re in the process of revamping the Carvill website.

I took a short break from my writing just this morning as I had a query from my head of design, which led me back to our site to check on something, so I could respond.

And that’s when I had my cobbler’s shoes moment. That moment, where you look at something that’s yours and you think, if this was a client’s site – I’d have advised they do that totally differently.

Don’t get me wrong, our current site isn’t dreadful – but there are gems within it, which are totally hidden from view.

For example: this testimonial from Ollie Sharpe, UK Sales Manager – Staffing and Search at LinkedIn.

“The Business of Being Social has become a useful resource within the LinkedIn sales team.

The book really helped us to understand the bigger picture of social media and it was instrumental when we changed the way that we work with clients. It helped us to develop how we consult with our clients and advise them on how to build a social media strategy.

We were missing the critical aspects that social media channels enable, such as continuous conversations, brand proposition and getting employees on board to strengthen both brand and message.

From what we have learned from the book, we now advise companies to build their followers, engage them with content, and this will enable them to do what they do best – recruit!

The Business of Being Social is now a must read for all new recruits into my LinkedIn sales team – and has become an integral part of our training.

Highly practical – yet at the same time, highly insightful. A really useful tool for all businesses, either starting out or looking at how to optimise their social media activity.”

Wonderful right? Powerful even. However, pretty much invisible on our site.

In fact, the points Ollie raises about the book helping him and his team to see the bigger picture, build social media strategy, focus on continuous conversations, understand how social impacts brand positioning and the importance of galvanising employees to strengthen the message – these aren’t just aspects that are in that book, but they are key aspects of the services that we as a team within Carvill deliver to our clients.  The book is the outcome of experience, not theory.

When revamping our site, I want such key messages to be up front and centre, a key component showcasing who we are, why we do what we do and the social proof that we do it.

Our value proposition currently focuses on the features we offer – but look at any other social media and digital agency and they’ll all pretty much have similar features.

The key focus should be on the difference you make to the audiences you serve.

I know this, it’s what I preach – so why haven’t we heeded our own advice? Too busy serving others.  And whilst the metaphor of, you can’t serve others from an empty teapot tends to focus on well-being, so too is it relevant when sharing expertise. You need to be walking the walk.

My cobbler’s shoes moment hit home hard this morning. And I wanted to share it, because, I have a suspicion that there may be some of you that focus so much on delivering to others, and like the cobbler with worn out heels, you too could do with a bit of taking stock and heeding your own skill and advice too.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media agency focused on creating authentic engagement. Currently penning her third book: Get Social – Practical Strategies and Tactics for Leaders – to be published by Kogan Page in  Spring 2018. For information about how team Carvill can help you or your team with  social media marketing – either strategy, training, coaching or day to day management – simply get in touch.




The Gift of Experience – Knowing where to tap

The Gift of Experience – Knowing where to tap

In a time strapped world – where time is precious and a rare Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 07.48.33commodity, it’s no surprise that when valuing our services – we focus on the time it takes to do something, rather than the time we’ve invested to know how to do something. And the impact we’ve created.

Just this week I was reminded of the value of experience.

Heading on a train to a client ‘inter-agency’ meeting, I had arranged to travel with the person who heads up the client’s PR agency.

As you would expect, we spent the first part of the journey chatting about work, busy lives etc etc.

During our chat – she happened to mention that she was getting some push back from another client on fees. Their view was that, even though she’d solved their problem and saved the day, because she’d been able to deliver something so quickly for them, then it can’t have taken up so much of her time – and how was she justifying the rate.

Were they 100% happy with what she’d provided – YES

Had she 100% met their brief – on time / meeting objectives – YES (and some – she’d saved the day).

What was interesting is that during the conversation she herself started to justify their view – ‘Well, I guess it didn’t take me that long to pull the pieces together for them’.


My question to her:

1)   How long have you been doing what you’ve been doing? The training, the honing of your skill, the years building experience?

Her response… ‘Over twenty five years’.

So, what value then do we give to experience? Colleagues with less experience may have struggled to come up with the goods to fully satisfy the client need in so short a time.

It reminded me of the wonderful anecdote about the cruise ship…

Just as the giant cruise ship was about to depart, fully laden with passengers, the engine failed.

Panic quickly ensued as various teams of engineers failed to restart the engine and the passengers became ever more irate.

A retired ship engineer who lived locally was summoned.

He embarked with his small bag of tools and inspected the engine very carefully. Having completed his inspection, he reached into his bag and pulled out a hammer and gently tapped something.

Instantly, the engine lurched into life. It was fixed.

A week later the owners received a bill from the old man of $10000.

“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything.” The owners wrote to the old man and asked him to submit an itemized invoice, which he duly did:

The invoice read:

Tapping with a hammer…….. $2.00

Knowing where to tap…….. $9998.00

Love that.

Your Key Takeaway:

Don’t underestimate the value of your experience. Both in honing your art and learning how to overcome challenges.

I’m not saying that experience counts for everything, it doesn’t. You have to have a growth mindset and have been willing and eager to continuously learn over the years too. But experience certainly gives you the learning and growing that can only come through the passage of time and of experiencing a broad range of scenarios.

It gives you the networks you’ve contributed to to draw upon, the relationships you’ve developed.  And the knowledge that comes from experience.

Sometimes, if I can’t make a meeting with a client and I offer to send one of my less experienced members of the team – it’s not unusual that the client is adamant it’s me they want to see.

Now that’s not because they prefer me personally than any of my team – it’s down to the fact that I’m the one with the most experience in our team. I’m the one with the grey hair – so to speak, I’ve been around the block, learned way more than I was ever taught in business school – I’ve put in the 10,000+ hours – and have always been committed to honing (and continue to be committed to hone) my skills.

So the next time you’re being challenged on fees – just ponder the fact that you know exactly where to tap – and rather than value yourself on time to action, value yourself on impact of your action.

Would love to hear your views – tweet me, comment, and share if you too have someone you need to remind about just how ‘valuable’ they really are.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media agency focused on creating authentic engagement. Currently penning her second book: Get Social – Practical Strategies and Tactics for Leaders – to be published by Kogan Page in  Spring 2018. For information about how team Carvill can help you or your team with  social media marketing – either strategy, training or day to day management – simply get in touch.


Ok, so before we begin, two things: firstly, I read a lot. Since my time at business school -1996, when I HAD to read copious amounts of business books, the habit has continued and I’ve read about a gazillion.Take risks

Secondly, for the past 10 years I’ve been playing French Tarot (nothing to do with the telling of fortunes – it’s a strategic French card game).

Ok – so ‘what’s this got to do with risk’? I hear you ask – well, read on…

Many business books focus on strategies, tactics, methodologies, implementation, best practice – and ultimately people. The people who have thought bigger than big picture, the leaders, the game changers, the restless never satisfied-ers, the entrepreneurial – the innovators.

A common thread with most success stories – be they in business or otherwise, is the ability not just to go with the flow – but when push comes to shove to truly tune in and take a leap of faith. To push boundaries. To step out of the comfort zone. To move into the unknown, often hugely uncomfortable, vulnerable – risky territory.

So, ask yourself the question – ‘Am I a risk taker?’

In all honesty, the majority of us for the majority of the time are not risk takers. And let’s face it, living life on the edge all of the time would potentially become pretty exhausting. Plus, we’re not conditioned this way. If you think about your social conditioning – from your parents and society instilling rules and regulations to keep you safe whilst growing up, to an education system that teaches us to largely conform – our opportunity to practise risk taking is pretty limited.

And of course, if everything is going ok, you’re comfortable, relatively happy – then why rock the boat? You may have some great ideas, dreams, and what if’s – but taking that leap into the untested, unchartered waters just isn’t worth rocking that boat for – right?

So this poses another question, ‘what is it that drives some people to take risks seemingly all the time and others to shy away’?

Whilst I can’t give a definitive answer to this – what I’ve gleaned from the gazillion books I’ve read is that those that do take risks, seem to take risks a lot. They practise taking risks. And the more they practise taking risks, the better they get at it.

Fundamentally what they hook into is the fact that if they do take the risk and it doesn’t work out – they’ll try something else. So whilst they very much see it as a risk – they’re not overly concerned about getting stuck in the unchartered waters and being eaten by the sharks – as they’ll figure something else out. It’s beyond simply thinking positively – and more about concerted courage and faith in oneself.

This got me thinking. Is risk like a muscle? Perhaps it’s a case of the more we flex it – the stronger it gets? 

I decided to test my thinking small scale. I play French tarot in a group of 5. Over the past 10 years we’ve played a lot of games (usually 6 games in a sitting) and we play every 5 weeks. I’ve won a number of times – but it’s been a pretty even number of wins across the players – and I’ve held the winning cup once (about 4 years ago).

However, last year my game changed. I started taking risks. Nothing too nuts or stupid so as to ruin the game – but instead of sitting back and playing it safe – I pushed it. I’d push a bid up. I’d make bigger contracts. I’d play a big game with less than a great hand. And what happened? I started to win every round. The chips rolled in. The game found a new level of excitement – the founder of our group (inherited knowledge from her French grandmother) – even stated ‘my grandmother would have a heart attack sitting in a round with you’. ;)

Now, whilst this is a card game and it isn’t about massively disrupting my life and stepping into the unknown. It has been interesting in assisting me in practicing taking risks.

We’re not taught to take risks – there are no lessons (as far as I can see on my children’s curriculum) in calculated risk taking.

So far – my view is that YES – risk is like a muscle and the more you flex it – the more comfortable and better you get at taking risks. In my card game – I’m now no longer taking risks – I’m just playing the game.

So what’s your view?

Practice makes perfect…?

Would love to hear from you.

NB: I endeavoured to find some scholarly evidence / support of my hypothesis – and there does look to be a supporting study ‘Risk taking : a study in cognition and personality by Nathan Kogan and Michael Wallach’ – but it was done in 1964! So if anyone knows of anything more current – pls do share.

Practice / practise – googled it and with the UK/US spellings – still confused!

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media agency focused on creating authentic engagement. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website.

STOP ‘Social Media’ RIGHT NOW!

STOP SOCIAL MEDIA NOW!You or your business may already be fully engaged with social media. All may be going brilliantly. Your social activity is a huge success. Your audiences are engaged. Your campaign and channel strategies thriving. Your ROI clear and positive. If this is the case, then STOP reading this article, as it’s not for you.

This article is for those that are frustrated with social media activity. That frustration may manifest from personally feeling that you’re not doing enough, not knowing where or how to start or that you’re just not getting the results you desire. Or it may be the case that you’re frustrated that social isn’t being given any headspace in your organisation. There isn’t any buy in from the CEO or senior management.

If you’re still reading – then right now – I want you to think differently. I want you to forget the words ‘social’ and ‘media’ – and instead, I want you to contemplate the following words:

  • Customer Engagement strategy
  • Customer communications strategy
  • Customer outreach / feedback strategy

Perhaps these words / concepts aren’t as ‘current’ as the two words we’re forgetting right now – but if you think about the bigger picture – they give a far deeper meaning to the tweets, posts and pics shared as part of ‘social’ ‘media’ activity.

Every strategy should start with the question – why? Why are we/you doing this?

This approach helps you to uncover your purpose. You can then work backwards from your purpose. Figuring out the various steps required to get there. Helping you to be specific and bring some clarity to what you’re looking to achieve via social channels.

So your question right now is Why? Why are you doing/wanting to do social media?

The answer you get then steers all that you do. If you’re doing social because it’s 2017 and that’s what all businesses now do – then I suggest you stop doing it and go back to asking the ‘why’ question. Doing social just because everyone else is – is not a strategy.

For CEOs or senior leaders that consider ‘social media’ as nothing more than a time wasting, non-direct revenue generating distraction – (whether that’s your thinking or you’re hopeful to change someone else’s thinking) – opening your eyes to the deeper meaning and talking of client / customer engagement, communication strategies, outreach / feedback strategies, can help to overcome the short-sightedness.

Social media channels are enablers. Enablers to assist you to achieve necessary client / customer / new business engagement. Used as part of an integrated campaign or channel plan, they can steer or enhance activity. You may lead some activities via social channels – or you may plug-in social to support other channel activities.

Let’s face it – without getting caught up on B2B or B2C – let’s just contemplate P2P – people to people. There are more than a billion ‘people’ logging into Facebook daily. (And that’s just Facebook – remember there are many other channels where people spend serious amounts of time). Some of them will be your customers or your potential customers. If social media is where your customers are – then shouldn’t you be building the channels into your communication / engagement plans?

If you’ve got stuck in your thinking of what social is and why you do or don’t do social media – I ask you to step back and really answer the ‘why’ question from a strategic perspective. And then do a bit of a business reality check to address any potential gaps:

  • What’s your customer engagement plan / program?
  • How do you actively listen to what customers are saying about you / your business?
  • Where do you source ideas for relevant and engaging content?
  • How do you engage those customers/prospective customers who are active on social channels?
  • Is there an integrated communications strategy in place?

To those that still think of ‘social media’ as activities which are not business critical, then calling these important endeavours ‘social media’ – isn’t really doing anyone any favours.

So stop calling it social media – and step into the bigger picture.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media agency focused on creating authentic engagement. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website.


Facebook ‘Festive Fun’ – or December Depression? 5 Ways to Beat Negativity

This morning I was delighted to be asked to join Alfie Joey and Anna Foster for their Breakfast program (BBC Newcastle) to discuss a recent BBC report showcasing that Facebook use has been proven

Enjoy the joy this christmas
Enjoy the joy this christmas

to cause depression.

Of course, this isn’t the first study in this arena.

Back in 2014, I recall writing a piece following research on how computers were impacting human behaviour – in that study, it showed that browsing Facebook was associated with ‘lower life satisfaction’ and a decline in mood – but interestingly, browsing the internet generally, didn’t have the same negative impact.

The negative impact was found to be unique to Facebook use.

Whilst Facebook is still the most popular social network – with more than 1 billion people logging in daily – people aren’t actually using Facebook to be ‘social’. Only around 9% of Facebook users’ activities involve communicating with others. The ‘social’ aspect is therefore really low – with the majority of people either posting random pieces of content or passively consuming content by spending the majority of time browsing and scrolling through feeds.

Two key aspects associated with decline in mood and lower life satisfaction were identified in all three studies:

1)    When presented with looking in at other people’s perceived perfect lives – photos of fabulous holidays, friends having a fun, date nights, weddings, achievements – rather than feeling good for your friends, you can start to become envious – you and your life may start to feel inadequate, and this in turn leads to a decline in your mood.

2)    Then there’s the other aspect – the time that you spend. You start to feel bad about being under productive; remorse sets in about wasting your time looking at what’s going on in others’ lives. You question why you do it – how sad must you be to spend so much time looking at other peoples’ lives. No life of your own… etc etc – and so the self-fulfilling negative cycle continues.

But… here’s the good news:

Simply being aware of the above two points can make all the difference to how you let your Facebook activity impact you. Knowing that your time on the channel may have a negative impact helps to eradicate those negative feelings.

So to take action and to keep that negativity at bay…

1)    Be aware. Understand that too much browsing is going to potentially decline your mood. Catch yourself if you start to feel inadequate, dull or sad – and get off the channel quickly. Phone a friend, speak to your family – do something nourishing and truly social.

2)    Limit the mindless browsing. Give yourself a limited time to check up on your social activity – this way, if you invite a bit of discipline into how much time you spend on the channels, you won’t give yourself a hard time for spending an hour being unproductive. Instead, limit your time to a 10 minute catch up – and pat yourself on the back when you log out and get back to other things.

3)    Don’t make social comparisons with others on your Facebook feed. The majority of posts made are ‘hero’ posts – people sharing the best moments, celebrations, happy times. It’s rare people post about their fears or insecurities – so stay realistic and see it for what it is.

4)    Be truly social on social – social channels aren’t all bad, they can be brilliant for networking, for business and for support. There are loads of Facebook Groups that are really useful, that are fabulous communities for people to come together to be supportive of one another. They’re not just a platform where people post the best times of their lives – but really useful social networks. Check out local groups in your area – and tune into ones that you’re interested in – there are mum’s groups, craft groups, support groups – you name it, there’s a community.

5)    Get social offline. And of course – make the majority of your social activity, truly social. Get offline and get personable. Pick up your phone and don’t head for the keyboard to text – but instead make a call, have a giggle with friends, or just chat about how you’re doing – how they’re doing. Just be social. We’re social animals, we need that connectivity.

So if your social activity is making you ‘low’ – remember these 5 simple points, understand that it’s normal to feel bad and why – and remember all the great stuff that’s good about your life.

Just because you’re not publishing it on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s not a beautiful, worthy, nourishing and fulfilling moment. Enjoy…the joy this Christmas.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.


Twitter lists – What are they? How do you use them in the correct way?

twitter bird 1When you click onto your Twitter profile, you’ll notice that there is a button labelled ‘Lists’- not knowing what it means or what it does – you, like me, may have always ignored it. However it is a really useful way of tidying up your feed and grouping together your favourite tweeters, if used effectively.

Lists are just what they say they are. They are a list of Twitter accounts, which you can communicate with. They can be used to focus on just one topic  – for example talking to a group of your old college friends or following a group of journalists in your industry. By having just those relevant people in your list, irrelevant tweets from other people you follow become invisible. You can choose to have your list as either open or private. By it being open, the public can see your list and the tweets that have been sent within it. However if you choose for it to be private only the people within that list can see the tweets, which makes it more personal.

Another great thing about a Twitter list is that they help you find new contacts and new people who you can interact with. In order to create a Twitter list you:

  • Login to Twitter
  • Click on ‘create a new list’
  • Choose a name for your list
  • Decide whether you want it open or private
  • Click ‘create list’
  • And now you can add users and search for new people to add to your list.

The only rules to having a list is that you can’t have any more than 500 people in one list at one time, and each account can have a maximum of 20 lists assigned to them.

To finish with, Twitter can be very chaotic at times, and so by having a list it allows you to interact with only the people you choose to interact with. By being on someone’s list you are far more likely to be found by the right tweeter.

Thanks for listening and stay tuned to our blog for more helpful Twitter advice.

Written by Eliza Bennett – Eliza is a 16 year old student at Furze Platt Sixth Form, she is currently on work experience with Taylor Alden PR Company and Carvill Creative. 

Facebook Live Streaming – What is it and how do I make the most of it?

Facebook Live is a valuable new addition to the thriving and liveliest social network of them all.

Whilst other video streaming services already exist  – Periscope, Meerkat and Blab – there’s no doubt that with 1.65 billion active monthly users – the sheer scale of users gives Facebook Live all it needs to dominate the live streaming space.

So, what is Live Streaming?

Pretty much what is says it is. In just the same way you can post a status update or photo or pre recorded video to you Facebook newsfeed, you can now stream in real time.

How do I start my own live broadcast?

Creating your own live broadcast is really simple.

Go to your Facebook App (you’re probably going to be recording via your mobile – right?).

When you click on ‘Status’ – to create a post – you’ll see in the bottom menu bar to the right of the camera icon, a person in a circle – broadcast icon.

Facebook Live 2

Simply click the icon – and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can type a Title / Description for your broadcast – and you can choose who you want to see the video – ie: friends / public etc.

Then all that’s left for you to do is select the Go Live option.

Facebook Live 1

But that’s the simple bit…

So whilst setting it up and getting started is pretty simple – of course, if you’re going to be using this feature to assist with marketing your business or brand – then as with all other marketing activity you do, you really do need to do a little planning and prep.

After all – during the broadcast there’s plenty of opportunity for people to interact with your video – not only will you see a viewer count but you’ll also see the live comments and reactions.

So you if you’re doing the broadcast as a marketing activity, rather than simply a spontaneous live stream of an amazingly talented busker – then you will want to make sure as many people as possible know about the broadcast. And of course the broadcast lives on.

Once you’re streaming live – to finish the broadcast you simply hit the “Finish” button. The video will then be posted to your timeline, so those who may have missed out on the live broadcast can view it at their leisure.

You’ll also be able to save the video to your camera roll.

So you’ve got this great, simple way to record live video and have video saved to your timeline – to share with all that visit. And of course, there’s the opportunity to do some Facebook Advertising and  ‘BOOST’ your Facebook posts to broaden the reach of your content too.   So, with all that in mind – let’s look at some ideas for great content and tips to drive engagement and make your broadcasts really work for you.

Broadcasting Tips and Ideas

  • If you want more people to see your video – consider tagging friends you think would be interested when typing the video description. This will send them an instant notification alerting them to tune in. And of course, if they share it to their friends whilst streaming – the broadcast audience just got a whole lot wider.
  •  Another method is to post a Facebook status update telling friends that you’re going live at a certain time.  We suggest offering at least a days’ notice – close enough so that people will remember but also enough time to make sure they don’t miss it. It may even be that you set up a ‘regular’ broadcast slot.  For example – Small Business Marketing Tips at 10am every Tuesday.  As mentioned earlier – Facebook Ads are available for you to promote your broadcasts too – if you want more people to tune in – then in just the same way you would promote an event,  promote your Facebook Live via ads.  And of course, there are lots of other channels you can use to promote the broadcast too – Twitter, email to name just two.
  • There are so many stats advising us that engagement rates online are short. That our attention span has waned and now all videos must be short and to the point – as users are likely to drop off after just 30 seconds.  Whilst this may be the case – there’s definitely evidence to show that when a user is engaged with relevant and purposeful content – they will stick around.  Most TV programs are minimum 30 mins as are the majority of podcasts.  So perhaps it’s not about our attention span but our interest span.  It’s interesting that Facebook Live enables you to broadcast for up to 90 minutes – that’s more than you get on any other channel.   Our recommendation is that you test engagement levels – start to see when people drop out – the platform is as yet too new to provide any robust insights into what the optimum Facebook Live broadcast looks like. So for now – test and measure.

Content ideas:

Engagement is all about the content – and if the content is relevant to the audience, they’ll stick around and hopefully, come back for more.  There’s so many directions you can go with your broadcast – here are just a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Interviews with people in your organisation.  There will be expertise within your business – whether it’s the CEO, marketing team, customer service team, practitioners or IT gurus – there is useful knowledge to share.  Interviewing ‘experts’ about practical things – talking through some FAQs or tips and advice – interviewing people not only provides some useful content, but also gives some insight into your team and who they are. After all – people do business with people. And it’s a great way to build trust and for people to see the ‘whites’ of the expert’s eyes.
  • Product updates. It may be that you’ve just added a new feature to a product – perfect opportunity to showcase live exactly what’s changed – and the benefits. Often things are tricky to communicate via the written word – are far simpler in video show and tell – perfect opportunity to use live streaming.
  • Events. If the event is live then why not broadcast it. This means that even those delegates that couldn’t make the actual physical event – can still attend ‘live’ – via Facebook Live.  It doesn’t have to be the whole event – it may just be the keynote speech you want to share and capture.
  • Behind the scenes. Perfect for sharing insights as to what’s going on behind the scenes – could very well be just a regular day in the office – or some new artwork that’s arrives, the new office dog, new décor, new layout, before and after etc – the possibilities are vast.

Practice Makes Perfect

And finally, live streaming is live streaming.  The charm of live streaming is the ‘real time’ relaxed and very ‘human’ aspect of it – so you don’t want to ‘over’ polish it. However, at the same time, you don’t want to switch people off by having a camera that’s jumping all over the place causing mild vertigo, dodgy sound so that your content is illegible and odd camera angles which only showcase your forehead.

It’s worth putting in a little bit of practice so that you know that you’ve got a good ‘shot’.  Perhaps use a tripod – and experiment with different backgrounds / settings etc . Again, depending on your objective – then the prep will be different.

So that’s it – hopefully, a relatively simple explanation on how to get started – and some useful ideas and pointers.

Look forward to seeing some of your Facebook Live streams – simply tag me in and I’m there…

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.

Terrified of Twitter? – 5 Reasons to Fall in Love with my Favourite Social Network

Lately I’ve had several opportunities to speak to groups of people about their social media activity.

When I’m testing where people are with social – and asking which channels they’re using – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn are always commonplace. So what about Twitter?

Twitter always seems to be the one that most people have the biggest challenge with. In fact when I dig around a little, it appears that for those that have never ventured onto Twitter – there’s genuine ‘fear’ of doing so.

I’ve been a huge Twitter fan for about 7 years now. For me – it’s just got better and better. Sure – you still get people talking about their lunch, cats and other potentially irrelevant stuff. But if you can see past the noise – let me showcase just 5 things that may tempt you to give it a go. (I could give you many more reasons than 5 – but I try to keep my blogs short ;)).

Two blue bird, dove, pigeon on speech bubble.

Why I love Twitter

1)    It’s a brilliant network

Twitter is an incredibly useful platform to connect with people. When I was writing my first book – I needed to get permissions from a significant number of people and organisations.

Faced with the task – I immediately took to Twitter. Using Google search and Twitter’s search, it was a relatively simple task to locate the people I needed to speak to and tweet them. Before I knew it – I had made relevant connections, was able to grab further contact details and continue our conversations in a far more effective way.

I remember being really surprised at just how many people responded to questions and requests I was making. People that really ‘get’ Twitter – understand that it’s about building relationships – it’s a two way conversation. Of course there’s a whole load of people, brands and businesses on Twitter simply using it as a publishing platform. Pushing out noise about themselves to irrelevant audiences and never listening or engaging – but, that’s not using Twitter smartly.

If you set out to build relationships and have authentic and useful conversations – then Twitter is a highly effective platform. Checkout the regular Thursday chat #TwitterSmarter – where conversations happen each week about the best use of Twitter.

2)    It’s real time

Twitter is the place where you can find out about pretty much anything – in real time and immediately see what other people think too. News tends to break on Twitter first.  You can see topics that are trending and join in conversations.

3)    Search function is ace

Just as 59 million of us in the UK are dependent on Google search – I am equally dependent on Twitter search. The search function on Twitter enables you to type in any keyword or string of keywords to see what’s going on in the Twittersphere – right now. There are of course more sophisticated ways of using Twitter search – in much the same way as Boolean search for Google. Where you can be specific about location, person, words etc. Take a look here for more if you’re keen to do some smart digging around..

4) I can tune in to exactly what I want

Twitter connects me to the people, publishers, brands and influencers I want to hear from. I have total choice as to what I tune into. It’s interesting that more than 40% of people on Twitter have never even sent a tweet. They’re not on the platform to talk or network – but rather just to tune in to the newsfeeds they’re interesting in.

When you want to tune into your favourite celeb, footballer, artist, author – or want to be entertained by the latest tweets from comedians or writers – it’s highly likely they’re on Twitter sharing their news by the minute.

From a business perspective, you can tune into what’s happening in your landscape, trade press, influencers – even competitors – and of course, your clients / customers too.

The beauty of Twitter is that you can tune in – by following someone – and if what they’re saying doesn’t fit for you – then you simply tune out – by unfollowing them. The choice is yours.

5. It’s short, simple and to the point

When I first encountered Twitter all those years ago – I do remember thinking – huh – what nonsense. How can people have conversations in 140 characters. But those clever silicon valley boys knew what they were doing. The fact that Twitter is so succinct and to the point – is one of it’s finest qualities. The feed is easily scannable – and if you’re interested in something and there’s a link – you can easily go off piste for a bit – explore and then come back.

And if you don’t have time to read the bigger picture – then you can simply – favourite it and come back to it when you do have time.

So that’s it – just 5 of the reasons why I love Twitter. If you haven’t explore Twitter yet – then perhaps start by simply tuning in to the stuff you’re interested in.  And if you’re on there but not quite sure it’s working for you – check out the many Twitter articles on this blog – to optimise your presence.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.

Bamboozled by oodles of data? Time to measure what really matters.

little data latestThe challenge we have as marketers and data analysts is that there’s now just so much stuff we can measure.

With more marketing channels than ever before – the role of the marketer is far from simple.

When deciding which channels to focus on and optimise – none of us can escape the necessary  relationship with, and in some cases, dependence upon,  data.

We’ve got mass reports, analytics coming out of our analytics, the opportunity to explore different aspects of analysis.  All this data is giving us fundamental insights. Right? But this is where our ‘let’s get real’ heads need to kick in.

For me, my simple and pragmatic thinking brings me back to reality and helps me to focus on what really matters. And that’s the challenge I have with big or mass data – just because we can measure everything – is it actually useful and beneficial to do so?

Here we are, spending so much time trying to keep up with the data, running round in circles measuring everything and spending a significant amount of time monitoring and keeping on top of dashboards and stats – that potentially we’re taking our attention away from key fundamentals that really matter?

If we’re honest – there’s definitely a big ‘SO WHAT’ factor with many of the insights and stats that we as marketers rigidly spend time measuring and monitoring. Analytics – mass data – big data – programmatic data – call it what you will – the real question is – does what we are measuring actually  matter.

Yes, it may be telling us stuff – but is the stuff it’s telling us actually important and does it fundamentally impact achieving key objectives?

Little Data – my hero of the day

Just as there are potentially different descriptions about mass data – I’m sure there are too about what I refer to as ‘little data’. From a very basic perspective – for me, ‘little data’ is about getting down to the nitty gritty of measuring what really matters. The key word here is ‘relevance’.  Objectively driven metrics. I have a very simple ‘let’s clarify objectives’ model:

  • What does success look like? What objectives / outcomes are we looking to achieve?
  • What metrics / evidence do we need so that we can measure success or progress?
  • What simple discipline are we going to apply to ensure we are continuously capturing, monitoring and learning from these absolutely fundamental necessary metrics?

For me, what’s key is the development of a simple set of key metrics that help you to identify that the activities you are undertaking are actually delivering on your objectives.  There’s real progress.

Of course, in order to deliver on your objectives – you’ve got to have very clear objectives in place. And in my humble opinion, this is where many businesses and campaigns fall down.

Having absolute clarity in what needs to be achieved and drilling down to the necessary metrics to monitor effective progress is often missing.

Measuring everything we can no doubt uncovers some interesting insights – but those insights are not necessarily going to keep our eye on the ball and keep us focused on delivering  key objectives that ultimately make all the difference.

Little data, or objectively driven data, for me is all about ‘relevance’– they may be ‘little’ and few but it’s this ‘little data’  that focuses attention for BIG impact.


As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.

Social Media – What’s the Real ROI?

Zig Ziglar - Those that aim for nothing quote

Whilst we can all get bogged down in ‘doing the doing’ – I find it so rewarding and energising when I take the time to get out and about to talk to people.

The last couple of months have seen me doing a number of talks – all about a similar and popular  topic.

February saw me talking at The Chelsea Design Club about the practicalities of making social work for design businesses.  Early March I joined Robert Harding at The Photographer’s Gallery to speak to a room of photographers about ‘getting social’.  And just last week I joined the team at LinkedIn in the UK HQ to talk about social and ROI – and last week I joined Richmond Event’s Digital Marketing Forum – again, focusing on ROI.

There’s no doubt about it – social media ROI is indeed a hot topic.

So, what’s the magic ROI formula? What should people be measuring and what should they expect to see?

Of course, in all realms of digital marketing we’ve got data coming out of our data. Big data truly exists – and there are dashboards a plenty that will enable us to track our customer’s every move.

As a marketer, I do love data – BUT I only ‘truly’ love and respect data that is really useful.

Measuring what matters

And so that brings me to what I consider is really key for measuring ROI when it comes to social media.

I love the saying by Zig Ziglar – ‘Those that aim for nothing hit it with remarkable accuracy’.  And I find this is particularly true when it comes to measuring what matters with social.

With social channels, you get a lot of data – much of which is highly visible. Followers, retweets, shares, engagement etc – and of course we can be measuring these aspects. But to really understand social media ROI – I believe you really have to be very clear on what it is you are looking to achieve at the outset.

It’s common knowledge that it’s unusual for social channels to behave as direct marketing channels – so sales directly achieved via Facebook and Twitter are unlikely to be anywhere near as direct as from other sources. So stating that you want 50 direct sales is potentially unrealistic (however, this does depend on activities and sector).

So, it’s about being realistic about what can be achieved via social and where social makes an impact. The wonderful Gary Vaynerchuk  aligns social media ROI with the brilliant question, ‘What’s the ROI of your mother?’ – however, whilst I agree with much of what Gary V states – I do believe that there are some practical ways to measure social media ROI.

To review some of the more practical aspects of social activity:

  • Increase Brand Awareness
    • Here you may very well be asking:
    • Are we growing relevant followers? Note that relevant is a key word here.
  • Establish Credibility and Trust
    • Are we getting endorsements/shares from influential people?
    • How is our audience responding to these influencers?
    • Are those influencers extending the reach of our audience?
  •  Connect with your Audience
    • Is your audience responding well to your content?
    • Is the content you share encouraging engagement?
    • What levels of shares, reach and discussion is our content achieving?
  • Find New Leads/Drive Sales
    • Is social activity bringing people back to your website?
    • Have we achieved a certain amount of sign ups / downloads etc.
    • How is social helping us to convert to sales / customers?

The above areas are by no means the only aspects you need to be considering – each campaign activity you undertake will have it’s own objectives. For example: you may set a target of partnering with 10 key influencers in your space – or connecting with influential bloggers.  Once you have identified metrics that really matter – and have set off with the end in mind. Then, and only then, can you have any idea whether or not your endeavours are truly hitting the targets. (Remember, what Zig said – right!).

Having objectives at the outset can really steer your activity:

I have a very simple ‘let’s clarify objectives’ model:

  • What does success look like? What objectives / outcomes are we looking to achieve?
  • What metrics / evidence do we need so that we can measure progress?
  • What discipline will we apply to ensure we are continuously monitoring and learning?

Of course, these aspects don’t just apply to social – and once you know what it is that you want to achieve – and what those metrics / indicators look like – you can even start to apply a monetary value to them so that you can you work out exactly what ROI looks like.

Let’s create a rudimentary example to clarify the £ point:

Let’s say landing a guest blog on a pre identified influential blog has a monetary value to you of say, £500.   If you therefore set a target of 5 such guest blogs over the quarter – then if you achieve the target – the monetary value (return) is £2500.  Make sense?

In the world of social media – finding return on investment is possible – particularly if you have set out with very clear objectives.  Therefore, don’t just dive in an engage – before you do – remember to do your planning and set out those objectives – start with the end in mind.

That way – measuring the ROI of social is a whole lot simpler.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.

How to get yourself noticed on Instagram

This week I did a talk to a group of photographers focusing on how they could be utilising the social platforms to help them achieve objectives.

It was no surprise that Instagram was the most popular social platform for the photographers – however, it was a little surprising that not one of them had heard about Instragram’s ‘Weekend Hashtag Project’ – a great engagement campaign from Instagram, that could make all the difference to your visibility.

So let’s walk through what happens:

Every Friday Instagram announces the weekend challenge.  As you can see – last week, it was all about sights and sounds – the goal to make videos with interesting or ambient, or natural sound.

Instagram's Weekend Hashtag Project #WHP
Instagram’s Weekend Hashtag Project #WHP

You then simply add the relevant hashtag- (in this case #WHPsightsandsounds) to photos and videos when uploading them over the weekend.

You can only upload your own visuals and we believe (although we haven’t tested this as yet) that only images and video actually shot over the weekend are eligible. (So you can’t upload from a past library) – which makes sense right – because after all, it is a ‘weekend project’.

The weekend project challenge is announced every Friday via the Instagram blog – and the team here @carvillcreative  stay tuned via tweets from the Instagram Twitter account (@instagram). The #WHP is always consistent – so you can take a look in Instagram using the search tool to see the vast range of projects executed so far.

Every Monday Instagram then selects some of their favourite ‘projects’ and showcases them on their blog and social platforms – which can ignite some serious attention. Those featured (and it’s arbitrary) – they really don’t just showcase popular Instagrammers with thousands of followers, as you’ll see – people with as few as 10 followers have been showcased.

So, if one of your objectives it to get noticed on Instagram – then start tracking the Weekend Hashtag Project – it may just be that all the fun you have taking part in the project, may just reap some serious rewards.

As always – any questions tweet me @michellecarvill or email 

 That’s all for now – happy hashtagging this weekend.

Michelle x

Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill – the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you – simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.

The Story of the stolen bike that wasn’t actually stolen

Important Lessons for All Businesses about Systems, Processes and Communication

bike stolen

Let me take you back to summertime – it is the 21st July, a beautiful sunny morning. I’m heading to my local train station – on my bike, to catch the 7.29am to Paddington.

I’m running on time, but as usual, there’s a huge ticket queue – and so I’m rushing. I lock my bike – head for the queue, make the 7.29am, all is good (crammed as usual, but at least I made the train).

That evening, I head back to my station – go to collect my bike – and it’s gone. The lock is still in place – and still locked and attached to the bike rack – but, no bike.

I head into the station, speak to at least three First Great Western station attendants – advise them that my bike has been stolen, ask what the protocol is – and am advised ‘sorry to hear that’ and to call the police.

With heavy heart, I walk up the hill, get home, complain to family about my loss – and then start proceedings to report said stolen bike.

When speaking to the British Transport Police to inform them of the theft, I’m advised that the stealing of bikes at my train station is apparently taken ‘very seriously’ – as it’s a bit of a hot bed.  I’m advised that my case has been reported and someone will be in touch.

A couple of weeks later I get a call from a very nice PC – she advises that my case is now being progressed – and wants me to provide her with a formal statement.  I spend at least 40 minutes on the phone advising her of the situation, my description (so they can discount me from the CCTV review) – the timings, the bike’s description etc.  And, by the way, my bike had been marked and registered with the police bike registration scheme.

I advise I have the lock – she advises, that I shouldn’t touch it too much as it may be used for finger printing.  Lock is transferred to clean plastic bag!

The next step is for her to come to the train station, review the CCTV and then see if they can nail the criminals.

At this point, I ask what the chances of my recovering the bike are – and she advises, very low – probably zero. But hopefully, they can make an arrest.

So – this leaves me without a bike – and with no likelihood of my bike being returned, I now have the chore of getting a new bike – considerable cost and considerable time.

Approximately 6 weeks after the initial theft – I’ve got a new bike in place, and the PC is coming to review the CCTV footage.

Unfortunately, bad news – the CCTV wasn’t working – and so no footage was captured. There was a malfunction with the system, etc, etc.

Some 8 weeks later, it transpires that the CCTV system was not the only system malfunctioning.

In mid November, I receive a call from another PC from British Transport Police at Paddington

Joyous news – they’ve recovered my bike.

‘Is it smashed up’, ‘where is it now’, ‘how did it turn up?’ I had so many questions.  However, it transpires – that it had potentially been at the train station where I believed it had been stolen from – all the time.

I know – you’re thinking, what’s this madness she’s talking about.

Well, apparently, if a bike is ‘unsecured’ at said station, due to it being a ‘hotbed’ for bike thefts, the station wardens, and any plain clothes police officers that periodically patrol the area, will take any unsecured bikes (bikes which are not locked up properly) and put them safely in the ‘lost property’ storage in the station.

Who knew?

Well, apparently… – nobody. Not the nice PC initially investigating the crime, and clearly not any of the three station wardens that I spoke to, when I advised that my bike had been stolen, ‘but how odd that the lock was still wrapped around the bike rack!’

Today is December 21st – so it’s exactly 5 months to the day, that my bike was supposedly stolen. I was called early this morning by another PC from British Transport Police to see if they could recover the bike to me.  As it happens, I was around – and the bike and I were reunited.  Speaking to yet another again, very nice PC – he advised that there are at least 30 other bikes in the ‘lost property’ storage! (What was that about the station being a hotbed for bike thefts!!!).

Whilst speaking with the PC who was organizing this last piece of the case – I queried the following:

a)    Why are there no notices around advising bikers that if their bike isn’t secure – it may be taken into lost property.  ‘Good idea’ he advised – we should do that.

b)    Why when I advised my bike had been stolen – wasn’t there a protocol to first check the lost property before advising me to raise a formal case with the police.

c)     Why, when I raised a case with the police – didn’t the nice PC investigating the crime first contact lost property to see whether or not it was simply a case of the bike potentially not being secured and therefore, not stolen but in fact, just stored!

In the 5 months – with just one simple bike, that really isn’t that valuable (in monetary terms), just look at the waste of resource that’s happened. Numerous phone calls, the filing of reports, letters sent to me advising me of progress with the case, police officers having to physically hand back the property.

Not to mention the expense and time of me having to unnecessarily get a new bike (and believe me it was not a fun experience – just a whole pain in the backside).

And now – I have stuff that’s surplus to requirements – I have two bikes!

Charlie Chaplin could have turned this into a slapstick sketch – it’s such a farce. However, it’s also indicative of what happens when processes are created – and not fully thought through or communicated.

Without thinking things through, end to end and a lack of effective training and practice – and communication breakdown – businesses, people, departments, governments – they all waste resource. Waste of time, waste of money, waste of people – people who should potentially be working on more important things that make a difference to either the world or the bottom line.

This farce is true – and whilst we may sit here reading in disbelief – sadly this isn’t that extraordinary. There are thousands if not millions of truly stupid and pointless, processes and disconnected dots happening all the time in industries and businesses of all shapes and sizes.

My advice to all is to:

  • Check your processes thoroughly, ensuring all dots are joining up.
  • When you identify a disconnect – where the dots aren’t joining up, don’t let that disconnect extend – but instead grab it, investigate it and do whatever you need to do to pull it together.  Make someone accountable (that may be you), accountable to ensure that you do not let such stupidity and waste of resource happen again.
  • Communicate, communicate and then communicate some more –ensure everyone ‘gets’ the processes you create – and that they are clear on what’s happening – and finally – you can’t just say it once and it will be – it takes practice – so…
  • Test things out periodically to check your communication and training is fully ingrained.

That’s all from me – rant over, insights shared.

Ever optimistic, owner of two bikes, Maidenhead