WhatsApp is Different

Great data in this blog about Whatsapp. Do you think it was worth 19 billion?

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Email Dos And Don’ts

Someone ironically once told me via email, “you should write a blog about real-time communication.” This comment was in response to an email miscommunication. I couldn’t hear her tone or sense any sarcasm, and I took something the wrong way. It’s been a while since I last experienced this issue. This day and age, almost everyone communicates online. I assumed most of the “digital immigrants” had assimilated and learned the ways of us “digital natives.”

imageI was wrong.

So…for those of you fresh off the “real-time communication” boat, here’s a few pointers when communicating via email.

DO

  • Write clear and concise subject lines.  Your subject line should tell the reader what they’re about to read (go figure). Make them accurate but not rude. Short but not vague. Email subjects like “Do me favor,” won’t always go over well.
  • Start with the most important information first, when writing the body of your email. Nothing is worse than being surprised with a giant project or task after a friendly conversation about where to eat lunch.
  • Keep your emails short. If you feel the need to write a novel or can’t get your message across in a paragraph or two, then you’re using the wrong channel of communication.
  • Check your spelling and grammar. Nobody’s perfect, but there’s no excuse for not running a spell check at the very least. Set your email to do this automatically before sending.image

DON’T

  • Write an email you wouldn’t want anyone else seeing. Just ask yourself, “if a million people accidentally read this tomorrow, would I be embarrassed?” If you feel the need to gossip, complain about work or swear a lot, save it for later.

Emails are never private, so don’t use email to talk about private stuff!

  • Write the entire email in the subject line. Seriously, how annoying is it to get an empty email with all the information crammed into the subject? The reader will spend more time trying to decode the message than it would have taken the sender to just explain it in the body.
  • Use sarcasm if you don’t know the person. Cracking jokes and trying to be funny with strangers can go all sorts of wrong. Save your sarcasm for only those you truly know, and who truly know you.  Or blogs.  If your content requires a certain tone you can’t express with written words, pick up the phone (it’s that thing with the keypad that lives inside your pocket computer).
  • Use capital letters. CAPITAL LETTERS IN EMAILS = YELLING!!!
  • Send chain emails, spam or anything with naked people in it. Just don’t.
  • Use ridiculous backgrounds, fancy colors or anything that makes the email more difficult to read.

imageIf you follow these rules, you should be ok…even if you do a classic “reply all” on accident!

What email tips do you have? Horror stories?

Access for Dummies

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Over the years I’ve had a lot of interaction with Microsoft Access. I’ve certainly entered a ton of data when I first started out and generated pre-made reports. However, it wasn’t until now that I really dove into the program to the point where I could create my own database from scratch and query my own information. To learn more about Access, I signed up for a series of free courses offered by my employer. If your employer offers these kind of services, I highly recommend you take advantage of them! If they don’t offer it, there are a lot of online options and Access For Dummies is a big help too.

For those of you who don’t think you need to know how to use Access, ask yourself the following…

Do you have large amounts of data?
Do you have no data?
Do you need to know specific things about the data you collect?
Do you need to save time and money?
Do you have multiple people who need access to the information you collect?
Do you create monthly reports using Excel?
Do you want a good resume builder?

Clearly I’m a right-brained, visual type of person. I like analyzing data and I consider myself a strategic thinker, but I like to look at it in a shiny graphical format, not globs of numbers in spreadsheets that blur together over time. I’ve wasted a lot of time in past positions entering data in Excel and then using that as a reference for some horrible Word Smart Art. Eventually I graduated to Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts (still very helpful) but nothing compares to Access in the Office family when it comes to collecting data and pulling information. I shied away from Access for a few years, simply because I assumed it was for more advanced data people…and because someone else was already taking care of that piece for me.

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I’m still somewhat of a beginner when it comes to Access, but I’m proud to say I learned (a big) something knew already in 2014. It’s so easy to fall behind with technology and even though I don’t work in data analytics or IT, I feel as a marketer that I need to know this stuff and keep up. I’ve been lucky to have IT and data people around me to assist throughout my career, but I know I can make all of our lives easier with this knowledge. It’s never too late to learn and I can’t see how it wouldn’t be useful to anyone!

Plus it’s free, so I mean, come on.

Cheers!

You Know You’re Getting Old When…

As another year ends I’m reminded of how much older I’m getting. I certainly haven’t grown much, physically or mentally. I mean I did finish my master’s degree in 2013, but I’m still the person who makes fart noises behind peoples backs when they say something stupid in public, let’s be serious.

So how do I know I’m getting old? It started a few years back when I was in a movie theatre with my boyfriend, watching a preview of the new Footloose. A group of tweens in front of us started debating whether or not it was a remake. One insisted she saw something like it before.

Ultimately they concluded Footloose was not a remake. Are you kidding me? It took everything in my being not to throw popcorn at those little turds.


That’s when it hit me.

Over the years all my friends got married and now they are having babies (another major sign you’re getting old). This doesn’t bother me one bit though. I’m really happy for all you spouses and parents out there. I’m not missing my college partying days by any means (ok maybe a little). This is just another indication that I’m supposed to start acting like an adult now. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with sonograms and mushy love notes (ew people, just stop).

Today, in true adult fashion, my boyfriend and I were at a fast food restaurant. While we debated the dollar menu options we would soon regret, a young girl slipped and fell behind us while walking through the door. Not a bad fall, just a good old fashioned humorous flop. She got right up and her and her friends laughed their asses off. It was funny and she was obviously fine. While we were eating, however, the manager came by and made her sign off on a bunch of paperwork that promised she would go see a doctor and not press charges and bla bla bla.

Ten years ago, this never would have happened. Or maybe it would have, I don’t know, but the fact that I am having this reaction must mean I’m getting old (and also the fact that I’m blogging at 10:30pm on Friday night). Is this what the world has come to? Does everyone have to sign their life away whenever they take a harmless spill? I bit the dust last week in a Target parking lot and nobody seemed to care. Are we not supposed to laugh at that anymore?

Anyways…now that I’m obviously starting to get old, I decided on a couple of good New Years resolutions:

1. Never grow up (completely). That’s right folks, I’ll be making fart noises behind your back until the day I die.

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2. Make new friends. This one is important. As we get older we tend to lose touch with good friends. Maybe it’s a natural part of life, or maybe it’s because we just get lazier as we get older, I’m not sure. But while I’m still in my 20s I’m going to bulk up my friendzone while it’s still socially acceptable.

Happy New Year!

Thought Leaders Shmought Leaders

Admittedly, as a marketer, I often advise people to position themselves as a thought leader in their field.  What better way to attract new vacuum customers than giving off the appearance that you know EVERYTHING about cyclone technology and suction thingamajigs.  Obviously I’m going to buy my vacuum from the guy who knows the most about the biz, right?  He seems smart and trustworthy.james-dyson-with-vacuum

But what happens when all of a sudden everyone in the vacuum industry starts leading thoughts? Who’s the leader now? Who do I trust?

I recently read an article in Forbes, “6 Ways Thought Leadership Will Take Your Marketing to New Levels,” by John Hall.  Hall explains how PR and consistent content marketing will help put your offering in a more positive light and keep your company top of mind.  While reading the article, I totally agreed with Hall’s points.  What concerned me was when Hall said:

“As a Forbes contributor, I look for sources who are leading their industries. I don’t want to do a ton of homework to determine if you’re the real deal. If you release content consistently and it’s quality work, you will be rewarded by attracting your own PR relationships.”

Nobody wants to do homework and everyone defines “quality” differently. So who is really the expert? The company that has the most active Facebook page? The most white-papers? Hosts the most webinars?  How many garbage webinars are out there and yet we still see these contributors as thought leaders? How many useless white-papers have you read?

We are being conditioned to think more content = expert.

There is now an entire industry that churns out content that talks about creating content and gives you a bunch more content to educate you and prove to you that content marketing works (yeesh)!  The scariest part about content marketing?  It really works.

Marketers have already infiltrated traditional channels like newspapers, tv and radio. Now they are saturating digital channels like mobile ads and social media. Are our thoughts next?  Ahhhhh!!!

At some point, I fear that thought leadership will be less about trust and quality and more about quantity and speed.  For now, content marketing and the idea of thought leadership is still new and effective.  I guess we’ll see what comes next!

In the meantime, don’t be dull and stay human.

30 Under Thirty

UB School of Management

Most people groan when they hear the word “networking,” but the MBA program has completely reversed this for me in the past year. The reason I enjoy meeting professionals has a lot to do with feeling prepared. I try to view networking events as opportunities to practice my social skills, meet new people, and have a great time.

After spending my summer in Tennessee, there was nothing I wanted to do more than get reacquainted with my hometown. When one of my UB Pharmacy School friends mentioned the 30 Under Thirty celebration happening at Soho Burger Bar this week, I was excited to hear that anyone could buy a ticket and attend. 30 Under Thirty is awarded to thirty professionals from the Buffalo area who have been nominated for their leadership and participation in the community.

Although I attended the event with two friends from UB’s Pharmacy School and MBA…

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I love New York

Over the last few weeks I did a little traveling around New York State for work.  Can you believe how gorgeous New York is?  It’s easy to forget after months of snow and sub-zero temps, or super-heated sweaty summers, but if you have a chance to take a NY road trip in the Fall…DO IT!

Driving through the Adirondacks is especially awesome.  Not only are the giant trees turning beautiful colors, the air smells fantabulous. Yankee Candle has nothing on the fresh air of Adirondack Park!

Here’ s a few photos from my adventures…

I’ll be driving to NYC this weekend for New York Comic Con (yeah nerds)! I’ll be sure to share some more photos.  Cheers!

4 Tips For a Smooth Job Transition

career changeAs many of you know, I recently changed jobs and moved to a new city.  Changing jobs can be tough, even for “experts”, but I’ve learned a few things over the last month or two you might find helpful.

Here’s a few of my tips for making a smooth career transition…

1. Be confident and patient.  You may not know everyone or everything right off the bat, but they hired you for a reason.  Don’t forget that reason.  Learning a new environment, organizational structure and culture takes time.  Nobody expects you to move mountains on day two.  If they do….more confidence, less patience 😉

2. Listen.  Take in as much information as you can.  Educate yourself and take notes.  Eventually the pieces will start to come together and things will make a lot more sense if you can put them in some context.  Also, you don’t have to do all the talking to look confident.  People will appreciate your input and expertise more when you know where they are coming from.

Changing-careers_433. Stay organized.  Perhaps you’re coming in at a slow time.  Or maybe you walked right into chaos.  Either way, identify your priorities and create an agenda.  Maybe nobody is telling you what you need to do, or maybe you have a million things to do and don’t know where to start.  Regardless, you need to take your job into your own hands and organization will help guide you.

4. Bring candy! My former coworker and good friend gave me a bag of peanut butter cups as a parting gift…not for me, but for my new coworkers!  Genius.  Bring some goodies to your new job, one week in.  The goodies will help you meet (and remember) new people, plus who doesn’t like the person who brought candy?

What tips do you have for a smooth career change?

Are You Moving? Don’t Use UHaul

For those of you who don’t personally know me, you may have been wondering where I’ve been the past month!  I recently got a job as the Coordinator of Recruitment Communications and Admissions Services for the Graduate School at the University at Buffalo (sorry that title is a mouthful)!  So, over the last few weeks I’ve been apartment hunting, packing my life away, moving from Rochester to Buffalo and starting and new job.  Although I miss my friends and former colleagues back in Rochester (very much), I’m excited about this new opportunity and I’m ready to explore a new city!

ed-moving-boxes_480I cannot even begin to tell you how crazy the last few weeks have been.  My boyfriend and I are still in the process of unpacking, but thankfully I think most of the chaos is behind us now.  The worst of it was when, the day before we were scheduled to move, our moving truck changed the date and time on us!

U-SuckI had reserved a UHaul truck a couple of weeks prior for last Saturday afternoon.  The plan was to pick up the truck and pack my apartment and a few large pieces of furniture from my parents’ house on Saturday night. We coordinated this plan with three different families and friends that were helping us move (I was moving my stuff from two places in Rochester and my boyfriend was moving his stuff from two places in Lockport). The plan was to wake up and drive the already loaded truck Sunday morning and get unpacked in Buffalo early so that my boyfriend could use the truck to get his move done.

Turns out all of this was just wishful thinking…

UHaul called me Friday to inform me that no trucks were available on Saturday at all.  The only truck they had available in “the entire Western New York area” was on Sunday at 1pm and it was two sizes larger (and much less fuel-efficient) than the truck I requested.  I immediately started scrambling to call any and all other moving truck options but it was pointless. Nobody was available on such short notice!  After a lot of arguing with UHaul reps both on Twitter and over the phone, I surrendered and was forced to take the Sunday reservation.  We rearranged everyones schedule at the last-minute (which made for a lot of grumpy movers)!

By the time we were done unpacking and getting everything moved into our new place in Buffalo it was after 11pm!  My poor family had to make the hour and a half drive back to Rochester after that and work the next day!  It was a bit crazy and super stressful but with the help of our amazing families and friends we got it done.

Later that week, I contacted UHaul to get my “$50 Reservation Guarantee” refund since they totally screwed us over at the last minute and didn’t have my equipment on the day I had requested.  After all that craziness, a $50 dollar refund (which they promise on their website) is the LEAST they could do right?  UHaul “customer service” doesn’t seem to think so.  Apparently their guarantee only applies after you confirm your reservation 48 hours prior!

WhhhhhaaaaaattttttTF?UHaul

What this means is say you book a UHaul truck 2 months prior to your moving date.  UHaul can call you the day before to “confirm” your reservation for a completely different date, time, truck and/or pickup location…and once you agree to that, you don’t get a $50 refund.  This is UHaul’s way of trying to make you feel like it’s safe to book with them, when really there is no guarantee at all.

My advice? DON’T EVER USE UHAUL!no_uhaul-thumb

I’m really not sure what other companies are better out there, but I’m sure it’s worth spending the extra money for an organization that actually guarantees reservations or at least notifies you of any changes more than a day in advance.

Normally I’m not one to bitch and complain about these things…my bitterness towards UHaul probably wouldn’t have lasted long had I received my rightful $50. But as it turns out, I’m not the only one UHaul has upset.  Their customer service (or perhaps how they run their business in general) is so bad, there’s a website called dontuseuhaul.com and another called uhaul-Sucks.com.  The sites are dedicated to persuading people not to choose UHaul by sharing horror stories similar to mine.

If you don’t believe me, just check out the @UHaul_Cares Twitter handle to see how poorly things are going.  The vast majority of tweets @UHaul_Cares receives are complaints just like mine.  Via twitter they are kind enough to apologize, but still no problems are ever solved.

uhaul-1UHaul, for their own sake, needs to start paying attention to what their customers are saying.