That InMail you never wanted. Shudder.
That InMail you never wanted. Shudder.
Premier Inn UX Fail
This is what happens if you try to pay in advance for rooms at Premier Inn.
In my recent work, after we had recruited a group of young people for our pre-apprenticeship, I had the opportunity of teaching them a few times. I would say “I had the privilege” but they might see it and get big heads. However to call it a “privilege” would be more apt because it’s highly likely that I gained from them at least as much as they did from me. Just to recap, the pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship starts with a group of young people with passion and talent for digital who haven’t had their fire extinguished by too many years in academia, and trains them in much sought-after digital marketing skills.
However, let’s return to what I got out of the whole thing; one the great insights was about how young people see the internet and social media, how that influences their use of it, and what social media types and digital marketers can learn from it.
Picture yourself living in a Le Courbusier apartment, in a small yet spacious and light filled domicile, one among many in a huge yet strangely elegant concrete monoliths with an aesthetic not unlike the Barbican or South Bank.
Perhaps this one:
Yes, you are living in the embodiment of the socialist ideal - an attractive functional house for all where you can live a pleasant an productive life.
Le Corbusier designed these homes and apartment complexes and even planned cities with a commendable passion for providing well designed homes for the masses, rather than merely the kind of dismal human storage solutions that pass for much of England’s former council estates.
Filled with lofty ambitions, he went and got angry however at the chandeliers and ‘bourgeois’ sofas that people insisted on filling their houses with - at least that’s what I’ve been told. He gave them these utopian spaces and they ruined the aesthetic with their own tastes. This is not how people should be living, he thought, narrowing his eyes behind the thick circular frames of his carefully chosen glasses (I made this part up).
So imagine, if you will, that you wake up one morning and find your bourgeois sofa and Ikea rag rug gone from your floor, taken by who knows what light-footed dark agents (picture them wearing black morph suits), replaced by this note:
Yesterday I had a very protracted exchange with the postal service on twitter and today I’m tweeting just to bury it in my stream.
Putting pressure on companies to respond to customer service issues is one of the great things about social media, but the whole time I was plagued by the thought that it might have a negative effect on my personal brand. OK, I didn’t think that precisely, I thought: If a company director saw this they may disapprove because it’s kind of pathetic to have public arguments (and I was tweeting at work - is that wrong if it doesn’t affect your productivity?). Also, it’s just kind of embarrassing.
I need to rewrite my Linkedin summary. Looking at it reminds me of some feedback that a lecturer gave me about one of my MA assignments: “it looks good, but it’s not really about anything”.
He still gave me a first for it. Ha.
If I looked at my Linkedin, I would probably be quite impressed but I wouldn’t know what kind of job to hire me for. I’m sitting on an uncomfortable three-way fence made up of community management, recruitment and social media.
I didn’t need to go in to work to day so I stayed in bed until midday. After giving up my attempt to watch all of TED.com I decided to do some housework. Fact: if you don’t do housework for long enough you begin to miss it.
NB my infrequent housework doesn’t mean I have a grubby house - I have a very good boyfriend. Just in case you were wondering.
While cleaning, amongst the pile of half-read New Scientist magazines I found under the bed, I discovered a list I’d written several months ago.
The application deadline for the programme I was recruiting for was on Sunday night. Lesson learned in hindsight, unless you hate weekends, make the deadline Friday night, not Sunday night. Five or so hectic weeks of sending emails, making calls, tweeting and smoking all my contacts down to the filter and suddenly with a final flurry or preparation for the interviews this week, all the pressure is off me, especially as we got a fine number of recruits.
There’ll be some follow up work, a bit of community management, and putting in place the foundations to retain and develop the fledgling community of organisations and interested individuals built during recruitment.
I’d like to stay and be the one to develop the community, and to do the recruitment for later rounds of the programme. I have a vision of sitting with my team some years in the future, laughing about the time we had to work hard to recruit with no PR, no content, and no sign off on the branding. Ahh.
Whenever you look for advice on how to get a better job or improve your CV, you always get a bunch of crap ‘how to’s which tell you things like ‘spell check your CV’, ‘network’, and ‘don’t use the same cover letter for very application’. Complete no-brainers.
You don’t need to listen to me go on about this, Ramit Sethi doesn’t hold back on dissing and discrediting advice. But think twice before getting started on his stuff as you may suddenly find you’ve spent a lot of money in his products. I mean invested…
My current work in recruiting has led me to understand why people think bullet-point lists of no brainer advice will suffice for job seekers, it’s because loads applicants really shoot themselves in the foot. On a percentage basis, it does make the no-brainer lists look the the single most helpful solution to reducing unemployment figures.
The problem with memorising hundreds of Chinese 4-character idioms (chengyu) is that they pop into your head at odd moments. Here are some that chart the first few weeks in my current job.
后生可畏 - You have to look up to the younger generation (literally ‘the later born are fearworthy)
I did some user testing and focus groups in the first week when we were planning an adwords campaign to find out what where they go to look for opportunities online, what their search terms were, and how they react to different types of site.
As I’m working for a very hip youth engagement agency, several of the people we got in were very savvy. Under 20 and they had established businesses and creative careers. It was when one of them said ‘I had a career change when I was 16’ that it hit me - ‘后生可畏’. And I felt a little regret that I spent my teenage years sketching around indie clubs and usenet.
Investors are losing confidence in Facebook because users are increasingly accessing it via mobile devices, but all their adverts are all on site. My hypothesis is that it’s the adverts that are driving people away from the site.
A recent article suggested that Facebook knows if you’re pregnant by scanning the content of your status updates and photos for things references to scans, and the wrinkled mugs of grinning babies, or something, and then targeting adverts for baby related stuff.
I suppose if you’re pregnant and Facebook knows it could feel like you’ve had your diary read by a sleazy ad man after your dollars. But what’s it like if you’re not pregnant, and Facebook thinks you are? Let me tell you, it’s actually infuriating.
The following insights are based on my career to date, which consists of working for three tech companies, more schools than I’d care to mention, the Chinese government, a handful of charities and now a youth initiative who’s corporate culture is a weird mix of all of the above (apart from the Chinese government, which is unique).
Less is more
The problem with the information age is that we end up having to read reams of crap that we don’t want to. Emails, websites, low quality news, tweets, status updates blah blah words words. Many tech companies have embraced Chapter 5 “Don’t Make Me Think” about omitting needless words, and pare things down to a textual minimum.
Outside the tech world, the philosophy is “more is more”. Give examples, clarify, put in extra paragraphs, make it more convincing with more explanation. And then add more for good measure. Make sure the reader knows allllll about us and what we’re doing.
That’s if anyone actually does more than skim through that great wall of text that lands in their inbox.