Muscle Health Foundation – Six Nations
I would like to start this blog by saying a big thank you to the Muscle Help Foundation and Michael McGrath for giving me this brilliant opportunity.
If you know me well, you will know I love practically all sports and try to get involved as much as possible so when I heard there was a chance for me to volunteer with the Muscle Help Foundation for the rugby dream programme, I charged at it!
Michael picked me up on Friday morning, along with another first time volunteer, Jasmine, the photographer. It was a great chance for us all to get to know each other a little bit better and prepare ourselves for what we will be doing. Once we arrived at the Marriott Twickenham we were joined by two long term volunteers, Sarah and Steve, where we were briefed and ready for action.
All the young men we were hosting had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and I had the opportunity to host Phil and his dad Andy. Safe to say I have never laughed so much in my life, their relationship was beautiful, and very tongue in cheek. It sounds like a cliché to say this, but the way Phil handles his muscular dystrophy is inspiring.
First stop of the day photos with the bronze statue outside the hotel which was on the south side of the iconic Twickenham Stadium. Everyone looked fabulous doing the muscle warrior salute and sounded even better when chanting “What are we? MUSCLE WARRIORS!”. It caught the eye of the public that’s for sure.
We then headed over to the rugby store where the young men were surprised with the opportunity to spend £50 on whatever they liked. Some got coats and hats while others bought memorabilia. After that is was time to chill and unwind before dinner.
You do not go hungry when volunteering for the Muscle Help Foundation!
We were now joined by Michael’s son-in-law Jake. The dinner was delightful and everyone was very satisfied. Dinner was also a great chance to get to know the three families even better – we bonded over Spurs, music, films and what we like to get up to in our day-to-day lives. And as we got to hear their nominations, a couple of tears may have appeared in my eyes after hearing the beautiful poems they had written.
After a lovely long sleep I woke up to the sound of someone knocking on my door – it was my FIRST ever room service. It was amazing! Then it was time to get ready for the big day.
We all met in the host room where we got a little surprise from the sniffer dog team. They came in and spoke to us about the checks that take place and how they train the dogs. They’d brought 16 week old puppy Sam with them; he took a liking to the guys and wouldn’t stop licking them.
Once they left, it was time for the men to wrap up nice and snug, they then headed out in the blistering wind and snow for the stadium. I stayed at the hotel and watched the game there, but the photos being sent to us from all those in the stadium made me feel like I was with them. They even got to meet Davina McCall and Joe Wicks (The Body Coach). Even though England didn’t win, all the guys came back having had an extraordinary time, albeit very cold.
More room service was then ordered to warm everyone up with some lovely soft tacos while we talked about the game and highlights. Once the roads had reopened, it was time for everyone to head home which was a little bit sad as it seemed like it was all over very quickly.
The two days really opened my eyes. I learnt a lot about muscular dystrophy and what the families have to do every single day in order to make sure everyone is happy at all times and how they cope.
The experience was amazing, I was looked after so well and so grateful for the two long term volunteers and Michael’s son-in-law Jake who made me feel comfortable and ready for action. It was a pleasure to meet the families and to get to know them, I will be keeping my eyes peeled to see what they all get up to in the future.
If you’re thinking about volunteering I would say without a doubt the Muscle Help Foundation is a great place to start. Everything about the programme was well organised and you were supported the whole way through it. The young men had a brilliant time and so did I.
Interested? Find out what to expect and see the experiences available! If you would like to help in another way you could donate £6.57 as Muscle Help is all about the #Powerof657. 657 is the number of muscles in a human body; it is also the number of dreams the charity would love to achieve, so every penny does really help.
Once again thank you to the Muscle Help Foundation for giving me this amazing experience and to Jack, John, Phil and their families for being so lovely and making the whole weekend perfect. I can’t wait to volunteer again in the future.
Benefits of Google Analytics for Social Media
Are you using Google Analytics to your advantage for social media?
Are you trying to use social media to get people to your website? Then you should be using Google Analytics. It’s the best tool for analysing what works best in terms of social media.
What you need to know about are your referrals and conversions.Google Analytics. It’s the best tool for analysing what works best in terms of social media. Click To Tweet
The difference between social referrals and social conversions
- Referrals – When somebody clicks on a link coming from a social platform, this is known as a referral.
- Conversion – When somebody clicks on a link from your social page and ‘completes an action.
You may well be getting thousands of engagements, but you need to be sure they are relevant. By using Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see if people are going from your social media to the right pages of your website (referrals) and then acts on what they see (conversions). For example, if you have an ecommerce site, you’ll be able to see who visits the site from which social media channel and then buys something. Another company may just want people to visit their website in order to make an enquiry, so somebody filling out the contact form would count as a conversion.
Are your social engagements effective?
Just because a post gets a lot of social engagements, such as retweets or likes, doesn’t mean it’s doing the job. The brilliance of Google Analytics is that you can see which pages people find most attractive to click on from social, and where they go from that point. This is where you can use the information to your advantage. You will be able to see the posts that work, can check the day of the engagements, as well as what the post was. From that information, you will be able to see what form of writing works best to encourage referrals and conversions, as well as assess the most effective landing pages from each social media platform.
By using this information effectively, you should be able to see an increase in your social referrals and conversions.
Quality over quantity
If you’re new to Google Analytics, it’s best to start off with small targets, with just with referral targets. Once you’re more confident, work your way up to conversions. Make the targets adventurous but also not too unrealistic. You will soon see what works best for your target audience. Always bear in mind that as you become more proficient, your engagements and impressions could drop, but this could mean you’re actually hitting your main objectives.
The Power of Facebook
Facebook is an evolved version of Six Degrees, a social site that was set up in the late 90s and generally agreed to be the world’s first social networking website. Many followed – you may remember platforms like MySpace and Bebo – but somehow, the relative latecomer Facebook came to dominate social media sites and has been the most used social platform for years now!
Facebook’s popularity gives it a lot of power, mostly for the best, which is why we think it’s great for businesses.Facebook for your business is almost a must nowadays. It can boost your sales dramatically. Click To Tweet
The kindness of strangers
Facebook has the power to inform the world of many great things. This example is a great way of showing how local charities can “accidentally” become sensations.
Social media made David Wyeth’s marathon run go viral and was reported in the news media throughout the world. If you aren’t aware of what happened, he got really close to the finish line of the London Marathon when his body started giving up on him. A nearby runner, Matthew Rees, came to his rescue along with a volunteer steward. They helped David over the finish line and as their kindness was caught on camera, clips of the gesture were shared globally. It turned out that David was running for one of our favourite local charities, Isabel Hospice.
With the help of Facebook, David managed to raise over £10,500. His original target was £1,000 so it’s safe to say he did Isabel Hospice proud!
The two runners became friends and went on to complete the Great Manchester run together. This time no one needed any assistance.
It’s not always news
Facebook’s powers haven’t always been good, and things are getting even harder now that fake news is becoming more of a problem. People say that Facebook can have a huge impact on how others think, and potentially influence, for better or worse, who they would vote for in an election. Fake news has upset many people with lies and vindictiveness.
Not all fake news is bad though. The Daily Mash, which is unashamedly a satirical site, tries to make everything lighthearted and just “have a laugh” – they have some of the most shared content on Facebook and it can really brighten your day up.
Articles like the above one are great sarcastic twists on what people may actually say. Whilst their intention is to give us a giggle, they do now have to be careful about what they do as there was a period where their articles were being blocked as they were counted as fake news.
Harness the power of Facebook
That Facebook has the power to influence the world which is actually a scary thought. Do you think Facebook has too much power? We don’t! Facebook is a great way to communicate and educate people – all we recommend is that you always check where the information is coming from so you are clear on whether it’s fake or not.
Facebook for your business is almost a must nowadays. It can boost your sales dramatically as well as giving you an easy way to talk to your customers. If somebody is looking at whether or not you’re a reputable business, they will look at your social media presence to see what you’re getting up to, as well as to look at your client reviews.
Is instant gratification bad or can it help excel your business?
With Love Island coming to an end it seems like the whole of Britain has become brainwashed by it. It’s safe to say that Team Cariad is divided over whether it’s good TV or not. (It’s amazing and nobody can tell us otherwise.) All those on the show have suddenly shot to fame and have gained the instant gratification they signed up for, so when they leave the villa they will be seen as celebrities, for a short while anyway.
And because of the power of social media, they will find it simple and easy to excel at famous for being famous and make lots of money. They will make their career as being a social media promoter, basically an influence marketer.
In fact, two of those who have already been voted out have already started doing this. Jess and Tyne-Lexie are now marketing the same teeth whitening products. (For those of you have more of a life than we do, the left picture is @Jessica_Rose_UK and @Tyne_Lexy_Clarson is on the right.) They are even doing the same pose! It seems Mr.BlancTeeth has a very specific brief…
The photos are tightly cropped so you might not even know who they are – maybe that’s part of it and the fact you can only see their teeth is what is supposed to get people talking. Their marketing is working.This kind of instant gratification helps to make products sell - Jess and Tyne-Lexie are the “It” girls at the moment… but how long will it last Click To Tweet
Is instant gratification really as good as it seems?
Whatever our favorite TV programme, we are all victims of instant gratification. We get frustrated when a web page takes the time to load, or when we start a diet and expect to lose 10lbs in the first day. That’s our desire for instant gratification and the contestants from reality shows and the companies that promote them know what we want and tap into our need for instant results.
Reality TV contestants are essentially looking to become influencers. They want to see their social profiles get thousands of new followers because the more followers you have the more money you will receive from companies wanting you to promote their products or services. When you think about it, this is strange as basically the more followers you have, the the less engaged you’re going to be with your audience.
In most of their sponsored posts, the captions will all say something along the lines of “I’ve been using … for the past few weeks now”. The fact that this calls to the reader/viewer’s need for an instant result and the desire to keep up with fashion and trends, is why these posts can be extremely successful.
Alex Bowen and Olivia Buckland from last year’s Love Island now boast over a million Instagram followers each! The website Influence.co reported that a user with 100,000 followers can earn up to £600 per post, so you can imagine why people from reality TV do not get too upset with coming as runners up.
If your customers receive the instant gratification you promise them, they will expect the same from all your future promises, which can be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain. And when you fail to deliver, you will be left with nothing but unsatisfied customers.
When it comes to instant gratification, you can be very successful in the short term, but you must be careful to make longer term plans in order to maintain the continued success of your campaigns.
Social media marketing is a much better way of influencing your customers in the short and long-term.
Isabel Hospice Bubble Rush
At Cariad we love to try and do as many things for charity as possible, especially Isabel Hospice, a charity that has touched everyone in Hertfordshire. The latest #TeamCariad challenge is the Bubble Rush on 16 July, a 5K fun run through mountains of bubbles.If you fancy getting sudsy for Isabel Hospice, there’s still time to sign up. Click To Tweet
How fun does that look?! And if you fancy getting sudsy, there’s still time to sign up.
At first it was just going to be me, Rory and Alex, but now we’ve managed to gather an entire team. Rachel and Lisa and their families are going to run it with us. Whilst Team Cariad will have a good presence, we’re not anticipating first place – the heatwave has been making it hard to train… well, that’s the excuse we are going with… Let’s just say, some of us have done more running than others, but that doesn’t mean they will be any faster! And as much as we want to make it competitive between us, we’re really looking forward to running through the bubbles and having a great time.
We are truly excited about how much money we can raise and we might even add a few extra surprises in if we make it past our £300 target….
We think our target is modest and would love to beat this by a lot. Every little does really help – see below to find out how. We’ll keep you up to date with how everything is going and let you know if we are throwing any surprise costumes into the mix. (If anyone has any costume suggestions feel free to tell us, we’re up for almost anything…)
If you don’t know what Isabel Hospice does, here’s how your money could be used.
It costs around £4.5 million each year for the Hospice to provide free specialist end of life services to local people. Here’s what your donation could be used for:
£10 would pay for 3 specially prepared meals a day for a patient at the In-Patient Unit who may not have been tempted to eat for a while because they’ve felt too poorly.
£26 would pay for one hour of specialist nursing at the In-Patient Unit where patients will feel cherished, safe and cared for.
£84 would pay for a Day Services session enabling patients to see a nurse, chat to other patients, do some art or craft activities or receive a complementary therapy.
£123 would pay for a supportive therapy session such as a physiotherapy, occupational therapy or lymphoedema therapy, helping patients to have a better quality of life in the time they have left.
£140 would pay for a home visit by an Isabel Nurse Specialists who can help with spiritual, emotional and clinical needs.
£135 would support a family member for a year following the death of their loved one.
£508 would pay for a week of specialist appointments by a Welfare Advisor who can help alleviate money worries for patients and their families and make sure they get the financial support they are entitled to.
£650 would pay for 24 hours of specialist nursing care at the In-Patient Unit – a building full of love, often laughter, and light.
£3,000 would pay the running costs of an Isabel Clinical Nurse Specialists for a day – they visit patients in their home, providing specialist knowledge, comfort and expert advice.
Source Isabel Hospice.
The Power of Twitter
Celebrating the positives of Twitter
There has been a lot of bad press recently about social media and how it can have a negative effect on a person’s mental health, so I am going to look at the positives and look at how it can be a strong power for good in the world and your business.
As we’ve seen in recent years, social media has a power that can reunite families, spark revolutions, as well as put people back in touch with past friends, or help them make new ones sometimes from right across the other side of the world.
It’s also become our ‘go to’ source of instant information. When something bad happens in the world, or you just want to know why your Sky box isn’t working, you turn to social media for a live update. Social media is no longer just a way to connect with friends, it’s a platform that covers everything.
Let’s take a closer look at the power of Twitter.
You’d be amazed by how much you can say in 140 characters, and when you add a picture into the mix – and remember a picture paints a thousand words – you’ve got a platform for an infinitesimal number of messages.
Weird “things” do happen on Twitter though and to be honest it’s great! You can’t take life too seriously when Twitter is like a giant party where you can speak to whoever you want without feeling nervous.
Let’s have a look at some of the fabulous stories Twitter has given us.
Running out of shower gel? This guy unintentionally used Twitter to get more products!
Or are you more of a chicken nugget fan? This guy has broken the world record for retweets with 3.6 million – overtaking Ellen’s famous Oscars photo, which was retweeted 3.3 million times – with this simple image.
He may still have a long way to go but with over 50 million Twitter users in the world, he should reach his target eventually… and get the free nuggets!
Both examples show social media have a power that you wouldn’t have even dreamt about 20 years ago when social media platforms were in their infancy.
Doing good in the world
Twitter is also one of the best places to raise awareness of all things good in the world. When football legend Ugo Ehiogu suddenly passed away, people were quick to turn to his Twitter account and something stood out that made football fans up and down the country unite. Take a look at it here.
The hashtag #dosomethingkind went crazy on Twitter, and hundreds of thousands of pounds was raised in no time for a variety of charities. It is a fantastic example of how Twitter has the power to bring everyone together and help so many people without even realising.
A platform that is used to express yourself in so few characters can work wonders.
The business of tweeting
Twitter is also a great way for businesses to have a laugh and stand up for themselves. Tesco are great at doing this. Here is just one example of how they ‘own’ people.
Twitter is now one of the quickest ways for people to communicate with a company, and more often than not, it’s to complain. That’s why it’s so important for businesses to keep an eye on Twitter (and all social media) and respond immediately to complaints and criticism. It not only keeps each customer happy, it’s also great PR for your brand. Unanswered complaints will give the impression that you don’t care and that’s one of the quickest ways of losing brand advocates there is.
Keep Twitter positive!
Yes, Twitter has its share of hate messages, trolls and fake news, but on the whole it is a great platform where you can open up, find new people, keep in touch with friends, share great things in the world, and do many more brilliant things.
All of us at Cariad see so many positives in social media. To us it is a great way to make sure customers are happy, a way to communicate with other local businesses, and – dear to our hearts – is a fantastic way of promoting good causes.
Talk to us about the best ways of using Twitter and other social media platforms to give your brand a personality, show everyone what you’re capable of, generate new business leads and promote brand loyalty.
Could clickbait bring a halt to content marketing?
You see content marketing and clickbait every day and probably have never thought about it in depth, why would you? Content marketing and clickbait could be seen to go hand in hand at the moment, but will it continue to work?The best way to fight fake news and clickbait is to build trust. Click To Tweet
Content marketing is the distribution of important online materials that can pull customers into your website from organic sources (like Google, Bing or Yahoo), or simply entice visitors to your website in order to find out more about you.
Content marketing is married to SEO as the two are critically linked together. In short, you can’t have one without the other. This means the customer doesn’t constantly keep getting “shouty” messages about the services or products you offer, rather it offers advice and tips that show what your business can do for them. It is a great way to get people talking and get customers to engage with you, creating a strong brand and loyalty.
What is Clickbait?
Clickbait is basically a way of enticing social media users into clicking the links in order to earn income from advertisers. That’s why they have catchy titles that are designed to intrigue, usually using the theme of celebrity to get you hooked, usually along the lines of “Celebrities: before and after surgery”. It’s something that you don’t really care about, but still interests a small part of you. Clickbait has become big business which is why it’s everywhere. There are specific websites that use clickbait to command a really high traffic rate and create what appears to be a really explosive audience (in terms of numbers anyway); and the more clicks they get, the bigger their profits.
How clickbait is hurting legitimate content
This is where you start to see a problem. There are companies writing legitimate blogs designed to build relationships with customers at the same time as positioning themselves as a trustworthy brand. Unfortunately, there are also many companies who write poorly researched, badly written articles designed just to get the click rate up. That means that many are deliberately spread across multiple pages, causing you to click through to continue the article – the more pages you open, the more ads you’re subjected to. It’s quick, easy money for companies who don’t care about reputation or building a good customer experience.
So could clickbait put a halt to content marketing? Potentially yes. Not only have people become annoyed by the constant ads, they’re also now questioning the accuracy of the information, especially with issues of fake news which have become a huge concern. We’ve all been fooled by what seems to be a serious subject turning out to just be a website looking for easy money. And this could lead to fewer people clicking on good materials and meaning businesses will need to try harder to ensure they are getting their content out there.
The best way to fight fake news and clickbait is to build trust. If you want your content marketing to reflect the integrity of your brand in order to build loyal and long-term relationships with your clients and customers, contact us to see how we can help.