Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Check out my 16.8 mi Ride on Strava: http://app.strava.com/activities/219849939

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another busy Saturday in Perth 
I haven't posted for a while, and was thinking through my options last week when I stumbled on a tweet from the Perth City Centre team looking for bloggers to cover the Perth Chocolate Festival which took place over the weekend. A chocolate-themed, local food event within walking distance of my house on a Saturday? I'm in!

I went along with Mrs F and mini-Mrs F for the morning, and we had a great time. Here's my Google+ gallery from the day:

Thanks to the fantastic local Farmers Market, a thriving local food scene and a great range of local restaurants Perth has a growing reputation as a destination of choice for quality food and drink. It's not too much of a surprise then that the market was heaving with people for all of the time I was there. There was a range of chocolate themed stalls, from the exquisite and handmade chocolates from Iain Burnettt to Wicked Chocolate's 7ft tall chocolate fountain catering from everyone from the coca connoisseur to average Dairy Milk lover.

Perth is a fantastic place to live right now. This weekend's Chocolate Festival was another fantastic addition to the calendar.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

iPads for Professional People: What Apps Work

My employer has started to issue iPads to staff on a limited basis. They've made the devices available mostly as a replacement for laptop PCs for senior staff who spend time working outside their office to manage their email. 

While the battery life and portability of iPads are great as a replacement email device, they've so much more potential for improving productivity as part of our day to day business. Here's a few suggestions for Apps for professional people who want to use their iPad to improve productivity and connectedness in the workplace. 

Take Productive Notes in Evernote

I'm a recent convert to Evernote, although some users are quite evangelical about it's ability to improve productivity. I wrote and researched this note on this service. 

On a basic level, Evernote allows you to store and access all your notes online from your iPad, iPhone, or PC. While the Notes App can be a simple way to record your meeting notes, correspondence etc, Evernote improves this service by:
  • Automatically backing up your notes online
  • Making your notes searchable by text or tag
  • Allowing you to organise notes in folders (workbooks)
You can also link between notes, handy if you want to refer to previous work etc. 

In addition, Evernote allows you to improve productivity by allowing you to easily add to media content your notes. For example:

(Evernote can also convert handwritten notes to text....). 

This is also handy for keeping a digital record of paper handouts from conferences etc, or:
  • Business cards 
  • Receipts 
  • Recipes in newspapers
  • Warranties or Guarantees 
e.g. I've had some technical problems with my phone recently, so I took a picture of the SIM card which also had my Mobile Number on it, so that I always had these to hand when I called Tech Support without having to dismantle my device. 

You can also simply make and insert audio recordings to your note direct from your notes page by clicking on the Microphone button at the top of the page.

IT have yet to allow access to Evernote from your work PC, but even without the ability to access direct from our work network it's still a step up from simple note taking apps. You can share notes externally by emailing tremor posting to Facebook or Twitter. 

Read and review documents simply with iAnnotate 

In theory, iPads can herald a new paperless wonderland for organisations and individuals, negating the need to print copies of documents, papers for meetings etc. In practice reading and reviewing papers and notes on your pad is not simple or productive using the basic tools at your disposal (Pages etc). 

iAnnotate meets this need by allowing you to read and review document in much the same way that you  can with a hard copy. 

You can import documents by email (or Dropbox) and then edit in a variety of ways, including:

  • Highlighting sections
  • Writing, underlining or circling notes freehand 
  • Inserting a note (similar to Review Notes in Microsoft Word) 


You can save each annotated note on your iPad, or email to others to read. The files are saved as PDFs, and can be automatically read on your work PC with Adobe Reader. 

Stay up to date with news and CPD info with Reeder/Flipboard/Feedly

Your iPad can be a powerful CPD and information device. Reading your email and reading the net are one way of doing this, but using a well designed RSS reader can help you to stay up to date with news and events from the sector and beyond. 

Flipboard, Feedly and Reeder are different apps which perform the same basic feature; they automatically track a range of news sources for you to access online. They do this by magic. (Actually by using RSS feeds.) 

They all have a similar look and feel - they display each new news story as a thumbnail for easy browsing and provide easy options for sharing or for saving to read later. Here's what Senscot's Twitter Feed looks like on Flipboard:

Adding content to each of these apps is relatively simple. All will automatically sync with Your existing information feeds like your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google accounts, and you can add additional content directly from the app. To do this, just click on the search icon at the top right of the page.

You're presented with 2 options. Firstly, you can usually select from a range of curated options for content including News, Sport, Tech, Longreads, Trending etc, or you can search for a specific term. Here's a search for "Philanthropy" on Flipboard:

You can then choose to add everything that mentions "Philanthropy", or choose from a range of options, including individual Twitter/YouTube accounts, publication websites etc. 

Now it's easier to keep up to date, how can you use this information to ever age additional professional benefits? Share it! 

Stay informed and get well networked with Twitter

As we've demonstrated, keeping up to date with inforpmation form your field of expertise can be an important part of your CPD in itself. But learning to listen is only the first step in utilising the full professional potiential of social media. Speaking, sharing and disussing on Twitter et al can provide a range of professional benefits for users. Here's what the Twitter App look like when signed in as Big Lottery Fund Scotland:

As you can see, it's a good way to keep up with news from a range of sources (including what the CEO is doing/thinking today). 

But what to talk about? Using reading tools like Reedr/Flipboard/Feedly will give you access range of interesting, relevant professional content, and Twitter and LinkedIn gives you the chance to share this content with others. Curation can be one way to improve your business profile, while increasing influence on your area of expertise. 

The app is simple and straightforward to use. Top tips for beginners: 

  • Follow a wide range of accounts. People in your area of expertise, news feeds of interest, thought leaders, as well as accounts related to your outside interests.
  • Post regularly. Not every hour :) Daily posts for a few weeks will help build your understanding of the service and help you find your voice. 
  • Be relevant and build your online brand. How do you want the outside world to see you? Your tweets should reflect this. 

Connect with your professional networks with LinkedIn 

Twitter has all of life. Work colleagues, the great thinkers of the day, footballers, cat pictures and D-list celebrities. 

LinkedIn is a professional network. It's about work. So all the same issues apply as Twitter, but the content is moe targeted towards work-based content and CPD. It's currently the fastest growing social network. 

Other good features of LinkedIn's ipad app include:

  • Calendar. Automatically syncs with your work Outlook Calendar to give you details and background of the people you are meeting. 
  • Card Munch. An additional app to be used alongside LinkedIn which allows you to use the camera on your iPad/iPhone to scan business cards. The app will convert the card to text, add it to your device contacts and then find the individual on LinkedIn in order for you to connect.

Move to paper free expenses with Genius Scan

My work has recently moved to a paperless expenses system. Rather than keeping hold of a bundle of paper receipts until your wallet has the shape and steel of a badly made rugby ball, we can now submit expenses claims with a PDF copy of our receipts. 

Rather than saving your receipts up in you wallet for a rainy day befor e you scan them, your ipad/smartphone can simply scan your receipts as a PDF file for you to email to your work account. 

No more bulging wallets :) 

I've previously used Ricoh's 'Scan Pages' app for my iPhone, but have recently moved to 'Genius Scan' as you can integrate this with Evernote by upgrading from the free app for £1.99. One day, when we finally get access to Evernote though our work network, I'll not have to email the PDFs to myself ever again....

Also useful
  • Prezi - Presentation alternativeto Powerpoint
  • Toggl- Simple time recording tool 
  • Dropbox - Sync files from your Home PC (But not your Work PC!)
  • TuneIn Radio - Ever been away from home and miss your usual radio programmes? TuneIn Radio gives you a huge choice of thousands of stations, and a full range of listen again options. Beats the 4 radio stations you get on standard Hotel TV. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Jim Traynor, Rangers, and the decline of Scottish media

Much as I enjoyed Michael Grant's piece in The Herald this morning on Jim Traynor's move from the Daily Record and BBC to a senior comms role for Rangers, it missed one important piece of insight.  

If Grant is right and Rangers are successful in their media strategy to move away from servicing the needs of Scotland's newspapers and broadcasters in preference to direct channels like Facebook and the Rangers website to communicate with their support, how does this impact on the Scottish mainstream media? If Rangers and their significant supporter base don't need the Record, Sun, The Herald or Radio Clyde to provide the latest news from Ibrox, this can potentially have a huge impact on their numbers of viewers and readers, and consequently their advertising revenues.

 While it's clearly difficult to attract paying subscribers to online news services when free alternatives are easily available, you can definitely see that there might be a market in providing exclusive content direct to supporters when the service provided to external newspapers and broadcasters is restricted. Why should Rangers let others make money from exclusive interviews and stories when the club themselves could be reaping profits from clicks and building closer relationships with their customer base?

 I'm sure a few of Jim Traynor's former colleagues will continue to attempt to have some fun at his expense over the coming days and weeks. I'm also sure that if Michael Grant is right about Rangers' media strategy they'll only have a few months grace before this directly impacts on their own future, and not for the better.

Monday, December 3, 2012

How Third Sector organisations can use social media more effectively

I had the pleasure of running a couple of group sessions at the ACOSVO Annual Conference in Edinburgh earlier this month. 

Here's a Q&As on the main issues raised on the issue of how Third Sector organisations can use social media effectively.

What should we use social media for?

Different organisations and projects use social media for different things, you have to decide what goals will help drive your business. The Social Charity Index should be able to give you a few ideas from organisations already engaged with social media.

Do you need to better connect with your client base to let them know about new and events? Do you want to have a forum for individuals to share experiences and provide support to each other?  Have a look at Facebook and Twitter Pages of other organisations and projects in your area of expertise or sector and replicate good practice.

How do you get buy-in from staff?

The best approach for this is to be open and transparent with your staff and then ask for their help.

Have a session with your team to give them an introduction to social media tools and then ask them how they think Twitter/Facebook etc could help them in their own work.

Be supportive of your staff, and be upfront about your plans. You already trust your staff to speak to customers and clients in person, on the phone, and by email, so using social media is just another communication tool for this.

How can we measure the impact of our work through social media?

There are a number of free tools which can help you measure the impact of your work around social media. The ones I use most are:
Facebook’s free analytics tools for Pages. These appear at the top of the screen which you login as a page Admin. They tell you a range of stats, including how many likes you’ve had, how many people have seen your page etc.

Tweetreach.com is a great free tool for Twitter. It has a range of metrics, including how many people have seen your tweets, how many times your tweets have appeared and which tweets and followers have contributed most to your impact.

Should we link our social media channels together, and if so, how?


Different people use Facebook and Twitter for different things, so don’t hook up your Facebook page to automatically update from Twitter (or vice versa). It’s OK to share content or to advertise your Facebook content from a Tweet, but give some thought to this rather than joining everything up.

A good rule of thumb is to update your Facebook page a few times a week, and to Tweet a few times a day. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

How can Third Sector CEOs use social media effectively?

I had the pleasure of running a couple of group sessions at the ACOSVO Annual Conference in Edinburgh earlier this month. 

Here's the Q&A of the 3 main issues raised on the issue of how Third Sector CEOs can use social media effectively.
How can I use Twitter to connect with and influence key stakeholders in my area?

You should follow people you want to hear from and those you want to connect with.

There are a few tactics you can employ to achieve this.

Firstly, Twitter can search your address book to find your existing contacts who are already on Twitter which is a good way to start out. Click on ‘Discover’ at the top of the Twitter homepage and then select ‘Find Friends’ from the boxes at the top left of the page.

The 'Activity' stream in the 'Discover' tab of Twitter also shows you which people your followers are following. Twitter also recommends people who have similar twitter networks to you.

If you attend an event which uses a hashtag e.g. #ACOSVO12), a search for that on Twitter will show you tweets from other attendees as well as a (hopefully) interesting selection of comments/observations/contributions from the day. (Likewise fans of X Factor can find likeminded souls via #xfactor, etc etc). Looking though the follower lists of other Twitter users can be a good resource in finding similar people.

Some people create Twitter lists to group similar users together. @BIGScotland has created a list of the Scottish Third Sector on Twitter which currently has 500 members from across the sector. You can either click on the button on the page to follow the list, or scroll through the list members to find individual users at you'd like to follow. Other useful lists may include @newdirect's comprehensive list of MSPs on Twitter or @stevebridger's Charity CEO list.

How can I get enough of the right people to follow me?

·         Follow them! Most Twitter users will follow back someone who follows them, especially if your Twitter profile demonstrates that you share interests/sectors/friends in common.

·         Use appropriate hashtags for events etc so that other users can find you (but please bear in mind that #overuse #of #hashtags #is #unnecessary #and #annoying).

·         Say interesting and informative things (!) that are appropriate to your audience. This can involve:
·         Sharing links to articles that you find interesting and/or useful
·         Retweeting content from others (always credit your sources)

·         Talk to people. It’s nice to be nice, so thank people who have shared a link that you found helpful. Ask questions, as everyone knows it’s flattering to be considered an expert so you might be surprised who you can get into a Twitter conversation with. 
How do I find time for this additional activity when I'm already so busy?

Don’t letter Twitter hoover up your time. Instead set aside a few minutes every day to catch up on what your followers are saying and thinking about what you might say to them.

I know of one CEO who only uses Twitter when on the train to and from work, and when sitting in waiting rooms or receptions for his next meeting. This approach means that he’s not using up time on Twitter when he could be doing other things in the office, but still keeps up with what people are talking about today.