Reasons To Love Social Media

I love social media.  There, I said it.  I love social media.  When I hear people groan at the word twitter or ask ‘What exactly is Pinterest for? It’s just pictures isn’t it?’ a part of me winces, the other bites my tongue.  When social media is used in the wrong way, it can be humiliating for those involved and embarrassing to witness.  For example, when the owners of Amy’s Baking Company appeared on Kitchen Nightmares, their Facebook page soon began receiving comment after comment from reddit users.  Anyone who knows anything about the internet in general, knows not to react to trolls.  They reacted – read here.  That is probably the only lesson anyone will ever need in how not to use social media.

But when it’s used in the right way, when each tweet, pin, like and all other manner of shares leads to a beautifully orchestrated masterclass in good PR, when companies and brands really hit the nail on the head, it’s brilliant.  There are three perfect examples of this, and they are three reasons to love social media.

The first is the Bodyform response video, it’s an oldie but a goodie.  A guy posted a sarcastic and tongue in cheek comment on the brand’s Facebook page, accusing their advertisement campaigns of painting a false image around that time of the month – read here.  Bodyform responded quickly and brilliantly with this video:

The second is even more brilliant.  I saw this on Twitter about a year ago and it took me about three days to get over it.  An image was shared on Imgur, a site which pretty much showcases the internet’s most viral images and memes of the moment.  The image contained a thread on a Facebook page, a Facebook message and a photo of two guys at the Eiffel Tower at the bottom.
The Facebook thread was extracted from the Thomas Cook Facebook page, where a guy called Thomas Cook had written to the holiday provider.  In a nutshell he asked them for a free holiday to Paris for providing them with free advertising through his name.  Thomas Cook responded, not offering him a free holiday and providing him with a link to their website.  While it’s great they responded to him, they missed a golden chance to win big internet points.  Now that they hadn’t given him a free weekend in Paris the gates were open for their competitors to step in and do so instead, which they did.
The next Facebook extract was a message from Low Cost Holidays to Mr Thomas Cook, telling him they would like to give him a free holiday to Paris for him and a friend since he had just been ‘Thomas Crooked’.  The photo at the bottom was of him and his friend on said free holiday.  Massive publicity win for Low Cost Holidays, and massive publicity fail for Thomas Cook.  Snooze you lose.
The Imgur link was shared throughout Facebook and Twitter etc (I can remember retweeting it from someone myself) and the entire internet.  Social media PR done exactly right!  See it on Imgur here.
The third and final example is the best by far and has nothing to do with PR, just the power the internet has to reach people.  You might have already seen this picture of this Sikh lady, named Balpreet Kaur:
This image found its way to Reddit, where users began shaming the woman because of her appearance.  One user in particular shared the image with the caption ‘i’m not sure what to conclude from this’.  As things escalated and the insults mounted, Ms Kaur caught wind of the Reddit ripple on Facebook and sent a personal response to the guy who originally posted the photo.  My favourite part is this:
“My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can.”
Her response was heartfelt, kind and so incredibly good willed –  read it in full here.  After this really beautiful response, the guy who originally posted the photo on Reddit sent out an apology to Ms Kaur and to the Sikh community:
“I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.
/r/Funny wasn’t the proper place to post this. Maybe /r/racism or /r/douchebagsofreddit or /r/intolerance would have been more appropriate. Reddit shouldn’t be about putting people down, but a group of people sending cool, interesting, or funny things. Reddit’s been in the news alot lately about a lot of cool things we’ve done, like a freaking AMA by the president. I’m sorry for being the part of reddit that is intolerant and douchebaggy. This isn’t 4chan, or 9gag, or some other stupid website where people post things like I did. It’s fucking reddit. Where some pretty amazing stuff has happened.
I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.
So reddit I’m sorry for being an asshole and for giving you negative publicity.
Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am
Sikhs, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life.
Balpreet’s faith in what she believes is astounding.”  

I’m pretty sure that at this point the Internet itself sat back in its chair and sighed ‘My work here is done’.  So there you have it, three perfectly good reasons to love social media.

Pin It Forward UK

About eighteen months ago I joined Pinterest.  My friends described it to me as a place to bookmark, or ‘pin’, things that you like and things that interest you.  I was hooked immediately, I installed the pin it button on my toolbar right away and began pinning absolutely anything and everything that tickled my fancy.  From pretty colours to interior arrangements, and from fashion items to motivational quotes and even recipes.  You can literally pin anything.

Pinterest is now taking on a very large life of its own and is about to launch a new website in the UK.  Like all good social media networks, the Pinterest team have contacted a number of bloggers recently and got them on board to help spread the word and generate new users in time for the launch.  I was absolutely delighted when I received an email from them last month asking me to take part.  To be involved in such a wonderful demonstration of how important the blogosphere is these days, and to be involved directly with one of my favourite social networks, is a wonderful opportunity and fantastic experience.

I certainly use Pinterest just as much as any other social network, but it gets used in a different way.  I feel that Pinterest is centered around ideas, inspiration and motivation.  Just a few weeks ago I went to the hairdressers and in the chair next to me a girl was on her phone searching through her ‘Hair Ideas’ board on her Pinterest account, in order to show the stylist what cut she wanted.  So much less hassle than cutting up a hair magazine!

Similarly, my friend Emily used Pinterest heavily last year for inspiration (or pinspiration, say it with me…) whilst planning her wedding.  She got some great ideas for her hair, shoes, the cake and dress from the site.  The best bit was with us girls all living in different parts of the UK at the time, we could all see her ideas on Pinterest and let her know what we thought, or even find our own pins that we thought she’d like.

Pinterest is fantastic for planning.  I’m currently living in Melbourne, whilst enjoying the city I’m quietly saving pennies so that when I eventually leave this wonderful place I can do a bit of travelling yet again.  Whenever I begin to lack the travel bug spark I pop on to Pinterest and add a few beautiful images to my ‘Planet Earth’ board, immediately feeling full of wanderlust once again.

Follow Frances B's board Planet Earth on Pinterest. On this board I pin images of places that I want to go to, have already been to or that just remind me of why I love our planet.  It can be delicately and quaintly pretty, or vastly amazing and inspiring.  That raw wonder and appreciation is one of the many things that makes travelling so worthwhile. In addition, Pinterest is also a brilliant tool to use if you’re a blogger, brand or company because the images always link back to the web source.  All you need to do is click!  Even Topshop have a pin it button on their website, so that if you see a dress you like but want to come back to it you can pin it to one of your boards for future reference. I use Pinterest because it’s fun, inspiring and very addictive.  If you don’t have a Pinterest account and would like to join all you need to do is follow this link to the new site.  Then make a cup of tea (or coffee … or gin, whatever), sit down and have a good old peruse of my boards to get some ideas and get the (pin)ball rolling.  If you would rather have a look first to understand a bit better what Pinterest is, go to my profile here for a gander. Now obviously I’m not the only blogger Pinterest have asked to help spread the word about their UK launch.  If you’re a seasoned blog reader you will probably already have noticed a significant ripple of posts about Pinterest recently, and right now I’m passing on the torch to the next one.  Isn’t the internet exciting?! Tomorrow make sure you visit Steve Whitty’s blog Midlifewanderlust1965, he’s one of the next in line to demonstrate why you should join Pinterest.  You can find his boards here. Good luck and happy pinning! Visit Frances B's profile on Pinterest.

The Six Month Mark

I have now been living in Melbourne for six whole months.  It’s gone by unbelievably quickly.  I’ve made new friends, reconnected with some old ones (it’s a small world!), had an amazing working experience in the CBD, had a fair bit of luck and discovered that there is more to Melbourne than I could have imagined.  This really is a fantastic city to live in.

The Australia Day parade at Federation Square

Quick mid-shopping snack with Marlee at The Cupcake Bakery
White Night Melbourne
I Tram Melbourne at the Finders Keepers market

I’ve been lucky to have my old university friend Ollie here in the city to help me get my bearings and my best friend Kayleigh from Petites Folies out in the country.  Her boyfriend’s family have kind of become my adopted Australian family, inviting me over for Christmas and Easter which was very kind of them.  I was also lucky enough to have my second cousin Ben (big family) return to Melbourne at the start of the year giving me a secure place to live near St Kilda.  Marlee from String of Events was also keen to welcome me to the city and show me what’s on.  It’s been fun hanging out and getting to know her and crazy that if we didn’t write blogs we would never have met!  The novelty of saying to people ‘Oh we’re friends from the internet’ still hasn’t lost its value.

Charlie and Kayleigh on Christmas day in Wandong
University friends reunited down under for New Year’s Eve
Blogger lunch
Basking in the beauty

I’ve sampled a fair few restaurants, cafes bars and nightclubs, and I’ve enjoyed the fact that I can now go running along the beach whenever I feel like it.  I’ve finally become accustomed to the weather (it’s all about the layers), and I’ve also developed a liking for good coffee – a good achievement considering I never drink it at home.

A great band Marlee introduced me to at Future Music
One of many late nights
My running route
Easter weekend in the country
The resident deer at Wolf & I, one of my favourite bars on Chapel St
City views from the Skydeck
Southbank by night

I’m at a point now where the novelty has worn off.  Melbourne kind of feels like home.  With that in mind, I have been missing home a lot more now that my mind isn’t as distracted.  But I guess that’s just something to get used to, it’ll pass eventually!

The things I love most about living here are:

Food, of all varieties
People watching
Being able to run alongside a beautiful sunny beach
Being able to get into the city centre within half an hour
Work experience (so far I’ve worked for a mental health clinic, a charitable foundation, a legal insurance provider, a university and now a private healthcare provider)

So what’s next in my pipeline of plans?  Well for the next two months at least I’m going to continue living and working in Melbourne.  I should be able to save up a fair few pennies and then I can decide later what to do with them.  After that I’m considering three months regional work in order to qualify for a second year visa.  It’s not definite and depends on a lot of different factors, but the one thing that pulls me is the thought of being able to live in Melbourne for another year!

Travel wise Sri Lanka is still heavily on my radar, but I’m going to wait until I’ve got more funds saved!  If I’m going to do a trip there by myself I want it to be worth it!  Until then it’s business as usual in the world’s most livable city.

Remember to follow me on instagram, twitter and facebook to keep up to date with my Melbournian adventures!

Two Months On

I have now been in Melbourne for almost two months.  Time passes at a frightening rate, and things change with time too.  Melbourne doesn’t feel foreign anymore.  There’s still a lot to the city I’ve yet to see and do, but it’s no longer urgent to do so.  It’s like being asked if I’ve visited certain parts of the UK by locals here, my reply is often no.  When you live somewhere the novelty in a way disappears, but I think that’s a good thing.  You see so much more by living somewhere.
Christmas was spent in Wandong with Mick’s family, four relaxing days of food, wine, sun and more food.    For NYE I was reunited with the majority of my university housemates who all happen to be at this end of the world.  The fireworks in the city were incredible!
It was brilliant to have a proper Aussie Christmas, seeing the barbecue lit on Christmas Eve was strange.  Spending the day of NYE on the beach was even stranger.
Charlie and I taking in the view on Christmas day
Cute coffee at Manchester Press, a cafe I plan to blog about!
Melbourne at night
Cherry brandy egg nog
This woman’s head band sums up the Carols By Candlelight experience.  It was unbelievably hot that day.
Since my last blog post my days have been filled mainly with coffee (and tea, PG tips girl), working, socialising and trying to coax my pale skin to change the habit of a lifetime and go even just faintly brown.  I am officially feeling settled in this great city.  The plans for 2013 are to embrace it, and save up for backpacking.  Whether or not I’ll apply for a second year visa is still undecided!

Some Things I Have Learned Recently

Things are never, ever as you expect them to be.  So it’s best to go into any kind of new experience with no expectations.  If you have expectations you will probably get disappointed.

I learnt this because I expected to love staying in a hostel again.  I ignored the fact that the last time I stayed in a hostel in a western country was two years ago, when I was backpacking with two other girls.  I didn’t account for the fact that this is an entirely different situation in many ways, and that people change in two years.  Thus when I moved in to a hostel, despite it being perfectly nice and my dorm being occupied by three very friendly girls, I absolutely hated it.  To the point where I couldn’t bear to be there.  The feeling didn’t go away until I moved out and into rented accommodation where I am now.  I have literally never been happier and more grateful to have my own room and a proper kitchen.  It’s made a huge practical and an emotional difference to my experience here so far.  There were good points to the hostel though, the main one being it’s location – I could walk to the city centre (not that I ever did…), so getting about and getting stuff organised was made very easy.

It’s a good idea to not judge people quickly.  Particularly when you do something like this and do it alone.  Judging people encourages you to alienate them, thus you shut people and opportunity out of your life.  No man is an island and what goes around comes around etc.  So I am trying to be as open minded as possible about everyone I meet.  I’d certainly want them to do the same for me anyway.
You can’t always believe everything you think.  Yes, that’s true, your mind can play tricks sometimes.  I have found since being here that if I have a bad day for any reason, and think something negative and absolute, it is very easy to let that thought take over.  But sometimes, things out of my control will take a turn for the better without me even doing anything, and the thought disappears.  I think maybe it’s a head vs. heart kind of thing.  For example, on my second or third day here my thoughts convinced me that finding a job was simply impossible.  I envisaged a wildly desperate situation of me running out of money and having to call home for help.  I did consider going home, but my heart told me to wait and to stay.  A week or two down the line and I’ve got work and am not broke or destitute at all surprisingly enough.
Nothing works unless you do.  This ones pretty self-explanatory, but it’s one I try to remember every day.