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Gossip Genie Blog

Potato Pranks & Other Mail-Order Gag Gifts

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Did you know that you can send someone a potato in the mail? Yeah, like… an actual potato. If you’re a normal human being, there are probably a million questions going through your head right now – the most important being, “Why would you ever send anyone a potato?!” One inside joke later and a long story short – I asked my brother what he wanted for his birthday and in turn, received this weird potato meme. What do you do with that kind of sarcastic response? You open Safari and search, “send someone a potato.” Thanks to Google and Potato Parcel, I was able to have a prank potato in the mail about 5 minutes after receiving my brother’s text (see below).

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To answer your second question – yes, I was just as surprised as you are that you can actually mail someone a potato. Could I have gotten a potato from the store and mailed it myself? Sure, but these people have got it down to a science, so why bother? My little potato prank got me thinking about other prank (or revenge) items that companies will send in the mail for you. Check out some of the hilarious, bizarre and even gross things I found below.

Ship Your Enemies Glitter

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Photo via shipyourenemiesglitter.com.

When I saw this my initial thought was, “I could definitely think of worse things to send to an enemy.” I wanted to know how the glitter sending process works, so I watched this YouTube video. Although this company sends self-described “glitter bombs,” the product hardly lives up to the hype. Sure glitter is annoying because it sticks to literally EVERYTHING, but you’re essentially spending $9.99 for a bunch of glitter (that you could’ve paid $3 for at the craft store) to fall out of a piece of paper. On another note; they also sell “farm made horse manure, sprinkled in glitter,” posed as a cupcake and surrounded with toilet paper. I know… what?! Warning: the custom cupcake is NOT edible.

WTF Candles

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For those with a lighter sense of humor and less hate in your heart, WTF candles are the mail-order gag gift for you. With the appearance of a lovely gift, these candles are actually more of a ticking time bomb. The first few times they’re lit, your victim won’t notice anything unusual. Then one day – BAM! Sweaty gym sock smell all up in your living room. Ranging from “dirty fart” to “stank breath,” these anonymous candles are the gift that keeps on giving. Seriously, they have a 30 hour burn time.

Poop Senders

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I’m still having a hard time believing that I just typed that. Poop Senders, the name almost leaves no need for an explanation. Almost. According to their website, this company, “will (anonymously) send your friend or enemy a healthy helping of some of the nastiest, stinkiest, fresh poop packages you have ever seen.” You can even choose from cow, elephant or gorilla poo – lucky you! It appears that this service is in high demand, Poopsenders.com has over 10,000 Facebook fans. Uhm, what?! I guess if you really want to get even with someone, this is your chance.

Note from the editor: What goes around, comes around. Right, JT?

Couture Onesie

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After a long tough road, my healthy baby girl, Liv Miriam Liberman was born on September 25th, 2015. Today, my life is delightfully chaotic as a new mom that owns her own company, working full time. Every morning, I get up with Liv around 6:30 and I feed her and get her dressed. This might sound like a regular routine but each day I spend a long time choosing the outfit that Liv will wear for the day. Sometimes, I even put it together the night before. People think I am crazy because she will outgrow everything in a hot second but not before she covers it in spit up. I don’t care, I waited a long time for my healthy baby to arrive and if I want every week to be New York Fashion Week in my nursery, so be it. As a result of a lot of encouragement and praise from friends and family, I decided to start a lifestyle, baby & toddler fashion blog, Couture Onesie. I had to carve out time to dedicate to this and therefore, my lovely 8 hour nights of slumber have turned into about 5 and my fitbit can be very judgmental about that. No, it’s not my 5 month old baby keeping me awake, it’s my blog featuring my 5 month old baby. Ironic! Here are few looks from the first few posts on Couture Onesie.

I typically work on Gossip Genie related stuff from about 7:30pm – 9:30pm every night – right after I put Liv to bed. As of last Monday, I ditched my down time and early bed time to focus on Couture Onesie from about 10pm – 12am. Unlike Gossip Genie, this is just a hobby and I don’t have lofty goals for the site other than to bring a smile to your face. It’s a way to document the early days with Liv and explore an avenue that I have always loved but never dedicated much time to, fashion. As a child I would spend hours dressing my dolls and posing them for photo shoots and now I have a real live doll to work with. As I mention in my blog’s bio, Liv is my muse, she’s like a squishy adorable blank canvas, just waiting to be dressed up. I have been so inspired by Etsy and all of the female owned shops that have adorable handmade baby clothing. I buy a lot of stuff for Liv on Etsy because I love supporting small business owners and I can always find what I am looking for on that site.

Couture Onesie is a work in progress and it will feature a lot more than just Liv in cute outfits. I am hoping to make it a resource for new moms. Pending the permission of my friends, I will be featuring many adorable babies in the near future.

If you would be so kind as to follow Couture Onesie on the various social channels, I promise you won’t regret it. I started an Instagram account for @CoutureOnesie and now I can post all of my Liv pictures without overwhelming my current Instagram audience. The Twitter account can be found here and the newly published Facebook page, here.

6 Years Strong

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Gossip Genie turns six on February 10th, 2016. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 years. In honor of our anniversary, I wanted to take a look back at what I have learned each year through Gossip Genie.

2010 – If you were to calculate what I was charging clients and how many hours I was actually working, I was probably making less than $5 an hour. I would bend over backwards for even the prospect of a client. I was so hungry for business; I would gladly take on the cheapest yet most demanding clients out there. There were many days when I would sit at my make-shift desk (kitchen counter) for 14 hours straight working on every aspect of my newly founded little business. I did not set any client boundaries and I soon realized that it was going to lead to premature burn out on my part if I kept up at that pace. It took me a long time to realize that it’s okay to say no or to charge more because it’s reflection of your business and worth. It was at the end of this year that I put together structured pricing and detailed scopes of work.

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I have always been very frugal with my expenses and my collateral in 2010 proves that (bottom left)

2011 – Thanks to the wonderful interns I had hired in 2010, I was ready to hire a full time employee. Let’s just say I learned a valuable lesson in hiring, firing, employee contracts, trial periods and intuition from the person that I hired (she is not in any of these pictures). Hopefully she has updated her resume since we worked together to include skills such as defamation of character, thievery and fabrication on another level. Let’s just leave it at that, growing your own business and finding the right people is a very complicated process. That was a bump in the road and my interns helped me pick up the pieces. At the end of 2011, I got married and it was the first time I turned on my out of office in almost two years. It was short lived because a few days into my honeymoon, I left my strawberry daiquiri melting on the beach in Hawaii to hop on a new business call. I spent the rest of the afternoon doing work in our honeymoon suite. Side note – the picture of the cookie in the upper left hand corner of the collage is from my bridal shower. Yes, the theme of my bridal shower was Gossip Genie – that’s how much I love what I do.

Client products came with me on my honeymoon and everywhere else

Client products came with me on my honeymoon and everywhere else

 

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Bottom right – Colleen at her “desk” in my apartment. We had to use a laptop in the literal sense.

 

2012 – The hard work was paying off; Gossip Genie was growing at a rate every entrepreneur dreams about. It was a pivotal year for us; we successfully made it to our second anniversary, which many start-ups fail to do. I hired Elizabeth in January and Anthony in August. I knew from the moment I met them both that I needed them on my team. Four years later, I am still fortunate to call them my coworkers and the evolution and growth of Gossip Genie is largely in part due to them. A solid team can take your company to the next level but in order to build a solid team, you need to trust and support the people on that team. I learned a lot about managing a team in 2012, I caught myself micromanaging at times and Elizabeth helped me realize how detrimental that can be to the success of a team. I vowed never to do that again and that was one of the best decisions I have ever made. In May we moved into an office and out of the second bedroom in my condo. We ended the year with a 62% increase in revenue over the previous year.

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Second bedroom office

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New office

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Genie Office Painting Party in 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 – At this point we had some really incredible clients on our roster. We were on our second year working with a Fortune 500 company, TDS Telecom and in August we signed Reynolds Consumer Products and Hefty Brands. In September we put on an incredible hour-long presentation for social media week about the ROI of Social Media. Our seminar sold out and we signed a client as a result of it. This was another year of extreme growth and learning.

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2014 – By far the worst year of my entire life, I wouldn’t know that until July 24th but just the mere mention of 2014 makes me cringe. Despite my unimaginably difficult personal life, Gossip Genie continued to thrive. That is a testament to how incredible my team truly is and how fortunate I am to work with them. It was this year that Stephanie Reed and Anneliese Peper joined us, two fabulous additions to our team. Unfortunately, we lost Stephanie to London due to the expiration of her visa but in the two years we worked together she introduced PR as an additional service to Gossip Genie. I’ve learned that it’s so important to always search for additional sources of revenue, updating services and refreshing/enhancing current offerings.

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2015- Gossip Genie had been around for half a decade. The company had been through ups and downs, client wins and losses, many new hires and fires. Over the past 3 years, Elizabeth had been so instrumental in our growth through incredible client acquisitions; she deserved a piece of ownership in Gossip Genie. I was thrilled to give her 10% of Gossip Genie as a token of my appreciation. Elizabeth was made VP and Anthony was deservedly made Director of Social Media. It has been one of my greatest professional pleasures having watched Anthony evolve at Gossip Genie. His passion, dedication and loyalty to his clients is beyond admirable. In May we hired Dana and Kristina, both have been a wonderful addition to our team. This year I learned a few very valuable things, fight for what you believe in even if it means getting lawyers involved to collect what you are owed. I also learned to relinquish control when necessary, I took a 3-month maternity leave at the end of 2015 and Gossip Genie continued to flourish despite my absence. In contrast to 2014, 2015 was the best year of my life, my sweet baby girl arrived, Liv Liberman, on September 25th, 2015.

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2016 – It’s clear that Gossip Genie has been the greatest learning experience of all time. I learn something new every day and these past 6 years have provided more education than any number of years in school could ever provide. I learn from my clients, I learn from my coworkers and I learn from trial and error. I would not trade my job for any other in the world. This year I hope to continue to grow and somehow find the perfect work/life balance.

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All You Need Is Love (And a Killer Social Media Campaign for Valentine’s Day)

By | Gossip Genie Blog, Helpful Information, Social Media, Social Media Spotlight, What's Trending, Words of Advice | No Comments

It’s February and love is in the air as Valentine’s Day approaches. Whether you’re planning an extravagant celebration with a loved one or staying in with Netflix, it’s hard to ignore the romantic holiday, especially on social media. If you’re a brand or small business, it’s wise to start planning a campaign to capitalize on one of the largest spending holidays. In fact, according to a new study from the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $18.9 billion this Valentine’s Day.

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What are they spending it on? Take a look:

  • 53.2% of Valentine’s Day consumers will purchase candy, generating $1.7 billion in sales
  • 1 in 5 (21.1%) will purchase jewelry, totaling $4.8 billion
  • $2.1 billion will be spent on flowers
  • $3.6 billion will be spent on a special meal or movie tickets
  • $2 billion on clothes
  • $1.5 billion on gift cards

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Who’s doing the spending? Here’s a breakdown:

  • Adults 25-34 are outspending all other age groups at an average of $213.04
  • 35-44 year olds will spend an average of $176.21
  • 18 to 24 year olds will spend an average of $168.95

 

Valentine’s Day is a great holiday to tap into a social media campaign for your brand or business.

Here are a few ways you can do that:

Tap into current issues

A new campaign for Sweethearts, the candy sold almost exclusively as a Valentine’s Day product from candy maker Necco, seeks to give the brand a modern makeover by plugging into social themes, including marriage equality.

“Our communities are becoming bigger and more connected,” said Necco CEO Michael McGee. “For a brand, that means traditional, one-sided communication is not enough. You have to find ways to help consumers participate with your brand and have your conversation become interactive.”

To achieve this for Valentine’s Day, Necco is inviting folks to visit a contest website and share their sweet stories  “of sharing, love, friendship and words from the heart” for a chance to win $5,000. On the homepage, they’re greeted by the campaign’s centerpiece—a video that tells the story of Jack and George. Now in their 80s, the Texans have been “sweethearts” for 55 years. They wed in 2015, shortly after the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. This year marks the first Valentine’s Day they’ll be able to celebrate as a legally married couple.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G93VVehrLnc

Necco’s McGee believes tapping into current issues/trends will pay off for Sweethearts. By telling sweet stories designed to melt consumers’ hearts (and make them think just a little), he anticipates boosting sales 20 percent this year.

Let your audience participate

Tiffany & Co. is asking the age-old question, “What is love?” to explore the different definitions of today’s romantic relationships. In addition to posing the question on their social media channels to garner responses, Tiffany’s Valentine’s Day campaign has a webpage featuring testimonials from an assortment of individuals, a gift guide and a love generator that presents consumers with an opportunity to express their personal answer to the frequently pondered question. Their answer is then created into a hashtag in GIF form that can be shared via social media. With so many personal interpretations of what love is and means, it’s an interesting and unique way to drive audience participation.Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 8.20.43 PM

 

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Target Men

Valentine’s Day is a traditionally female-oriented holiday. But men are most likely the ones shelling out the dough for presents, so why not target them? One of our clients, PrettyQuick, is a beauty-booking app aimed primarily at women. Almost all of our ads and social media posts are targeted towards females. This year, we are launching a Valentine’s Day ad geared towards men to get them to buy a PrettyQuick gift card for their significant other for a day of pampering. It never hurts to think outside the box of traditional holiday marketing and tap into a new audience.

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Target Singles

In the vein of targeting a different audience, the National Retail Federation report notes that 45 percent of Americans don’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Interestingly, though, many of them plan to get together or treat themselves to something special.

It’s interesting data because it can create new opportunities to woo singles who may not have elaborate plans for the annual celebration of love, but are still willing to spend money.

With 10 percent of happy singles planning to buy gifts like jewelry, spa, and apparel for themselves, you may want to seize this opportunity by planning a special campaign directed at this group.

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Get Cheeky

Last Valentine’s Day, Huggies partnered with Pandora to create a “baby making” playlist that they shared on their social media channels with the slogan “See you in 9 Months.” The brand reported a 22% increase in social interaction. Getting a little risqué with your social messaging is not for every brand, but when done wisely, it can spark a conversation and renewed interest in a brand.

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Strike up a partnership

Match.com and Starbucks partnered together last year for the worlds largest #StarbucksDate. On February 13th, Match’s mobile app included a section called “Meet at Starbucks.” Match users who click on that button were able to email one another and meet up at a nearby Starbucks. According to Starbucks, the feature helped people “more easily reach out and make that first coffee date.” They were also encouraged to share their coffee date with the hashtag #StarbucksDate.

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Thinking of creative ways to partner with another brand or company for a Valentine’s Day promotion is a great way to extend the reach of your campaign, reach a new audience, and maybe even help people find love!

 

 

The Rise of The Red Cup: Social Media’s Viral Phenomena

By | Funny Photos, Gossip Genie Blog, Social Media, Social Media Spotlight, What's Trending | No Comments

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Warning: Minor Making a Murderer spoilers ahead.

“Steven Avery definitely did it! Remember the cat?!”

“There’s no way Brendan Dassey committed the crime. He confessed and still thought he would get to watch Wrestlemania…”

“I don’t trust Mike Halbach. Let’s not forget about the voicemails, people.”

Shortly after Christmas, I logged onto my Facebook and Twitter accounts to see dozens of messages just like these. All of my friends (who had apparently become private investigators overnight) were debating Netflix’s latest hit, Making a Murderer – a true crime docuseries, chronicling the murder case of Teresa Halbach. Posts about the show and its main players – Steven “Did He Do It?” Avery, Brendan “I Don’t Know” Dassey, Dean “Heartthrob” Strang, Jerry “Knows His Shit” Buting, Ken “Full of Krap” Kratz – were unavoidable. From memes to theories to parodies, the case demanded your attention.

This obsession got me thinking: what other events have garnered this same, heightened level of social media exposure? So, I decided to compile a list of some of social media’s most recent, viral phenomena:

Kony 2012

Back in 2012, filmmaker, Jason Russell, and Invisible Children, Inc set out to make the evils of war criminal, Joseph Kony, known. In their 30-minute video, they explored Kony’s long history of abducting and brainwashing Ugandan children to turn them into soldiers. Their goal was to motivate the public and more importantly, government leaders to join the fight against Kony and his supporters. The video quickly became one of the fastest viral videos of all time, reaching “100 million views in 6 days (“Kony 2012,” 2014).”

I was in college when this video was released, and I remember my peers going CRAZY. The video devoured my timeline, inspiring friends to donate to the cause and activist groups to form on campus. Sadly, the craze quickly died after questions began to circulate around where fundraising dollars were being spent (hint: not where donors thought they were going). Every once in awhile, though, you’ll still see some internet troll adding #Kony2012 after an unrelated tweet.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

“I’m Kristina, and this is Bill. Carrie and Kathy nominated us to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to help raise awareness and donations.”

This was the intro to my own Ice Bucket Challenge video. When I posted the video on Facebook in August of 2014, social media’s latest phase was dumping buckets of ice water on each other and filming the action to prove it. The point was to raise awareness for ALS, “a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord (“What is ALS?,” 2016).” The momentary lapse in movement participants experienced from the cold was meant to mimic what those with ALS endured every day. Moreover, all were asked to make a donation to the ALS Association to help fund research.

Everyone – neighbors, teachers, celebrities – were participating in the challenge and giving as a result. Donations to the ALS Association skyrocketed and helped make a rare disease better known and understood. This was one phenomenon that actually made a real and important difference.

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The Dress

In February 2015, social media erupted into pandemonium over one of its biggest arguments in recent memory: the dress. WAS IT WHITE AND GOLD? WAS IT BLUE AND BLACK? What felt like the entire world relentlessly argued over its colors. The photo stirred up group chats, pitted coworkers against each other, and divided families into two.

Here is my actual status regarding the dress debacle of 2k15:

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The manufacturer did end up specifying that the dress was blue and black, and soon after, several scientific explanations were released to explain why not everyone saw it that way. Social media slowly let the topic die, but I still recommend not bringing it up in everyday conversation (unless you’re ready to argue about it again).

#TeamWhiteandGold.

Profile Picture Filters

What do gay marriage and the Paris attacks have in common? Facebook filters.

In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage must be honored in all 50 states. Facebook commemorated this momentous occasion by creating a rainbow filter that its users could put over their profile picture to signify their support. In November of the same year, Facebook enabled this feature again, in the form of a French flag, during the wake of the Paris attacks. People all over the world stood in solidarity with France online.

Although the filters were nothing but symbolic, I loved that the option was made available. It gave the world an opportunity to unify together against injustice and violence. It showed those in the LGBT community and all over France that they were not alone in their struggles. This temporary act made a lasting impact.

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Hotline Bling

This is hands-down my favorite, recent social media phenomenon. When Drake dropped his music video for “Hotline Bling” in October 2015, the internet EXPLODED. Almost instantaneously, my feed was full of memes and parodies that poked fun at his dad dance moves.

My personal favorites were the ones that edited Drake into Wii Sports games. Please take a look at Exhibit A.

The Red Cup

Ahhhh, let’s talk about December’s phenomenon: the war on Christmas. This past holiday season, Starbucks opted for plain red cups rather than ones decorated with festive snowflakes or delicate holly branches. While most people didn’t notice or care about the change in branding, some Christians decided to voice their distaste on the internet, claiming that the move was a subtle attempt to remove any religious undertones from the holiday. Those who disagreed with this viewpoint also voiced their opinions on social media, leading to an all-out debate.

As a Catholic, I thought the whole controversy was crazy. Starbucks still served Christmas Blend and sold Advent calendars, so how could they be against Christmas? Scanning my timeline, it appeared that all of my friends agreed. In fact, I did not see anyone who argued that Starbucks was waging a war on Christianity. That got me wondering: actual controversy or social media myth?

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My Top 5 ‘Making a Murderer’ Memes

By | Funny Photos, Gossip Genie Blog, Reality TV, Social Media, Social Media Spotlight, What's Trending | No Comments

It’s been exactly one month since Netflix documentary Making a Murderer has aired and I’ve been dying (no pun intended) to write about it since I finished the last episode.* It took me awhile to figure out what angle I wanted to take; Would I talk about the case itself? Focus on the Manitowoc Police Department? Pick apart the verdict? If you wait 8 days, you might find the key to my decision (see what I did there?).

If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, there’s a good chance that talk of this series has been blowing up your newsfeed for the past month. Helloooo, spoiler city! People haven’t been able to wrap their heads around, or talk about, anything else – Seth Meyers created a parody video, Mindy Kaling and Chrissy Teigen were tweeting each other about it, a petition received so many signatures that the White House had to release a statement – this documentary is HUGE right now.

Ultimately, I decided to take the lighthearted route that everyone (with a sense of humor) can enjoy. Regardless of whether you believe that Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are guilty or innocent, I think most people would agree that 97% of the investigation was questionable (coughLieutenantLenkcough). Thanks to some info learned in the documentary, shady characters and the internet, we now have a wonderful variety of Making a Murderer memes to enjoy. From cookies decorated with defense attorneys Dean Strang and Jerry Buting to a Powerball ticket being turned into a funny photo, I’m sharing my 5 favorite Making a Murder memes* below.

1. Probably the most popular meme on my timeline and I still laugh every time I see it.

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2. Regina George vs. the Manitowoc Police Department – GO! (I included two MG memes, you’re welcome).

Mean girls

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3. I feel you, Pauly D.

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4. Move aside, T.Swift & Co.

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5. The definition of an emotional rollercoaster.

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*If you haven’t finished (or started) watching the series, I suggest exiting this blog post now. You probably won’t understand it anyway.

*I take no credit for the artistic creation of these awesome memes.

6 Social Media Bad Habits Companies Need to Break

By | Gossip Genie Blog, Helpful Information, Social Media, Social Media Spotlight, What Not to Post, Words of Advice | No Comments

Social Media (1)

As a Social Media Coordinator, I probably have more Facebook pet peeves than the average user. It’s become second nature for me to notice all of the errors that brands are making in their posts – errors that often times can be easily avoided to increase the overall professionalism of their content. So, to help your company or small business identify and fix these mistakes, here is a list of 6 small changes you can make that leave a big impact.

  1. Don’t add too much copy

I’m going to be blunt – nobody cares about your post when it’s in the form of high school research paper. Limit your copy to only a couple lines that your fans can quickly read or skim over. Get to the point and grab their attention sooner rather than later.

  1. Eliminate or shorten your links

For me, this is the queen mother of my Facebook pet peeves. Nothing clutters up a post faster than a link that is so long it requires ellipses at the end. However, many businesses just don’t realize that you can actually eliminate the link after Facebook creates its preview.

Check it out:

Step 1 – Copy your link and paste it into your post.

Step 2 – Wait for Facebook to create a preview of your link.

Step 3 – Delete out the link but keep the preview.

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It’s important to note, though, that this method will not work for you if you plan on adding an image to your post. If you would like to add a photo, simply copy and paste your link into a URL shortener (I usually use Google’s) and then insert the new link it creates for you into your post. This link will be about half the size, which gives your post a clean look and prevents it from appearing on an episode of Hoarders.

  1. Add your own text when sharing a link

This one is often overlooked. When sharing a link, avoid the ‘share now’ button and opt to add your own caption. Let your readers know why this article is relevant, exciting, surprising, helpful or significant. Why would they benefit from actually clicking through and reading it? Why are you sharing it in the first place? If you give them some insight into why they should open it, you are more likely to get engagement.

  1. Optimize your photo sizes and quality

Whether you’re posting to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, each social media channel has an optimal photo size. This means that your picture will look the best on their sites if it has particular dimensions. Moreover, try to use high-resolution photos whenever you can. Blurry or pixelated graphics don’t receive as good of a response as clear ones for obvious reasons.

Photo size and quality is particularly important in Facebook’s case. Its algorithm for businesses is set up to favor posts that have high-resolution, perfectly-sized photos. So, if you want to get your posts seen and receive a higher organic reach, take the time to ensure you are posting quality content.

Bookmark this cheat sheet by Sprout Social! It tells you which sizes work best for each site.

  1. Add periods before tagging other Twitter users

Twitter users, you also commit some pretty serious social media sins! This one in particular is often just an honest oversight by those who don’t know any better.

If you start a tweet by tagging another company or user, it will not get seen by all of your followers unless you add a period before. This is because Twitter thinks your tweet is just for the specified user unless you indicate (using that period) that you would like it to be seen by your entire audience.

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Now, in the case of customer service, you will often not need your tweet to be seen by everyone. In that scenario, it is okay to exclude the period before the at sign.

  1. Proofread, proofread, proofread!

I can write an entire blog post on the horror stories of not being conscientious when posting. However, you can hold off on the Michael Myers music in one simple step: PROOFREAD. In addition to catching major mistakes, you can also eliminate spelling errors, forgotten words or awkward language – all little mistakes that decrease the quality of your content.

By implementing these 6 fixes into your social strategy, you will improve the appearance of your posts, increase their visibility and reach the proper audiences!

5 Common Misconceptions about Working from Home

By | Gossip Genie Blog, Helpful Information, Social Media, Social Media Spotlight, What's Trending, Words of Advice | No Comments

I have to admit, before I had the ability to work from home two days per week, I scoffed at the idea of it. When I thought of working from home, I thought of people who were, well, essentially lazy – laid around in pajamas, watched TV and napped on and off all day long. A new job and 8 months later, the tables have turned and I’ve realized that my ideas about telecommuting couldn’t have been any more wrong.

Now that I’ve fully embraced the WFH* lifestyle, I occasionally hear comments from family and friends that I used to make. “I forgot you don’t work tomorrow,” or, “You should watch this show while you’re working from home!” and, “It must be nice to not do anything two days a week.” As annoying as these comments are, I try to remember that I was a skeptic once too. Working remotely can seem like a slacker’s paradise if you haven’t gotten the chance to experience it for yourself, but if you ask anyone who telecommutes, they’ll kindly disagree. Check out 5 of the most common misconceptions I’ve experienced when it comes to working from home.

Myth: You get to catch up on your favorite TV shows

Truth: It may seem like telecommuting means plenty of time for TV, movies and video games but the routine at home hardly differs from the one in the office if you want to keep your job. It’s a nice thought, but there is no TV time between the hours of 9 and 5.  

Myth: Working from home is pretty much the same thing as having a day off

Truth: ERRRRRRPPPP! Sorry Jenny, the price is wrong. I have heard this so many times that it’s not even funny. Although you may think that the “working” part of working from home is only implied, I actually tend to get even more work done when I’m telecommuting than I do in the office. I think many other telecommuters would agree.

Myth: You lay in your bed all day with your computer on your stomach and hand in a bag of chips

Truth: While this might work for a few, uhm, select people, I can assure you that this is not the norm. Everyone here at Gossip Genie has a space at home that’s dedicated to our Tuesdays and Thursdays. Having a defined working area helps keep you focused and stay on track with your daily duties.

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Myth: You can hang out with your friends all day long

Truth: I love my friends, I really do, but when I’m working the last thing I want to do is be distracted. Before you know it, one hour chatting can turn into three and your work day is shot. Unless your bestie is willing to put you up on their couch when you lose your job because you were too busy socializing, I suggest keeping your friend hang time for after work and the weekends.

Myth: You can cook full meals and have the time to clean the whole house, too!

Truth: If I didn’t prep my lunches on Sunday, I wouldn’t eat at all when I WFH. Time gets away from you which can lead to eating your lunch later than normal and believe me, there’s isn’t time (or energy) to whip up a 5-star meal when you’re in the zone. Cleaning? Forget about it. I’ve literally sat in the same spot all day, only moving a few times to relieve myself.

WARNING: Working from home is not for those who are easily distracted, lazy or love to sleep. Please consult your employer before attempting this approach.

*WFH = working from home

Have we lost the art of conversation?

By | Gossip Genie Blog, Words of Advice | No Comments

Take a moment and think about your daily interactions. Do the majority of them involve eye contact or face-to-face interaction?

Sherry Turkle, a psychologist and professor at MIT whose primary academic interest is the relationship between humans and technology, recently came out with a book called “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.” In the book, Turkle argues that texts, tweets, Facebook posts, emails, instant messages, and snapchats—these simultaneous, rapid-fire instances of online communication—have replaced face-to-face conversation, and that people are noticing the consequences. Over-reliance on devices, she argues, is harming our ability to have valuable face-to-face conversations, “the most human thing we do,” by diminishing our capacity for empathy.

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That is very worrying to me.

I am all about the power of digital media to enhance and even empower communication. I think it’s a great tool to stay in touch and for businesses to market themselves. What worries me is the reliance we all have on it.

Think about it. Children today communicate mostly through texts and social media posts. No wonder Turkle predicts their capacity for empathy is diminishing- they’re able to churn out bullying words and insults in the form of a social media post or text message without ever seeing the hurt on the other person’s face or realizing the impact their hurtful words have on another person. When you speak to people in person, you’re forced to recognize their full humanity, which is where empathy begins.

We’re constantly communicating with one another- liking a post on Instagram, wishing someone a “Happy Birthday” via a Facebook post- but have we lost the art of conversation? Think about the dinner table. Next time you’re at a restaurant, look around and notice how many people around you are on their phone. Our constant dependence on our smartphones and digital technology is actually impeding our sense of intimacy and interaction. We’re so busy wondering what we’re missing online that we don’t realize what we’re actually missing is sitting right across from us at the dinner table.

Personally, I don’t want to live in a world where empathy, that fundamentally human ability to relate to one another, has been replaced with robotic messages sent from a phone.

So, I challenge you to do the following:

  1. Next time you’re at work and you have to tell a coworker something, get up out of your chair and go visit them at their desk instead of sending an email or instant message.
  2. Going to a concert? Put away your phone for a full song. Don’t record it or try and get a good picture of the band. Just enjoy the music.
  3. When you’re out to dinner with your family, friends, or on a date next, tell everyone to keep their phones in their pocket or purse for the duration of the meal and have a meaningful conversation that isn’t interrupted by the constant flow of digital content.
  4. Stay in the moment! We can all learn a little something from this lady:
John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Image

John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Image

The Key to a Good Business Strategy: Customer Service

By | Gossip Genie Blog, Helpful Information, Social Media, Words of Advice | No Comments

Chicago - April 25, 2010: White Sox baseball players battle the Seattle Mariners on a Sunday afternoon

As baseball’s regular season comes to a close, my beloved White Sox were unfortunately nowhere near making the post-season. Even though the team was bad this season, there is something incredibly good about the organization as a whole: their customer service. I had a positive experience with them recently that I believe quite a few companies can learn from (cough Comcast cough).

When I heard that the Sox were hosting UIC Night, I immediately wanted to go. It was the perfect combination for me: my school, my team, and free UIC/Sox hats. My friends and I — all UIC alumni — quickly purchased tickets while overlooking one major detail. In order to receive the free hat, you had to buy tickets in designated sections, which we did not realize at the time and did not do.

So, as a Social Media Manager, I reached out to the organization in the best way I know how: Twitter. I tweeted at them calmly explaining my issue and within an hour, was tweeted back with a particular phone number to call. On the other end of the line was a gentleman named Pat, who was so accommodating and kind (he became known as ‘Pat, The Hat Man’ among our group). He told me he was going to talk to the appropriate individuals and try to get us hats as both White Sox fans and UIC alumni. It took a few days, but I was later put in touch with another kind employee of the Sox, Reynel. Within the week, Reynel had four new, beautiful hats arrive on my doorstep.

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The major takeaway here for other businesses is how I felt after the fact. The White Sox had gone out of their way to help me with something so small when they easily could have brushed me off their shoulder. They left me with a content feeling, knowing that my organization does care about its fans. It makes me want to continue to attend games, purchase merchandise, and remain loyal to my team — thus, their good customer service secured my position as a patron.

However, bad customer service is a great way to quickly lose not only good will from clients but potentially their business altogether. Bad service comes in many forms: rude comments, ignoring emails, no follow-up, major apathy, so on and so forth. Companies can evade all of these issues quite easily but too often, are too busy or too lazy to ensure small problems do not become big issues.

Last month, I attended a panel at Sprout Social about customer service in the social media sphere. I learned a great deal of valuable information, which can be summarized by Tim Bakeris, who works in Twitter customer service for Venmo: “Own it.” Owning a customer’s issue from start to finish is an excellent way to make sure that it gets resolved, rather than floating along from person to person with no avail. This keeps your clients happy and continuing to be just that: clients rather than former clients.

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To help you win at customer service, I created this four-step guide:

  1. Acknowledge the problem

Letting your customers know that you understand their issue creates positive rapport between the two of you. It lets them know that you also recognize a problem that needs to be fixed. They may be angry or snappy with you, but remain kind. They will be more willing to work with you if they can sense that you want to work with them too.

  1. Figure out a solution or at a minimum, the promise of a solution

If you know what the fix is to the problem immediately, take care of the issue as soon as possible. If you must first discuss the issue with another individual, say something along the lines of “I am working to fix this issue now. I apologize for the inconvenience and will be in touch with you again shortly.” This tells the upset customer that action is being taken, and they are not being ignored or forgotten.

  1. OWN IT

Make sure that you stay true to your promise and are following through on the resolution. If that means sending out coupons or refunds, make sure it gets done. If that means talking to a higher-up to fix the issue, do so as soon as you can and then, ensure it gets solved in a timely manner. As a customer myself, there is nothing more aggravating than not hearing back from my customer service rep and having to nag.

  1. Thank them

Thanking a client for bringing the issue to your attention tells them that you want to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the future. It tells them that you appreciate their business and want them to have a good experience with your product or service.