Words of Advice

11 Weeks After My Loss

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Last night I spent 3 hours working on my books, cleaning up my P&L reports, organizing invoices and accounts receivable, reconciling deposits and just doing some general accounting tasks.

In the past 11 weeks, I have presented large decks about social media analysis and strategy to new clients; I have crafted several scopes of work for prospective clients and pitched that scope on point. I have answered hundreds of emails, sent even more, scheduled tons of conference calls, and met several colleagues for coffee. I still label every email that arrives in my inbox. I recorded a new office voicemail greeting. I hired a firm to redesign the Gossip Genie site. I have moderated Twitter chats for clients, posted updates on social channels, implemented Facebook ad strategies and pulled data for monthly reports. I have run payroll a few times, given direction to coworkers, delegated work and assigned tasks.  I have issued many invoices, deposited checks, organized receipts and paid vendors. The one thing I haven’t done is write a blog post since my loss. I feel as though I cannot just go back to writing about the intricacies of social media, business management, etc without addressing what happened to me.

Disclaimer – I have gone back and forth for a while now about whether or not to post this on my business blog. I have decided to post it because this is where I am in my life and this is how social media has helped me survive.

Eleven weeks ago, I lost my son; I will never be the same. I haven’t been able to write a blog post since then because everything seems so trivial.  Aside from people that have experienced stillbirth, you will not understand how deeply this hurts and I have to forgive you for that. My heart is broken and I am not much better than I was the day I found out, but I am going to fake it until I make it. My husband and I lost a baby, an infant, a toddler, an adolescent, a teenager, a man and so much more. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was in love with my child and my upcoming role as a mother. It consumed all my thoughts and affected all of my decisions. The first time I saw my baby’s heartbeat on the ultrasound, I cried tears of joy because it seemed surreal. We found out we were having a boy at 13 weeks, at 16 weeks I had a 3D ultrasound and at night I would fall asleep staring at the pictures of my developing son, his features were so developed and I just couldn’t wait to kiss those beautiful features. At 18 weeks, I felt my first real kick, I felt flutters previously but this was different. It was by far the best feeling I have ever felt and I cherished each movement I felt. His kicks were magical. At 23 weeks, I had a beautiful baby shower and that day will be forever remembered as such a special celebration of my son.  At 24 weeks, my baby died and my world fell apart.

Five weeks ago, I posted a picture on Instagram and hashtagged #Stillbirth. I received several comments from fellow mothers that have recently lost babies. One of which has become an incredible support to me. For 5 weeks, I have been emailing every single day with this woman that lost her son at 26 weeks, 9 weeks ago. I am so grateful for her. We are literally going through the exact same thing, as this was her first child as well. We are living the same hell, the same disappointment, and the same anxiety.

The aftermath of losing a baby is not something I would wish on anyone. The silence hurts the most and every counselor and therapist told me to expect this and forgive people for not knowing how to react or thinking that because 11 weeks has passed, I should be better.

Each day I wake up and I have a hard time believing that the world is still turning because mine stopped when my baby’s heart stopped.  People keep telling me that I am so strong but what choice do I have?

All the tasks I complete are done while grieving because life goes on with or without you. You have all heard me say that Gossip Genie is my first baby and I am grateful that I have work to immerse myself in because distraction is my savior.

Believe it or not, those 3 hours of accounting last night were peaceful.


How Online Rumors Can Spiral Out Of Control

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The New York Times just published an interesting article about the influence of online rumors and how, all to often, these stories can overwhelm efforts to set the record straight.

Researchers at the University of Columbia have tracked the scary rate at which false stories are shared online and created a unique online tool called Emergent which aims to develop best practices for debunking misinformation. You can view a list of rumors being tracked on its homepage, stating whether the story is true, false or unverified.

As I briefly scanned the false stories, I recalled seeing some of them shared on Twitter or other social channels. For example, the news that ESPN had planned a special domestic violence panel that didn’t include any women. Like many others, I remember reading those headlines and feeling annoyed (see examples of angry instant reactions on Twitter below):


tweet 2

Yet, Emergent’s analysis found the story to be false. The rumor started when the opening sentence of an Esquire article entitled ‘ESPN has a problem with women’ was widely interpreted as saying that ESPN was set to run a special panel, hosted only by men, which would address the specific subject of domestic violence in the NFL. In fact, the pre-game show was actually running as normal, with a segment on domestic violence.

This false story received 8,245 social shares, yet the news that set the record straight (a Deadspin article entitled ‘That ESPN Domestic Violence Panel You Keep Hearing About Isn’t Real’) received only 525 shares.

This is hardly surprising. Humans love gossip and drama – and are probably far more likely to share a sensational headline on social channels because it’s simply more entertaining. However, many of those users shared that story genuinely thinking it was true and Emergent’s findings are a vital reminder to not believe everything you read online – especially if you’re going to share it with others.

Emergent could be a useful tool for Social Media Managers looking to verify a story that relates to a client’s industry before they reference it online. I’m excited to see how it develops.






The Lesson All Brands Can Learn From DiGiorno’s Mistake

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

DiGiorno is famous for their frozen pizzas, but they became the talk of the town on social media overnight for all the wrong reasons. The company inadvertently made a major social media mistake by participating in a controversial trending topic and failed to research its origins. The hashtag #WhyIStayed began trending on Twitter in response to Ray Rice’s domestic assault on his now-wife Janay Rice, and is being used by women on Twitter that have survived an abusive relationship with their partner. Below was DiGiorno’s #WhyIStayed tweet:

DiGiorno’s social media team took down the tweet moments later after backlash from the Twitter community, but not without repercussions. The company has since publicly apologized for the error. So what can brands learn from DiGiorno’s huge mistake? It’s a little thing called “fact checking.”

It’s easy for brands to get caught up in the whirlwind speeds of the social media highway, but sometimes the road with less shortcuts can prove to be the safest. We live in a world where news can travel at lighting-quick speeds, and to think any brand is safe from a similar catastrophe is foolish. The precautionary measure to take is to fact check, fact check again, and fact check even more. Need another example? I’m your guy.

Now my story isn’t anywhere close to that of #WhyIStayed, but it definitely shows that brands – major ones in my case – are susceptible to misinformation even when it comes to the simplest form of fact checking.

Yes, that was Disney Alliances publishing a promotional tweet for ABC’s television show The Middle; the only problem is that if they would have fact checked and not made assumptions, they would have properly found that the show’s official Twitter handle is @TheMiddle_ABC and not @TheMiddle. Did I mention that that tweet is still up and running? And here’s one more for you:


Remember: fact check, fact check again, and fact check even more.

Social Media Managers: Don’t Forget the Importance of Social Selling!

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I recently had disappointing customer service experiences when communicating with two hotels via social media. My parents were visiting Chicago and I wanted to plan some fun things to do.

I sent Facebook messages to the hotels basically asking if I can give them my money. I wanted to reserve a table at one hotel’s rooftop restaurant and to find out about spa days at another hotel. The former told me to contact another email address and the latter asked me what date I was looking at and then failed to respond when I gave them the date. It meant we booked with other places instead.

I was surprised by this experience. Both hotels have a fantastic social media presence in other ways; sharing eye-catching, engaging content on a daily basis. Yet, they didn’t seem to understand the importance of customer service too by failing to respond to users’ comments and private messages in a timely manner.

At Gossip Genie, we’re very focused on using social media to generate sales for clients. If I was managing the social media accounts for those hotels, I’d make sure prospect customers were made to feel important and were given all of the information that they needed to hopefully secure a booking.

Current and prospect customers are increasingly using social media to communicate with brands and it’s now at the point where if a company doesn’t respond, they will have a black mark against them – make sure that’s not your company!




Does Social Media Belong in PR?

By | Social Media, Uncategorized, What Not to Post, What's Trending, Words of Advice | No Comments


I’m originally from a PR agency background and there was often debate about whether or not PR agencies should look after clients’ social media activity, too.

In many ways it makes sense: PR teams should understand a client’s key branding messages and its most newsworthy products; they can share the press and blog coverage that they’ve secured and they should understand what they can and can’t say on behalf of a client.

However, do PR agencies possess the technical knowledge required to deliver social media strategies? Are they on top of trends and do they understand how to use social media monitoring tools? Are they too focused on getting ‘free’ exposure and fail to recognize the importance of, for example, paid-for Facebook advertising or compensating bloggers? From my time at Gossip Genie, I understand these points are all vital if you want to deliver a successful social media campaign.

That’s not to say social media marketers don’t need PR skills – they certainly do, and I think all of the Genie team do a great job of combining both skill sets.

There are times when I read about social media gaffs in the news and I’m speechless. Gaffs that seriously lack PR skills and the ability to understand what is and isn’t appropriate to say on behalf of a brand. Some airline social media teams, for example, appear to need PR training.

Finnair was heavily criticized recently when it sent the following tweet on the day of the MH17 tragedy:




Of course it’s important to reassure customers, but by saying ‘Your safety is our top priority,’ it suggests Malaysian Airlines don’t take the safety of their passengers seriously by flying over Ukraine. Perhaps a carefully-worded statement on its website might have been more appropriate. What’s worse, is that Finnair was lying – the airline had been flying over Ukraine, with a Twitter user quick to share a flight path image from Flightradar as proof.

Finnair continued to deny it then suddenly backtracked to say it now wouldn’t fly through Ukraine airspace. Meanwhile the Twitter sphere went to work criticizing Finnair for its mistake.

This incident is yet another important reminder that communications and social media teams must be carefully controlled, especially during a crisis.



Ten Signs You’re Addicted to Social Media

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1)  You announce your engagement/pregnancy/sexual orientation/exciting new job/other special milestone event on Facebook instead of telling your close friends and family face-to-face first.

2) The first thing you do when you wake-up and go to sleep, is look at social media channels on your phone.

3) You always have your camera phone ready at every social occasion, vacation, activity, etc, to take photos to share online. And if you get carried away in the moment and forget to take a photo (horrifying thought!), you feel regret because it would have looked so good on Instagram.


4) You feel genuinely lost if social media channels are temporarily not working, sharing your outrage on another channel.

5) You use hashtags in spoken conversations, as demonstrated by Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon here.

6)  You start to believe all of your social media connections really have perfect lives and think your life is boring in comparison.

7)  You think this Facebook shower curtain is cool:


8) Or own a pair of Twitter shoes:


9)  You find it difficult to read anything lengthier than a 140 character tweet or two sentence Facebook update. Remember magazines? Books? Even online articles can be a struggle.

10) You ‘like’ your own content (however, this is easy to accidentally do on Instagram).




Simplify Your Inbox

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If you’re like me, your inbox is a sacred space that is meticulously organized. Unlabeled emails give me anxiety. Since I use gmail for business, I am going to share my labeling expertise with my fellow gmailers.

In order to better organize your email, you need to understand how to filter messages and create labels. Start by checking the email you would like to filter. Now that Anthony is working with us, I am going to create an “Anthony” label and all of his emails will be listed under this label. Check the box next to the email you want to filter and “create filter with this search.”

Next – click on “apply the label” and choose the label or click on “new label” – I am creating a new label for Anthony. I am also nesting this under the label “Gossip Genie.” It is good to nest labels when you have multiple projects within one like Gossip Genie and the various employees. Make sure you check the box that reads “Also apply filter to (X number) matching conversation. In this case, it’s 1.email1.jpg email2.jpg


Color coding – Now that the label has been created, you should color code it so you can distinguish your emails easily. You can do that by going to the labels listed on the left-hand side of your email page and clicking on the account and choosing a color or creating your own custom color.



Eventually, your emails will look like a gmail rainbow.


In addition to labeling, you should use the service to mass unsubscribe to those irrelevant annoying email blasts that you never signed up for in the first place.

Toss the junk with one click.

After you sign up, see a list of all your subscription emails. Unsubscribe instantly from whatever you don’t want.

Combine your favorite subscriptions into one email.

After unsubscribing from what you don’t want, we combine what you love into a beautiful digest called The Rollup.

The Rollup: Read what you want, when you want.

The Rollup appears in your inbox every day at the time you choose. One email. All your subscriptions. Done.

Simplify your inbox so you can be more efficient!

Why It’s Important To Constantly Update Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

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Social Media StrategyIt’s been proven that social media marketers and community managers can often get burned out on coming up with new and innovative content and ideas day after day, especially if they’re only responsible for working on one brand.

Every so often, it helps to get an expert’s perspective on your current social tactics and strategies, a task we were recently commissioned to do for a major university. Collectively, we spent about 20 hours reviewing all of their social networks, providing feedback and recommendations, concluding with a detailed and informational presentation to their marketing department.

When was the last time you questioned how effective your social media marketing strategy was for your business? If it’s been more than a year, here are a few major reasons why you need to take a step back and take a look into the effectiveness of your social media marketing plan.

1. Facebook changes on the regular. You may not be aware that Facebook takes hundreds of thousands of factors into consideration when determining what shows up in people’s Timelines. If you’re not completely up to date on the newest Facebook algorithm (or if you don’t even know what that is) you should seek outside consultation.

2. You may be on the wrong networks. If you’re a fashion brand that doesn’t have a presence on Pinterest, someone should be shaking you. Likewise, a photographer that doesn’t exist on image-centric sites like Instagram and Pinterest is missing out on dozens of potential clients.

3. You (or your social media manager) may be burned out. It takes a lot of work to come up with something witty, funny, informational, etc. every single day. A few brainstorm sessions with a creative team may be all that a social media manager needs to ignite their imagination and put together a rock solid social media outline/plan for the year. We hold team brainstorming sessions regularly to assure this isn’t the case with our clients.

4. Constructive criticism will only improve your current strategy and get you closer to reaching your overall goals and objectives.

Viewpoint: I’m a Social Media Addict

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socmediaaddFor some of us who work in social media, the term “social media burnout” is all too real. Headaches; sleepless nights; mood swings: there are many times where I don’t want to look at another post, another tweet, or another ‘like,’ but in the end, I always find myself gravitating towards my mobile phone and/or laptop, eager to pick up where I last left off. Tiresome as it may seem, being “connected” is an addiction for me.

Do you find yourself in this position every time you’re about to go to sleep?
article-2335775-1A24D961000005DC-610_634x410Unfortunately, I do… but I’m promising myself to be better about it. All those late nights staring at my phone brought me to ask myself: Am I addicted to social media?

Like social media burnout, social media addiction is real, and you don’t have to work in the industry to experience it firsthand. In a 2011 experiment to document the realities of addictions to social media, CNN producer Kiran Khalid tries to spend five days off social media. As a challenge, she vows not to read or post updates while on vacation and also locks her Blackberry away in a safe.

Some moments from Khalid’s 5-day experiment include:

  • “Resisting the urge to cheat — it’s daunting dining alone, without an electronic companion — I take out my journal and start writing about my day. So far, so good, I think.”
  • “Every time I go for a swim, come back and lie in the warm sun, I reach for my BlackBerry that’s not there — it’s become second nature.”
  • “This [reggae party] would be exponentially more amusing if I could tweet it or take a picture and post it to Facebook, but I resist the urge.”
  • “So I cheat, sort of. I opt to e-mail a group of close friends to let them know about this life-altering upgrade, you know, in case they went looking for me at the wrong resort. One friend immediately replies, ‘Aren’t you supposed to be off the computer?!'”
  • “OK, so that whole “I don’t miss social media” stuff isn’t true.It’s been four days since I logged onto my accounts and I’m anxious to see what my friends are up to and fill them in on my reclamation-of-sanity tour here in Antigua.”

Nearing the conclusion of her trip, Khalid reminisces:

“…I feel rested–I do think there has been a beneficial disconnect.”

Khalid’s takeaways are some many people can relate to, but don’t actually realize it. I’ll admit this to the world: I’m a social media addict. Writing this blog post has given me another platform to reflect on how it is altering my life. I’m not trying to generalize, and it should be noted that not everyone who works in social media (or anyone for that matter) experiences ‘burnout’ or has an addiction; many people know how to balance their lives – maybe I’m just all over the map?

But it stands to reason that many are deeply connected in social media and need to find a way to disconnect somehow, whether it be for one day, one week or one month. Why? Because there is a world outside of social media. Because conversations carry great weight when they’re had in person. Because it enables people to get outside and appreciate what the world has to offer – exercise, anyone?

When Harvard is conducting studies about social media addiction and videos about social media ruining our lives are going viral, it should alarm you a little.

How am I going to start my detox? For starters, I’m going to use this blog post as a reminder that there are places to go, people to see and things to try… that don’t need to be shared on social media. I urge you to do the same.

* The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.

Book Review: Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”

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I recently read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World. Vaynerchuk is a New York Times bestselling author and social media expert and his latest book is a blueprint of sorts for social media marketing strategies. It really makes you rethink how you market and sell to your customers. I would definitely say it’s a must-read for anyone working in marketing or social media and anyone who wants to understand the power of social media marketing. I particularly enjoyed the numerous examples of how companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and Lacoste have successfully (or unsuccessfully) used social media to market themselves.

Referring to the title, “jabbing” is creating content for consumers and engaging with customers to build relationships. The “right hook” is developing and implementing that next campaign that will produce profits and convert traffic to sales, easily showing a return on investment. In the book, Vaynerchuk explains how important it is to focus on not only developing high-quality content (jabbing) but truly engaging with customers and adapting your message across the various social media platforms (the right hook).

The main message in the book is that you need to emotionally invest in your customers for them to care about you. If you sell too hard on social media, people will ignore you, but if you support your community, they will want to do business with you. At Gossip Genie, we are continually developing relationships with our audiences and listening to what they have to say.

After reading the book, here are some quotes that stood out most to me as a social media manager:

On the power of social media: “It took thirty-eight years before 50 million people gained access to radios. It took television thirteen years to earn an audience that size. It took Instagram a year and a half.”

On social media marketing: “The incredible brand awareness and bottom-line profits achievable through social media marketing require hustle, heart, sincerity, constant engagement, long-term commitment, and most of all, artful and strategic storytelling.”

On Twitter: “It closes the six degrees of separation to one degree of separation”

On Facebook: “One out of every five page views in the United States is on Facebook!…On Facebook, the definition of great content is not the content that makes the most sales, but the content that people most want to share with others.”

On listening to the consumer: “I pride myself in listening. When you have people paying attention to you, your biggest job is to listen what they want. Deliver what your community wants. Social media has much more upside when you’re actually listening and responding and reacting.”

On followers: “It’s not how many followers you have, it’s how many care.”

On tapping into your market: “You’ve got to tell your story to the customer where the customer actually is…head-down, in their mobile device.”

On creating content: “Creating content that allows us to share our experiences, thoughts, and ideas in real time is becoming an intrinsic part of life in the twenty-first century.”

On the importance of context: “Today, getting people to hear your story on social media, and then act on it, requires using a platform’s native language, paying attention to context, understanding the nuances and subtle differences that make each platform unique, and adapting your content to match.”

On creating connections: “Your job is to create a connection. You can talk, talk, talk all day long and never make one honest, real connection with another human soul. But you’ve only got one real job online… and your job is to “create” a connection. Your job is to find the connection between you and that “one” follower at a time, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul. If you focus on that one connection until it clicks and sticks, then others will watch, listen, and follow you, too. Your only real job is to find, create and nurture that one connection. Once connected, simply do it again… and again…”

On life: “Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.”