Starjumper Social Media – a long overdue update

A lot of people have been asking me what I’m up to, what I’m working on and am I still doing the whole social media thing. Well the short answer is yes, I’m still working. I’m still working with businesses and organisations on their social media campaigns and I love it.

2013 was a busy year for me both personally and professionally. I decided to reassess my career and I decided that social media needed to play a big part in what I did going forward. I also decided that it was high time that I returned to my first love which was writing.

In the summer of 2013 I started writing a personal blog, to my surprise it was a big success and people seem to enjoy reading it and brands seem to enjoy working with me, so my future lies in my blog. This does not mean that I’m giving up on the world of social media! It just means that from now on I’ll be incorporating the two.

So if you want to find me and read what I’m up to, you can mostly find me over at HodgePodgeDays. If you want to talk about working with me either orchestrating a social media campaign for you, or doing some copywriting for you (yes I do that too), then you can find examples of my work and recommendations here and you can contact me here.

So don’t be shy, do say hello and I’d still love to work with you, if you’ll have me.

Very best wishes,

Jane

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Funky Kitsch – A potted history

We’re delighted that the talented and lovely Lisa Stell, owner of Funky Kitsch has written a fabulous guest blog for us about gnomeville-pinafore-funky-kitsch her experiences of starting her own business.

I love working for myself. I really do. Many years ago (7 actually), I left the office rat race and set up working at home running my own business. Back then I was selling high end perfume both on my own website and on my Ebay shop. I did very well in the first two years, (the hardest years of a business in my opinion) and only closed the perfume shop when I had my daughter who is now 5.

Once my little tiddler started nursery I knew the time was right to start working again, but there was no way I could consider going back to an office and by 2011, the world of perfume had moved on. Our wholesaler was selling on Ebay at prices we could obviously not compete with, so it was a no brainer that I wouldn’t be selling any more perfume.

Whilst I was still pondering what I could offer the big wide world, I was doing what I had done since my daughter had been born; looking at lovely clothes from Scandinavia. I always bought these clothes as they were a bit quirky, good quality, and organic. They also held their value and could be sold on once they had been outgrown. I loved them (and still do). I had my epiphany moment whilst browsing one of the scandi websites one day, admiring the lovely fabric and I thought ‘I could sell this stuff’. From that initial spark of an idea came a lot of researching; finding wholesalers, shipping costs, competitors etc. Once I had mastered all that comes with ordering from overseas, I cast my mind further afield to quirky gifts, readymade clothing, toys. In fact all of my stock is pretty much an extension of my tastes!

In October 2012 I decided to experiment with having a bricks and mortar shop. I rented a space with a retail outlet and gave myself 6 months to see how things went. It was much harder than I anticipated and although the customers that came and bought my products loved them, I found that ‘where it’s at’ is online. It’s a sad but true fact that the high street is losing out to online shopping. Whether there will be a renaissance in the near future and a return to independents on the high street I don’t know. After my 6 months I decided to return to online only. I’m a small business and watching the pennies is essential if you don’t want to go under.

Ok, I’ll admit, it has been a hard slog at times, especially when you have family life going on in the next room. At least in an office you can leave it all behind but working from home, it can often be hard to keep focused and distractions are everywhere. However, I work the hours to fit around my family. Sewing at midnight is something that does happen frequently. Looking through emails and making to-do lists before bed is routine. And I don’t come out in a cold sweat worrying how I’ll tell my manager that school has phoned to tell me to pick up my sick daughter.

What I’ve learnt over the past 18 months is this: If you’re thinking of chucking in your 9-5 job and forging ahead, building your own empire then I’d say go for it. Recession? What recession?

But before you do throw the resignation on your bosses desk and tell him all the things you’ve been wanting to say for years, stop. Wait. Think. You’ll need a clear vision of the type of products or services you want to sell. A business plan. Some capital to set your business up and/or buy stock. Do your homework and research the industry you will become part of. Know your competitors and more importantly, what your customers want. Your business can be a success or a failure and the bottom line is it’s down to how hard you want it to succeed. It’s not a secret or rocket science. Honest.

Love her concept? Visit the Funky Kitsch online store!

 

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Why Favourite Tweets?

The biggest compliment one of your tweets can get is a retweet. The second best is quitephoto (5) possibly a “favourite” (though personally as it’s SOCIAL media, I’d like an engaging chat about the content of the tweet, but a favourite is fine too).

I was asked a couple of weeks ago by a twitter friend and blogger to explain the reasons why people favourite tweets.

Twitter itself suggests that favourites “are most commonly used when users like a Tweet. Favouriting a Tweet can let the original poster know that you liked their Tweet, or you can save the Tweet for later”. But here’s my take on it, I’d love to hear why you favourite tweets too!

1. It’s the twitter equivalent of a Facebook “like” its just a great tweet. Funny, insightful, moving. I want to either “save” it so I can read the witticism or wisdom again in the future or just show my appreciation for it right now.

2. It’s a simple thank you without the need to tweet a real thank you. Often used at the end of a twitter-chat to signal appreciation for the conversation, which has now reached its natural but amicable end. Or just saving the chat to refer back to later.

3. To act as a reminder to do something or to reply later when you have all the information you need to respond properly. Something like a to do list.

4. It contains a link to some content that I want to refer to in the near future or a long read or a video that I don’t have time for just this minute. Twitter is so fast paced at times, it’s very useful to be able to bookmark tweets to read when you’ve got more time on your hands.

I asked my followers on Twitter why they favourited tweets, and a large number of responses suggested that they favourited tweets on their mobile when they were out so they could read them later on their home computer. Twitter with its 140 characters is ideally suited for reading on a smartphone but a 1000 word article can be a bit tiresome.

Within the last month or so, there has been a huge rise in the number of “strangers” favouriting tweets. This is a new way that spammers try to grab your attention and get you to follow them. If a stranger favourites a tweet and you look at their profile, it’s usually really easy to see who is genuine and has just stumbled across your brilliant tweet, and who is a spammer (relatively new account, oddly written bio, hardly any followers etc). You can’t stop people favouriting your tweets unless you have a private profile, but if it really bothers you then you can block them.

It’s also worth noting that Klout counts favourited tweets as an indicator of quality and influence. So if your tweets are attracting favourites it can help to bump your score up.

So what are your reasons for favouriting tweets?

 

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Be Interesting ~ Dale Carnegie

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Dale Carnegie

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Small Business Thinking Big: Adding Value

For many years I’ve thought John Lewis was the very last word in customer service. photoEverything was never knowingly undersold, their shop assistants really knew their product and they gave excellent advice. I loved them and I still love them now, though in recent years I’ve shopped there less.

But why? For me as a consumer I’ve made a conscious decision to support local small businesses, to shop local and where a product wasn’t available locally I’d try and source it from a small Internet based business preferably within the region. I feel that I am a small part of a groundswell of support for the Shop Local movement, more and more people are turning to their local high street and supporting the businesses on it. I think if you have a thriving high street then you have a happier and more cohesive community. But I digress.

Being Small But Thinking BIG!

As a small (or even teeny-tiny) business it can be hard to go up against the big guys like Tesco or John Lewis. It’s difficult to undercut them on price, but you can undercut them on service.

So what can you offer that Tesco can’t? 

If you’ve grafted to start your own business it’s pretty clear that you’re passionate about your product or service. You may have studied for years, worked hard to learn your craft or trade, or saved and made sacrifices to make your business dream a reality. Whatever path you’ve taken to entrepreneurship, you’ve got the knowledge and expertise in your chosen field which is unlikely to be matched by a supermarket checkout operator.

In a recent blog I talked about a number of small businesses who’d gone the extra mile to help me out, so how can your business go that extra mile? What can you do for the customer that adds value to them? It’s not about making your petty cash system more efficient, you customer doesn’t care about that, but what do they care about? What adds value to their experience?

Would added value be free delivery within a 10 mile radius? Free gift wrapping? Someone to talk them through how to install something technical without making them feel like an idiot? What passion, knowledge, expertise or support can you give your client or customer? Have a think, run a little trial and see what kind of feedback you get from your customers. You might be surprised at the results.

Let us know how you get on or what you already do that adds value.

See also: Perfecting The Personal Touch – how a small business can make customers feel special.

Posted in Customer Service, Didsbury, Didsbury social media, Small business, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Top Twitter Tips

A few weeks ago we published a little blog showing the top five of our recent #TwitterTips. The blog was tremendously popular so we decided to do a follow up. Here are five more of our latest top tips for tweeters. What’s your top tip? imageimageimageimageimage For more Twitter Tips and social media advice and support why not find us and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Come on over and say hello!

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Pining for Pinterest #StarPins

Here at Starjumper Social Media we’re big fans of Pinterest. Most businesses who use it do so to display their wares and to drive sales. We use it to curate really useful, free information for our followers and friends. It’ll probably never win us any business on its own, but it does provide an added extra for our followers, friends and clients as well as giving our Pinterest followers (over 1,000 of them so far) a little peak at our personality.

We know that a number of our Twitter and Facebook followers don’t as yet use Pinterest (you’re missing out – sign yourself up) and that some of you are just beginning to dip your toe in. It’s definitely something worth exploring, don’t be daunted, once you get it, you’ve got it. Fair warning, Pinterest is super-addictive!

Recently Pinterest introduced analytics which has at last allowed us at a glance to see what’s popular on our boards. Each day we check our pins and see what’s been the most pinned and liked. So to share the love, we tweet our most popular pin from the previous day using the hashtag #StarPins.

So keep an eye out on our Twitter feed or simply search for #StarPins to see the most popular pick of the crop.photo (3)

Do you use Pinterest? Let us know how you use it, or if you don’t, why you don’t.

To access a wealth of free social media and business information, visit our Pinterest page. Why not follow us?

A selection of our boards:

  • Social Media
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • B2B
  • SEO
  • WordPress & Blogging
  • Customer Service
  • Lovely Words (Inspirational Quotes)
  • Business Strategy
  • Content Marketing
  • Photography Tipsphoto (3)
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Twitter my Virtually Real Friend

This is a slightly more personal blog but I hope you’ll read on.

If you’ve connected with me via the Starjumper Social Media Twitter or Facebook pages and chatted with me you’ll know that I’ve had a rough few months health wise. Next week I’ll be having an operation to fix a disc in my back and then hopefully I’ll be back!

Over the past few months I’ve not been able to get out and about as much as I’d like, but thanks to social media and the kind hearted people and businesses in Didsbury and beyond I’ve been able to eat incredibly well and shop till I drop from the comfort of my sofa.

It’s not really something I’ve ever considered before, how you shop and exist within a community if you’re unable to go out and physically be in the community. I’m grateful that both Twitter and Facebook have helped me maintain a virtual social life so I don’t feel lonely and that I’ve been able to communicate with great businesses who’ve been happy to help a damsel in distress.

My advice as a customer if you need help or some kind of special service is always ask, if you don’t ask you don’t get. If someone’s said no, that’s fine, I wont hold it against them, but my experience has been 100% excellent, helpful, above and beyond customer service.

I just wanted to give a shout out to those who’ve helped me, not because they like me (of course they like me) but because they provide excellent customer service for everyone. There are links to their twitter pages so if you don’t already please do follow them.

  • Love2eat Cafe – We love their food, they know we love their food. So every few weeks I tweet them nicely and Mr Starjumper comes home with a gorgeous takeaway. Not something they normally offer, but if you ask they will.
  • Giddy Goat Toys – They’ve been brilliant, ordering bags of toys and books for me to amuse the kids and generally keeping my chin up. Thanks Amanda!
  • Drop Dead Chocs – I tried their chocolates, loved them and now they are my standard thank you/birthday/get we’ll soon gift for the chocoholics in my life. They arrive quickly & are packaged to fit through your letterbox so there’s no queueing at the post office.
  • Corks Out Alderley Edge – Keith came up trumps with a number of boozy Christmas presents for me but more recently I tweeted him my tale of woe & he delivered a couple of clinking boxes to my house on his day off. He’s a love!
  • Karla’s Parlour – Karla has a great stall at some farmers and producers markets selling veg and herb plants as well as her hand painted plant pots. We regularly buy plants off her but she was lovely enough to accept a commission to paint some special one off pots for me AND because we’re good twitter chums she offered to deliver them to my house.

Of course I can’t and won’t name every single person who has been nice to me or helpful, but it’s great to know that when you need some help social media is there to support you and me.

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Top Tips For Tip Top Tweeting

We’ve been running a series of #TwitterTips for the past few weeks which have been really popular. So we’ve decided to do a Top of the Pops style rundown of the top five.

  1. Don’t worry about those who unfollow you. It’s the people that stay & connect with you that really count #TwitterTips 
  2. People not following you back? Have a look at your profile, no pic, location or bio? That’ll be the reason why, update today #TwitterTips
  3. You can create private Twitter lists which are great for keeping a sneaky eye on what your competitors are doing #TwitterTips
  4. If you attend a conference or event, share the highlights with your followers & friends who couldn’t make it #TwitterTips
  5. If you’re taking photos of your product to tweet take the best you can, good light, in focus etc. Bad pics don’t sell products #TwitterTips

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Do you have any #TwitterTips you’d like to share, or have you got a social media question you need answering? Do get in touch or leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you.

Follow us on Twitter for more free #TwitterTips and other social media information, news and advice. Our Pinterest page has attracted over 200 new followers this week alone so do pop over and see what you’re missing and don’t forget you can “like” us on Facebook too.

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Springing Up Everywhere – The Rise of Pop Up Shops

In recent years Manchester has seen a rapid growth of pop ups, particularly in bars and restaurants (Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter positively teems with them).  You may have heard of them, or even visited one, but pop ups are here and coming to a high street near you.

In March Didsbury played host to an exciting pop up shop which showcased the work of 20 talented local designers and craftspeople. It was open (as planned) for only five weeks and promoted almost entirely by social media and word of mouth. I spoke to Amanda Robins who runs Gimme That Thing about her role in the pop up phenomenon.

What is a pop up and why are you popping up?

A pop up shop is one that appears on the high street for a short period and then disappears. My shop, Handmade Local, popped up in Didsbury for just 5 weeks throughout March 2013. I chose to open as a pop up in order to showcase the work of over 20 local designers/artists including my own jewellery and knitwear business, Gimme That Thing, and to test the market without too big a financial outlay.

When did you first pop up and what are your future plans?

This was the fifth pop up shop that I have run in the last 18 months. The first was in the Chorlton Arts Festival hub shop in Chorlton precinct just before Christmas 2011. I shared the responsibility with a textile designer friend and we invited 10 designers that we knew to share the cost of running the space for 2 weeks as well as sharing the manning of the shop day to day. This worked so well for us that we rented the space whenever the opportunity arose, so we had it another 4 times for a week at a time. This was ideal as the footfall was fantastic and the shop gained a reputation for changing hands every Monday so people knew to drop by each week to see who was running it and what was on offer.

Sadly this space is no more. I am already on the look out for other empty retail premises where I hope to run our second Handmade Local pop up shop from late November until Christmas, hopefully in the Didsbury, Chorlton or Heaton Moor area.

What are the pros and cons to being a pop up instead of having your own premises or market stall?

I do both. I love having market stalls – I attend the incredibly fun and funky Levenshulme Market every 4th Saturday of the month where I have repeat customers. They know that they’ll find me there, rather like being in a permanent shop but without the commitment or cost.

For me the advantage of having a pop up is that I’m not restricted to just one location. Having said that, it took me over a year to find a landlord anywhere in south Manchester who would even consider renting out empty premises on a very short term agreement. The big problem was getting past the estate agents and making direct contact with the property owners. Most estate agents would not even entertain the idea of a pop up and therefore did not even consult the property owners. Pop ups are huge in London but here I think landlords and estate agents are suspicious of the whole idea. Another advantage is that I can dress the shop however I like and not have to break it down at the end of the day which is a bit of a pain as anyone who has a market stall will know.

One of the main disadvantages of having a pop up is that you are most likely to be doing this on a limited budget so will probably not want to fork out for signage over the shop or expensive press advertising. I relied on Twitter as a promotional tool and had a considerable number of customers coming into the shop saying that that was where they had heard about us. Another disadvantage is the very fact that you are only there for a short time. It takes the general public a few weeks to find out about your existence by which time you are thinking about your next location. The biggest hurdle for me though was finding suitable shop contents insurance. All of the main insurance brokers (and I contacted at least 20) would only provide a minimum of 12 months cover where I only wanted a maximum of 3 months. I eventually found short term cover with a company who specialises in insurance for creative people but if I hadn’t found them I probably would have had to cancel my pop up plans. 

Why do you think pop ups are popular?

I actually don’t think they are popular outside London, not yet. They are on the up though and I think they will be found all over the UK in a year’s time. They are a no risk solution for anyone wanting to test their products and a great way of finding the right location. With so many businesses going under these days and more and more people turning to online shopping as the easy option the pop up shop is pumping new life into the high street and offering variety to the public. You can open a pop up on a shoe string. I shared the rent, overheads and utility bills with the other 20+ designers to ensure that I wasn’t going to be out of pocket. All you really need is an idea, an empty shop with a willing landlord, and a supportive local community and you are up and running.

What’s next?

I would love to hear from you (you can contact me via my website) if you have or know of a suitable pop up retail space in south Manchester for my pre-Christmas project.

When I’m not dreaming up my next pop up shop you can find my handmade wire wrap jewellery and luxury designer handknits on my website –http://www.gimmethatthing.etsy.com/

 

 

 

 

 

The Didsbury Pop Up Shop stocked work by…

The Handmade Home – lotions and candles 

This Is Lullaby – baby clothes 

Sally Cartwright – mosaics

Jill Snape – watercolours and cards

Amy Brook – embroidered books and pictures

The No Such Disco – fat kitty prints, phone cases, cards 

Demitra Robins – cards 

Angela’s Gift Boutique – quirky wall plaques 

Julia Farnsworth – soaps and bathbombs

Beetlefelt Studios – textile workshops

Buddha Beauty – luxury body butters 

Ledon Gifts – racing car part clocks

Misericordia – embroidered baby name pictures

Venus Creations – fairy wings 

Sausage Dog – weird soft toys

Gimme That Thing – jewellery and luxury knitwear 

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