Fake bloggers and why they slip through the net

Before I start this post, as much as I'd like to be coming at this from a blogger point of view, I'm not. This blog post has been written with my PR/ social hat on. Take it or leave it but these are my thoughts.

After reading Jess, The Travelista's post, I've been thinking about why PRs would work with 'fake' bloggers. A fake blogger is someone who uses bots or tactics to inflate their social followers or engagements. Every word of Jess's post it true and it's an extremely valuable read to anyone wanting to work with bloggers. However, I wanted to add one little bit. The clients and the fee. I don't condone using 'fake' bloggers at all. Ever. But I can see why some PRs do and why for some it's out of their control.

A while ago I researched a blogger that was highly recommended by a colleague only to find that she does follow unfollow. It was pretty obvious by a new social account she'd set up which suddenly had tens of thousands of followers but only a few posts. I was disappointed but there was nothing I could do. I'd been instructed to outreach to her. Why did I do it? Because no matter how much I push back on PRs or clients, if they want a certain blogger then they'll have it. It's their budget and if they want to throw it away on fake engagement that's up to them, as long as I've made it clear that it's a waste there's nothing more I can do.

Another reason some PRs may use fake bloggers is that it takes too long to check every single person they find for a big campaign. Time is money and over-servicing is always an issue within PR. Finding bloggers is a time consuming task by itself. Facebook groups like U.K. Bloggers that allow you to post opportunities on are great (and thanks team for everything you moderate on there!) but, PRs aren't always allowed to post details about the campaign. Making lists of bloggers to approach usually has to be a manual task or you have to work from existing lists or relationships. Clients don't want to have to fork out an extra Xk for their PRs to sense check bloggers even more than they're already doing (I wrote about what I look for here). It all takes time and when a lot of bloggers don’t respond to emails, you tend to have to build bigger lists than you need.

Sometimes it's impossible to find the right bloggers for the niche you need. Trust me. I've had to find a needle in a haystack more often than I would have liked. Imagine how difficult it is to find a pregnant blogger living in Manchester who doesn't have any children yet and has over 20K followers on each social account. Oh, and hasn't spoken about any competitor in the past six months. It's difficult okay?

I don't think fake bloggers should be used on any campaign ever. I'll always put in extra work to make sure I don't work with any but, I guess what I'm trying to say is that finding true, relevant bloggers to work on a client campaign is long hard work which usually needs to be done in half the time it should take.

Some PR's put a lot of time into finding good bloggers. Sometimes it's near impossible to find someone in the time limit, budget or niche that you're looking for. Bloggers .... don't get pulled into the trap of counting followers and comparing yourself to others. Be yourself. Be genuine. You'll be noticed and, if you're not, just message a PR and ask to meet for a coffee to talk about how you can start working with them.


Keeping Track of Habits with Habitica

At the beginning of the year I heard about an app called Habitica which helps you organise your life. I often have a million things running through my head but this little app is a great way to keep track of them and making sure they actually get done. Like most apps I was a bit sceptical that I'd do it for a few weeks and then forget about it but, four months on and I'm still going strong. 

Habitica is basically a habit tracking app which has gamifies mundane tasks. Once signing up you get a little avatar and can advance to new levels with the more habits you tick. Some of mine include things that I know I should really do like make the bed (don't judge!) and meditation. Since using the app I've found myself making more time for important things like taking ten minutes out for myself, eating healthily and doing exercise (even if I have added the option of one sit-up, because everyone needs a hangover day let off right?)  

The more tasks you tick off the higher level you reach but also.... you get pets! As you tick things off you'll randomly find eggs, potions to hatch them and food to evolve them into mounts that your avatar can ride. Awesome! 

You can also use the app to keep track of your to do list and habits you want to form (but not do everyday) like reading a book. These give you extra points the longer you're on there and the habits are able to be ticked every time you do them. Oh, and you can add in negative ones which take away your health if you do them - one of mine is drinking too much which I've ticked slightly more times that I would have liked but at least I'm thinking about it right? 

Habitica is great for keeping track of the things I do everyday and rewarding me for doing them. Suddenly cleaning the bathroom or putting a wash on seems so much more appealing knowing that I'll score points for doing it. Like most apps I was a bit sceptical that I'd do it for a few weeks and then forget about it but, four months on and I'm still going strong. 

Have you signed up to Habitica? Let's be buddies, add my user ID: e12fc81a-735f-4a0f-a57e-c5a807e7581a 

Habitica Avatar

Hat selfie

Introduction to Improv Comedy

I first found out about improv comedy during a startup event called F*ck Up Night. Various people took to the stage to explain how they messed up their startup or their biggest failure in life. Two people mentioned how they took improv comedy courses so they could improve their confidence and presentability. With that, Charlie was off booking himself on a course and after hearing all about it from him, I copied and and booked myself on one too. Last July was my first eight week course and it took place in a school on a Monday evening. I spent the time pretending to be various characters and jumping about like a child. It’s safe to say that I got the improv bug. I’ve just finished my second course with my first performance in front of a real life audience this week. Eek!

Improv is amazing for getting you to think differently. I feel a lot more creative, confident and energised after a session and it really isn't that difficult to try out! There are plenty of drop in sessions around London but if you want give it a go at home there's a few things to consider:

Always have fun

Number one rule. If it isn’t fun then why would you do it? More importantly if you aren’t having fun, the audience won’t have fun either.

Yes and 

Always accept someones idea or premise and build upon it, no matter how silly or unlikely it is. If your scene partner tells you that you are both glue fairies, then for the rest of the scene you are both glue fairies. Who know's what glue fairies are but this is your chance to define them.

Who, what, where 

A scene gets going a lot quicker once the audience knows the basic information. Always try and fit in who a person is (use names), what your relationship is too them and where you are within the first few lines. It makes everything easier to follow and paves way for more of a fun dialogue.

Be positive 

Similar to the "yes and" rule, try to be positive in a scene. It's often easier to work with the audience (and improvisers) and they will have a lot more fun if the characters are nice to each other. Try to use lines like 'that's what I like about you'.

With this in mind I’m going to try and share a few short games with you over the next few weeks. The first one is one of the first games I played. We were sat around the dinner table and everyone had a go at joining in. The first time might be a little tricky but give it a go with two friends and see how you get on.

New choice 

New choice is a pretty simple but fun game to play. Two people begin a conversation inspired by a random word from the audience. The third person is on the sidelines and is able to shout out 'new choice' whenever they want to 'edit' the scene. For example:

Improviser 1: Oh goodness Amy, you’re covered in mud. Don’t get it on the kitchen floor!

Improviser 2: Sorry daddy, I just wanted to touch the fluffy sheep

Director: New choice

Improviser 2: Sorry daddy, I was trying to hide from the goats

Director:: New choice

Improviser 2: The sheep field is so fun. It's where I come to reflex on the important things in life like the existence of toast.

Director: New choice of object

Improviser: Like the existence of flamingos

Improviser 1: ahh, I see. Contemplating the existence of flamings is very important..... etc.

Take a look at this video to find out more:

Fish Day - Making An Average Thursday Evening Fun

Coming home from work, cooking dinner and discussing your day gets a bit repetitive doesn't it? That kind of thinking is how I found myself sat crossed legged on the floor in blue light cutting out cardboard shapes the other week.

I had a bit of spare time on my hands and didn't fancy doing anything ... so I planned dinner. I love cooking and one of my favourite meals at the moment is Thai salmon. It's basically a massive salmon fillet cooked with green curry paste and coconut oil then served with garlic leeks, courgettes and grilled cabbage. Okay, now I'm hungry....

As I begun preparing the food I started humming the song from the Little Mermaid and a theme started to develop in my head. Before I knew it the fish was in the oven, I was scouring the internet for songs about fish and adding them to a playlist aptly named Fish Day. And so Fish Day was born. After putting a few of my favourite songs on including The Salmon Dance by Chemical Brothers, Car Wash (the theme from Sharks Tale) and Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid, I realised that there weren't actually all that many songs about fish. I branched out a little to a wider theme of the sea and added on Seven Seas of Rhye by Queen and I'm on a Boat by Lonely Island and a few others.

With fifteen minutes to go until Charlie arrived home the race was on to complete the now, self proclaimed, best Fish Day the world had ever seen. My attention turned to the lighting and more specifically the Philips Hue bulbs, my trusty alley in all themed evenings, I set all the lights in the house to a deep blue colour and was satisfied. This did make checking on the food incredibly difficult but it was for the good of Fish Day.

Time was ticking as I dashed out into the hallway remembering the cardboard I'd set aside for recycling. I spotted the cutting mat and a scalpel left carelessly on the workbench and got to work cutting out fish shapes and threading them through some string. With a few minutes a to spare I created my final addition to Fish Day, a fish mask. Cutting the shape, adding in detail with felt tip and attaching it to my face was done with lightning speed.

Music? Set. Lights? Set. Costume? Set. I was in position and ready to see Charlie's reaction as he came through the door. His initial confusion was apparent. I soon realised that he had no idea what we were having for dinner so his wife waving bits of cardboard around whilst wearing a oddly snapped piece of cardboard on her face which had apparently been coloured in by a toddler made very little sense.

Overall though, the first annual Fish Day was a success. The atmosphere was alive with fishy vibes and it was a lot of fun for a seemingly average Thursday evening. How did you celebrate fish day 2017?