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Things I learned while Periscoping

I thought it would be fun to share some lessons learnt while covering We Cycle UK’s WACC2016 (Women & Cycling Conference 2016). I was charged with capturing the day using Periscope, a live streaming mobile video app, by filming some of the speakers and delegates. I must admit video is not my day job but it was fun to do and I’ve learnt a lot.

Get up close and personal

When framing the shot before broadcasting Periscope only shows the top half of the video with the bottom obscured by the keyboard and broadcast button. I always felt I had framed the shot well at first but when broadcasting and seeing the full video it the interviewee looked too far away. Getting closer will also help the built-in mic pick-up their voice more clearly.

Time it right

Allow for a few seconds delay before speaking after you start broadcasting and when you finish leave a few seconds silence so that your words don’t get cut off. I constantly mis-timed this with the resulting video having the name of the person I was speaking to trimmed off, not ideal.

Front first

Periscope defaults to using the front facing camera (on my iPhone at least). So if you are going to record yourself while looking at the screen start the broadcast focused on something interesting for a five seconds or so before switching to the rear facing camera to start talking. It’s worth practicing this to get the timing right.

Tripod or not?

I used a tripod for almost all of my Periscope interviews. This worked really well to record my monologues or when I didn’t need to move the camera but given the conversation style of my interviews and occasionally filming 2 or more people moving between people speaking was slower than it would have been handheld. If I did the interviews again I would most likely hold the iPhone in my hand for almost all the footage.

Light them up

Bring a small LED light to brighten faces when interviewing. I was in a very dark space backstage for some of the interviews and didn’t leave enough time to organise better lighting. I thought I could use the iPhones flashlight but when you start a broadcast the LED get’s turned off. Eek.

Buy a battery pack

Using the camera with wifi or 4G radios going all day will burn through your battery. I used a large power pack from Anker with was permanently plugged into the iPhone but even having even a small power brick can help you relax into each interview without worrying that you phone will turn off.

Save to Camera Roll

If you have the space on your phone I recommend turning on the ‘Auto-Save to Camera Roll’ option in settings as Periscope videos currently only last 24 hours online before they are deleted.


If you have any other tips and ideas on Periscope please let me know on Twitter @BenKinnaird

Masthead photo credit: Anna-Therese McGivern

Something Inventive 1: Little Red Spiders

In our very first episode Ben and Al discuss; the format of their new podcast, finding images to legally use on your blog, what makes a good FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, adding password protection to WordPress and finally 301 redirects to remove missing pages from your website – We do get into some technical detail in places but nothing too geeky.

Episode sponsored by Ticked Off
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Recipe books interview

I catch-up with Becca Wild from Photopia to find out why she and partner Simon decided to create a rather unique recipe book, and in my opinion an epic project, while continuing running their photography business and expecting a child.

Find Becca on Twitter @PhotopiaUK or visit

Accessibility and Email Campaigns

Following my interview with Bik Lee from the RNC I came across this helpful article on accessibility in email from Campaign Monitor in my reading queue.

Blindness and other degrees of vision impairment are more common than many would think. 285 million people worldwide are considered to be visually impaired

Worth reading for those who have a hand in the design of their email campaigns. Many of the points they mention also apply to website development and copywriting.


Visual impairment on the web interview

Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer for the RNC (Royal National College for the Blind), explains the importance of making the web accessible for all and why using too many #hashtags in social media is far from helpful.

Find Bik on Twitter @bik_lee, follow @RNC_official or visit

Tips to build a loyal Webinar following

A client is just starting a webinar series and asked me for a few ideas to make sure they were on the right track.

While I had some ideas I wanted to get input from good friends Astute Graphics who have run numerous online and physical events in the pursuit of educating their customers.

Here’s Nick from Astute’s top tips

Invest in time to build up a loyal attendee base.

It’s not going to happen overnight; the first webinar may only have 10 or less attendees, but then in a year a regular group of 50 attendees or more should be within range. Depending on your goals for hosting webinars, this should be worthwhile as these attendees are likely to be your most loyal customers or advocates.

What’s in it for the attendees?

Even free webinars need to offer good content to ensure that potential attendees are attracted to the current and future events. Any sales message should be kept to an absolute minimum – people won’t make time to attend only to be advertised to. Remember that planning and preparing to present great material is not an overnight task and that each webinar could take up to a week to hone. To check that you’re aligned with your attendees’ expectations, simply ask them directly in the webinar using a polling mechanism of personal follow-up.

Build an active emailing list to inform previous registrants of future events.

Typically for free events, only 30-50% of registrants actually attend for a regular session – don’t dismiss those who couldn’t make it as life happens to everybody. Pulling those missing sheep into the flock in future events is key to building up a solid group.


Check out their recent webinars on AG’s eye-poppingly colourful website.

Image credit: Astute Graphics

Honesty in design and branding interview

Designer and branding expert Tim Masters and I talk about the importance of honesty in brand and why he started his blog.

Find Tim and the team @MastersTim or visit

Recorded on Skype with my new Mic.

Drowning in Choice

Christmas is upon you and that means hundreds of choices staring you in the face – what gifts to buy for whom, venues for the Christmas do, what to eat at the Christmas do, what to wear to the Christmas do, blah de blah. It’s enough to give you indigestion before you’ve even taken a sniff of turkey.

Christmas is just the tip of the choice iceberg, every aspect of your life; what you buy, how you work, how you eat, how you run our business is all encumbered by choice. If you don’t take control you can drown in it, and so can your customers.

Our society is built on the idea that choice is a good thing and to some extent I would agree, after all who wants to be limited to one TV channel, but we’ve taken this idea to extremes when the average supermarket now sells hundreds of different types of cheese.

Every day your customers are served by millions of people who work to make billions of products just to offer choice – everything can be personalised to our individual tastes. Decaf soya cappuccino? Double expresso light or a machiatto? Don’t want either? Well then how about a short, tall, skinny, decaf or iced Latte instead? You can have whatever you want, when you want it. The problem is that the decision becomes more difficult the more choice you have.

Barry Schwartz in his book The Paradox of Choice, says that at the point where the effort to make an informed decision overtakes the benefit of having a choice, then “choice no longer liberates but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannise.”

So, are you drowning your customers in choice? Columbia Business School Professor Sheena Iyengar, a psycho economist gave a TED talk about how businesses can improve the experience of choosing. She says that because our brains simply can’t categorize and choose as well with so many options in front of us… “We choose not to choose even when it goes against our best self interests”.

When already faced by a barrage of choice at Christmas you might just be tipping your customers over the edge by adding more to their proverbial table, resulting in their disengagement and dissatisfaction. So, imagine your company makes choosing a product or service a much simpler process. Where there is no need for endless comparing and contrasting. Your customers will walk away having made a decision they’re happy with, rather than feeling overloaded, and you’ll feel that tinge of satisfaction when a happy customer sings your praises on social media.

Here are a few tips that Professor Iyengar recommends for keeping your customers from feeling overwhelmed;

Eliminate choices to make decision-making easier in your business.

Cut down the number of products and options your company offers. Keep the best sellers but cull the lowest-sellers. “When Procter and Gamble went from 20 different kinds of Head and Shoulders to 15, they saw an increase in sales by 10 percent,” Iyengar says. Less is more. If you are willing to slim down on products, sales increase and costs go down. It’s a win/win.

Help customers focus on a specific, positive outcome

Linking your customer’s choice with a concrete aspect of their life and how it may be affected will help them choose better. For example, ‘These wall tiles will help you achieve a sophisticated and serene bathroom, helping you to bathe in style’ will plant the image in their heads of your wall tiles on their walls. Customers need to see how your service will improve their lives without too much mental effort.


If you must have hundreds of products and services, then categorise them into easy-to-follow classifications on your website to help your customers navigate their way around. Ease them in first. For example, offer one or two categories each with choices within. Make it a simple-to-navigate website. Limit the jargon and blocks of texts if possible too.

Help customers by ‘conditioning for complexity.’

Yours may be a company whose very nature is to offer a thousand choices, perhaps you sell ceramic wall and floor tiles for instance. If the first decision your customer has to make has fewer categories and options than the following ones, they will be more likely to participate in ongoing decisions rather than disengage. This is called ‘conditioning for complexity’.

In order that you don’t overwhelm your customers with choice you need to be selective in what products you offer. Avoid being that restaurant that offers too much choice. Not only because it means that by doing too much you will not do anything particularly well, but also because too much choice, at the very least, will leave customers not wholly satisfied with their decision. It may, at worst, have them running in the opposite direction.

Photo Credit: Menu Board – Yugamama

Scared of social media?

You’ve put it off for long enough. You’re going to have to do it sooner or later, your business depends upon it. Considering that 72% of online adults use social media it’s high time you felt the fear, and well, got over it. Because, like it or not, these social platforms are where your clients are, and if you don’t have a presence on social media you can be sure your competitors do.

So what are you scared of?

Social media takes up too much of my time

Do you think of social media as an annoying time waster? You can give it as little or as much attention as you have, creating an active presence for just 15 minutes a day. Sticking to one or two platforms, those where your customers tend to hang out, means you need only login, scan and respond as appropriate, taking less time than it takes to make a coffee.

I don’t know what to say on social media

Contrary to what you may believe social media is not only for certain industries. If you have customers, then there’s value in it for you. Yours may not be the most glamorous of trades but as long as you show your human side and not be tempted to hide behind a corporate persona, people will want to listen. Show that your company has a personality and opinions that reflect your values and you’re on to a winner. Be informal, but be relevant, appropriate, and interesting to your audience.

Twitter is a good way of easing yourself in. Start by posting a few links to articles, market reports, etc. anything that might be interesting to customers of your industry. Link to other content that you think will be of value to your audience. Pose questions, or reply to comments.

I fear exposure on social media

Do you worry that every word you write will be misconstrued? Do you fear that your customers will realise you’re not as smart as they thought? Perhaps you fear negative comments or responses?

This is perfectly normal, particularly on social media networks like Twitter, where there is no control over what is posted. And we’ve all heard examples of big companies making major social media slip-ups. But there’s a greater risk in snubbing social media because with so much unprecedented access, it sends the wrong message to employees, consumers, and investors not to be part of it. Also, social media is an excellent tool for showing your soft side and demonstrating transparency and honestly.

I fear negative feedback on social media

Customer feedback, even negative, is invaluable to your company’s growth. You may be giving customers a platform to be able to publically criticise your company, but you’re also showcasing your great customer service skills in real time, in front of an audience. If you do receive negative feedback, listen and respond. Be honest, apologetic and transparent. Deal with a complaint honestly and apologetically and you’ll more likely make a friend than an enemy.

Remember that the point of social media is in the name, to be social. It’s not about pressure selling and blatant self promotion. It is about interaction, community and customer service. Be personal, authentic and approachable and focus on getting a useful message in front of your audience.

Have a look around to see how others in a similar business have made social media work for them. Ask yourself, how are savvy businesses using social media effectively to boost their reputations, find more customers and make more sales?

It may be scary if you’re not yet competent in using social media but the expectation on business to be transparent will only increase. As a business you have a choice, either get involved or get left behind.

Do you have a fear that we haven’t featured? Then let us know.

Image Credit: Shock-ed by David Goehring

The Kitchens and Puppy Swarms Interview

I’ve worked with the Sustainable Kitchens team in Bristol for over 2 years now but I wanted to step back and get some perspective from Nicky Spear, head of development and dare I say head of “getting things done”, on how they are developing internal processes to keep up with their fantastic growth.

Find Nicky and the team @itWoodwork or visit

Recorded at the Curio lounge in Stroud (I recommend the mid-week breakfast). Crying courtesy of SK co-owner Sam’s baby Eli.

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