Pretty ginger cat waiting to be adopted

Fund-raising in aid of Chats de Chatillon

With my good friend Micala Wilkins, from Alacim Social Media Marketing, we are organising several online events to raise money for this wonderful cat refuge. Based near Parthenay in France, Chats de Chatillon is a non-profit association run by husband and wife team, Judy and Alan Lewis.

The refuge desperately needs funds to purchase two portable isolation units. Extra money will also help them to keep on top of ever-increasing maintenance and vet’s bills. 

Isolation

The Chats de Chatillon cat refuge takes in abandoned, abused and injured cats and kittens on a daily basis. They get calls to take in ‘refugees’ all hours of the day and night, and they very rarely say No.

New cats often need to be isolated until they are given a clean bill of health by the vet. Sadly, some of these cats have infections or viruses that can be treated, but cannot be cured. They have less chance of being adopted, and will remain in isolation for the rest of their lives. 

Having portable units will improve the quality of their lives enormously. They will be able to lay in the sun and play in the grass, without being a risk to other animals. 

How can you help?

If you own or know a business that makes or sells cat-related products we would love to hear from you.

We want to create a luxury ‘Feline Pamper Hamper’ to be the 1st prize in an upcoming raffle. If you can donate items to go into the hamper it would be fantastic. But even if you can’t donate a kitty product, you can still help by sponsoring one of the cats in isolation. Alternatively, you can make a monetary donation. 100% of the proceeds will go to Chats de Chatillon. 

Businesses that sponsor, or provide donations will get a special mention in all online advertising for the fund-raising events. If you can help, or want more information, please get in touch with me, Micala or Judy,  

On behalf of everyone at Chats de Chatillon, thank you.

Your support and donations will help improve the quality of life of our feline friends

Chats de Chatillon kitten

 

Little Miss Polly & Pretty Pebbles

white cat sat on windowsill
Little Miss Polly

Miss Polly (right) has been diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Until we find someone special who can give her a loving home she must be isolated from other cats. 

She arrived at the refuge in May this year. Abandoned in the town centre, she was suffering from an extremely deep bite at the base of her tail that had caused a huge abscess. The vet thinks she may have got infected when she was attacked.

Polly has a pure white coat and is extremely affectionate. She longs to be loved. Aged about 7-8 months (born approximately Sept 2020) she is still only a kitten. She is such a happy, friendly little girl, and loves to race around.

Quality of life

Pretty Pebbles came to us in such a terrible condition that she would not have survived much longer. She has been diagnosed with Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV), and like Miss Polly, she must stay in isolation.

When she arrived Pebbles weighed only 1 kg. She was such a good girl being cleaned up and cared for. Never getting cross or lashing out, even though she was in a lot of pain. 

Because these two infections are caused by different viruses unfortunately they cannot share accommodation. Having portable isolation units will improve the quality of their lives enormously.

 

 

What is a Generation Group? 

Let’s start with a simple question. Do you know which generation group you are in?

There are so many different terms that it has become quite confusing, especially as I now see business articles referring to target audiences as Gen X, Gen Y and Baby Boomers. These are terms frequently used in the news and in marketing, but what do they all mean?

A recent article I received, about finding the best social media platform for my target audience, had me scouring the internet to find a concise definition. Then I thought, if I don’t fully understand what generation groups are, other people will be just as confused.

It’s not just a personal thing. From a business perspective, we need to be seen on the right social media platforms. We have to know which groups our customers fall into, because different generations have their own social media favourites. 

Our Ancestors

When people talk about Generation X it can be a bit baffling. It seems to me that it’s because when we think about generations we think about the family – parents, grand-parents, great grand-parents, etc.

 

This is one way of looking at it and it’s called ‘Familial Generation‘. You and your siblings are one generation, your parents, aunts and uncles, are another, grand-parents are another. And so on. 

When you hear talk about Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials there is a different term for these and this is when it gets a bit mind-boggling. These are called ‘Sociological Generations‘. It’s a bit of a tongue-twister isn’t it? I think it’s more important to know the actual group names, than understand the definition but I’ll try and summarise it.

Life Events

Putting people into sociological categories – Baby Boomer, Generation X, Y, etc is more complex because it’s seen from two different perspectives.

One is based on birth rates as documented by the census, which considers population expansion and contraction. So if there is an age difference of 5 or 6 years between siblings, according to the census they could be in different sociological generations. If your parents were very young when they had you, you could potentially belong to the same category, as defined by the census. That part of it is probably the most difficult to understand. 

The other way of defining sociological generations is through life events that link groups of people. Sociologists look at common life events and shared experiences to define the groups.  

For instance, ‘Generation X’ grew up with parents who divorced and mothers who worked. Personal computers were just coming on the scene. And there was that cross-over from analog to digital. Along comes MTV, Atari, computer games, Apple, YouTube, Facebook. It’s these elements which are used to define the X, Y and Zs.

Therefore, in marketing terms, it’s the sociological generations that we are referring to and should try to comprehend.

Identify the Generation Group

generation group and year of birth

 

I’ve made it into the Baby Boomers group (1963) so this article, about finding the Best Social Media Platforms is actually pretty accurate when I think of how I interact with the world wide web.

Knowing the generation group will help to focus on the right social media outlets. That will give us more time to focus and improve on other business areas, such as our websites, or improving our content

It won’t be a ‘one-size fits all’ for every business scenario, and there might be some trial and error. But, when we’re running a full-time business, this ‘Generation Game’ might give us more time to spend with our loved ones. That has to be a ‘Brucie’ bonus.

 

‘Sharing is Caring’

If you like this article let me know – and let your friends know!

 

Business Blogs – When is the best time to blog?

It occurred to me this morning that I hadn’t posted a business blog in a while. With so much going on with coronavirus, self-isolation and people disobeying the distancing rules, why would anyone be interested in a blog about websites? Or website testing? 

So then I started thinking about the reasons why I should do a blog and it got me thinking about optimisation. It sounds like a random train of thought doesn’t it? But I’m talking about ‘optimisation’ in a business blog kind of way. And at 6 am on a beautiful Sunday morning I’m sat at my desk researching ‘Business Blog Scheduling’. 

I know the reasons why I should be submitting regular business posts. It’s so that it keeps my website fresh, helps with SEO and search traffic, helps build a good relationship with clients, etc, etc. But doesn’t how often we need to publish a blog and the optimal blogging frequency vary, depending on the type of business you have?  

 

top part of a round white clock face showing numbers and the words Prime time

Image Credit

General Blogging Guidelines

So as a result of my early morning research I did actually come up with a few general guidelines.

  1. Publish a new business blog at least once a week
  2. Always publish on the same day
  3. Focus on creating high-quality content

Great. Now I have my guidelines all I have to do is find a way to make user testing sound interesting. That’s the hard bit. But then, reading different articles this morning, I noticed that Guideline #1 isn’t strictly correct. It doesn’t always have to be new content. If you have posted something previously about a topic that is still relevant, or has come back in fashion, re-use it. There’s nothing to stop you giving it a bit of a tweak – re-cycling! – and republishing it. It counts as a new business blog, just don’t keep re-using the same one every week.

Identify your audience

Guideline number 2 is about being consistent and routinely publishing your blog on the same day. This is where I think we need to experiment to find out what works best for our own business and for our customers. But the first step has to be identifying your business blog audience.

My services are not going to be required by everybody. To be honest I probably have a very limited audience – owners of small and medium sized business enterprises – SMEs. And it doesn’t really matter what line of business my ‘audience’ is in. If they have a business website then they are a potential customer, even web design businesses.

I regularly work with a couple of web designers, reviewing their work during and after publishing, because catching bugs earlier means it easier and less expensive to fix. When you’re busy it’s easy to miss little things, such as broken links or poor navigation. Lots of little things can lead to one big, bad customer experience. So sometimes, it just helps to have a fresh pair of eyes look over the content and usability. 

There you see, I have drifted off into my own little testing world when I should be focusing on the task in hand and telling you about the ultimate goal.

The goal, of course, once you have identified your target audience is to successfully maintain a business blog that will increase website visitors. Making new connections and continuing to engage with existing customers or clients, will hopefully start generating new sales. 

Experiment

Different audiences will have different needs. If your business blog is a tool for providing up-to-the-minute information about products that you sell then you probably need to publish short, promotional blogs on a daily basis, or even several times a day. Whereas if you provide technical services, like testing for example, then that requires a longer, more detailed blog. So I think for me personally, once a week should suffice.

If you’re not sure what your blog readers need then you might have to experiment and see what formats and frequencies get the best reactions. See which format is a consistent favourite and continue with that. 

Now comes the hard part – creating high-quality content.

Avoid Burnout

This came up in several of the articles I read this morning and probably made the most sense. We all start off with so much enthusiasm, especially when people like or share our posts. But trying to consistently write something that’s interesting, in whatever line of business you are in, can be exhausting. There are a couple of ways to overcome this and avoid burnout.

First of all, why not share the load? Try inviting a guest blogger to write for you occasionally to add a bit of variety and a different personality. (This could work for me, and I have already got a couple of people in mind). Alternatively, if you really don’t like writing content and this is what puts you off blogging then you could hire someone to do it for you full-time.

Second, try writing and stockpiling articles for when you haven’t got time to keep to your business blog schedule. I have started adding articles or other blog sites to a ‘Favourites’ folder for future inspiration. I also check out Google search trends and try to use them as topics or keywords.

Timing

A lot of research has gone into analysing blog post timing data. Which Social Media platform is best for your business depends a lot on your target audience. I doubt many of my potential clients would be on TikTok for example. Pinterest is another one I don’t bother with, and I only have an Instagram personal account, not a business one, and even that is rarely use. You don’t need to have a business presence on all of them if it isn’t going to do anything for you. It just makes it harder to manage.

Mobile phone and tiles spelling Social Media

My business networking focus is on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. To get the best from these platforms for my business I need to look at the research.

Well, I have looked and basically the answer seems to be ‘it’s complex’ because it depends on your industry and your audience. Fortunately, I know my audience and thankfully. the research does confirm that these are the best platforms for my industry sector. That’s a bonus. 

However, I don’t intend to make this post any longer than it needs to be, so I’ve added a link to an easy to follow Info-graphic. Under normal circumstances it provides all the optimal posting timings for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It also includes data for business sectors such as B2B, B2C, Higher Education, etc. 

Best Time Scheduler

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, there is nothing remotely normal about what is going on around us. Schools and the majority of businesses are either closed or employees are temporarily working from home. Our travel, work and home schedules are different, which means that our access to the internet and social media is different. 

In a few months there will be more data analysis on the best times to post a business blog, based on the lock-down period.  So I’m going to put creating an all-singing, all-dancing ‘Best Time Scheduler’ on hold for the time being and write some new content for my once-a-week business blog. 

I’m sure my audience will let me know if they want more from me, but for now, I think it’s time for another cup of vanilla chai before I go out in the garden and pull a few weeds. Happy weekend everyone!

Stay Safe and Stay Well

Shirley Atkinson, SAA IT Testing 

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Shirley Atkinson

SAA IT Test Consultant

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