10 cracking articles I read in March

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How on earth are we a quarter of the way through the year already? Bonkers as it may be, March is done and we’re racing headlong towards summer. Heck, it’ll be Christmas before you know it!

Yet again, I feel the need to give a guinea pig update…and sadly it’s not good news. My poor boy Rodney died earlier this month, meaning I’ve lost three piggies since the middle of January. We’re now left with Lizzie, who seems to be taking single life fairly well – she’s certainly enjoying the extra attention and has even been learning tricks!

Anyway, enough talk about cute fluffy things, you came here for some links, and some links is what you’re gonna get! Lots of good stuff this month, of which the following were my favourites – please take some time to read the full articles.

1. The Future of the Office: 7 Innovative Ways Companies Are Changing the Workplace (by Lindsay Kolowich, HubSpot blog)

This article was especially timely for me as, coincidentally, we had a team meeting a few days before this dropped where we talking about ideas to foster creativity and innovation. I stood up and pitched a music room and allowing dogs in the office, both of which make this list…meaning I’m perhaps not as bonkers as my colleagues might think. This list also includes hot-desking, greenery and a few other things.

Key quote:

What makes an office environment great is different for every company. A lot of it has to do with a company’s culture and how employees there like to work. And the right office environment can set employees up with the right situation and motivation to tackle big, important projects.

Read it in full

2. Why a meaningful life might be right under your nose (by Lauren Laverne, The Pool)

DJ Lauren Laverne opens up in this really insightful and interesting blog post on how she has accepted silliness and got her head round what her job means to people, the connections she builds with her audience and how this has helped her find meaning and purpose in her work.

Key quote:

People started to get in touch. I got to know my regular listeners and I began to understand that, sometimes, a bit of silliness can save your life. Some days, a five-minute distraction is the only thing that gets you through. I learnt the power of playing a song that reminds someone of the first time they fell in love, or the happiest day of their lives. I can’t describe how it feels to play a track you love and find out that someone, hundreds of miles away, has had to pull over in their car to cry, or to dance, or call a friend and say, “Are you listening? They’re playing our song.”

Read it in full

3. Introducing Handles! (by Tyler Droll, Yik Yak blog)

In a month of big changes for some social media platforms – I’ve already blogged some thoughts on the impending switch to an algorithm on Instagram, while Tweetdeck and Twitter analytics are also being streamlined into one big login – it’s easy to forget that Yik Yak, the anonymous network, added the ability for you to create a handle earlier this month, allowing you to be tied to all of your Yaks. This is a very interesting move, one that potentially ditches the Yak’s biggest USP – although quite how many people will actually create a handle around their name, rather than an alias, remains to be seen.

Key quote:

Just like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two handles are alike. Once you decide to be soccerfan55, no one else can claim that handle. If you don’t have your handle in mind already, don’t fret! Put on some tunes, light a scented candle, and let your creativity flow – it’ll come to you.

Read it in full

4. Stop: You’re doing infographics all wrong (by Caroline Beavon)

When it comes to infographics, Caroline Beavon is an absolute master. She also has a fabulous taste in music, so you should definitely hire her. In this blog post, Caroline very clearly sets out five ways in which people are getting it wrong when they do infographics – are you guilty of any?

Key quote:

An infographic is not a magic spell that will solve all your problems. Throwing more content into it will only make it less effective. Instead, think – can you break your information down into several smaller infographic images, instead of a full-page? These can be handy for social media, adding to reports or on slides.

Read it in full

5. Has Twitter transformed the PhD experience? (by Jack Grove, Times Higher Education)

The first of two pieces this month that use the hook of Twitter’s tenth birthday (21 March, in case you were interested) as an in for an article, this is a really interetsing look at how research degree students have been using the micro-blogging platform to help with their work, their networking and to stop them feeling lonely.

Key quote:

“Doing a PhD can be a very isolating experience, which is why Twitter is so valuable,” said Ms Peach, whose followers often share the frustrations, hardships and happier moments of their doctoral study via hashtags such as #phdweekend and #shutupandwrite.

“There are a lot of part-time PhD students who have to use their weekends to work on their PhD, so it’s nice to know other people are out there making these sacrifices,” she added.

Read it in full

6. @MichelleObama An exclusive look at how the First Lady mastered social media (by Kwame Opam, The Verge)

This article is an absolute smasher – it gives you a look behind the scenes at the White House but, more importantly, highlights the value of being yourself and being authentic on social media, as well as reminding you of the role that digital technologies have played during the Obama years. Oh yeah, and the run-down of how ideas go from a pitch to appearing on Mrs Obama’s account is pretty interetsing too

Key quote:

“This generation, they’re looking for authenticity, they’re looking for what feels real and natural,” Mrs. Obama went on. “We know we have to meet young people where they are — they’re not watching the nightly news, they’re not watching the Sunday morning shows, they’re not reading the newspapers. They’re on their phones.”

Read it in full

7. 7 powerful social media experiments that grew our traffic by 241% in 8 months (by Scott Tousley, Buffer blog)

The Buffer Blog is such a generous source of sharing, insight and learning that I visit it at least once a week. They love not only to experiment on social media, but to blog about those experiments and their results. This particular article shares a few things they tried that resulted in a huge spike in traffic – well worth you grabbing a brew and scrutinising this one.

Key quote:

During this eight month period, we ran hundreds of social media experiments to grow our users and increase traffic. And throughout our journey of building a growth machine, we discovered a few learnings related to social media sharing along the way, and I’d love to share these with you.

Read it in full

8. 7 things you need to know about video in 2016 (by Dan Slee, comms2point0)

Another list of seven things, this time to do with the all-conquering video (by the way, did you see Instagram is upping its video length to 60 seconds? Interesting…). Anyone who has seen my good friend Dan Slee speak will have probably heard him talk up video, and this quick look at some crucial video stats is succinct and brilliant.

Key quote

During last year I quoted the Cisco report that 70 per cent of the web would be video by 2017. At the end of 2015 Recode had revealed that barrier had already been smashed.

Read it in full

9. 10 years of Twitter: The tweets that changed lives (by Have Your Say, BBC News website)

Here’s the other Twitter-influenced article I mentioned earlier, a crowd-sourced collection of tweets that changed people’s lives, including a Twitter proposal and how #milifandom happened.

Key quote:

“I didn’t realise what influence I had. I was just ranting. Then before I knew it, I was named on Twitter as one of the most influential women in the Arab world. The next day all the political parties in Egypt were trying to get me to join them. I was broke and needed a job though so I sent out a funny tweet appealing for a job.”

Read it in full

10. I talked to more than 200 girls for my new book—and this is what they said about what it’s like to be a 13-year-old on social media today (by Nancy Jo Sales, LinkedIn Pulse)

Definitely a case of saving the best until last this month – Nancy spent two years talking to more than 200 13-19 year old girls about how they use social media and what effect it has on their lives for a new book. This post on LinkedIn Pulse gives you a flavour of what to expect and it is not exactly an easy read. Teenage girls are having their lives and their phones invaded with what can only be termed as sexism. This piece is a sobering but excellent read.

Key quote:

When I sat down with some girls at the Grove, a shopping mall in L.A., all they wanted to talk about was social media. “Social media is destroying our lives,” one of the girls said, as you’ll read in these pages. “So why don’t you go off it?” I asked. “Because then we would have no life,” said the girl. It was one of the first things that was said to me at the beginning of my reporting process, and I think it could still sum up the conundrum many girls today feel they’re facing.

Read it in full

That’s my lot for March – now over to you. What awesome things did you read this month? Post the links below as I’d love to read them too!

**Image via Kalamazoo Public Library on Flickr’s Commons 

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