How to survive a Facebook take down. Or prevent it happening in the first place.

If you manage a Facebook business page, for yourself or someone else,  then you need to read this.  I survived a Facebook shutdown, so you don’t have to.

Once upon a time….

Here’s my story.  All the flashpoints are in blue.  Facebook blue!

My client’s business page was set up using their newly created profile page.  My client decided to run a big ad. Then seeing how successful this was, ran some more ads.  Lots of ads. Someone new joined the team and started logging in from the client’s profile page. The profile page was otherwise inactive.  Then one day, about 8 weeks in and without warning, Facebook disabled the profile page.  The new person wasn’t assigned an admin role.  No one could access the business page. 


 Has your Facebook page been disabled?

OK, so your stress levels are off the scale.  Step back and take a deep breath.

If you’re a social media manager, you’ve probably already figured out that everyone expects you to be able to fix it.  Your client is probably saying stuff like this:

“Why haven’t you phoned Facebook”?

THERE IS NO CUSTOMER SUPPORT PHONE NUMBER!  But your client has probably Googled this and is telling you they have found ‘the number’!

Of course, you’ve Googled it too, but hopefully you’ve figured out that these are third party companies peddling mumbo-jumbo.  You can not ring Facebook. The end.

“Do they know how much we’ve spent on advertising?”

That may be part of the problem.  Facebook works really hard to try and keep spam out of your news feed.  Your lovingly crafted ads may have inadvertently triggered something on the spam radar.

And Facebook doesn’t really care how much you’ve spent if you’re (accidentally) behaving like a spam-bot.

“Email them! Tell them they must reinstate the page TODAY!”

And good luck with that.  See the bit about phone numbers.

Facebook has over 1.7 billion users.  The only way they can manage that many accounts is to have automated detection systems to flag up suspicious activity.  You are not dealing with humans.

If you’ve been offered an olive branch by Facebook in the form of a request for further information or action, then follow their procedure and sit it out.  That is your best (and probably only) line of communication.

“What am I paying you for?”

Hmmm, yes.  Not all clients will be calm in the face of adversity.

You may well have been up all night with your head in your hands, Googling ‘Facebook page disabled’, but your client doesn’t know that.  What they want to know is that you’re doing all you can to fix it.

Don’t go into radio silence, but don’t get caught up in emotion driven emails either. Just state the facts calmly and professionally at regular intervals throughout the day. Maybe email other members of the team asking them (politely) not to bother you whilst you deal with it.

This also gives you precious breathing space.


OK. So what you’re really thinking is:

“But what can I do?”

Here is what I did.  I don’t know if any of it helped, but it made me feel like I was at least doing something.  And our account was reactivated (eventually).


  • I did exactly as Facebook asked.
  • I asked for help.  As a Digital Mum, I have hundreds of women behind me.  But that didn’t stop me reaching out to others in the field.  (Thank you Status SocialCharli Day, and of course the awesome #DMCollective)
  • I used the ‘report a problem’ option from my personal page to flag up the issue, using the case number Facebook gave us.
  • I posted a message on Facebook’s Facebook page, quoting the case number.
  • I tweeted Facebook. More than once. But not over the top.
  • I sent regular updates to my client, morning and afternoon.
  • I did not try to log in from my home IP address in case this muddied the waters further.
  • I read this brilliant article and wished I’d read it before Facebook shut the page down….
  • I waited.
  • I got some perspective.  Nobody died.

Within 48 hours, the profile page was reactivated.  So, what did I learn?


  • Know your Facebook Ts & Cs inside out.  You may think you ‘know’ them.  But have another read.
  • Make sure all business page users have been assigned an admin role. Then don’t allow anyone to log in via the profile page. (Ask the profile page owner to change their password and not share it.)
  • Don’t create a ‘fake’ profile page to set up a business page. If you’re asked to authenticate it with a passport (as we were), what will you do?
  • Even a genuine but unused profile page has to have (at the very least): a ‘true likeness’ profile pic, real name, genuine DOB and some friends.
  • Don’t create a profile page and business page in quick succession, then start running ads.  This is a classic spam tactic and you may be shut down.
  • As Nicholas Kusmich suggests, ‘season’ your pages first.  Build up friends and a bit of sharing/posting history on the personal profile page.  Do the same with your business page. When you do start advertising, slowly spend small amounts, don’t just swagger onto Facebook waving your wallet around.  That’s what spammers do.
  • Consider using Facebook’s Business Manager.
  • If you manage a Facebook page for someone else, discuss the risks from day 1.  If your page is disabled, it will make the conversation much easier if your client was made aware it was a possibility from the outset.

So there you have it.  A story with a happy ending.


This is only my humble experience. If you have anything helpful to add, please do.  Spread the love! ❤️

©️Jo Higman

Only girls aloud and why boys don’t care

Guest blog post from Dr Andrew Clifton, Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care at Leicester De Montfort University.

Women now account for around 15 percent of people working in all STEM industries and encouragingly these figures are on an upward trajectory from previous years (WISE 2015). However, campaigning groups such as WISE and Fawcett have a way to go before we attain a 30 percent critical mass or 50:50 target of achieving gender equality in non-traditional roles. The case for having more women in science, technology and engineering is both convincing and well made, but there appears to be an anomaly in the ‘traditional roles’ discussion, which concerns encouraging men into job roles which have traditionally been seen as female.

Image reproduced with kind permission from the artist, Jacquie Hughes.
Image reproduced with kind permission from the artist, Jacquie Hughes.

Currently there are 680,858 active nurses and midwives registered to practice in the UK (NMC 2015). Only 10 percent are male and these figures have remained static for twenty years, and actually, the percentage is slowly moving backwards to single figures. Clearly nursing in the UK is not a traditional role for boys and men. Without making claims of a correlation, surely it’s legitimate to suggest that if we can get more women into STEM industries, we must be able to get more boys and males into careers such as nursing, and thus break down these out-dated gender-specific job roles? Decoupling women from their constructed role as professional and family carers means we have to make a concerted effort to encourage and attract males into these roles, such as nursing, and expect males take on an equal share of caring within families.

As we can see from the STEM industries reversing years of gender inequality and gender stereotyping in the workplace, it is a challenge. A national and sustained campaign to attract boys and men into non-traditional roles is needed. Schools and universities could do much more to encourage boys to apply for nursing, allied health courses, and caring roles. Fundamentally we need a shift in public attitudes and employment practices which ‘lock-in’ women as professional workers for the state and personal carers for their families, and don’t encourage men into caring roles enough.

This is an issue of gender equality. The NHS and nursing in particular is a highly gendered profession and because of government cut backs careers prospects and conditions of employment are being seriously eroded for hundreds of thousands of women working in the caring professions. Why should women have to accept this? A realignment of gender roles in the workforce is required and part of that solution is getting boys and males to work as professional carers in non-traditional roles such as nursing.

© Dr Andrew Clifton, Senior Lecturer Health and Social Care:

Illustration ©Jacquie Hughes:, instagram: jacquie_hughes

Quick guide to the EU Referendum for nurses.

How important is the EU Referendum for nurses?  In a nutshell?  Very.

Nursing could arguably be one of the professions most affected by the outcome,  and the NHS is certainly being used as a key battle ground for both sides of the argument.

Vote Leave argue that the £350 million we ‘send to Brussels’ every week could be spent on the NHS.  Britain Stronger in Europe suggest we will face £40bn of budget cuts if we leave, hitting the NHS hard.


Image ©Jacquie Hughes and kindly reproduced with permission from the artist.

Why will the referendum affect nursing?

The Royal College of Nursing states it does not have a position on the referendum, but it does detail the role of the EU in shaping our profession.

EU policies and legislation have had a major impact on policy issues that directly impact on nurses’ working lives, such as employment rights; equal opportunities; health and safety at work; environmental and consumer protection. (Royal College of Nursing)

Often derided, EU health and safety initiatives have undoubtedly improved the health and wellbeing of health professionals and patients, including many we now take for granted. For example:

  • Manual handling
  • Prevention of SHARPS injuries
  • Biohazard management

In addition, working conditions for nurses have significantly improved with the introduction of the EU working time directive.

Common minimum requirements in nurse education mean that EU nurses (including UK) can move freely between countries and practice to an agreed standard.  NHS Trusts have been actively targeting our european colleagues to fill the 10,000 unfilled nursing posts across the UK.  Over 20% of UK nurses are born abroad.

Similarly, the UK is the biggest exporter of nurses, with 50,000 of us working abroad, including in the EU.

Women and Europe

As 90% of the nursing workforce is female, it is important to consider the impact EU employment laws have had on women.

  • Equal rights for part-time workers and those on fixed term contracts.
  • Maternity leave
  • Equal pay
  • Anti-discrimination laws

It’s unclear what the impact of leaving the EU might be on these issues.


Or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement.  Read more about it here.

This has caused a great deal of concern in relation to the NHS, which it’s feared could essentially be privatised and sold to the US.  There is a counter argument however, that the EU is negotiating safeguards within TTIP to protect the NHS.

Key figures in the field argue that the real threat to the NHS comes from domestic legislation in the shape of the 2012 Health & Social Care Act. (For an example of this, here is a recent article in the Financial Times regarding US ‘investment’ in the NHS.)

Decisions, decisions.

It can be hard to tell fact from fiction in this debate, but there are some organisations who are trying to do just that.

38 Degrees have taken a neutral stance on the referendum, instead fact-checking what both sides of the argument are saying.  You can visit their facebook page here.

The RCN has a really detailed and balanced article on the relationship between nursing and the EU.  Read it here.

Another group worth checking out (although clearly not neutral) is Healthier In Europe. Run by and for health professionals who wish to remain in the EU, they outline a number of key issues relating to healthcare and Europe.

As a nurse, a woman, a mother, for me it’s a no brainer.  I’ll be voting to stay in. There is no doubt that I have benefited from the policies and directives introduced by the EU.  If we were to leave, I don’t feel there have been adequate reassurances and safeguards that these rights would be extended.

But whatever you do, don’t do nothing.  This is a huge decision which will impact on our working and family lives for years to come.  The worst thing any of us can do is sleepwalk into a future we didn’t play a part in shaping.

And because I rarely get an excuse to include The Clash in my blog, here’s some referendum inspiration.

©Jo Higman

Jacquie Hughes is a Nottingham based professional illustrator.  You can find more examples of her work on Instagram: jacquie_hughes, or email her at:

Nurses and social media: where do we go from here?

I recently attended an in-the-flesh meeting of tweeting healthcare professionals, organised by the ‘We Community’.  It was a vibrant day, with lively conversations around the role of social media in healthcare.

The subject that interested me the most, was this:


©We Communities

This question generated a lot of debate around my table, largely as it raises a number of issues around the role of nurses in social media.

We asked:

  1. Should we be trying to improve peoples’ lives through social media?
  2. Do people want healthcare professionals to try and improve their lives via social media?
  3. Where do nurses stand in terms of duty and accountability?

Needless to say, we didn’t necessarily answer the question!

I recently wrote about the value of social media, especially twitter, for nurses.  It is an excellent space for engaging with the healthcare community and maintaining professional development.  But what about beyond that?

Should we be trying to improve peoples’ lives through social media?

As a nurse, I have a tendency to try and help others wherever possible.  Twitter is an amazing platform to communicate health information, share knowledge and demonstrate our value as a profession.

But what about beyond that?  Given the small number of nurses (compared to the number of UK registered nurses) who actively engage with twitter, is there scope to do more?  Or are we indirectly improving lives by being engaged professionals, passionate about nursing?

Do people want healthcare professionals to try and improve their lives via social media?

Writing in Forbes recently, Reenita Das talked about disruptive influences in healthcare. She reports that a key element of contemporary healthcare is patient to patient, or peer support.  It could be argued that patients and service users are ahead of the game when it comes to technology.

From the early days of the internet, self-help forums and online communities have flourished, providing the public with unprecedented access to information and support. This extends to social media where tweet chats are numerous and hashtags for every disease or illness imaginable connect people in an instant.

Are we being presumptuous in thinking we have a potential role in improving peoples lives via social media?  How can we add value in this space?

Where do nurses stand in terms of duty and accountability?

A recent We Community tweet chat on professional boundaries provides a great summary of some of the issues nurses need to consider when using twitter.  Several nurses have been the subject of NMC conduct hearings in recent years, in relation to social media.

It would be a brave nurse indeed who used social media to offer individual advice and support to the public.  I would consider it an accountability minefield.  However, the NMC Code stipulates that we are to “act in the best interests of people at all times.”  So where does that leave us?

If we go back to the original question, how can we improve peoples lives and services through social media?  The Code may actually provide us with some of the answers.  Take these three points:

  • “Share your skills, knowledge and experience for the benefit of people receiving care and your colleagues”
  • “Always practise in line with the best available evidence”
  • “Uphold the reputation of your profession at all times”

Any nurse engaged with social media in a professional capacity will know that these three elements make up the core of what we do in the digital world.  Are we then already improving peoples lives and services through social media?  If we are, where do we go from here?

As I pointed out earlier, the vast majority of registered nurses don’t appear to be actively engaged with social media in a professional capacity.  Maybe what we should be asking is ‘how do we engage our non-digital colleagues in improving peoples lives and services through social media?’

Clearly it’s a personal choice and a contentious issue.  I’ll be the first person to advocate switching off after a busy shift.  But what do you think?  Should more nurses engage with social media or is it too much to expect given the challenges they face day-to-day?  

©Jo Higman

How Twitter can boost your nursing mojo

As Revalidation bites, we’re all on the look out for ways to fill those 35 hours of CPD, especially the 20 hours of participatory learning.  Did you know that taking part in professional conversations on Twitter can be used?  If you’ve never considered the professional benefits of social media, you may think Twitter is all about cats:


Aww, he’s so cute.

And there is no denying that cats own the internet.

But there is so much more to Twitter for nurses and health professionals, something which the NMC recognise.  We even have our own dedicated community space in the form of @WeNurses and the We Communities.  But before we go any further, let’s remind ourselves of the key elements of ‘Participatory Learning’ for Revalidation:

“To meet the participatory learning requirement, you simply have to undertake activity that involves interaction with one or more other professionals. This can be in a physical environment or a virtual one – you don’t have to be in the same room as the people you undertake the activity with.”

I clarified with the NMC (via Twitter, of course) that professional Twitter chats could be included:


OK, so now we know we can use Twitter to support CPD.  But why bother?  There are plenty of other ways to get your hours in, aren’t there?   If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, it may be difficult to see how this global conversation and cat gallery can have anything to offer nurses.

I spoke to Teresa Chinn MBE, founder of the WeNurses community and asked her why she first took to twitter.

I started WeNurses because I was an isolated agency nurse and wanted to reach out and discuss nursing issues and best practice with a few other nurses.  Social media gives nurses a world of expertise and opportunities in the palm of their hand.”

With nearly 48,000 followers, WeNurses has spawned similar communities across the board of healthcare professionals, including paramedics, pharmacists, midwives and many more.  Hosting regular twitter ‘chats’, it offers an unprecedented opportunity to discuss a broad range of clinical issues with peers.

There are benefits to twitter beyond Revalidation, as Teresa points out:

Social media is immensely valuable for nurses not only for what it can offer us in terms of CPD, learning and support but also with how it helps us to shape our digital identities as individuals and as a profession.”  

But what is a digital identity and why does it matter?  Consider the recent junior doctors strike.  Junior doctors presented a professional, vast, visible, united front on social media. Everything that we respect and admire in our medical colleagues was encapsulated in their digital identity.  Twitter is a public platform for us to showcase our professional identity and demonstrate to the world that we are a credible, educated, compassionate, dedicated, connected workforce.     

Like anything new, twitter may seem scary and deter those who are unfamiliar with it, something Teresa recognises:

“Sometimes its about showing [nurses] the possibilities and how it can help them in terms of learning or CPD.  Sometimes its about allaying fears around connecting in such a wide open space as a nurse and talking those through.”

For the new generation of nurses, the majority of whom will be ‘digital natives’, social media is likely to be a far less daunting professional space.  Indeed, they will play a fundamental role in shaping nurses digital identity.

Second year student nurse, Zoe Butler is a blogger and active member of the WeNurses twitter community.  I asked her how social media had benefited her professionally:

“Twitter has vastly increased my ability to network, develop and learn with not only fellow students, but also health professionals who I would not have had the opportunity to meet.”

Zoe talked of the opportunity to discuss clinical issues, challenging her practice and perceptions, stating this has “allowed me to be a more confident and considerate practitioner.”  Her engagement in social media has led to opportunities in her professional life which she argues she simply would not have been exposed to otherwise.

As Zoe points out however, it’s essential that we abide by the NMC Code and our employers social media policy when taking to social media.  A recent investigation by the Nursing Standard found that twenty nurses had faced Fitness to Practice proceedings between 2012 and 2015 for improper conduct on social media.  Social media platforms are public spaces, regardless of our privacy settings.

As Zoe points out though,

“If we portray a positive message that shows care, compassion and a love of nursing, this surely is allowing patients to see how passionate we are about their health and well-being.”

It is fantastic to hear the next generation of nurses speak with such passion about our profession, something Teresa echoed when i asked her how to engage nurse colleagues with twitter:

 “It can be hard at times to get nurses to see the value, however I have always gone with the mantra that if I can show just one nurse the difference it can make to them then I would have made a difference.”  

Spoken like a true nurse.

So, are you ready to take the plunge and boost your nursing mojo?  The WeCommunities site has a fantastic ‘Twitterversity’ for everyone; from absolute beginner to advanced tweeter.  Find it here.

©Jo Higman

Storytelling: the schizophrenia illness narrative.

In my previous post I introduced the value of illness narratives.  Here I’ll be using Eleanor Longden’s TEDTalk to demonstrate the power of narrative in schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia can be a devastating illness with catastrophic consequences.  Whilst there have been few advances in medical treatments, the growth of the recovery model is now helping people to manage their symptoms and build a meaningful life.

It was once thought that people who have been through the more distressing aspects of the illness may be unable to form a coherent account of their experiences.  That notion is now being widely rejected.  Indeed, it’s becoming apparent that in trying to make sense of the fallout from schizophrenia, constructing a narrative can actually form part of the recovery process (Roe & Davidson).  In her TEDTalk, Eleanor presents her story with eloquence, taking the listener on an engaging journey.


In his work around stigma, Goffman referred to the concept of a ‘spoiled identity.’ Given the stigma surrounding schizophrenia one could argue that the diagnosis has the potential to create a spoiled identity.

Hyden however argues that illness narratives provide an opportunity for individuals to counteract this.  As Benwell & Stokoe suggest, “the practice of narration involves the ‘doing’ of identity.”

Eleanor constructs an identity that will be reasonably familiar to her audience. She is a graduate, and a highly successful one at that, with the “highest degree in psychology” and the “highest masters” the university has ever awarded. Her delivery is articulate, with moments of self-deprecating humour.  At one point she describes herself as a ‘madwoman’ and jokes that arming herself with picnic ware was ‘strategic.’

This has the potential to achieve several outcomes. First of all, her academic accomplishments suggest she is the intellectual equal of her audience. Secondly, by poking fun at herself, she is minimising the opportunity for anyone else to do so. She recognises the bizarre nature of her symptoms, occasionally with humour, effectively robbing her audience of the capacity to pass judgment.

the chaos of her illness is firmly in the past

The distressing aspects of Eleanor’s illness are clearly presented in the past tense, in the context of periods of acute illness: “It was then that I…” and “It was at this point…” There is a definite switch to the present tense, when Eleanor signals that the chaos of her illness is firmly in the past: “I’m now very proud to be a part of Intervoice.” This fits neatly into Toolan’s suggestion that “our preference is often for the sequence of connected events to take shape around a state or period of turbulence or crisis, subsequently resolved.”

society continues to marginalise and stigmatise those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia

Schneider argues, “If we do not present ourselves in terms of reasonably familiar histories and identities, we are likely to be regarded as, at best, eccentric and, at worst, mentally ill.” Eleanor would appear to have skilfully avoided the latter by presenting herself as an eloquent, engaging professional, working with a global organisation to bring about social change. This sits very comfortably with the TED ethos which claims to promote “the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.”

Interestingly, she does appear to invoke rather a socialist identity throughout her story. She refers to fellow voice hearers, as ‘comrades’ and quotes Hugo Chavez, former Venezuelan president and socialist. She refers to solidarity and oppression, words which are associated with the socialist movement, battling the hegemony of the ruling elite.  

The ruling elite in this case may be psychiatry itself, or a society which continues to marginalise and stigmatise those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. As Schneider argues, if individuals wish to contest the pejorative nature of this diagnosis, they can either contest their membership to this category, or they can contest the definition of it.  Eleanor does not contest her identity as someone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia; rather, through her narrative she challenges us to reconsider our preconceptions about the illness.

©Jo Higman

Storytelling: illness narratives in mental health

Telling stories is an intrinsic aspect of being human, helping to shape the culture and values of the society we live in (Hyden, 1997).  It is, according to the Society for Storytellingthe very first way of communicating life experiences.”


Brown et al suggest personal narratives help us to construct and re-examine our identities within our cultural and social context.  They are, according to Schneider, “artful constructions that draw on both our life experiences and on culturally available discourses to cast our lives and ourselves in particular ways.” 

As a nurse, I’m particularly interested in illness narratives; those stories we tell when we experience disease, trauma or periods of ill health.  Whether a bout of the flu or a life-changing diagnosis, we often like to share it with others, which can be part of the recovery process.  Roe & Davidson suggest narratives can help individuals to make sense of their experience and to restore their sense of self and agency at a time when power and control over one’s life may be compromised.

This opportunity to construct a narrative account of illness experience not only allows the individual to regain ownership of their stories, but may also become a fundamental aspect of the healing process.  Greenhalgh and Hurwitz highlight the importance of narrative in the clinical encounter: “Narratives of illness provide a framework for approaching a patient’s problems holistically, and may uncover diagnostic and therapeutic options.”

recovery in serious mental illness is distinctly different from the traditional idea of a clinical recovery from disease

The rise in interest in illness narratives has developed in parallel with the growth of the recovery approach in mental health, both having an emphasis on collaboration, hope and empowerment.  It is worth pointing out that recovery in serious mental illness is distinctly different from the traditional idea of a clinical recovery from disease. Rethink define recovery as, an ongoing process.  It is normal to have difficulties or setbacks along the way.

The therapeutic value of illness narratives may explain the explosion in the number of personal blogs, especially in mental health.  From perinatal mental health to depression, individuals now have a platform for telling their stories, which previously didn’t exist.

with support and encouragement, narrative offers individuals with schizophrenia the opportunity to weave back together a sense of self

Roe & Davidson argue that whilst having the opportunity to ‘re-author’ one’s life story should be considered a key aspect of recovery, it may not be so straightforward. They point out that individuals who have been through the more distressing aspects of schizophrenia, may have difficulty in constructing a coherent narrative.  Some argue that this lack of coherence may actually serve as a protective factor against the despair brought about by the illness. 

However, with support and encouragement, narrative offers individuals with schizophrenia the opportunity to weave back together a sense of self. With an illness that can cause tremendous distress and potentially deprive someone of their liberty, Roe & Davidson argue that narratives offer an opportunity for the person to become “the protagonist, the hero of her own story” 

Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in this brilliant TEDTalk by Eleanor Longden.  In my next blog post, I’ll be discussing Eleanor’s narrative in more detail, celebrating an alternative aspect of storytelling.

©Jo Higman


Beginners guide to health in the digital age

I recently signed up to a health bloggers community, but was surprised to find that no-one was writing about, well, health.  Lifestyle, definitely.  Wellbeing, maybe.  But health?Obviously my outmoded nurse-y ideas of health need a reboot.

‘Dr Google’, blogs, vlogs, apps; the internet is fast becoming an integral part of our health and wellbeing, with 49% of UK adults seeking health information online.  But in this digital world, what does it mean to be healthy?



Back in 1947 health seemed fairly straight forward, defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”


If you were to define health now, what would you include?  Would you talk about diet, appearance, self-monitoring?  What about clean eating?  And meditation? On her mad lifestyle blog Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow recommends steam cleaning your vagina!  (She also recommends lymphatic drainage as ‘a great way to start the year’ 😯 )

You see, it’s all about wellness and wellbeing now isn’t it?  We should all try and be better than we currently are; happier, healthier, fitter, thinner, cleaner, more productive, less stressed. To eschew wellbeing could be considered an act of rebellion, subversion even.  As Cederstrom & Spicer argue, “Today, wellness is not just something we choose.  It is a moral obligation.” (Read more about their fabulous book on wellness here)

Even the government is measuring our wellbeing.  Somewhat ironically maybe, given they keep trying to make us all so bloody miserable.

I wonder what my gran would make of it all.  She keeled over aged 84, having lived on fags, Guinness and bread pudding. She would take me into town for fish and chips and give me her peas.  I don’t think I ever saw her eat anything that wasn’t beige.

But it’s all good, right?

There’s no denying that access to good, evidence-based health information is a positive. We can now manage our health in a way that my gran would never have dreamed possible. Sometimes even I can’t quite believe it.  When I was a student nurse, I had this:


I thought I was living in the future because I had a colour version! Which turned out to be a total lie. Does this look ‘colour’ to you?


As a student nurse spending hours in dusty medical libraries to find stuff out, it’s hard to believe that much of that information is now available on my phone.  Phones are now considered to be medical accessories; I thought mine was a device for beaming drivel into my eyes.  (It is.)  There are apps for pretty much any health issue imaginable, and we can take control of our health like never before.

What about the hooey?

The problem with wellness is it’s potential for vagueness.  All kinds of quackery and jiggery-pokery can sneak in under the wellness banner.  And there is the small question of who is giving us wellness advice.

In case you missed it, there was a high profile case of a blogger claiming to have cured her terminal cancer through diet.  Of all the things she had – a huge following, a book deal, enormous influence – it turns out cancer wasn’t one of them.  People who did have cancer were following her advice, hoping to be cured.

There are many successful, influential wellness bloggers out there making health claims based on anecdote and personal experience.  Personally, I like a slightly more robust evidence base behind my health information.

And let’s not forget steam-cleaning our Lady Marys.


Oh Gwyneth!

It’s also worth considering this: the wellness industry is worth trillions of dollars. Your body, your face, your hair, your insecurities about your appearance are all up for grabs. And this is one heck of a powerful industry, with unprecedented, privileged access into your home, your habits and your wallet.  Just sayin’.

Definitions of health seem fairly constant, but wellness and wellbeing appear to be far more nebulous and subjective.  Good apps can be fun and the wealth of support and advice available is astounding.  Like I said in my new year post, it might just be worth asking if the person giving advice is qualified to do so.

©Jo Higman

Twitter 101: beginners guide to twitter for freelancers and small businesses

You want to ‘be on twitter’ but don’t know where to start.  Who should you follow?  What are the rules?  Is it worth the effort?

Maybe you’ve spent the last few years avoiding twitter, secretly thinking it’s a bit pointless. When you think  of twitter, you might think it’s all a bit:


It is!

But it’s also a great place to promote your business.  There’s just one problem.  Where on earth do you begin?  Everyone seems to know what they’re doing and you’re worried you’ll get it wrong.

You may have read some social media books, had a nose through a few marketing blogs, looked up a training course or thought about using an agency.  Great!  They are all really helpful if you have the time and money, or if you’re thinking of a full-on social media marketing strategy.

But for many of us, just having a presence on twitter is enough for now.  Starting a business or becoming a freelancer can be challenging, and it can be easy to get distracted with social media.  (I speak from experience.)  But to ignore it is an oversight; a bit like setting up a market stall then not allowing anyone to see what you’re selling, or telling anyone that you’re there.

This simple guide will take you through the basics.  We’ll start from ground zero and get you tweeting in no time.  I promise you, it’s not as scary as it looks.

I’m going to assume that as you’re here, you just want to get started.  So let’s get stuck in.

How do I register?

Twitter has tons of helpful advice including this page on signing up.  Alternatively, if you just want to jump in and register, go here.  Think carefully about your name and your brand style.  As I produce my content, and I am my brand, I just use my name.  If you have a company, you should use your company name.  You may have a really colourful social life, but if you’re serious about using twitter for marketing purposes, calling yourself @DrunkStrumpet may not project the best image.  (Or it might!  Depending on your business….)


This is where you create your quick first impression, so you need to make it a good one. Social Media guru, Peg Fitzpatrick has some great tips on her blog.  If you are tweeting as a freelancer, consider using a picture of yourself here.  If you’re a company with several employees, then a company logo should go here.  For the header, again make sure it reflects your brand.  

An important point here is copyright.  Stock images on google are great, but you run the risk of copyright infringement if you use it to promote your brand. The best option is to use good clear images of your own.  If you want to use stock images, try Creative Commons where you can access shareable resources.

First tweet

Avoid ‘hello world’.  Unless you’re a megastar or world leader, the world is unlikely to notice you at this stage.  You could announce that your company website has gone live, or just get stuck in sharing some relevant content (see below).

Who should I follow?

  • Don’t waste money ‘buying’ followers – it just looks bogus, especially when people have a nose around your account to see who is following you.  Better to have a carefully cultivated community that will bring value to your brand.
  • Follow relevant regulatory/professional bodies/professional journals/government departments, etc.
  • Local business networks.  Look up organisations in your area aimed at nurturing small businesses and entrepeneurs.  Follow them, and see who is in their community.
  • Someone asked me recently if it was ok to follow competitors.  I say it’s not ok, it’s essential!  Know who is in your space and what they are doing.  Become part of your local community, find out what events they’re attending, share their content, retweet and acknowledge their contribution.
  • Follow media organisations for breaking news and stay topical in your tweets.  If a relevant news story breaks, incorporate that into your twitter feed.  And know when not to (see below).
  • Friends.  I think it’s fine to include friends in your professional twitter world – after all, if they aren’t going to big you up, who is?  If they get a bit too raucous on your timeline, just move the conversation into a private sphere.

What shall I say?

The best advice I can give is to have a nose around your twitter community and see how it’s done.  Just imagine you’re part of a big conversation and follow the same rules of politeness.

I like the 5-3-2 rule from Pam Dyer.  If you post 10 tweets a week, consider this approach:

  • 5 – relevant content from others (eg, a competitor has published a ‘how to’ guide on an aspect of your profession – share it, saying what helpful/great advice it is.  Your professional body has published some new guidelines – share them, with an appropriate comment.)
  • 3 – content created by you (eg, a photo of an event you’ve organised, your professional blog post, your own ‘how to’, etc.)
  • 2 – personal, humorous content, showing the human side of your brand (eg, have you done something fun during the work day which is shareable?  Has your favourite coffee shop just given you a free coffee?  Take a pic and acknowledge them.  Is something fun happening in your workspace?  Tweet about that?  Or if it’s a Friday afternoon and a funny Buzzfeed list has caught your eye, share that.  (Just watch out for anything that might offend).

Note: If something tragic has happened in the news, you don’t want to appear insensitive by firing off zippy tweets with smiley faces.  Neither should you try and capitalise on bad news.  You’ll just look heartless.  Here’s an example: when Bowie died, lots of brands were quick to send RIP tweets with his iconic red and blue flash emblazoned across their products.  The twitter-verse did not like that.  It was bad taste, and said brands were called out for it.  And rightly so.


Be polite.  Be generous.  Be kind.  Be helpful.  Always.  

If someone criticises your work or brand on twitter, your response is crucial.  Don’t ignore it, say you’re sorry to hear it and send them a ‘DM’ (Direct Message) out of the public eye.  

If it is a malicious tweeter with no contact with your business, report / block them.  Never get in to an argument on twitter.  

I don’t speak twitter!


To get you started, here are a few essential phrases.

  • You’ll see a lot of these #.  All a hashtag does is bring together all tweets around a topic.  So if you type something about tax, you might type – ‘important info re #tax. Don’t sprinkle hashtags around like confetti, just in front of the relevant topic.  If you search for #tax, you’ll see your tweet along with any other mentions of it.
  • RT = retweet.  Here are some tips on retweeting.  The new option to ‘Quote tweet’ mentioned here, gives you a great opportunity to add a little of your brand essence.
  • DM = Direct Message.  If you want to take the conversation out of the public gaze, then DM someone.  Look for this symbol:  Depending on the person’s account, you may need to be following each other to do this.

Get in and stay in

If you’ve taken the plunge, don’t leave your followers hanging.  Remember, this is your shop front.  

What’s your special sauce?

Twitter is a crowded market place.  Always try and remember your USP, or ‘special sauce’ when tweeting.  

Know your audience

Are you a cocktail start-up or financial advisor?  Always put your reader at the heart of everything you write.  (For more on this see this excellent writing guide by Ann Handley.)  

Know yourself

If you have a brand style or personality, carry that through to your tweets.  Twitter may seem informal, but it is all part of your brand communication strategy.  

So, now you’ve got the absolute basics to get you started.  Have a play around and get familiar with the twitter-verse.  You’ll read lots about social media strategies, content creation/curation, SEO, ROI, platforms and so on.  But really, in the early days, if you just want to ‘be on twitter’ this will keep you going for now.  When you’re ready to step it up, here are some great resources:

There are A LOT of social media bloggers out there, giving free and helpful advice.  I especially like Peg Fitzpatrick’s blog.

If, like me, you’re still partial to a spot of paper, then here are a couple of easy-to-follow books:

500 Social Media Marketing Tips, by Andrew Macarthy

The Art of Social Media, by Guy Kawazaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

Have fun!  But be warned, twitter can be addictive…..

Do you run a small business or work freelance?  What would you suggest to those starting out on twitter?

©Jo Higman

Is it OK to be sad when a celebrity dies?

Is it ever ok to put a lid on someone’s sadness?  If you saw someone crying would you comfort them, or tell them to ‘man-up’?  Do we need permission to feel sad?

As the news of David Bowie’s death broke, social media was flooded with affection, sadness, memories, favourite songs, videos, photos, letters, memorabilia, all contributing to the collective grief for the passing of a legendary artist.  Many of us felt a little bit like this:


But in one tiny corner of the internet lurked the grief-police; those who feel it necessary to criticise this ‘grief-bandwagon’ mentality, describing it as ‘mawkish’ and suggesting people ‘man-up.’

So let’s unpack that a bit.

We are social animals

Historically, we would come together as communities to mourn collectively and support one another.  Meghan O’Rourke writes more about that here.  Western culture moved towards private grieving early in the 20th Century, characteristic of the famous British ‘stiff upper lip.’  But do outpourings of emotion following celebrity deaths reveal an innate need to grieve together?  The go-to example of this is the response to Princess Diana’s death.  Social media didn’t exist then (how did we function?), but traditional media outlets certainly offered a platform for the collective grief of a nation.  So is it so surprising that twitter and facebook have become the new space where we gather together to mourn? Man alive, people share pictures of their dinner there!  Who’d have predicted we have an innate need to do that?

Whose grief is it anyway?

Yours!  Own your tears!

How can anyone possibly tell you how to feel?  Maybe it is grief-bandwaggon-ing.  So what?  Perhaps it is a necessary modern phenomenon, providing a legitimate outlet for our otherwise self-contained emotions.

Maybe when a celebrity passes away, we have permission to express those emotions we work hard at keeping tightly locked away.  Or maybe people (like me) felt genuinely sad about David Bowie’s death.  Lauren Laverne’s show on BBC6 Music was testament to the fact that many people were touched by his music and deeply moved by his passing. Responding to a listeners concerns about feeling so sad, Laverne argued; “It is personal when someone whose music has changed the way you see things dies.  The way they see the world, you take that on, it becomes part of you; they become part of you.  It’s a huge loss.” This post from Vox goes into more detail on the subject.

Perhaps you were completely unmoved by the news and don’t get what all the fuss is about.  Well that’s fine too.  Lot’s of celebrities die without me paying much attention.  But as Sean Faye wrote this week, “To sneer arrogantly at grief as a failure of social elegance – or worse, to dismiss it as a delusion or lie – is as cruel as it is hypocritical, given that grief will find us all at some stage.”

We have a big problem with stigma around mental health in the UK

Suicide is the leading cause of death in 20-34 year olds (Office for National Statistics, 2015), yet we still struggle to talk about all things emotional.  The Time to Change campaign was launched last year to tackle the stigma associated with mental health, and to put an end to the resulting discrimination.  Now, I’m not suggesting that grieving for David Bowie is evidence of a mental health problem, nor can it be compared with the daily challenges faced by those with mental illness.  But if we can’t even allow people to express their sorrow at a celebrity’s  passing, well, we’ve clearly got a long way to go.

Be polite

In the ensuing debate around ‘grief-police’, someone posted that twitter was a bit like being at home with the windows open, having a friendly conversation with the world. Occasionally, someone walks past and shouts something offensive, impolite or just not to your liking.  In that instance, the best thing to do is simply close the window.  Surely those who are offended by public displays of grief could just dip out of twitter for a while?

Writing for The Pool, Sali Hughes had this to say: “There are millions like me, who in losing an artist, feel as though they’ve lost an entire world. You absolutely don’t have to understand that, but you really should respect that”.  In The Art of Social Media, Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick quote the film Bambi: “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” And last but not least, in How To Be A Woman, lifelong Bowie fan Caitlin Moran offers this pearl of wisdom: “Being polite is possibly the greatest daily contribution everyone can make to life on earth.”

So, from life on earth to Life on Mars.  And in the words of long time Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti, “For now, it is appropriate to cry.

Via YouTube

©Jo Higman