That is the Question: Facebook launches ‘Questions’

As some of you may have already spotted Facebook is rolling out another change.  Just when we thought we might have be owed a little breathing space after 10th March (which saw the final roll-out of the new pages and the ending of FBML image hosting), a fortnight later we’re given a new batch of changes to get our heads around.

Thankfully Facebook Questions is a lot easier to explain.

Opinion seems to be a key buzz word in the social web of 2011.  Brands have latched on to how opinion can spread like wildfire through the online social sphere, and tapping into personal opinion is where Quora got social media predictors very excited indeed.  If social media isn’t about broadcasting and getting your message heard, but rather about listening and responding to your followers and brand advocates then surely the best way to engage your most vocal of your fans is to ask them for their opinion.

The opinion space has in recent years been the domain of sites such as Yahoo Answers with Quora muscling in at the beginning of 2011.  Even geo-location sites like Foursquare rely on users wanting to share their opinions by leaving tips… and now Facebook is wandering into the fray.

Unlike Quora, Yahoo Answers and even Foursquare, the opinions that Facebook is looking for are simple multiple choice.  Whilst we could debate the validity of quantitive verses qualitative research methods, by having a simple poll system built into the worlds most popular social network opens the door to many possibilities for business owners.

Previously people who wanted to run polls on Facebook would have required the installation of a 3rd party ap, which in turn would throw up a string of permission windows requiring access to your personal information.  What Facebook Questions offers is a streamlined elegant, permission-free way of brands getting the answers to the questions they most want to know.

  • A company could ask its fans and followers which charity they’d like the business to support.
  • A drinks company could find out which of it’s new flavours fans would most like to see on shelves
  • A gym could determine the best time for the new Zumba class

Essentially any question that a business would want to ask Facebook now offers the chance to ask 500 million of it’s users as whenever an individual responds to a question, that poll and their answer appears on their friends news streams, spreading the brand message further.



Living with an English Degree

An English degree impacts the whole life of a person who has it, but ultimately the effects extend also to their family and close friends.  Early symptoms may include shiny fingers and paper cuts from thumbing through literary works, a glazed expression brought on by the ramblings of an 18th century novelist and occasionally a reliance on caffeine and chocolate brownies.  But there is guidance and support out there for everyone, whether you are still studying, or whether you have already passed your BA.

Studying an English degree means that you will have to learn to cope with the prejudice and presumptions of others. Just because you’re a Literature student does not mean that you’ve always dreamt of being a Teacher, and certainly not necessarily of English.  No, the nature of your degree doesn’t gift you with some super-human spelling ability, nor does it mean you have to enjoy reading the works of W.H. Auden or Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and indeed a female Literature student is not necessarily a feminist.Once at graduate level simple tasks such as going to the theatre or watching television become infinitely more complicated.   An English graduate may find themselves surrounded by appearance versus reality conflicts in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the apparent blending of gender roles in a re-watching of Titanic, or readings of homoerotic desire in Shaun of the Dead.

I am one of these graduates.

Just last week I journeyed to London for a night at the theatre, which resulted in my poor husband having to spend the rest of the week being bombarded with different readings of Willy Russell’s award-winning musical Blood Brothers: The role of absent family members.  Innocence versus experience.  Class and gender conflicts.  Incest.  And don’t even get me started on the role of the Narrator…  My husband, on the other hand, enjoyed the music and the story.

After graduating it took me two years to build up to reading a serious novel.  After twenty-four months of reading the testosterone-charged fantasies of Wilbur Smith, I thought my brain may have re-wired itself to enable me to simply enjoy a book again.  Sadly this is not true.

Every student has debt these days, but the weight English students carry is unlike any other…   A Law student may sweat over parliamentary transcripts, but it’s unlikely that these dusty pieces of specialist waffle would feature in an evening’s recreation.

So if you know someone who has studied an English degree I implore you to be kind to them. Understand what they have endured, and what they will forever go through in the name of their education.


Birthday Resolutions: Marking the passing of 12 months

So this was the weekend that saw me cross that quarter of a century mark.  There wasn’t a big night out, a party or even balloons as I decided that this birthday would be a bit of a quiet one.  There has been a lot to reflect on over the last 12 months, and whilst this year has undoubtedly changed my outlook on life, I know that there is so much to be thankful for and to celebrate.

Looking back: My 24th Birthday

Fantastic Friends

This year has taught me more about the value of friendship than any other.   Whether it’s laughing over DVDs, finishing a bottle of wine (or rum – depends on the friend!), hitting the sales, or passing a stack of tissues, I know that there are people in my life that, no matter what life throws or how far the distance, will be by my side.

Me on the Great Wall of China

Taking a Chance – Have an Adventure

This year I’ve learnt to never take things for granted, and to never been too comfortable.  I’m looking forward to the next 25 years ready to embrace all the opportunities that life throws, and to really start believing in myself.  Last year I may have worked hard on biting my tongue, but this year I’m going to work on rekindling my creativity, sense of adventure and sense of worth.

Playing in the snow...

I’m an Adult

This week may have seen me tick over from 24 to 25, but this year has seen me really grow up – and sometimes I think I’ve grown up too much.  I may be an adult, with a husband and bills and a leaky flat, but this coming year the weight of my responsibilities isn’t going to stop my childlike glee at running through piles of coloured leaves in the autumn, feeding the ducks in the spring, or even taking part in an impromptu water fight come summer.  Part of becoming an adult and facing the dark patches of life is to see the lighter patches so much brighter.

Mr D and I: The British Heart Foundation Santa Run

Making a difference

Back last month I wrote a blog about my experiences of the BBC Happiness Experiment. I’m not entirely sure how successful this experiment was, but one of the things I took from it, was how much one person’s actions can affect other people.  So this year I’m focused on going that extra mile, and having strength in myself to make an impact where I can.   So, for a start I’m sharing this link.

If you can it would mean the world to me if you could sign this petition.  Without the ongoing support of the staff at the Royal Brompton Hospital a very dear friend of mine would not have had the 24 years that she shared with us.

So here I am:  Twenty Five.   An adult.  A wife.  A daughter.  A professional.  A friend.

And very much prepared to take life by the horns.