Tag Archives: engagement

Have we really forgotten how to ‘chat’ on Twitter?

Man checks black Iphone sitting at table with laptop

Last week, Paul Stallard asked this question on his blog: Why don’t you ask questions on Twitter anymore?

It’s really resonated with me and yes, I agree, there is a definite change on Twitter in the last year or so – there is more broadcasting and less genuine conversation.

I first got hooked on Twitter about five years back, when I was expecting my second child. It was a great place to chat with other mums and mums-to-be, ask questions, offer or ask for reassurance, share experiences , or just find somebody to talk to during a 3am night feed!

I use Twitter very differently now, largely as a professional tool, and as a way of getting to know other comms professionals, learning from them and hopefully giving something of myself back. And of course it is now a massive part of what I do for a living.

I still love Twitter, it’s my first choice social network and almost every time I skim through my newsfeed (which is many times a day) I’ll find something interesting, amusing or useful. I’m forever favouriting links to blog posts or articles that I want to keep or read later.

But Paul’s right, there are a lot less questions, and a lot less genuine conversation.

I love talking to people on Twitter, and I love Twitter chats, because they are a chance to indulge in a bit of real time conversation with some fascinating people from across the world.

And since reading Paul’s post I’ve decided to take a proactive approach and post a few more questions myself – and also try to provide answers to any questions that I see (if I think I have something valuable to add, of course!)

And for those accounts we manage for our organisations, perhaps a few more questions (and answers) might just encourage a little more of the  precious engagement that we’re always seeking.

Maybe we should all try it, and bring back some of that early Twitter spirit to our timelines?

What do you think?

More changes to Facebook newsfeed

On Friday, Facebook announced more changes to the way in which it selects which of a Page’s posts will appear in the newsfeeds of those who’ve ‘liked’ it.

Facebook say the changes are designed to reduce the amount of promotional posts in users’ newsfeeds, and instead encourage pages to produce more engaging content.

These are the two examples of the kinds of status updates which will, from January 2015, see a much reduced organic reach on Facebook:

Example post1

Example post 2

Encouraging quality content in itself is no bad thing – organisations and brands should already be striving to do this.

And while this change is probably not as alarming to public sector pages as to those companies whose main purpose is selling products or services – it should be taken as a wake up call that unless we get more creative about our content, nobody is going to see it!

Clearly, Facebook is much more focused these days on encouraging companies to turn to paid advertising and promoted posts. But in the public sector where budgets are squeezed, the main focus has to be on organic reach, which is decreasing all the time.

We hear a lot about PR being the new ‘brand journalism’, and this is an excellent reminder of why that must be our focus.

Facebook has given us a fantastic way to build and participate in communities, reach stakeholders directly and develop positive relationships online. Now we need to work harder to make sure that the content we are producing is relevant, interesting, and of value to our audiences.

The true ‘value’ of social media marketing

I was reading this post by Neville Hobson: ‘Why the C-suite don’t ‘get’ social media marketing – and how to change that’ the other day and it got me thinking.

It’s quite amazing to me that some people don’t want to accept that social media has changed the world, like it or not. People’s expectations of how companies will communicate with them have changed. Many people I know would be reluctant to use the services of a company which doesn’t have a website – and I think that this will increasingly apply to companies who have no social media presence.

As Neville Hobson says in his post, the best way to get the ‘powers that be’ to understand the value of social media is to get them on there themselves. Let them see for themselves the professional value that being on Twitter or LinkedIn can provide – as a way of networking, information gathering, profile raising, building trust. Once they understand that social media is not all about Justin Bieber and pictures of what you had for dinner, you will have their interest. Once they see how the companies and individuals they admire are using social media, they’ll start to want that for themselves and their company too.

As communications people, we have a duty to help the less social media savvy members of our organisation understand the value of social media. We flag up complaints, possible issues or negative feedback that people post about our organisation on social media. But are we as good at showcasing the positive interactions? You can understand why somebody only seeing the negative side of the picture would wonder: “why are we doing this?”

In the world of Local Government comms, we know, that when we answer a person’s question quickly, efficiently, and actually get their problem sorted out, they’re usually pleased. They’re happy that, with one tweet, they’ve managed to get their bin emptied, flytipping removed, streetlight fixed, whatever. Even the most frequent posters of complaints or issues on to a council’s social media accounts are only looking to have those issues dealt with, and when they are, usually there’ll be a “thanks”. Actually what they’re doing is being an active, engaged citizen, who cares about the place they live and likes to know that they only have to post a quick comment on Facebook, or a tweet, and that information will be passed on and dealt with. That’s pretty brilliant in anyone’s book.

Local authorities are not so worried about monetary ROI as the CEOs in Neville Hobson’s post. But of course time is precious, and everyone in the organisation wants to be sure that effort and resources are not wasted on anything which doesn’t demonstrate a true “value” of some sort.

So it’s important that when good things happen on social media, we’re sharing that with the people at the top, as well the less positive things. If we can get more of those positive examples noticed, that slightly intangible “value” of social media will start to be recognised more. It is about conversations, building relationships, and expanding customer service online into the places where our residents already are.

I’m sure there are far fewer social media sceptics at the top of organisations than there used to be – and comms has a vital role to play in helping the uninitiated understand what they’re missing out on. As for reputational risk – the risk of not using social media far outweighs the risk of doing so – it’s what your customers and stakeholders now expect of you.

It will soon be impossible to ignore the expectations of social media – if it isn’t already.

4 best links of the week

Here are 4 of the best things I’ve read this week – hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Five challenges for student union comms – A really interesting piece by Jo Walters, Digital Engagement Manager at the University of Sussex Students Union, on the brilliant Comms2Point0 blog. She makes the point that today’s students are a very different breed to the stereotype we might have in our minds – or even to the kind of students we were not that long ago. With the rise of smartphones and social media, long gone are the days when a poster in the Student Union was the main form of communication…

Five things businesses need to know about Facebook’s save feature – I love the fact that Facebook finally offer the chance for users to ‘save’ relevant links that pop in their newsfeed to read later. I’m going to use it a lot – but it’s also a good thing for Facebook page managers. In this post, author Mari Smith makes some really good points about how we might want to consider adapting our content as a result – she suggests more posts with links (which can be saved), for example. As this post rightly points out, Facebook is not currently offering any analytics on the save feature – so page managers will not know how many times their content has been saved for later. I think that would be a really useful thing to know – so hopefully Facebook will think about introducing that in coming months.

Why Content marketing fails – A really humorous guide to content marketing by Rand Fishkin. Very entertaining but also packed with advice. I’d recommend showing this to anybody who ‘doesn’t get’ content marketing yet – but even for those who already live and breathe it there are some tips and advice which will help you ‘fail’ less!

Why increased visibility on Twitter is just a few tweaks away – While a lot of the advice in this post by Sprout Social is basic stuff, it’s good to go back to basics once in a while and make sure you’re still getting the fundamentals right. The advice on using no more than 2 hashtags per tweet actually made me realise my organisation should be using them more – hashtags are something we probably don’t make enough of at the moment (but we will keep it to no more than two when we do!) I was also interested to read that the majority of users prefer it when you capitalise the first letter of every word in your tweet – something that I personally dislike… not sure I can bring myself to do this?!?

 

How the personal touch is selling t-shirts on Facebook

This advert popped into my Facebook newsfeed the other day:

Personalised Facebook Ad - It's A Melling Thing slogan t-shirt

It struck me as a really clever way to advertise – and it’s not surprising that it got plenty of shares, likes and comments, because it’s not only an advert, it’s a real talking point too, and something a little bit different.

It also goes to show how well you can target an audience with Facebook ads.

As well as all those shares and likes lots of the people who commented on the advert tagged family members in their comments, increasing the visibility of the ad even further.

All in all it’s not just an advert, it’s great content too.

And reading the comments was really interesting, as it became a kind of magnet for the Mellings of the world to say hello to each other and talk a little bit about their family history:

Comments on the It's A Melling Thing t-shirt advert

I would love to see the analytics at the end of this campaign, but suffice to say it’s going to be a hit.

Simple but effective, it is certainly something to think about when planning a Facebook advert campaign.

And there are a few Mellings on my side of the family who might even wake up to one of those T-shirts on Christmas morning!