Tag Archives: twitter

The shape we are in – social media goes back to school.

September – what a great time to evaluate. Back to school and back to the desk we go. But what kind of shape are we in?

This morning I logged on to Twitter and I make no bones about it, I was looking for inspiration. As I flicked through the burbling of a thousand bored/busy people I felt a bit depressed by the lack of substance – what I really wanted was something fresh and insightful about the state of social media today. I wanted something to kick start my new term.  

Unable to find it I started to think for myself and this is what I came up with.

Gartner’s Hype Cycle is a great place to start because it doesn’t just tell us about where we are in the life-cycle of emerging technologies – peak of inflated expectations -slope of enlightenment etc it informs us about how we are actually feeling in relation to those technologies. I know a lot of bloggers who are stuck in the trough of disillusionment and it might really help them to point out that according to the Gartner curve we are about to emerge onto the slope of enlightenment and onward into the plateau of productivity – Hallelujiah!

Social Media journalism, like all journalism, loves a launch and will expend vast numbers of words on the next big thing. Pinterest and Instagram are the new Twitter and Facebook – Reddit is coming back –  bla de bla bla bla.  But we fetishise the new at the expense of evaluating the old at our peril. Getting into the nitty gritty of daily social media use is not glamorous, it doesn’t have the hot excitement of inflated expecation, but deflating our expectations a little won’t hurt – it is realistic and will help us get the job done.

So what am I taking forward into my new term then?

For a start, I think that every single social media user/client is different. Everyone needs a tailored approach using a different blend of tools. Some just need some great old fashioned marketing – you’d be amazed by how many people still aren’t able to point to a usable database they can send e-mails to. Some clients need to go away and develop a really good understanding of where their people are in order to engage with them there and we all need to think in terms of giving people a little of what they want before we can get them to take up what they need.

Think compelling headlines, lovely pictures, aspirational content, useful articles, invaluable advice.

Finally – keep re-evaluating. We need to have this back to school conversation at least 4 times a year if not more. Has our favoured social media fallen by the wayside are we talking to the same old people – have our people moved on – do they want something different? Reassessing the situation regularly will keep us on our toes and keep it fresh – after all we don’t want want to fall back into the slough of disillsuonment do we (it is acutally a trough but slough works well if you live in Berkshisre.)

What do you think?

How to find the right audience for your Linkedin Group

How do you get on with LinkedIn groups?

Time was, when a LinkedIn group was in the top 4 weapons in your social media armoury, along with tweeting, blogging and Facebook. A ‘group’ brought people together around a subject so they could chat and share ideas in a non salesy way. I joined a handful about social media, and played a part in setting up several others for clients.

But now I have got stuck on a problem. My latest group is not growing. It is stunted and despite lots of tender ministrations and lovely high quality content, it is not finding an audience.

Are the days of a great group gone?

Well let’s look at the facts. The groups that work well for me are the ones where we are genuinely occupying a niche. The specialist recruitment group has hundreds of members and over the past 6 months by focussing on getting the content right, it has started to generate good levels of engagement from other group members. A success! Another even more niche group is to follow!

But over at my cloud computing group things are static. These are the problems;

  • The members all work in the computer industry and are primary LinkedIn contacts, rather than target audience, which is a different crowd altogether.
  • The content is aimed at people who work in a diverse range of professional services and want to learn about cloud computing, but don’t know much about it yet.    
  • Therefore the content is not finding the right audience. 

My suggested remedy is to change the group’s name so that it reflects the type of people I want to join, perhaps using the phrase ‘a beginners guide’ or ‘how to’ – then I need to line up some content that really matches the name change before setting to and publicising it.

I still have faith in LinkedIn groups, but I think it is harder to get an audience – especially in areas like computing where the competition is tough. What is your experience with Groups and do you think the strategy I have outlined above is going to do the trick?

Corporate hashtags – is big brother watching?

I was reading this article about whether hashtags  are useful and I knew you would find it interesting because we have talked about hashtags before – notably here.

And it put me in mind of a phenomenon I have come across recently –  the Big Brother hashtag. This is a corporate hashtag that allow enormous organisations to keep in touch – not as you might imagine, with what is being said by others about their brand – but with insiders, who work for or with them.

The very large company I am thinking of goes in for social media in a big way. All praise to the way they have embraced it and everything it can do to spread the message worldwide. Checking out their name on either Twitter or Facebook brings up not just one account, but literally dozens for each branch of the organisations work and each country where it operates. As someone who usually works in small business this is BIG.

So far so good. But the thing which worries me, is the suggestion that all arms of this spider, including the smaller partners, should tag their tweets with an array of tags which allows them to be tracked by the powers unseen. In some instances I have seen tweets laden down with hashtags including the company name, the product name and the name of a forum or conference they are attending. The result is something very unattractive, unreadable and un-re-tweetable!

My conclusion, as the rebel in the corner, is that social media has to be useful and when big corporations get involved sometimes clarity and simplicity go out of the window.

I would advocate getting that clarity and simplicity back. So let’s use the corporate hashtag in moderation and where appropriate. Big brother really does not need to see small partner companies shooting the breeze with new clients, although perhaps if they did, they would learn a few things about social media? 


E-mail header – where it all begins

We have been talking about headlines and hashtags on the blog recently and I have been thinking about how that works when we are creating and sending out newsletters/e-shots.

Good strong headlines compel people to read content – but if they don’t ever open the e-shot then it will all have been for nothing.

The e-mail header suddenly becomes even more important than the newsletter itself and the same goes for any kind of pitch, including press releases and blogger outreach. When you are calling on the phone you can charm the gatekeepers into putting you through or give them a compelling reason to do so, but with an e-mail e-shot you have only a handful of words to get the job done.

So it stands to reason that we really need to think about those words. I started by thinking long form – what is it that I wanted to say? Then bashing it down into as few words as possible. It is a great creative exercise!

But this wasn’t going to be enough to get the click. So then I thought about key words, as if I was working out the key triggers for optimising a piece of text. What gets me to open? Well I favour words like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn coupled with words like explained or common mistakes. Top twitter mistakes or new changes explained would probably get me every time!  So now I need to work out the triggers for my e-shot audience.

With the trigger words in mind I now move on to the final killer stage. I am going to list my e-shot content as a string of very short teasers. If I give them three then at least one will hit the spot! I won’t reveal all, but the words sales and secrets and top job may feature.

So how do you get people to open up? It would be great to share in your ideas.

Why hashtags are the new headlines.

A couple of posts back I argued what we read online has become so compressed that what were once just the headlines are now the whole story.

For example, when you scan the front page of the BBC news website or your favourite Sunday newspaper on i-pad, the chance are you’ll consume the headline but won’t actually click through to the rest of the text. But while headlines have become the story it occurred to me that hashtags have actually taken their place – hashtags are now the new headlines.

Think about how the tabloids have always reduced stories to the fewest possible, strongest words. Now think about the hashtags that came out of the last budget, ie #grannytax or #pastytax. Political tweeters took arcane fiscal measures and turned them into punchy two worders that had meaning for a wide number of people and all before the Chancellor had had a chance to sit down.

Hashtags have an enormous power because they are so sharable and spread like wildfire. Political prs are going to have to be careful in future that measures don’t boil down so succinctly!

Sweet irony for social media.

No one was more surprised than I when we learned this week that poker player and quizstress Victoria Coren is to marry Radio 4 panel show stalwart David Mitchell.

I don’t know why I was so surprised – they are both intelligent single people and probably perfectly suited, I think it was just that I had her down as a serial loner and him too for that matter. I don’t dwell on celebrities THAT much in my everyday life, but there is a little bit of Hello magazine in most of us (there isn’t? Oh ok, blokes.)

Anyway, they both have a reputation for being traditionalists and curmudgeons and what’s more they don’t approve of social media much, despite having twitter accounts, so they decided to announce the news in the old fashioned (posh) way with an announcement in the Times.

Lovely or luddite?

Well you really can’t turn back the clock and before long an eagle-eyed fan had spotted the news and it was all over twitter from where most people who cared were able to pick up the news.

By the end of the day Mitchell was quoted as saying that he had received so many lovely tweets of congratulations that he had quite come round to the idea of social media.

A sweet irony don’t you think?

How to be more efficient with social media.

Everyone wastes time on social media, but if you are running a business or acting for a client, then efficiency is vital.

But how much time is too much and what are the dangers of not enough? I think we need to look at that.

Browsing a PR agencies blurb the other day I came across the proud boast that they would update their client’s social media across all platforms – wait for it – once a week! With the prices they were charging that amounted to a whole lot of cash in exchange for very little.

I update my client’s social media every working day and I know that this will take me 15 minutes each time if I am going to do it properly. What do I mean by properly – here’s a check list.

  • Posts should be well written.
  • Posts should be accompanied by an attractive photo, link or other media.
  • Posts should address an objective – whether that is simply creating a certain ambience or being helpful to a local business but don’t lose sight of your overall marketing and pr goals when you post.   

Surely you can get all that done in less than 15 minutes a day? If you post and go then maybe you can, but you also need to take time to look around. Post and go is not much different to broadcasting and maybe in those circumstances a targeted ad would be more effective?

I think you need to hang around social media a little to see what others are saying and while you do it you might perform these tasks;

  • Check your @ messages to see if people are talking about you.
  • Check your direct message to see if people are talking to you.
  • Check your new follows and decide if you want to follow back. Send them a message and maybe check out the people they follow if they look really good. 
  • Scan the tweet stream for conversations you would like to get involved with or use hashtag searches to home in on specific discussions.
  • Do a good deed – promote someone elses blog, or product but do it mindfully and with an objective – even if you simply want to be their friend or their products chime in with your vibe.

Now you need to get out before you waste too much time but don’t forget that you can make yourself more efficient by linking Facebook to Twitter or any other combination that suits you. You can try a pre-planned schedule and automated tweets but I prefer to use those with a light touch – being present, relevant and flexible is much more important. Journalists know that if a better story comes along you must ditch the plan and make a new one.  

Now I’m out of here.