Why Social Media Stories Matter

15 Feb
February 15, 2017

Storytelling is very the core of good social and content strategy. It allows us to build a narrative and connect on a deeper level with friends, customers and connections. Nearly all social platforms recognise this and now have their own iteration of tools for telling social media stories.

Facebook Stories (currently testing in Ireland) is the latest in a list that includes Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories, Messenger Day and Twitter Moments to name a few.

While people tend to focus on platforms copying the feature from each other, what is important is for all platforms to have this functionality. When I spoke with Adam Fraser on the EchoJunction podcast late last year, we talked about this. While all may have it to varying degrees, whoever gives users the best tools to tell stories will win, which the data seems to be supporting.

Social Media Stories over Social Media Posts

Social media has always been about snapshots, those moments in time we have captured and shared with our friends.

Personal timelines go some way toward organising these, but the news feed remains the place where people keep up to date.

This means algorithms come into play, which have a tendency to kill a narrative. Elements of the story appear out of order, which is fine if you’re Tarantino, but not if you’re an individual or a brand.

While you would expect that if we reacted to one thing we found interesting, we might see more of it. But there’s no guarantee that this will happen in order, if at all. Stories fix these challenges by stringing together the narrative and keeping it moving.

Ease of Use and Access are Key

Recent research shows that Instagram stories slowed the growth of Snapchat’s play after it launched, largely in part to both it’s scale of users already familiar with the platform, and it’s ease of use by comparison to Snapchat.

Similarly, Twitter’s much-hyped Moments feature has just been removed from the main navigation in their app. I believe to be symptomatic of them keeping it out of the hands of users for too long. By the time they had the ability to create moments, most were finding better ways to do it elsewhere. That said, it remains an important tool in curating relevance from the noise.

Facebook has scale already, which is where Instagram also had an advantage. All platforms have their own demographic and user behaviors that will influence the type of stories that will be told and how the tools will work. The important part is making it easy to put it all together, because stories and narrative matter.

 

4 Discovery Sites for Content Curation

16 Jan
January 16, 2017

A couple of years ago I published my 4 step framework for curating quality content. My method really hasn’t really changed in that time, and every day I am discovering more and more amazing content being published. The first of the four steps was finding trusted sources to pull content from, so I wanted to share with you four sites that I’m currently using to discover amazing articles as part of my content curation strategy.

Pocket Explore

Screen shot of Pocket Discover

 

I’ve been using Pocket as one of my main tools for managing social throughput for years, and as they have amassed more and more links, their role as a discovery engine has increased.

The Explore function (currently in BETA) only seems to be available on desktop (different to the recommend function in the mobile app based on people you follow), but it is a search based discovery engine that will bring some great stories to the fore.

Another recent piece of functionality comes with their browser extension. When you add a site to your Pocket with the button, similar stories and recommendations will appear.

Post Planner

Screenshot of Post Planner

 

I was a bit late to Post Planner, despite having an account for years. I’ve never really delved into it until recently and realised the full potential of it.

Search on a key term, discover pages and accounts across Facebook and Twitter, and any articles based on keyword searches. Importantly, you can save these and build a feed of content to curate from.

It requires a little bit of refinement to your terms, but can pull in some great pieces to share in a number of formats, and allows you to schedule them.

Medium’s Reading Roulette

Screen shot of Medium Reading Roulette

 

As human beings we’re not singular in our interests, so it’s always important to be looking for stories to share that demonstrate that breadth of interest to move you beyond just your immediate area you are curating from.

Medium is both a powerful publishing platform for people, but they also do a great job of bringing stories to the for, through functions like their Reading Roulette (found in the main navigation).

These aren’t necessarily stories on your particular theme, but you’re sure to find something of interest.

BeBee

 

Screenshot of BeeBee

One network I am keeping an eye on for the moment and discovering some interesting content is BeBee, which is billing itself as a professional network built on affinity, or shared interest.

While members can curate links, there is also a publishing function, which is accompanied by a discover function. Here you can find a lot of original content on particular topics of interest.

While the user base is not huge yet, there is still some interesting content being created which will grow over time.

Would love to hear of any other sources people might find valuable for content curation.

 

 

Can Customer Service Bots Ever Be Empathetic Enough?

21 Dec
December 21, 2016

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be one of the keynotes at the iMedia Brand Summit where I talked about the social media journey my company has been on, and in particular the part customer service plays.

I touched on a few forward thinking points at the end, one of them being the possible role of bots. I got a lot of questions afterwards about how and where it can be applicable for different types of business. With the recent announcement of Twitter’s customer service tools, as well as Facebook’s earlier announcements of messenger bots, there has been a tremendous rush towards trying to apply them.

I think the opportunity for messenger bots is huge. I’m a firm believer in customer service at the core of any social media and content strategy. It must be easy for a customer to do business with you and find the answers they need quickly. Bots can fulfil this need – to a degree.

The real litmus test though (and let’s face it, the business case for investment) will come down to what your social interactions are like as a whole.

WHAT DO YOUR SOCIAL CUSTOMER SERVICE INTERACTIONS LOOK LIKE?

If you’re tagging your social interactions correctly (that is to say aligned to other business functions), then you should have a solid foundation of what your customer queries are about. From here, there are two things to consider when analysing them.

Firstly, what are they actually relating to? If you map them to your customer’s lifecycle, how many could you consider to be general questions (possibly pre-sales or account maintenance), vs the amount of customer service queries and more specifically, complaints? Bots will excel in providing responses to questions that are frequent and general. As the conversations become more personal, will they be the right thing to be putting between you and the customer?

Secondly, how personal is the customer service and complaints? I use the word personal as opposed to specific because there is a lot of variance between the two. A broken dishwasher is a very different level of personal to something like an insurance claim. When interactions get incredibly personal, they can be heavy on the emotion and detail, requiring a level of emotional intelligence and empathy that simply can’t be provided by a bot.

If I look at my previous area of financial services, social interactions were largely straightforward – it was all about stock prices and account management. I see tremendous opportunity in things like share trading, where a bot can fulfil (once your ID has been authenticated) a number of functions, like live quotes, and simple buy or sell orders. These functions are very specific in nature, and I think that the first online broker to crack this will have a distinct advantage.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A NEED FOR A HUMAN

So with that considered, would a bot help or hinder the discussion around a claims complaint or anything involving an impact to finances or lifestyle, for instance? Think about how frustrating it can be to work your way through the automated phone message to find someone to speak to.

Here in Australia, 46% of us are more likely to go online to complain rather than praise*, and I believe this to actually be much higher for regulated, service-based industries like financial services. Social is an escalation point, where brand and reputation management is on public display, so it’s important to get it right.

While messenger bots will excel at the beginning of the customer journey, if you interactions lean heavily on complaints and are very personal in nature, there is a point where this interaction needs to be handed over to a human.

*Lithium Technologies 

How Instagram Succeeds In Spite of Itself

31 May
May 31, 2016

I’ve been spending a lot more time on Instagram lately than I usually do as I build my other business Moonshine BBQ. The product is very visually led and lends itself well to the platform.

What I’ve noticed through building my community there is that despite it being a social platform, Instagram’s success seems at odds with its limited function set.

While the simple double tap to like an image is how it should be on mobile first social applications (the number of times I have done this on Facebook is ridiculous), and the ability to leave a comment is as straight forward as you would want it to be, other functions that are inherent to a social experience are not.

There are three key areas where I think they need to improve.

Conversation

The ability to interact with not only a creator, but also commenters, is a core principle of online community building, with people coming together around a piece of content to make it something bigger.

With Instagram however, conversation is difficult. Leaving a simple comment is fine, but the chronological nature and non-nesting of the comments makes following a conversation difficult, and the ability to respond directly to another user’s comment is a multi-step process.

This is particularly true for highly engaged accounts with large followings, as a limited number of comments load at any given time, making it challenging to find conversational elements.

Sharing

Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of Instagram is the ability to share content from others intra-platform. While it obviously pushes the point of original content, the number of third party apps that repost, or “regram” the content of others, demonstrates that the desire to share interesting content of others, in spite of how clunky the process is (more further down about that).

While Facebook has created conventions around how content from others is displayed when you share from another person or publisher, Instagram (despite being owned by Facebook) has left it up to the multitude of developers to determine this, creating a lack of consistency, and at times a total lack of credit to the creator.

Through developing this feature, Instagram can standardise the way content is shared on the platform, generating greater engagement and reach for creators.

API

In all of the aforementioned re-gram apps, the process generally involves a mirrored feed, a selection of the image, a standardised overlay, a copy caption function and then opening the photo in Instagram, pasting the caption and posting. It’s anything but smooth, and a limitation of the API.

I’m beta testing Buffer‘s new Instagram integration, which is a much better experience in that I can schedule the post with the image and caption, and I get a reminder at the time to post and it copies across the image and caption for me to use. However, it exhibits the all to familiar trait of not being able to post directly to the platform.

While none of these things are obviously inhibiting growth, the limitation of true community building features and a rough road to using third party tools to interact with it make it seem to be that Facebook and the Instagram team are missing a huge opportunity to increase growth.

 

Facebook Style Content – Could It Choke LinkedIn?

24 Feb
February 24, 2016

Something unprofessional is happening with LinkedIn’s news feed.

While it’s always been terrible to navigate because it of the way it decides on Top Posts on a whim (try refreshing the page and watch it completely change), there is a trend that is on the rise which threatens the quality of the content and engagement.

I am talking about the increasing number of content pieces that are typically the domain of other networks, particularly Facebook style content.

Memes and pictures of lunch your friends share on their Instagram and Facebook? They’re now sitting right beside your 10 Habits of Highly Productive People.


Political posts that talk about how awesome Obama is doing, and that the republicans are wrong? Fitspo (apparently actually a word)? Questionably attributed celebrity quotes? All present and accounted for.
I spent ten minutes browsing my news feed each day over the last week and found at least 3 examples each day. All of these have the potential to choke LinkedIn’s already confusing and busy news feed and suck the life out of it.

I spent ten minutes browsing my news feed each day over the last week and found at least 3 examples each day. All of these have the potential to choke LinkedIn’s already confusing and busy news feed and suck the life out of it.

Where Is It Stemming From?

The main offenders are not always amongst your own LinkedIn connections. Given the way LinkedIn treats engagement with posts and presents them in your feed, whenever you begin liking or commenting on the content, it brings the full post to the attention of your network.

In a self-perpetuating cycle, even as we comment to tell people “this doesn’t belong here”, it increasingly appears “here”. It may be a third or even fourth-degree connection, but eventually, it makes it there.

So what’s wrong with it exactly?

It’s About The Nature of the Connection

LinkedIn connections are generally single faceted. Unlike Facebook, where occasional acquaintances to nearest and dearest fall under the very broad definition of “friend”, LinkedIn is by its definition a network of professionals.

Your connection is around what you do for a living – I have either done business with you, I’m interested in your expertise in your field, or I want to sell you an SEO solution (you know who you are…).

When you begin to introduce Facebook style content into the equation, your begin to make the relationship personal, which some business connections may not appreciate it. You can see it in the comments.

Define Your Social Tone Of Voice

If you are adding this type of content to LinkedIn, it’s important to consider before posting. Personal brand is of the utmost importance now, and the way in which you express these opinions online may lead to current and future business partners to take pause and reconsider your relationship.

Decide what you want to be known for online. Create your social tone of voice. I have a simple framework for deciding what and where to share:

How to decide what content to share on what social platform

LinkedIn makes it hard enough to find great content without having to wade through low-quality stuff. Use it to position yourself as a leader in your field, even if you’re not yet. Keep the memes on Facebook, wit on Twitter and lunch on Instagram.

How to Switch from Recent to Top Posts on LinkedInIncidentally, if you’re looking how to re-order from Top Posts to Recent posts, it these 3 little dots wedged in between your Publish a Post button and the first update in your feed. Obvious, right?