Archive for category: Content

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.

 

 

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?

 

A 4 Step Framework for Content Curation

12 May
May 12, 2015

Any good content strategy is a mix of created and curated content, and in many cases, curated will be the dominant part of that. It plays an important part in building trust and authority in whatever business you’re in.

While content curation is not just confined to sharing links on social channels, it perhaps the dominant method.

I curate at least 18 content pieces a day across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest (in addition to on the fly retweets and shares). and over time I have built up a framework to support the what, when and how.

It breaks down into four elements.

Find Trusted Sources

Your curated output will only be as good as the content you consume. Creating authority through sharing means that you need to find consistent, trusted sources for that content.

I find pieces to share from a wide and varied range of places

  • Newsletters – I subscribe to a dozen different newsletters from individual sites, and scan them each morning for headlines that grab me
  • Aggregators – Further to the newsletters from these individual blogs, there are a number of aggregator newsletters I also use, such as Swayy and SmartBrief that find top pieces of content around a theme
  • Feeds – I use Buffer’s Feeds function, but you can also use tools like Feedly, to bring together stories from other sites I like into a single feed
  • Twitter Lists and Search – I have a number of Twitter search columns set up in TweetDeck around themes like social media and content marketing, as well as lists of key influencers tweets that I can always find something interesting to read
  • Facebook Saved Links / Twitter Favourites – Facebook’s saved links has come in very handy as a way of bookmarking content I like, or want to read later. In the same vein, I use Twitter’s favourite function as a way of bookmarking links for later. These are also particularly good as a way of finding evergreen content to share again.

UPDATE: Looking for some more trusted sources? Check out this post from Buffer.

Read & Organise

Reading the content you plan on sharing may sound fairly obvious, but surprisingly, there is little to suggest that links actually get read before they are shared.

Ever shared something on a channel and had someone like it or retweet it so quickly that they couldn’t have possibly read it? I have seen content on this blog shared multiple times on social platforms, and result in absolutely zero traffic, which as someone who writes with the hope of people reading can be disappointing.

Because you’re wanting to establish trust, read the content you are sharing to make sure that it fits with your social tone of voice and philosophy. Don’t blindly share just because it may have your topic of interest as its overarching theme.

Once you’ve read it, then you need to organise it all. I use Buffer almost exclusively for organising my content that will be shared. It allows me to organise when and where I will share it, and optimise (see next point) my curated content ahead of time.

First I need to work out what content is going to be shared where. The graphic below is a reasonably simple representation of how I determine what to share on the platforms I use the most. Although multiple platforms are listed against each, I may only choose one of them in each situation – as an example, I generally share once to LinkedIn to every five on Twitter. It will all depend on the piece of content.

1

 

Once you know where, then you need to think about the when.

I organise four ways:

  • Relevance – is the topic time sensitive, or relevant right now? Bring those up in the queue and give evergreen content some flexibility
  • Length – I tend to share shorter reads during business hours, with longer content pieces after close of business and weekends. Understand your audiences time available to consume it.
  • Uniqueness – Has it been shared heavily by other people who you could reasonably assume have a similar following to you? If I think yes, I tend to schedule it later when it can still be useful but not lost in a sea of tweets that are exactly the same.
  • Variation – When curating from trusted sources, you will often find many stories from the same site. Make sure you break these up so you’re not sending people to the same site every time.

Optimise

Despite all serving similar function, no two social channels are the same so it is imperative that each piece of content you intend on sharing is optimised for each channel.

When optimising for my channels, I look at four things:

  • Character Limits – Even though Twitter’s limit is 140 characters, according to some analysis the optimal length is actually 70. All networks have different post formats, and you should consider the length text of what you are sharing. Hubspot published a great post of templates for formats on Twitter recently.
  • Hashtags – add appropriate hashtags to content on Twitter, Instagram, G+ and Pinterest. Facebook uses hashtags as well, but there’s a lot of discussion about their actual usefulness. I tend to use 3 at most in any tweet.
  • Images – While most platforms will automatically support a rich preview of content shared, Twitter’s default is still text. Images however increase engagement up to 35% so make sure that where possible, your tweet carries one. Use the Buffer’s Share Image function that appears on hover to make it easy. Also, scroll through the image selected if you’re not happy with it.
  • Credit – Where possible, make sure you give credit to whoever created to the site where you found it, and the writer if possible (in the case of guest blogging and contributors)

Review

Reviewing what is upcoming in your schedule of curated content, as well as what has gone out, is important.

Keeping an eye on upcoming content helps you avoid instances where a story you are sharing has either become irrelevant in light of a change of circumstances, or worse when an event makes that content inappropriate, like Tesco’s ill-timed scheduled tweet a couple of years ago.

I always curate at least 2 days worth of content at a time, as there will be days where life takes over and I don’t find the time. But I am always aware of what’s in the queue.

Keep an eye on this, and also the opportunities to move content around as relevance changes.

Reviewing what has gone out is also important, so you know what resonates with your audience. Look at things like time of day, the hashtags you used and the kinds of users who have engaged with it. All of this will help inform the ‘organise’ step of the process for next time.

I hope you find this framework useful.

Last Week's Top Social and Content Posts

20 Apr
April 20, 2015

Last week I started publishing a summary of what was most popular amongst the content I shared. This week, data and visual social media were the most popular themes from the content I curated.

So what were people looking at last week?

5 Social Media Image Size Hacks for Quick Visual Content

Top of the pile was a great post from Donna Moritz (@sociallysorted), on some hacks to build quick visual assets for your social media. Donna’s content is always great, and recommend following her.

Twitter Cuts off Data For Third Party Sellers

One of the bigger stories of the last week was Twitter, as they move into their own big data business through their Gnip acquisition.

10 Reasons Why Data Must Drive Your Content Strategy

I shared a similar post last week, and it’s obvious from the interactions I see with it that data and content strategy and hot topics. This post has 10 points that need consideration.

The Evolution of Advertising on Twitter, and What’s Next

I found this more retrospective, very light on the “what’s next” but it is an interesting read nonetheless.

Turn UGC Into Glorious Content

UGC was one of those things that marketers thought would be awesome in the early days of social media, then got a bad name because of the unreliable quality. But there is a way to do it right and turn it into something awesome.