Archive for category: Social Media

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.

 

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?

 

Why Facebook's Reactions Will Be A Game Changer

09 Oct
October 9, 2015

Facebook has today begun testing Reactions, their emoji based variants on the Like button.

The Like button itself was a game changer when it was introduced, and along with the news feed, formed the foundation of how we now discover and interact with content from friends and publishers.

Why Reactions Matter

The dislike button has been a long requested feature, with most believing it to be the opposite side of the coin to Like.

The reality of it is that human reactions are complex and varied. We “like” stories involving tragedy, conflict because that’s our only option from a platform perspective. We have even deeper reactions to updates and news involving our connections — those closest to us.

The like button has always been too simplistic of a reaction to really be valid. We express the deeper reactions through comments.

Facebook Reactions

The 6 new Facebook Reactions – and the little old Like button

What Facebook is doing though will bring nuance to interaction on the platform, by not only giving options to to express sadness and anger, but also happiness and love. The six reactions being tested are by no means exhaustive but then they don’t need to be because as the kind of common things we feel when we read a story, they will fundamentally change the way we interact and share content.

We will move from “Ben likes….” to “Ben is angered by…” or “Ben loves…”. The conversation moves from “why did Ben like this” to “what angers Ben about this…”. It creates more conversation, and an opportunity to explore.

What It Means For Facebook, Publishers and Business

From a Facebook perspective, the outcome is greater interaction and more data to be mined for targeting. This can be a good thing, with actual sentiment and emotion attached, the level of personalisation increases.

For publishers, this will be huge. While it has the potential to reduce commenting, with the nuance of opinion and reaction becoming a one step process, it will also allow for a greater view of the public pulse on issues affecting them.

I see the biggest upside however to businesses, for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important being in customer service and crisis communications. Through being able to see a range of reactions at a glance, customer sentiment and pain points can be more readily recognised and addressed.

From a brand engagement perspective, it might finally get us away from cheap engagement pieces of “like this picture because you like stuff”. New products can be easily fed back on from users. Smart businesses will be able to take advantage of these new kind of data points to shape interactions.

It’s obviously early days, and what is going to tie all of this together is of course analytics and the ability to measure these reactions in a way that makes sense, but I am excited about the potential of this.

Social Media Automation – Stop Outsourcing Gratitude

16 Apr
April 16, 2015

Despite the bad name it got in its early days, I think social media automation has come a long way and I don’t think there is anything wrong with some of the functions that fall under the umbrella of “automated”.

I use both Buffer and CoSchedule as tools for managing the content I send out on social channels, and to craft the message I am going to use to share the content I create. This kind of automation is OK.

Where it goes wrong, however, is when it’s used as an engagement tool. Automated replies on Twitter are nothing new, and have long been a pain point because they take away from the legitimacy of the connection you’ve just created.

You can’t automate gratitude. I consider giving thanks where you can to be one of the core tenets of Twitter citizenship. Pinging me a direct message within 10 minutes of following you to thank me for with a link to your white paper doesn’t say “thanks for following”.

Suggesting that we connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, <insert other network here> as part of that message? You’re losing me even further.

Take the time to write a tweet to say thanks. I try to make the time for it as much as I can – new connections, favourites, retweets. Every one of these interactions people have with me or my content helps me build my profile as a trustworthy source of information. Even if it’s collectively thanking people, take the time.

SumAll's on boarding puts automation of gratitude front and centreMany analytics platforms now offer the automation of this process with the addition of a link back to the platform – essentially making them a marketing message.

SumAll and Crowdfire are two of the bigger offenders. I use Crowdfire for some functions, specifically their inactive accounts analysis, but the lesson here is that you should use the functionality to understand your audience, not interact with it.

One of the first functions you are presented with on signing up with SumAll is the option to tweet your stats each week (incidentally, no one cares), and thanking your top followers weekly – both of which are selected by default.

CrowdFire’s is also an onboarding function and then keeps automation as a menu option, allowing you to add multiple DM styles, but randomly selecting one that gets sent and appending it with branding.

CrowdFire's automation process

 

Just as our privacy can be the price we pay to use platforms like Facebook and Twitter for free, so too free tools to manage them have a price, often in the form of promoting on their behalf. You can automate social media to make it easy in many ways, but engaging with people who engage with you shouldn’t be one of them.

PHOTO – Ian Britton via Flickr

Social Media Scams – How to Spot One

05 Mar
March 5, 2015

Today I noticed one of the old mainstays of social media scams appear in my Facebook feed again. I’m talking about the free voucher from a major brand (in this case Bunnings) that one of your friends has tagged you in when they have apparently “shared” it. For those unfamiliar, it looks something like the image on the right.

Aside from me already knowing these are fake, there are a handful of tell tale signs here:

  • The poorly sized image – a brand like Bunnings would have their logo correctly sized on Facebook
  • The unnecessary capitalisation of the word “Now”
  • The source of the post – coming via Spotify
  • In all cases of seeing it today, the things that were consistent – the “Thanks”, and the follow up comment from the poster of “Quickly”.

If you want to get into the technicalities of how these scams work, I recommend reading this post from security expert Troy Hunt from a couple of years ago. The upshot of it is that it’s designed to suck you down further into the rabbit hole of free offers from other sites, capture personal data, and potentially worse.

It’s not the only type of scam that we see on Facebook though.

The offer of a free car from Mercedes for liking a page and sharing a photo with the colour you want? The over ordered iPads at a major department store that you can get for nothing by liking and sharing? Flights and accommodation to celebrate the millionth passenger that you have a chance if you share pictures of the boarding pass?

All scams.

If you’re looking for telltale signs, look at the number of fans the page has, an extraneous period at the end of the brand name, and grammatical errors. Then search for the brand itself, most will be verified with the blue tick.

 

And the most recent:

Why do social media scams work?

People will share the and connect with them because they appear to be from reputable brands. Then they are in your feed, and have the opportunity to share other content that may be more malicious once you click on it.

So why is it that people continue to fall for it?

Simply, they rely on one of the top reasons people connect with brands on social channels at all – free stuff.

Promotions have long been one of the top reasons someone will engage with a brand, particularly on Facebook. 15% of people in a recent survey done by HubSpot claim they follow brands who offer something for free.

It only takes one “user zero” to make the mistake of clicking on it for it to spread into many of their friend’s feeds, in the case of the Bunnings example above, 78 people. Then it takes only one of those 78 to click on it, and you get the picture of how these spread so fast. Often times, people don’t know what they’ve done. The last comment below the one above was “I dont know what i clicked on. it’s just an advertisement….”.

Personally, I think it’s an unsolvable problem, short of some major action from Facebook that will limit how they work technically.

People will always want something for nothing, it’s human nature and to a large degree, social platforms have fuelled that further. The best we can hope for is that people are more vigilant about the things they click on and share, and continue to stick to the old maxim, that if something looks too good to be true, it likely is.

PHOTO – John Perivolaris via Flickr