Category: Social Media

Can Brands Take A Holiday From Social Media?

Digital Strategy, Social Media10 Comments

As a social media strategist, I often preach the importance of consistency. After all, how can you hope to build a relationship with your audience if you hardly ever post or disappear for days or weeks?

But with many businesses about to shutdown for the year (if they haven’t already), it begs the questions: can brands take a holiday from social media?

The short answer is yes, but with a few caveats:

  1. Set expectations early
    Let your followers know in advance that you will be closed so that they have time to ask any burning questions before you leave. You can even schedule a few posts over the holidays – e.g. “Happy New Year!” – with a note letting people know when you’re back. People are generally understanding, and don’t expect you to be on call 24hrs unless of course that’s your business.
  2. Check in periodically
    It’s advisable to log in every now and then (daily, if possible)  if  to check the pulse of your community. In an era where an issue can flare up on social media in the blink of an eye, you must still be vigilant. Consider turning on notifications and giving them a cursory once over. Mentally file what isn’t critical and time sensitive as “to do later” and investigate any potential issues straight away.
  3. Have a crisis management plan
    If something does go wrong, make sure you’ve got a plan in place to deal with it. Nominate someone with the requisite knowledge and experience to deal with an emergency as the primary contact on social media. You DO NOT want a Nestle on your hands and you can’t afford to leave it until you come back.
  4. Do as your business does
    If your workplace shuts down, it’s much easier to take a break from your regular posting schedule. But if you work somewhere like retail which remains open throughout or where your customers may need to contact you urgently, then it’s important that you are also present. Going back to the issue of consistency, you need to be there when your customers need you, not just when you want to be.But most importantly…
  5. Keep your ears open
    One of the side effects of our rapidly growing connectivity is that the line between personal and private time is now more blurred than ever. In this always on environment, companies have no excuse for neglecting their customers particularly as their customers now expect brands to interact with them on their terms. With that in mind, if your business allows it, you can take a break from proactively engaging and stimulating conversation with your community without risk of them forgetting about you provided you are still keeping track of the conversation and are ready to address any major concerns.

Community management is emotional and stressful, that’s why to avoid burnout take the time these holidays – if you can – to get off the posting schedule and rest, reflect and recharge for next year. This will be better in the long run for your company, your community and most importantly, for you.

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From Little Things…

Social Media0 Comments

When you look at the numbers behind social media, it’s hard not to be swept up in the excitement.

700 million users on Facebook!
200 million on Twitter!
25 million on Google Plus in the first month!

The numbers are staggering and on the surface appear to be a compelling reason to get on board. After all, with stats like that who wouldn’t want a piece of the action? But while I believe without a doubt that every business needs to be engaging in the social web if not now then definitely within the next 2 years, they must learn to change their approach.

Think niche

As marketers, the numbers that have been drummed into us as important by mainstream media are all about impressions and reach, which is what makes the size of Facebook and Twitter so appealing. But don’t be seduced by them.

You will never, ever reach 700 million people even if you are a major brand like Coca-Cola. Social media platforms are not so much a single network as they are a collection of linked micro-networks (or nicheworks) with a shared architecture, each one brought together around different areas of interest. It doesn’t matter if a community lives on Facebook or a specialist platform for Nigerian beekeepers living in Holland, the size of the network isn’t what holds it together, it’s the strength of the connections within that community.

Hold me, thrill me

To (poorly) paraphrase Seth Godin in “We Are All Weird“, we are at the end of the age of mass, where brands can no longer hope to be all things to all people. For communicators, this means speaking to people (after all that’s what we want: conversations) as individuals, not a target market. The question becomes not how many eyeballs can we reach, but how valued a member of the community can we become (or in the case of a Facebook, how valuable the interactions we facilitate on our page). Granted, some brand can be very successful not engaging in unique conversations because they have scale (see: Coca-Cola and their 36 million Facebook followers) but for the majority who don’t have access to that kind of audience simply broadcasting will have little impact.

The secret sauce (or at least one of) to social media engagement is not to be all things to all people (that’s mass), but becoming something great to a few: your most passionate, loyal and engaged customers, and empower them to advocate on your behalf. Not to say that you should ignore the rest, but with the fragmentation and abundance of competing messages, it’s an uphill battle to win the attention of someone who may not be so hot on you. Better then to put your energy towards doing something that genuinely thrills and excites the few who do care about your brand.

"Hugh MacLeod Advertising Advice"

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Facebook’s Changes: Good News For Users, Twitter

Social Media0 Comments

It’s been a few weeks now since Facebook announced a slew of new changes. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already read thousands of words far more eloquent than mine about the ins and outs of the changes. Suffice to say, like Prakky, it has rekindled my love of Facebook.

Why you ask? Because Facebook has made it all about me again. The ability to curate old posts, add new milestones and generally better tell the story of my life via Timeline has put us – the users – right back at the centre of social networking. And that’s a good thing.

I also remember a time when Facebook used to be lived in your friend’s profiles, but the introduction of the newsfeed changed this dynamic (for the better) but also meant that as you people became more active on Facebook your timeline could quickly fill up with crap. The introduction of the ticker and lightweight status updates has also meant that newsfeeds are more interesting and relevant. Likes, pokes, check-ins, etc. are now relegated to the ticker, freeing up the newsfeed for real updates and making it easier to surface the important stuff.

But, like I said, this post isn’t about recapping the changes, it’s about what this means for how businesses use Facebook.

Where did everyone go?

If you manage a Facebook page, the first thing you would’ve noticed with the changes to ticker and timeline was the arse falling out of your impression numbers. Suddenly Facebook page posts were far less visible and while impressions are never the best metric to measure Facebook success, it is still the best number available as to how many people you could be reaching and how visible your are in general.

Facebook Impressions

Now if you don’t know much about Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, I’d recommend you read this and then come back. I’ll wait.

….

Done? Ok, let’s continue.

Pages that have a low EdgeRank on their posts are going to find it even harder to reach their followers. So if you get low engagement, or your followers have very little affinity with you, you’re pretty much screwed. Even though everything still goes into ticker, you really want your posts to be surfaced in the newsfeed.

Now from a user perspective, this isn’t such a bad thing. The whole idea behind EdgeRank is to ensure your newsfeed is populated with posts that are most important (in terms of affinity, relevance and time) to you. What this means for Facebook pages though is that they need to be doing more to engage their followers and posting content that elicits a response – no easy task as any page owner will tell you!

My prediction from all this is that as it gets harder to reach your audience on Facebook, many brands will shift their efforts to Twitter where reciprocity – e.g. we have to follow each other to interact – isn’t mandatory.

More bang for your buck

With most businesses struggling to appropriately resource social media, it often comes down to where you can have the most impact – and fast. Especially as it is doubtful they are adequately measuring, optimising and enhancing their social programs to find what works on Facebook, Twitter may start to look much more attractive.

Twitter’s ability to reach out and connect with any other public profile is a huge selling point for the platform. In terms of acquisition, it holds far more potential for identifying and reaching out to partially qualified prospects than Facebook. To open the door for a conversation to begin, all someone needs to do is mention they are in the market for your product and BAM! you’ve got an opportunity to talk with them. At the University of Adelaide, we not only monitor Twitter for our brand keywords but also keywords and phrases relating to studying in Australia. This has opened up countless opportunities for us to be helpful and provide information about living in Adelaide, the Uni and the degrees we offer to people who are actively searching for it, many of whom have gone on to apply to study here.

Now Facebook does a lot of things amazingly well and can genuinely be an online hub for your brand, but it doesn’t easily facilitate conversations with people who aren’t already connected to your brand in some way. While Facebook is too big to ignore and you would never ditch your presence entirely, the decreased visibility of brands on the platform may ultimately see more of them focusing their efforts on Twitter where the interactions can be more personal and immediate.

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Life Without Twitter

Social Media2 Comments

It’s easy to forget how blessed we are to be living in the digital era. Technology is now so ubiquitous and an integral part of our lives that it has become, as Clay Shirky says, virtually invisible.

We take for granted our relatively new found ability to quickly and easily communicate with others across the world; the ability to like, poke, tweet, instagram and +1 becoming more trivialised with each passing day. Simply put, we have never been more connected with each other at any pother point in history.

Imagine that suddenly, all that changes: you could still see what was happening but you could no longer reach and connect with your friends and loved ones. How would you feel?

Now imagine, that you’re ability to speak was taken away: you can no longer express an opinion, or tell someone you love them. That’s what happens to some victims of stroke.

Every 10 minutes, someone in Australia suffers a stroke and while they don’t always impair your ability to speak, most lead to some form of physical disability.

Currently there is no cure for stroke, but but the Peter Couche Foundation (and Don’t Speak) and the scientists at the Robinson Institute are pioneering adult stem cell (non-embryonic) research designed to regenerate and repair damage to the brain caused by stroke.

On Friday 16th November from 10-11am, Michelle Prak and I are maintaining an hour of Twitter silence (I’m doing all social media including email, but Twitter is going to be hard enough for Michelle!) to help raise money for them and need your support. Can you help?

Michelle’s fundraising page

My fundraising page

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Is Social Media Squishing The Adoption Lifecycle?

Digital Strategy, Marketing, Social Media7 Comments

Last month, it was reported that Google+ had racked up over 25 million users making it the fastest growing website in history. This prompted some – including some tech and social media royalty – to suggest Facebook and Twitter’s time was up and the future was all Google+. But at a time when some signs suggest we are suffering from social media fatigue, did Google read the zeitgeist and launch the next evolution of social networks or was their timing just incredibly fortunate?

We’re more connected now

The hype on launch was deafening. If you worked and lived in social media, everyone was talking about it particularly when heavy hitters like Chris Brogan and Robert Scoble jumped on and declared it the way forward. The figure often used here is the length of time it took Facebook (3 years) and Twitter (30 months) to reach 25 million users but what most forget in that comparison is that the acceleration in growth correlates with an increase in connectedness.

It can’t be understated how important this was in driving such rapid growth, the fact that we are more connected than ever before means that it is easier than ever to seed an idea provided it is compelling enough to your audience. In the case of Google+, the number of people actively playing in, not just on, social media for work and play gave it a ready made audience.

Adoption is getting faster

The diffusion of innovation has now changed. Instead of a normal distribution, the front of the curve where the innovators and early adopters live is getting squished as we adopt innovation faster than ever before. Before Google+, it was the iPad that smashed all records for consumer electronics adoption in a market that previously didn’t exist.

Social media is driving this by empowering consumers and changing their behaviour to become active participants in media and technology. Every blog, tweet, check-in and status update can cause innovation to be diffused not only faster, but to the right people who can amplify and seed it further.

Technology Adoption Lifecycle

A 'Normal' Technology Adoption Lifecycle

Hat-tip Martin Read for the inspiration for this post from his tweet several months ago (alas, I couldn’t find the link).

 

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