Social Media for Business: timeless tips

As another global social media week comes to a close and as many of us start getting ready for the last quarter of the year, this is the time of year when typically we refocus our energy and work to drive forward plans and ideas. With that in mind, I’ve pulled together some timeless tips that will help you succeed when using social media for your business.

A key point to remember is that it doesn’t matter what platform you use or how many for that matter, the rules of engagement apply across the spectrum and they apply to you no matter how big your company is or how long you’ve been online for.

1. Manage your time effectively.

Being active on social media can take up a lot of your time, especially when you factor in the ‘social’ of social media that reminds us we need to engage with our audience, not simply broadcast to them. SO, in order to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed, and to help manage your time effectively, focus on doing one thing well. Short or long term it’s much better to have a content rich, value led, profile on one channel than having a presence on 3, 4 or 5 different ones and hardly updating them or choosing to auto post from one to another in order to manage them.

2. Know your audience

Following on from point one: find out where (the majority of) your audience hang out online and then set yourself up there. There’s a number of ways you can do this: survey your customers to find out where they want to communicate with you, look at the latest industry reports such as this one from Ofcom, and even research your competitors to find out where they’re getting the most success.

3. Fall in love with the problem

Another way to determine where to focus your social media efforts is to fall in love with the problem you’re trying to solve. Each channel has it’s own unique functionalities that will better serve one objective to another and I’m a strong believer in the ability to onboard your audience to any channel, as long as you have a compelling reason for them to join you there. As an example, when I was working in local government one ‘problem’ we had to solve was how to support families moving from Germany to Wiltshire  ahead of them arriving. We needed to give them information on housing, schools and jobs as well as help to put them at ease by answering any questions they may have. Doing this online was a cost effective way to deliver this and would allow us to do so in a personable and direct manner. So, I proposed using Google Hangouts (a function of Google+). At the time, Google+ was the only place I was aware of where you could hold private group video chats for free so it was best placed as our channel of choice for that audience! The other way was to (solely) create web pages of information and email the link to people…from a user perspective I know what I’d have valued more.

4. Use video

No matter your channel of choice, video is becoming the focal point of content creation. Most social media sites give you the ability to create video ‘in app’ now too, which makes it accessible to everyone, no matter what your budget and experience. LinkedIn recently joined the party, Snapchat now allows you to continuously record up to a minute of video clips and Facebook has prioritised native video over links to third party sites for quite a while. Live streaming is also a format to consider, and I speak about this a lot as it’s a trend that will continue into 2018. Instagram added live streaming to their stories function at the end of last year and around the same time Twitter updated it’s app to allow users to Go Live within the app too (as opposed to using it’s streaming site ‘Periscope’ separately.) Facebook rolled out live streaming to pages from the desktop version of their site this year too.

5. Quality over Quantity

Always. Some platforms lend themselves to multiple posts a day and others not so much, but please don’t be convinced that you need to be churning out content just so you can be in people’s newsfeed. Me? I always focus on posting when I have something interesting to say or can share something that is engaging and of value to my audience. What happens when you don’t follow the Q/Q model? Your audience becomes made up of passive followers, stopping briefly at your post, scrolling past and in the end, as a result, they stop seeing your content. This is because many channels use a code that determines who sees what you post and that’s largely based on who engages with you regularly.

That’s all for now! Let me know your thoughts of if you have any questions….thank you to everyone who watched my LinkedIn videos this week too! If you missed them then head over to my profile for a peek. Hopefully we’re connected!

Have a great weekend..

5 tried and tested tools for managing your social media

Last page»

With so many apps, websites and recommendations out there for managing your social media these days, I’ve been meaning to blog about the top tools I use in my business. As with everything, it’s all about what works for you and with so many of these being free, it means you can have a play and if you don’t like it, try something else. Even still, start with one and as you grow or your needs change, move up and on to something else.

I’ve been working with social media as a comms, PR and marketing tool since 2011. Below are the top tools that I use and have found useful over the years:

Hootsuite 

If there’s one tool you’ve heard of, it’ll likely be Hootsuite. But what’s it good for? Hootsuite let’s you plug all your social channels into one place for ease of monitoring and posting. You can post the same content across multiple channels at the same time and you can programme content for the days ahead. It’s also got a nifty tool called ‘auto schedule’ which basically saves you the guess work and research about what time of day to post and will send them out at the optional time for your specific audience.

 

The basic version of Hootsuite is free and it comes in both desktop and app versions so you can manage it on the go. Not only that but you can access analytics and set up multiple search streams for social listening. This allows you to easily pick up mentions of your brand as well as industry relevant terms. You may even have your own hashtag, want to track who’s using it? Done! Hootsuite is truly at it’s best when used as a collaborative tool though. When there’s more than one person with access, more than one person monitoring and more than one person responding. There are great tools within the platform for making sure all tweets, questions and messages are picked up and responded to and you can also see who is posting what, and when. If you’ve got a junior member of staff you can even give them specific levels of access that allows them to draft content but not post it. Great for their induction period.

Canva

Having good quality graphic design and imagery across your social media is made possible thanks to Canva! A fantastic platform great for sourcing free images, designs and templates all of which have the preset specified sizes for social media channels (the cover image, the tweet, the Instagram post). You can upload your own images and your own brand colours to use too! Many, many, small businesses use this tool daily it’s that simple to understand and play with. One piece of advice – you can easily lose a lot of time scrolling through the designs and images! Don’t get lost in the possibilities!

Repost app 

On twitter we retweet, on Facebook and LinkedIn we share, on Instagram you #regram. To do this manually you would need to take a screen shot and go through the process of adding a picture to your account. Be sure to seek permission and to include their Instagram handle when sharing it with your audience. It’s also nice to explain why you’ve regrammed it. If that becomes a little too time consuming for you then that’s where the repost app comes in. It’s a really quick and easy way for you to share other Instagrammer’s photos with your audience. The repost app credits the owner automatically and includes the original text that was posted with it.

Wordswag

We should all have seen the memo by now that visuals are super important for all of your social media posts. Yep, all of them. However, if you feel you don’t have a hugely visual business, or struggle with what to share, perhaps you have lots of inspiring words, advice or testimonials? Word swag is worth looking up. It’s a free app so you can create your content on the go, seamlessly and very quickly. Choose your background, type in your inspiration, pick a style and away you go. It’s ready for you in your camera roll waiting to be shared with your followers on whatever platform you choose.

Hashtagify

Hashtags! A bone of contention and confusion amongst many many businesses and individuals I work with. What do I use? Why should I use them? How many do I use? As a quick heads up – two in a tweet is plenty and when posting on Instagram, it’s recommended not going much above 5. When it comes to finding out which ones to start using or testing then Hashtagify is your tool. Simply type your keyword in the search box and it will display, in a cool mind map, the hashtags which are being used the most alongside that word. Now you can pick which ones most resonate with you and what you’re posting about, or use the results to drop a few.

Do you have any other tools you can recommend? Comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear what you think…

Guest Blog: Creating #IBDHour

Towards the end of last year I had to pleasure of being contacted by someone who had an idea, a thought and a passion…but needed to understand how to harness social to deliver it. Richard became a mentoring client of mine and over the course of 4 weeks we looked at goals, channels and approaches. What would be best to get him there; what could be dropped, parked or developed. One of the main things that came out of our initial meeting was the potential (and desire) for Richard to become a thought leader in the IBD / health sector. As a sufferer it was something he had begun blogging about and was actually directing some of his creative aspirations around spoken word poetry and performance.

A great way to position yourself as a thought leader in any sector is to take part in, and (better yet!) establish, twitter hours. By guiding Richard through etiquette of twitter hours, best practice, ideas and the tools that would help manage the content, his very first #IBDHour was a huge success and this month even see’s his first #IBDHour take over – hosted by a key influencer in the community. Go Richard!! Here’s how he did it:

“Hi, I’m Richard. I’m 35, a married father of 1 and I had to have my colon removed before it exploded. I’m one of the roughly 146,000 people in the UK with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

I was diagnosed in 2005, and had that first surgery just 4 months later. Since then I’ve had four more major surgeries and now have a permanent ileostomy (a type of stoma) and have to wear a bag to collect my waste.

There are lots of examples of IBD support groups and forums online, many of them on Facebook. However there wasn’t much on Twitter in the UK despite there being several active bloggers and patient advocates using the platform. And so, with Natalie’s help, I started #IBDHour.

What is #IBDHour?

#IBDHour is a monthly Twitter hour for people with inflammatory bowel disease – usually ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease. It runs on the third Thursday of the month at 8pm UK time, and started in September 2016. So far we have discussed diagnosis, where people access support, exercise and IBD, managing the festive party season and in January how to get the most from the NHS as a patient with a chronic condition. There have been steadily increasing numbers, and we get new participants every time. In February, we are having our first guest host, top IBD Blogger and influencer Thaila Skye 

Why a Twitter hour?

Having decided I wanted to move beyond my own blog and participation in other online activities to do with IBD, I thought about what I could add to what was already existing. There are plenty of existing Facebook groups and forums, and I also needed to do something that I could manage in the time available to me, so monthly was appealing. I also love Twitter – it is my favourite social media platform, and so the #IBDHour came into being. I then set up an account, and added some pages to my blog to give it a home. And for #IBDHour the point is to generate discussion, and create connections between patients.

How Does it Work?

I use Hootsuite to schedule tweets promoting the event in the run up – with a two week and one week countdown and theme reveal. I then do a three and two day reminder, and then several tweets on the day to build interest. I draft the Tweets and my own answers to the questions, and then use TweetDeck to follow the hashtag and RT all the responses. And a proper mouse plugged in to my laptop is a great help!

I’ve used Canva & WordSwag to generate graphics, and after each event I use Storify to record what happened – and then publish that link on my blog.

What have I learnt?

Since the first event I’ve been working to get the balance of questions and discussion time. I’ve found that a prompt start and finish is appreciated, and you need to keep a close eye on the mentions for late comers looking for questions (I don’t publish them in advance). Interacting with participants during and after is important too – thanking them for RT reminders for example. So although the event is only an hour a month, there is something to do each week.

It has been well received, and there is a small group of regular participants, as well as new tweeters each time – and a few lurkers.

What’s the point?

It’s hard to convey how isolating having a chronic condition can be, and anything that brings people together to support each other is a good thing. One of my favourite examples of the impact it had came from a lady called Stina, who had only recently had surgery, and she couldn’t imagine getting back to her old life. This tweet from her was a response to our ‘Exercise & IBD’ discussion:

@chicbeauty tweeting about IBD

Twitter Hours are quite easy to set up and run if you can manage the tools available to you which support them. You need to be consistent, pitch the frequency right for your audience and find the rhythm of the questions. It’s a frantic hour, but it can be a rewarding one!”

Richard Harris

https://gutlessdick.com

@doobarz – Twitter/ Instagram/ Snapchat

@IBDHour – Twitter

£20,000 target reached for Wiltshire Air Ambulance

“A 72 hour campaign to raise £20,000 for Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s new Flight Room has been achieved. The new Flight Room is planned for the Charity’s proposed new airbase on land at Outmarsh Farm, Semington, near Melksham, and will be where the pilots and paramedics co-ordinate their operational activities.
The £20,000 needed for the Flight Room was raised online at the Big Give Christmas Challenge from 12noon on Tuesday 29 November to 12noon Friday 2 December 2016.
During the 72 hour period Wiltshire Air Ambulance (WAA) staff and aircrew posted about the variety of work they do on the charity’s social media channels, resulting in more than 38,000 accounts reached on Twitter and a reach of over 35,000 on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Cheryl Johnson, Head of Capital Appeal at WAA, said: “The response to our Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign was tremendous and we’d like to thank everyone who donated, as well as our pledgers Jeffrey Thomas, Chairman of Hartham Park, and The Andrew Smiley Charitable Trust and match-funders, Candis. We had support from individuals, community groups and businesses.
“The £20,000 raised will ensure that the Flight Room at our proposed new base will be equipped to the highest standards for our aircrew. The new Flight Room will be at the heart of our new home and will be fitted out with state-of-the-art flight planning and mapping equipment to ensure we can still reach any part of Wiltshire within 11 minutes. It will enable our pilots and paramedics to have the specialist equipment and space they need to plan and prepare for each mission safely and effectively.
“There was substantial engagement by the public on our social media channels during the campaign, overseen by Natalie Luckham of Naturally Social, and we found that using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn was a great way to inform people about the variety of work that goes on by the aircrew and the charity team.”
A total of £21,590 was raised during the campaign and the excess raised above £20,000 will go to the
Charity’s Airbase Appeal fund. If the Charity’s detailed planning application for the Outmarsh Farm site is granted it anticipates launching the Airbase Appeal across the county in January 2017. Full details will be on the website www.wiltshireairambulance.co.uk

Small Business Saturday UK

To celebrate Small Business Saturday 2016, I’m excited to be launching the very first of my Wiltshire Tweetups.  What is a Tweetup you ask!? A Tweetup is an opportunity for twitter users to get together and meet each other offline – as a way of developing connections and getting to know one another. I’ve made tons of friendships with many twitter users having never met them before…a Tweetup is a great way to cement these contacts meet face to face and give the phone a rest! It’s also a great way to keep learning, ask questions and share success stories without a character limiting conversation!

The idea is that they’ll pop up roughly every 6 weeks, they will generally be on a Saturday in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere (like a pub!) and will include guest speakers or topics, so that, as a small business you also have the opportunity to learn while you network and wind down into the weekend.

Tickets will always be £10 and will include catering. I really hope you can join me on Saturday 3rd December and help celebrate #SmallBizSatUk. Book your ticket via eventbrite.

I’m also offering price reductions on the following consultancy and training packages* (ts & cs apply)

Social media health check

Using social but not getting much return? We will analyse your account and provide  a written document of feedback, advice and tips on how to develop it further and gain more interaction. Cost: £50 for one account.

Social media mentoring

4 x 60 minute 1:1 sessions at a location and time to suit you. Taught informally and entirely to suit your needs, experience and skill level. We’re just as happy teaching the ‘hands on how to’s’ as we are discussing strategy and development. Cost: £200

Social media management

6 weeks social media management (social support package) for the price of 4. Cost: £250

*Terms and conditions apply as follows:

  • To be eligible for these offers please contact Naturally Social via Facebook, Twitter or email no later than midnight on Saturday 3rd December 2016 quoting “Small Business Saturday Offer”.
  • Packages must be delivered in December 2016 or January 2017 and are subject to availability.
  • The prices quoted reflect discounts.
  • All fees are paid in advance via invoice and are non-refundable

Business social media tips for the festive season.

As a start up or small to medium size business you probably understand the opportunity that social media offers. However, you can be stretched for time, finding yourself stuck in the same cycle of content production. Well, the festive season is a great opportunity for you to embrace your inner creator and get fun with social! Creativity always prevails so here’s our top tips for making the most of your social media this Christmas and New Year.

Make a festive video

There’s no doubt that video is hot right now. So if you want to get more interaction with your brand’s content, using video is the way to go. Why not try putting together a 30 – 60 second clip that shows your staff and office getting into the festive spirit? Or create a festive thank you message to all your customers – a personable, genuine touch!

Put together an infographic

Take a look back at 2016 and pull the key milestones and achievements into an infographic for your customers to see and share.

Create your own advent calendar

Make your daily content fun and valuable by posting fun facts about your business, product or service. Create exclusivity by factoring in special offers or discounts. Snapchat or Instagram are perfect for this.

Create Snapchat geo filters

If you’re out and about this winter at trade shows or conferences, or if you’re a bricks and mortar business, design a custom geo filter to get customers interacting with and marketing your brand. They’re ridiculously cheap compared to advertising on other social media channels. Plus, they’re actually easy to design now they have a bank of templates you can use.

Run a competition

Activate your fans by running a fun competition. Ask for photo submissions or even festive designs that could get used in your shop window or on your website. You could even run a Snapchat design competition! Two birds, one stone!

Optimise your page and utilise hashtags

Make sure when you’re tweeting you give your content maximum exposure by using the relevant hashtags (both locally and nationally). Check what’s trending first to see if anything is relevant to what you do. You can use ‘hashtagify.me’ to check what other hashtags to use when tweeting. If you have a Facebook page and you sell products, be sure to add your products to the new ‘shop’ section and make sure the link leads directly to a payment page. Some websites aren’t mobile optimised so Facebook introduced this feature to improve the user experience.

If you’re feeling inspired and would like support with implementing any of the suggestions above, we’d love to help you with your social media strategy. Get in touch with us today.

pedal show logo

Guest Blog: That Pedal Show – a YouTube success story

Since my social media career began I’ve always been hungry to seek out (and be involved with!) amazing examples of social media being used above and beyond simply tools for content distribution – i.e. more than just tweeting links to latest press releases or a place you can pump out messages about why you’re greater than competitors. Social media has the potential to be and gives us the opportunity to be, so much more than that and you truly reap the benefits when it is, which is why creativity is always at the top of my advice giving and speech making! When you push the boundaries, look at how your communities use social and ask how you can use these channels to provide value – amazing things happen. The purpose of my guest blogs have always been to showcase this, with a particular objective (for now) to showcase businesses and organisations based here in Wiltshire, so it’s with great pleasure and excitement that this month Daniel Steinhardt of The Gig Rig and That Pedal Show wrote a piece for me about the phenomenal success of his YouTube channel…Enjoy.

 

Hi, my name is Daniel Steinhardt, in my professional life I’m a guitarist, small business owner, and dare I say it, entrepreneur. To be honest I don’t attach any real meaning to that word other than I’m a terrible employee so I had to find a different way of making money.

As I write this I’m watching our YouTube subscriber’s numbers, and any minute now we’re going to hit 50,000.

*49965

I’ve always been fascinated by the guitar, the physicality of it, the way it takes not one but two hands to create a note. Since the age of 5 I have been totally engrossed in the instrument, indeed far more than appropriate for my modicum of talent. The sound totally connected with me, and when I discovered that you could plug this thing into an amplifier and turn it up loud, well, that was pretty much the end of any other possible career for me.

*49971

One aspect of the sound of the electric guitar that I loved was the effect pedal. A little box that you can plug between your guitar and amp, and when you step on it, it creates a totally different sound. Distortion, compression, delay, reverb, chorus, phasing, flanging, the list goes on and on. And when you combine these pedals you can find some truly amazing and inspirational sounds. The issue at the time was if you wanted to create combinations you looked more like a professional tap dancer than a guitarist, so I came up with a solution that allowed guitar players to plug in all their effect pedals and pre-program combinations of these things. I found a business partner with complimentary skills and a company was born called ‘TheGigRig’, however, the challenge was, as this was a new concept, we needed to educate the market first, before we could really sell in any significant numbers. So we started a YouTube channel, posting instructional and product demo videos.

 *49985

YouTube was great but we didn’t see any real significant numbers for a long time. The videos we’re fine, I spent ages trying to make them the best I could, but I really didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I just knew that seeing as our product was so niche, and only available direct online, not through retailers, a video presentation was the best chance my customers were to have to experience the unit without actually being in front of one. We carried on with meagre results for years, then we had our first incredible YouTube experience. I was asked to build a pedalboard for Ed O’Brien from Radiohead. I filmed the process and graciously Ed agreed that we could film him when he came to pick up the board. I really had no idea that people would like it but to date that particular video has had over 400,000 views. It was amazing, it gave the business a real boost, and I really thought ‘this is it, we’re on our way’. I thought surely all our new videos would get fantastic numbers. Improved, yes, but a long way from fantastic. I even did another video with Ed but it had barely a quarter views of the first. The head scratching continued.

 *49999

2 years ago I was at a trade show in L.A. with a very good friend of mine who happens to be an amazing content creator. I was after some tips on how we could improve our channel but our conversation very quickly shifted to talking about gear and effect pedals, what was new, what was great, what we loved, and what was questionable. It something we’re both really passionate about. Then we had the moment that we will always be able to look back at and attribute our success to. Mick says to me, “This is what we should be filming, this, our conversation!”. We had no great ambition with it, we just thought we could literally film our conversation, show examples, and the most important decision we made right from the start, we wouldn’t be sales men, we wouldn’t take any money off anyone to demo products, we would only show what we wanted to show. There are other very successful YouTube channels that get paid to demo products, and they’re great but we wanted to do something different, the opinions on the show would be our own, not paid for. We would need to find a different way to generate revenue but we would work out the details later. We made a start and filmed the first episode of That Pedal Show.

*50005 (yes!)

After 10 months on TheGigRig channel we knew that That Pedal Show needed its own home. It took just 9 months from our first show on our new channel to hit, literally right now, 50k subscribers. With over 2.5 million views, That Pedal Show is now its own brand, and even though I’ve never sold any of the gear that my company makes on the show, it’s of course on there every week, and it’s had a very direct effect on our sales.

 I realize now why the initial Ed video was so popular, it was his honest enthusiastic reaction to the pedalboard I made him. That Pedal Show is a success precisely for the reason that we’re not selling anything, we’re just speaking about things that we’re genuinely passionate about. It’s the genuine passion that comes across and connects with people.

We were invited to meet someone from YouTube who pointed out to us that our average watch time per video is over 12 and a half minutes, while the average view time on YouTube is less than a minute. So my only advice is engage with your audience over something you are genuinely passionate about, that’s where you’ll truly make a connection with people who care about the same things you do.

*If you know any businesses or organisations in Wiltshire using social media creatively I’d love to hear about them! Please get in touch

instagram vs snapchat

Instagram Stories Vs Snapchat Stories

Last week Instagram announced an update to their platform called “Instagram stories” and it’s safe to say everyone was talking about it. Well, nearly everyone. As usual people were quick to voice opinions and make quick decisions, many saying this would be the death of Snapchat. Why? Because, by their own admission, Instagram stories is a direct replica of Snapchat stories.

I voiced my initial thoughts to a friend of mine about whether I thought it would even take off, and wanted to wait a week or so before I blogged more openly.

So what are Instagram stories? 

If you’re not familiar with Snapchat then the fact they ripped off copied Evan Spiegel’s story telling platform won’t mean much.  Stories sit at the top of your Instagram home feed and are a series of images or/and videos stitched together over a 24 hour period to create a ‘story’ – a story about your day, what you’re doing, where you’ve been etc. Most of this content is created in real time but you can pull through pictures and videos you save to your camera roll from else where within that 24 hour period. You can then (much like snapchat) overlay that picture or video with a filter (which changes the colour) and you can add text, emojis and doodles.

The great thing about stories for Instagram is that, as a channel, it’s mostly been about sharing a single photo here and there (and editing it like crazy so it looks ultra profesh!) but now you can use stories to give a more real time insight into your life and what you get up to – without flooding the home feed of your followers with seemingly non-important stuff.

Why is that a win for Instagram? Because they’ve recognised story telling is the way forward, they have the user bare (it’s the second most popular channel in the world) and they think/hope this will keep people on their platform rather then go anywhere else to story tell (like Snapchat) It’s all very Facebook-esque thought don’t you think? Lets give our user base what they love elsewhere on here as an attempt to stop them from leaving. Does it work? I’m not sure it does. Facebook introduced hashtags and they don’t work…In my experience people like to use platforms in different ways for different things. Millennials especially don’t care that they have 10 different apps lets say, each serves a different purpose and a different need.

I do think Instagram stories will work well for brands, organisations and individuals who have a massive follower base there already and I’d be interested to know how their engagement rates on Instagram stories compare to those of Snapchat. I have a feeling they won’t, but in comparison to your standard ‘sticky’ photos/videos that sit on your Instagram profile – you’ll certainly see more engagement by way of views (due to how they’ve positioned the stories feed) – I certainly have.

Another great thing about Instagram introducing stories is the certainty of it familiarising the notion of story telling and ephemeral content (content that disappears) to those who have chose not to look at snapchat to date. I really hope that if those users have a go with Instagram stories, see how others are using it and enjoy it – it will shift their perception of Snapchat. From my experience as a snapchat trainer, too many people are avoiding the opportunities of snapchat because they have pre-conceived ideas about what it is or what it can do.

What about Snapchat?

Ok, so here’s a quick outline of the differences between what Snapchat offers and what Instagram does. Each piece of content you create lasts up to ten seconds and all snaps you send (either to your public story or 1:1 with a friend) disappear once it’s seen (your story lasts 24 hours).

There’s much more choice by way of filters, lenses (that change regularly), stickers and drawing options that allow users to be more creative when story telling. The growth rate has been phenomenal in the 5 years since it launched, much larger than any other social network out there and it boasts 10 billion video views per day. According to some reports, that’s more than Facebook itself.

It’s definitely not going to stop people using Snapchat who are already using it and having kept an eye on things in my circle of contacts on Instagram, I’ve not been seeing it used much…that may change…we’ll see.

How have Snapchat responded to Instagram stories? Just yesterday it was announced they have brought discovery app Vurb – which can only mean one thing…a search functionality. That’s exactly the right answer. Although don’t get me wrong…I’m more than ok with the lack of search function on snapchat…there’s a ton of alternative ways you can build your follower base.

I polled my twitter followers a couple of days after the new feature appeared on Instagram and I’ve also been asking my snapchat followers what they think too. Interestingly the majority of people are giving it a thumbs down. Unless, as I mentioned previously it’s been someone who has a huge following on Instagram already – in which case they’re simply leveraging this element of Instagram and seeing good interaction levels, understandably.

So, should you be choosing one or the other?

No…as with the case with all social media, it’s about evaluating who your customers are, where they hang out and then going there…if there’s potential in Snapchat and not Instagram then work hard at getting your customers to join Snapchat…or vice versa. Instagram stories is just another element of Instagram, another tool, to help you communicate and connect with your community by reintegrating a real time element to it’s platform.

For some, that isn’t what they want from it, for others it will be precisely what’s been missing.

But what it does do is highlight a shift in digital communications and social media marketing that Snapchat can take credit for – story telling is huge right now. People want to connect with people and they want it to be personable. Whether those people represent a large business or a one man band. The evolution of social media as a comms method in business has always been gate crashed by marketing – adverts, scripts and well produced pieces of content. That’s disconnecting you from your audience. I said it some months back but channels like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope are stripping all that back and are putting authenticity first, and that’s why they’re so popular. Because people connect with genuine moments and that’s all you can be when it’s live. Don’t ignore it…

Curious about the opportunities of Snapchat and how it can benefit your business, be used as a viable comms tool in your organisation and establish a personal brand? Our next Snapchat 101 workshop is on Wednesday 24th August in Salisbury. 

Pinterest board from Creative Wiltshire account

Guest Blog: Pinterest at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.

Here in the UK we haven’t been able to make use of the e-commerce buttons on Pinterest, which is a huge benefit to businesses who show case their products on the platform. So I get asked a lot what’s the benefit of being there, does it have a role in our strategy? I often argue that the best outcomes on social media happen when you use it creatively, not simply to broadcast your selling spiel, make connections and link to your press releases! Put your community first, involve your community in a way that meets your objectives! The Wiltshire and Swindon History do just that, and there use of Pinterest just sits so well hand in hand with what they do I couldn’t not ask them to blog about it for me!
“Over the last few years we’ve been gradually developing our social media use here at the
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. It’s been a really important part of engaging with
people who may not otherwise come into contact with our collections, and has enabled us
to be an active part of a wider network of heritage organisations.
Pinterest is one of the platforms we choose to have a presence on mainly for the simple reason it
enables us to make better and more enhanced use of the images we pick for our weekly blogs.
We’re lucky to have various departments based at the History Centre in Chippenham
including archives, local studies, archaeology, arts, buildings record, museums and
conservation. Our weekly blog cycles around the different teams
and means we can share our collections and highlight all the exciting projects that go on. So,
lots of the images we add to Pinterest come from our blogs (both old and new). This has the
added advantage that we have the background information to the image ready-made! We’ve
found that any way to save time makes it easier to keep things regularly monitored and
updated.
It’s also been a way for us to showcase projects or particular themes. We’re currently in the
middle of Creative Wiltshire  – a really exciting HLF-funded ‘collecting cultures’ project: collecting and celebrating the best of Wiltshire’s creative talent. Pinterest is perfect for this as we can share the beautiful artwork, objects and photographs that we possess at the centre, which we have collected from the museums across Wiltshire.
Of course we are limited by copyright in what we can upload, but it’s still a great tool. We can make material accessible in a highly visual and less ephemeral way than Twitter.
One of our most popular boards has been WW1. It’s been a really valuable way to place our
collection material into the wider context of a national commemorative event. One of the
topics we ‘follow’ is ‘World War 1’ and looking at all the tagged pins under that umbrella
shows how unique Pinterest is in being able to juxtapose material that couldn’t necessarily
be united in real life.help needed
A personal favourite board of mine on our account is the ‘We Need Your Help!’board – which directly engages our community and our followers and seeks out their wealth of knowledge. We upload pictures of historical items and places that have had us stumped in the hope that a member of our community might be able to help identify them and it always proves popular. A recent success has been a black and white photograph of a Wiltshire town that we couldn’t locate. A fellow pinner saw it, and was able to tell us exactly where it was and even how the location had been re-developed since. How lovely it was to hear their memories and comparisons. That information was then added to our catalogue record – problem solved!
So far we’ve been fairly conservative with our boards – focusing on showcasing the different
aspects of the History Centre. My plan going forwards is to get creative and be more
playful…. Magnificent moustaches board anyone??”
Naomi Sackett, Community History Advisor

Monthly Facebook Live streams.

New Monthly Feature!

Starting in May, I will be going to my Facebook page to live stream monthly. I will give a round-up of the main changes, updates or topics in social media that have happened that month. The majority of this will be relevant to businesses and organisations who use social for PR / marketing / customer service. However, I’m also going to be touching upon anything I think is valid and useful to my viewers in a personal capacity too. This is because I’m passionate about helping everyone understand social and be safe online. (This month I mentioned the LinkedIn data breach and a WhatsApp virus doing the rounds)

Each stream will be 15 – 20 minutes long and will also include a top tip, trick or hack. This will vary each month, from beginner to advanced and will be specific to one channel.

As this develops I’d love to take questions from my viewers too and answer them on air. So, either submit them to me ahead of the broadcast (via comment or message) or send them through during.

You can get notified each time I stream live by turning on notifications to my Facebook page. Just click the drop down arrow next to ‘liked’ and the bottom option is ‘notifications’. Click ‘on’!

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 17.45.25

Why Facebook Live?

To grow a business you need to become more established and to do that you need to make a name for yourself. Show your potential customers that you know your stuff! This can be done in many ways. For me, I’d had an idea in my head for a while about wanting to give value to my followers by giving (free) info about how to use social well for communicating/PR/marketing. However, I really didn’t want to do it in the form of a newsletter. So many companies send newsletters with listicles and links and by it’s very nature there’s plenty of information you can find online but it’s surely hard as a consumer to find the time to read and cut through all of that. Not only this, but as a business, it feels like a lengthy process. (By the way, I’m not dismissing email marketing by any stretch, but for me, my email strategy will be focused on something else.)

I was definitely one of the first lucky folk to get access to (or at least to have noticed!) Facebook live on my personal profile a number of months ago. I was instantly obsessed about the prospect and super excited to be using it…but while I was loving it in a personal capacity I still hadn’t had a go on my business page, and I’ve now put that down to a few things:

1. Tools.

I didn’t have the equipment or an extra person to help me live stream the things I was thinking of streaming. (I later told myself / decided that I didn’t need an extra person!

2. Time flies.

As quick as I had a thought about what I could stream, 10 days would have gone by without me doing anything with it. In hindsight I’m glad because it avoided a scatter gun approach to doing ‘whatever’ and brought me to a place where I have clarity about what I’ll be using it for and when.

3. Self doubt / fear or being judged.

Ok, I don’t doubt my ability or knowledge and I absolutely knew 100% (and more!) that live streaming would work and would have huge results, but, and I guess it goes back to the time thing, the more I thought about doing it, the more I questioned its value or success. And so it went back to a case of missed opportunities. It really surprised me that I was feeling like this, but I guess it’s human nature.

It finally came to  me though. A light bulb moment. And I sat on it for a few weeks until I told one person – someone I admire a lot – and when her response immediately was ‘yes!do it!’ I knew it was time to just get on with it.

How did it go?

Really well! It wasn’t perfect, but I really don’t mind that. I didn’t want it to be perfect and my advice to anyone looking to utilise live video is – do not strive for perfection. As time went on and more viewers showed up and reactions started to pop through, my nervous ‘wine allergy’ looking rash started to show, which was it was a sign I was starting to over think things!! But hey, it was my first time. In 12 months time that’s not going to be happening anymore…either that or I’ll be wearing high neck tops and shirts!!

I could definitely do with slowing down on the next one. Also, because I decided on the Wednesday my first round up would be the Friday of the same week, there’s a couple of things I missed. But, as I said, it can’t be perfect and I can’t touch upon it all. That would be impossible, boring and silly of me to try!

One thing I didn’t mention though was the ability to now broadcast live to your Facebook page via professional recording equipment. Hands up – I’d have to pass the code to a tech friend to implement but it is certainly possible to do and is a new feature under ‘videos’ in your publishing tools. Why is that important to mention? Because it’s moving live streaming away from relying on a mobile phone and a tripod, to giving the ability to stream business events and council meetings (hint hint!) via the professional video equipment your team / event management company will all ready be using!

There’s a few other lessons I’ve jotted down from the experience of doing it live and from watching the replay, but I won’t go on! I did want to mention though that I’m going to have a play with the times of day I stream and where I do it…just so I can get a good feel of what works best, so do stay tuned and Give me a shout if you want to understand in more detail the opportunities for you to use live video on Facebook yourself.

Nat x