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..

people sat facing a window networking

The art of networking.

I’ve recently joined a monthly networking group as part of a strategy to grow my business. One of the great things this group offers is regular training opportunities – workshops of a couple of hours in length on a range of topics. Specifically, the founder runs a workshop on networking which I went along to earlier in the summer.

It was a great workshop full of helpful pointers and tips about how to get the most of my membership and what it means to network successfully. So much of the content resonated with me and in fact, inspired me to write this blog post.

A large part of my business entails me not only working one on one with individuals who are looking to use social media in their business, but I also deliver presentations. Mainly around the benefits of social media, but also about etiquette and positioning yourself online.

One of the most common questions or concerns that holds people back from even getting started on social media is ‘What do I do when I’m there?’ ‘What do I say?’ ‘How do I behave?’

I always like to share this little pearl as a starting point – ‘communicating online is no different to communicating offline.’ I also like to highlight that it’s the platforms we use that are called ‘social media’ and the act of using them is referred to as ‘social networking’. So, put your best self forward, be polite, be generous, be present. Show up. Sound familiar? (Hopefully yes!)

For the non digital natives out there (Baby Boomers, Generation X), communicating online doesn’t come naturally. And for the Millennials amongst us who get the social side it’s still sometimes difficult to see how our Facebook account or Instagram feed can be used to generate business.

There were so many commonalities between the content covered in Philippa’s networking workshop and what I often cover in my mentoring programme and presentations that I wanted to share. I hope that for those struggling with the how’s of what’s of communicating online these three comparisons will give you the confidence to go forth, adopt the right behaviours and invest the time in doing social well.

“Business networking is not a numbers game. Being connected to lots of people will not necessarily make you more successful.”

People think more followers, more connections and more page likes is a success measure by default. They think if they don’t have those numbers it’s not working for them or that someone is better than they are. Social media is not a numbers game either. It’s about how you build that community and subsequently how you nurture it. Speak to 2 people as if you were talking to 2000 and you’ll be just fine…

“Having made a great first impression we need to ensure we engage in conversation”

As you begin to gain (more) followers, page likes and connections don’t forget to get to know them and help them to get to know you. Don’t go silent or simply send automated tweets. You would never walk in to a room full of people, shout about your latest offer or business venture and then walk out again (or at least I hope you don’t!)

“People buy people”

One of the benefits to networking face to face is the ability to see a group of people regularly, get to know about them and their business and as a result build a trust between you that hopefully leads to referrals on both sides when the need arises. This can also be done online. Yep!

Share pictures of you in your business and working with clients. Don’t be afraid to share updates that help to give a sense of who you are outside of work. Think about your hobbies, family life, favourite tv shows. Be aware also of how you ‘talk’ online. Your personality can shine through in the way you write your updates. Don’t forget to listen, reply to and acknowledge comments and conversations in your network either – something that naturally you would do when networking face to face.

“Networking is an opportunity to not only learn, seek help and meet new people but a place to support others, build relationships and your reputation.”

There’s plenty of other elements that make up good [social] networking. If you want to have a chat about it, then I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch via my website or you can tweet me @nlysocial

5 tried and tested tools for managing your social media

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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…

Person shouting down a can

Social Media and Small Biz: 5 common mistakes

It’s a wonderful thing that so many businesses and individuals are becoming more aware and appreciative of the opportunities that social media brings in the digital era we live in. From customer service to industry news, free marketing and brand positioning. It’s all there for us to make the most of. For many it can be a minefield to get your head around, and at times an expensive one you can’t afford. So, when you’re very new to business so you have to find your way around it yourself. This blog post lists the most common 5 mistakes I come across working with (and indeed looking for) small businesses. I’ve included some advice for avoiding them too, so I hope they help you to get it right from the off.

1. Jumping on to Facebook or/and Twitter by default

Just because everyone talks about it and tells you ‘should be on Twitter and Facebook’ doesn’t mean you should do it. Establishing and maintaining a social media presence for your business is time consuming and a long term strategy. Your efforts are much better placed doing one thing well then expanding as you grow. What channel is best for you will depend on who you’re trying to connect with, what you want to talk about and how (including how often) you can talk about it.

2. Linking Facebook to Twitter (or Twitter to Facebook!)

So you’ve set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account. You’ve realised it’s time-consuming to keep them both up to date. You’re also struggling with learning how to use each platform correctly. Most of all, you’re constantly stuck for what to write on them. Someone tells you that you can connect your accounts so that every time you post to one it automatically posts to the other. SOLD! Well, as tempting as that sounds please don’t do it. Refer back to point 1! Having a Twitter account or Facebook page full of links, half sentences or hashtags that make no sense is far more damaging to your reputation then simply owning the fact you only have time for one. It negates the ‘social’ in social media too…subconsciously when you’re satisfied that 1 of 2 channels will automatically be populated you’ll forget to check it for engagement (should anyone want to engage with a robot!) and thus missed opportunities and bigger yet – more damage to your reputation. For more help, check out our top 7 Twitter tips for small businesses.

3. Not including social media icons on business cards

This is a biggie! I started this blog with the great news that more individuals accept the role that social plays in their success . But, sadly, the vast majority (like 85%+) of business cards I get handed have zero reference to their social media accounts. Their mobile number and email address are there, but I don’t know how to contact you on social. These aren’t just promotional tools, these are contact methods too…and many customers (millennials for example!) will prefer to get in touch with you online… so don’t do forget to get them added when you’re printing your next batch 😉

4. Lack of consistency

This ties in to points 1 and 2 and I always see a serious lack of consistency across business accounts. It happens for many reasons which I can appreciate. However, you need to assign some set time/s each week to attend to your social media accounts…even if you can only post three times a week. Manage your audience expectation by adding this detail to your biography or about sections.

5. Conversation (lack of)

Put simply, too many people forget that social media is about being ‘social’. They use their designated time to just broadcast information and sales pitches about themselves. A key part to your success on social media is in forging relationships with other users. Think of it like a party. You wouldn’t just walk in to a room, demand something from everyone then turn around and walk out again. You’d look for people to speak to, introduce yourself and say hello. Listen to what they have to say and hold conversation with them. Social media allows you to then meet these people time and time again. It’s up to you then build on that initial contact, keep listening and look for the right time to offer your help/product/services.

Now go forth! If you have any questions do pop them in the comments box below or ask me on Twitter.

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

Hosting a Twitter hour – the man behind #WiltsHour

It’s time for another guest blog post and this month, Jamie Tuck, the man behind the ever growing #WiltsHour took 5 minutes to tell us a bit more about himself and what it’s taken to make a success of this Wiltshire wide twitter hour.

Twitter hours are a fantastic way to build  your network, spread awareness about who you are, what you do and what you know. If you haven’t joined in a twitter hour before, all you need is your phone or laptop, a twitter account and a hashtag! Set yourself a reminder before it’s due to start, sit back and start tweeting. Just remember to engage with what others are saying as well as post your own udpates!

“Natalie recently asked me if I’d considered writing a blog about WiltsHour; to be honest it’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time, and as the community has grown there might be the odd person interested in how it started.

First off there’s me, Jamie Tuck – WiltsHour’s “Mr Wiltshire” if I can claim that title! I’m also Bulldog Websites’ Social Media man. I live in Swindon with my ever-patient wife and two children who’d give the Duracell bunny a run for his money. A pretty average guy but I go from zero to tech nut in the time it takes to unlock my iPhone – I’m crazy about technology, just ask my wife (see reference to ‘ever-patient’!).

Why did I set up WiltsHour?

After quietly working away in social media for a few years I became nosey. I’ve always taken an interest in the vast array of business genres in the local area, and I already ‘attended’ several Twitter business hours under my Bulldog Websites hat. But I noticed there wasn’t anything that brought together the Wiltshire business community.

In February 2016 WiltsHour was born. I set up the Twitter page, bought the domain name for a potential website, readied a logo and set about deciding on a day and time to fit in with modern life and any type of business joining us to promote themselves. I felt Monday night was perfect after a short break over the weekend and 8pm giving enough time for the commute to be done, tea made, kids in bed and pjs on, comfy on the sofa … or maybe that’s just me – it turns out some members join us from the gym, karate class, the train, and on holiday abroad – that’s commitment!

I went on to build a website to complement the purpose of the hour – a business directory to help promote Wiltshire businesses further.

When the hour went live who knew where it would go, if anyone would bother taking part. Working on my own to drum up interest and interact with everyone who joined in, it didn’t take long to spread the word about WiltsHour. Today we have over a thousand followers and 100 business listed on the website.

Why has WiltsHour Worked?

WiltsHour has worked and is continuing to grow because of the constant support of Wiltshire businesses and my persistent nosiness. I’m always intrigued to see what your business has to offer and to make sure everyone else knows about it too.

What have I learnt from WiltsHour?

Interaction is the key to make any project work on social media. No one wants an automated robot. People are sick of it. I’m sick of it.

I always aim to welcome new participants during the hour and chat to as many businesses as I can to make them feel comfortable with promoting their business, become my friend and find other local businesses to collaborate with, which is why I feel WiltsHour is such a great success today.

 Where can I see WiltsHour next Year?

Just seeing WiltsHour grow and helping small businesses broaden their advertising platform and attract new clients is always a massive achievement.

Please do keep supporting the hour and you never know what new services could be coming to WiltsHour soon.

Thank you Wiltshire!!

You can follow WiltsHour on twitter – @wiltshour  and remember to use the hashtag #WiltsHour”

Shape up your social in 2017

It doesn’t surprise me when so many start ups and business owners tell me their social media is non existent or they don’t have time for it. But what if I told you it is the single most cost-effective communications outlet you have at your disposal? Ok, some face to face networking sessions are free to attend – great, but travel is involved, business cards need printing, and you might not even have your networking strategy down! If you could dedicate even half of the total time spent attending just one of the networking events you go to each week or month to working on your social media you’ll soon come to understand that these free-to-use tools will not only save you time but will give you a platform in which to network with 50, 100, 2000 times as many people than your face to face groups. Social media, is word of mouth, on steroids.

With that in mind, here’s my top 3 tips to make 2017 the year your business goes social. Start 2017 as you mean to carry on and make sure your social media game is on point.

  1. Audit your profiles. Pages on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin because someone told you that’s what you needed? It’s likely that most of these are probably laying dormant, with out of date information and under utilised features. This is a good time for you to be honest about what you have time to do. Pick what you’re comfortable with currently and are having the most success with, then delete the others. There really is no benefit to you having inactive accounts everywhere. Then, spend a couple of hours updating your cover pictures & profile images, refreshing your pinned posts, completing your account descriptions & biographies and adding your website.
  2. Create a content calendar. Benefit from some quiet time after the festive period and plot the key events for the year ahead. Include local & national holidays relevant to your brand or business, industry events, awareness weeks or days, conferences & events you’re attending or offers you’re putting on. Entering this into a calendar and reviewing once a month is a great way to always be thinking about what you’ll be talking about on social media that month.
  3. Invest! If social media scares you or you don’t know your hashtag from your mention it will be more cost effective, and quicker in the long run if you seek professional support & training to bring you up to speed. You might not know where to start in terms of what channel to pick (and trust me – not every business needs to have a Facebook page!) and a professional should be able to make sure you get set up in the right places based on where your audience is, while at the same time understanding your resource pressures.

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.

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