Blaugust 29: Learning via Email Part 2

So, after a week of having course material sent to me via email, I’m starting to feel that this style of learning isn’t really for me. This doesn’t mean that it’s not a great idea – I definitely still support and recommend Highbrow and might continue to use some of their other courses, but I don’t feel like I’m engaging with the content as I did when I had to go and log into an actual site. It’s maybe too passive for me, the emails come to my inbox and rather than making time to read them, I find myself ignoring them, then needing to catch up two or three which isn’t really how the system ought to work. I tend to study in bursts rather than every single day, it’s just what works for me.

Meanwhile, here’s a few more notes from the Creating Facebook Content course emails.

  • Dividing your content evenly into your own posts promoting your business, curated content and engagement with followers is important. Other articles I’ve read had recommended doing different percentage amount (40%, 20%, 40%, for example) so honestly I don’t think it matters that you keep it exactly even, and as in all situations it is going to depend on your business or brand and how you want to communicate/ present yourself.
  • If you are curating a lot of third-party content, it is probably a good idea to use an app like Pocket or Feedly (or similar, there are lots available) to save articles and sites for later. The course didn’t mention this but it is something I remember from various roles running social media accounts – before tweeting/posting and article or whatever, check the source site, and be sure it fits with your brand overall. This might be seen as overly cautious, but you can’t ever take anything back once it’s online.
  • Don’t just share from Facebook/Twitter to Facebook/Twitter! Use content from everywhere.
  • Plan your content well ahead of time. Decide a sort-of branding guide for the kind of third-party content that you want. Choose seasonal events and work out what you want to do around them well in advance. Of course, you need to have space to deviate from this in order to keep up with current/changing events, so this will be a rough plan with wiggle room.
  • Once you have a content plan, remember to go back over it regularly and refine it, checking that it still fits your brand and your audience.

Blaugust 28 – Using Padlet

During my Future Learn Smart Cities course, we used a system called Padlet to upload image and make notes on activities. I’d only used it in the browser version (there is a app, which I’ve been using since.)

It did feel slightly like a virtual classroom environment, as people chose a space on the pad, and wrote in a text box and/or added links and images which the rest of the users could see, as if they were all displayed on a classroom table (without the potential peer pressure and judgement of being around actual other people) but I didn’t expect to need to use it outside of Smart Cities or other similar courses.

However after glancing through some of the emails I’ve had from Padlet (see, email advertising – it does work!) I’ve not only discovered plenty of free and potentially useful content, I’ve also realised how it could be useful to me as a note-taking and sort-of rough blogging platform in the future.

I’ve been reading some live blogs that have been end via Padlet from conferences, where one person is writing up the content and others have been able to pop in and make comments or suggestions. As I (hopefully) move back into more formalised learning, I will be able to put up rough lecture notes – the stuff that I probably wouldn’t put up here without serious revision.

Blaugust 27: Learning via Email

So this is a different way of learning. Instead of being signed up to courses, for the past few days I’ve been signed up to a short email course from Highbrow. There are free courses on all kinds of topics, but I decided to stay on this month’s theme of learning for my professional development, and picked a course on creating better Facebook post content.

The site makes you choose just one course at a time, which seems restrictive, but really it’s forcing you to completely focus on the content, rather than signing up to lots of courses at once and splitting what little time you might have for it.

Anyway, onto the notes that I need to remember from this course (a lot of it was reinforcing what I already knew, but there were some very good tips.)
Course Notes from the First Few Days 

  • 1.65 billion people use Facebook monthly (I’ve talked about Facebook numbers before, here)
  • On a post, your profile picture is your ‘business card’. It needs to be instantly recognisable and changed as little as possible.
  • Your cover photo, meanwhile, is more like a advertising banner – you can change it often to reflect new content, for example if you are selling a product it would be a good place to talk about offers.
  • Post updates should be short and concise – the shorter it is, the more traction it will get (personally, I find that this can depend on your audience, but it is sound general advice.)
    On trends – many social media trends are predictable – they rely on seasonal events, sporting events, news cycle etc. So if you’re creating content off the back of this, keeping up with Google trends is a good idea.

Blaugust 26: Google Business Video – YouTube for Business

This will likely be the last Google for Small Businesses video that I look at for Blaugust, though I’m going to continue looking at them and posting about them as there are other similar videos on social media for business.
This one looks at using YouTube to grow your business and these were my main take-away points and notes from it.

– You don’t need a large-scale professional to get started if the content is good.

– The biggest viewing age-group on YouTube is 18-34, but 34-49 is also 20% of the viewers.

– 90% of people shopping online find an online video helpful when making a purchase.

– When doing video ads, because of the skip option, the best ads are those with the logo/brand name and a bold visual statement at the beginning.

– (This is something I remember from going to Google Digital Garage) people are going on YouTube to look for tips, using it as a search engine, so how-to videos can be really major.

It wasn’t mentioned in this video, but I remembered that another really important tip from Google Digital Garage was that at the end of the day you are using these videos to sell a product or service. So it’s not necessarily about how many views you get, it’s about finding your niche where interested people will see your videos and be encouraged to become customers.

Blaugust 25: WhatsApp Monetising

So, we break with what’s fast becoming the regularly scheduled learning posts for one that’s actually about current events! Earlier this afternoon, WhatsApps announced that it would be starting to integrate with Facebook, sharing phone numbers and friend suggestions between the two platforms. Longer term, they’ll be working towards advertisers being able to directly message users.
Since then, social media as a whole has fairly blown up with negative comments about this (unsurprisingly.) I wrote about Whatsapp and it’s future back when Facebook first acquired it in 2014, and it’s clear why they waited two years to make any moves towards monetisation – they needed to ensure that the user base was too entrenched to go elsewhere once the next negative wave hit.

The integration with Facebook makes sense in terms of shoring up (if perhaps not growing) Facebook’s userbase. However the real goal is profit, and in that I wonder about how successful their current plans will really be.

In the UK, at least, advertising via text message never really took off. It’s always mainly been the preserve of weird scam companies and has pretty much petered out in the past few years. It’s a different story in the US and other countries, where text ads are more commonplace, but there, it might be seen as a backwards step compared to the tactics of Snapchat advertising and similar – a bit old fashioned for a clearly 21st century product. It remains to be seen exactly how Facebook will implement monetisation, but I do think they could do better than that.

Blaugust 24: Crowdsourced Citizen Science with Crickets

During my Smart Cities Future Learn Course, the difficulties of getting getting people involved in data collection involved came up several times, and I even discussed gamification for projects in this post earlier in August.

So I wanted to share a university project I’ve found where the researchers gamified their data collection in order to deal with a massive amount of data – about crickets!

The Unviersity of Exeter are currently performing a vast, long-term experiment on a population of Field Crickets in Northern Spain, in order to study their evolutionary biology. This involves tagging crickets with numbers and setting up a network of cameras to cover every burrow they can find to collect data on the cricket’s daily habits. Of course, this has produced hundreds of hours of video, much of which is useless if the crickets aren’t around, and a small group of researchers don’t have time to watch all of it. So how to find the important parts?

This is where Cricket Tales comes in.

This website provides you with a virtual meadow marked with burrow locations and ‘houses’ which players can build by watching and tagging a certain number of videos, sort of like FourSquare in which you can make yourself the ‘owner’ of a certain spot. I haven’t played for very long, but it also seems like the longer you play at a certain burrow, the more elaborate your ‘house’ becomes.

After a short tutorial, you can then choose any burrow to watch short videos from. As you can see in the screenshot below, you can choose a particular button on the side to note an action at a certain point in the video. Many of the videos have little to no action in, so this is an effective, gamified way for the researchers to identify behaviours more quickly.

Pressing buttons when you see an action allows you to tag the video. This shows up in a newsfeed that all players can see

Blaugust 23: Studying Twitter Insights

In my current role, I been using Twitter Insights pretty frequently. I usually do a weekly report on the organisation’s Twitter Insights and Facebook insights, with a roundup of the figures, what has/hasn’t improved and why (for example, spikes in reach or followers due to a particular tweet or post.)

Image from

But I tend to only look at the basics, and Twitter Insights go far deeper than that, even though they are generally far less clear and accurate than Facebook. So I’ve been looking at some online articles to see what info I could be gaining and using from Insights.

This post from Buffer gave me some really good ideas. I hadn’t really considered checking the follower breakdown by region in order to decide when is the best time to schedule posts – if a lot of people from another time zone are following you, then you should make sure to schedule tweets for them to increase engagement.

Also, the explanation of how to find your ideal length of Tweet was a really good tip – it’s down near the bottom of the article. Basically, I was struggling to find free ways of Tweet analysis nowadays (as I mentioned in this post). But by downloading your recent tweets as a spreadsheet, you can then use the following equation:

 To find this stat, you’ll need to add a new column to your spreadsheet.

Create a new column, and copy this formula into the cells:


(Change “A1” to be the cell that contains the tweet text.)

The above formula will give you the character count of the tweet (including the shortened URL).

To get the word count, try this formula:

=IF(LEN(TRIM(C2))=0,0,LEN(TRIM(C2))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(C2,” “,””))+1)

(Quoted directly from the article)

You can then make a graph comparing this to the engagement rate. I’ll definitely be trying that out at work!