‘In the Moment’ Social Media

This is a little blog post/thought that has been bouncing around my head for a while – mostly due to a particular evening at work recently where I stretched myself too thin. I realised that this issue is probably quite common, even for people who work in social media regularly, and I wanted to get it down as much to remind myself as anything!

Without going into too much detail about my day job, I market concerts and other events, and a large part of that job involves social media. For the most part, it’s about carefully planned and scheduled pieces of content to encourage visits, ticket sales and other engagement. However, when an event is going on, that’s a fantastic source of immediate, relatable content. People love it. So, over time, my colleagues and I have taken steps to ensure that there is a system in place for this – work phones and tech available logged into social networks etc. so that staff on the ground can get the best shots.

However, I’ve realised that even in this situation, you do need some planning in place – some knowledge of when those great shareable moments are going to happen, and someone with the time off from other duties to get content uploaded with the appropriate copy, hashtags etc.

It does seem like the easy option, but if you want to get both quality and quantity of content, especially to Twitter and Instagram Story etc (and if it isn’t both of those things, there isn’t a lot of point in trying), you need to ensure you have time, training, and preferably a dedicated person.

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#Blaugust and #Hootchat – Listening in

So, after a few days off from blogging, I decided to get some inspiration via #Hootchat, which is a Twitter discussion run every week by Hootsuite to discuss digital marketing, branding and other similar topics. It’s often a pretty useful place to pick up tips from other marketers and social media managers, and in the various tweets from this week’s questions (which were specifically about building and maintaining a brand), I started to notice a trend running through them.

Many of the recommendations, tips and comments were specifically about the importance of reading, rather than writing, listening rather than speaking, when on social media. Listening to your followers, reading what your competitors write – it’s actually something we don’t talk about a lot with social media, which is usually all about your content, your thoughts – so I thought these views were an interesting contrast.

Blaugust – Low Season for Content

A short post tonight, but another social strategies post – leading on from this one I wrote last week about scheduling content.

My job is marketing live concerts and events, which is a job with seasonal peaks and troughs – obviously Christmas being the most busy one. At the moment, we’re in the longest trough, because there are almost no events between now and the end of September for me to market. This means that when it comes to posting on social media, there is simply less to talk about, and it would be easy to become repetitive.

I certainly do ease back on the posting, one or two per day is fine at this point so as not to bore the audience. Some people have suggested that it’s better to simply switch off altogether instead, and come back at an appropriate point, but I feel you only have to stop posting for a few days before it starts to look odd. Plus, you will end up missing any number of opportunities for organic engagement.

So I’ve developed a few strategies for dealing with this.

Regular weekly hashtag use: A lot of #tbt to share old news posts, photos and videos – it’s the perfect time to go back to old content without it seeming out of place. #Fridayfeeling and #HappyMonday are particularly good for sharing audio tracks relating to the new season as a way to suggest daily soundtracks for followers, and to engage with them. #CharityTuesday is one that I use infrequently, but as I do work for a charity, it’s a good way to remind people of this. A number of other organisations I work with do #TuesdayThoughts quite often.

More focus on sharing other people’s content: Writing fewer social media posts means a little more time for research, so I have the opportunity to find news and articles that would be relevant to our audience, even when it’s not specifically about us and our events.

Be a little jokey or more off the wall: It’s summer! People are bored at work! It’s the perfect time to make bad puns, do caption competitions and make a lot of references to the weather.

 

Blaugust – How much longer is Facebook worth it?

A few days ago, a work colleague and I were having a chat about social media plans for the company going forward, and how we would be segregating certain content between Facebook and Instagram.

I started to realise that the entire model of Facebook is aging, particularly the newsfeed, which at the most basic level hasn’t changed at all since the mid-2000s (and from a design perspective, it is starting to look quite ugly compared to the streamlined approach of more recent platforms). Yes, they’ve introduced stories in Facebook, basically having moved the idea wholesale over from Instagram, but I would be curious to know how much it is used. At the moment, Instagram is the big new frontier for content and marketing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if more and more resources starting being put into it over what is now clearly the predecessor platform.

It will be interesting to see if, in the future, social media continues on this generational cycle, and another app replaces Instagram – which will then be immediately bought out and monetised by Facebook (who will still be the parent company, even once Facebook itself is truly dead!)

 

 

The Weekend Update and Social Strategies

I sat down today at my computer, and read through a few websites to get my thoughts together what to write about. This included a really interesting article on the future of Facebook advertising (unskippable stories?) and a good posting about creative writing from the lovely AlternativeChat (go follow her on Twitter for great writing).

Social Media Strategy – or at least, the way that works for me

My mind drifted back to what I was up to at work yesterday – mostly a lot of rushed admin after several days away at the AMA conference, but also quite a bit of Twitter and Facebook scheduling, since I won’t be back in the office again until next Wednesday.

I’m the main manager for my employer’s Facebook and Twitter pages – making sure there is a constant stream of short-form copy, images, videos, things shared from other relevant accounts etc. Events need to be marketed (and how much depends on how popular they are), news needs to be announced, partner organisations need to be recognised. Weekly hashtags need to be planned in – a #tbt here, a #FridayFeeling there. Space needs to be left in the schedule for any livetweeting work, or content that is likely to be finished and uploaded later in the week.

So how to start this? For me, generally it starts with a piece of paper and a hastily drawn out table, with the days of the week as the rows, and the different platforms as columns. This is based on the spreadsheets that Hootsuite recommend you put together, and certainly I often do pop the post content into an excel spreadsheet to share with colleagues, but I find for the initial planning, it suits me better to have a something to scribble on. (My office is still very paper-heavy due to the amount of copy proofing that goes on, so there is always plenty of scrap paper around to use!)

First, I lay out the topics and summary of a post, without actually writing it up. This ensures that I have a good spread of content – e.g. I can plan to tweet about an upcoming event x number of times in the week leading up to it. I might know, for example, that there is going to be a press release going out on Thursday of that week, and I can plan to have social media posts for that day. I can also space out posts with images, videos and without so they won’t look too same-y in a news feed.

Once I’ve got a spread of social media posts planned, I’ll start scheduling the ones that can to written in advance, writing them in into complete posts as I go. For Twitter, I use Hootsuite, and Facebook posts can be scheduled directly (though you can also do them through Hootsuite if you want to see everything on one screen). For posts that will need to be written later or in the moment, I make sure to leave a time gap. I tick off the posts on the original piece of paper as I go, and I’ll keep it on my desk through the week for reference. Next, I go back through the scheduler and proof my posts!

Finally, the tweets/posts can be copied and pasted in the shareable doc if needed, with notes about images/video/links or where content will be filled in later on. Once this is done (always on Monday for the rest of the week if possible) then I can ensure that no matter how busy I am or whether I’m in the office or not, these social media accounts will keep on doing their thing.

Anything else to add?

I’m looking to get back into free online courses again, so expect to see some posts relating to that very soon.

Blaugust is nearly here again – and I’ve been putting off making any kind of commitment to daily blogging because honestly with everything that is going on next month I’m not sure I can do it and keep up any level of good output. So, I’m going to do a relaxed Blaugust this year. Posts will happen, and I’ll push myself to write, but it won’t be every single day (for example, not when I’m on my sailing trip at the end of the month), which overall feels like a much better way of going about things.

I’d like to do a quick shout-out to ChilledCow’s Lo-fi Hip-Hop stream on YouTube – I know this stream is something of a joke around the internet, and it’s not at all my usual music, but I’ve found that as background music for writing, it’s actually pretty good to have on, and honestly better than any Spotify playlist I’ve found so far.

#AMAconf Prep – Reading Up

I’ve been neglecting this blog for quite a while, and I’ve hit that point where I’m not used to writing any more, so it’s harder and harder to find things to write about! I need something to kickstart the process again, and it feels like going to the Arts Marketing Association Conference might be a good place to start that.

The AMAconf website listed a few ‘resources and further reading’ pieces, and the first was a piece entitled ‘Keep calm and carry on. Really?‘, about the need for arts organisations to take more risks, even while the current economic and social environment pushes people to be cautious and not rock the boat.

I  do think this is more aimed at programming content which is something every arts org struggles with – trying to be new and innovative but carrying the audience with you – and  no-one will ever get that balance quite right. However I then starting thinking about how I’ve struggled to implement  this in social media comms, both at work and personally, and how to get past that great fear of saying or doing ‘the wrong thing.’

The problem with this level of cautious behaviour is that it will end up with you doing or saying nothing at all, and that in itself starts to say something negative about you as a person, or you as an organisation. It says (falsely) that you have no personality and no beliefs, and if that is the case, how can anyone ever connect with you online? In the online medium, people want to connect with something or someone that appears real. By not wishing to offend, or be taken out of context, ultimately you can end up doing more harm than good.

It goes without saying that any strategies for personalising a social media account need to be carefully thought out and curated, but also with the understanding that once your accounts are humanised, people will forgive a certain amount of human mistakes.

 

Pinterest is powerful, why aren’t people interested in that?

In the business/marketing press, you get articles like this one all the time – https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/pinterest-is-growing-faster-than-twitter-and-snapchat-and-offers-significa/524417/

It’s pretty common knowledge that Pinterest is a hugely important and influential social media platform. The user base is huge, and it is tailor-made for selling, from wall-paper to workout plans. The search function and related content algorithms work really well, you can build communities… it’s sort of the holy grail of social media in those respects.

Now, I’m always checking the mainstream press for articles on social media etc., and there’s never any shortage of them. But while reading the article posted above, it did occur to me that you rarely hear about Pinterest in the mainstream press, despite its size and importance. I’m wondering now why that is. Of course, it hasn’t yet had the kind of data scandals of Facebook, or community management failures of Twitter, but I have to speculate whether it has more to do with Pinterest’s heavily female user-base, versus the male-dominated world of tech journalists (who likely don’t use it.) These kind of biases crop up so often, after all. It just makes you think.

 

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