Tag Archives: Twitter

Clutching at straws?

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There are a fair few social media apps that I feel are just around because they’re different to the norm, such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine etc but that doesn’t mean they’re any good.

The latest one to come to fruition is an app called Whisper, it is a free iOS and Android mobile app with an associated paid online service which allows users to send messages anonymously and receive replies, basically Facebook/Twitter without the username. It was first launched in March 2012 under the original name ‘WhisperText’. Users post a message which are then published displayed as text superimposed over an image which are similar to greeting cards like the image below:

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It is doing incredibly well for an app that doesn’t get as much mention as big game players, getting on average 3.5 billion page views each month which has got venture capitalists interested, and no wonder!

In May 2013 the owners of the app added a service cost of $5.99 (around £3.59) meaning receiving messages was free but sending messages required payment. In my opinion that was the beginning of the downfall of the app, and the fact that in February 2014 the service charge was made free for ‘most users’ but paid messaging was something that was required for certain users for certain reasons.

I struggle to see the point in this app, I understand that it serves its purpose of a social media app that allows more anonymity than most others but I just don’t understand. Maybe thats naive of me but I’m sure most people would agree that it is some what unnecessary, then again, a lot of people would say that about social media as a whole.

Even though I am a Social Media Executive Intern, I think social media on a personal basis is somewhat pointless, meaning I don’t think many people actually need to read about what you had for dinner or the fact you’re bored, but social media for a business is priceless.

I suppose we will all find out how popular this app is if Facebook tries to buy it in a few months!

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Are you doing social media right?

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Many people think that I just get paid to sit on Facebook all day and don’t do anything productive, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media has to be done correctly to save yourself from the consequences of bad PR for yourself AND your client. There are certain steps in which you should take in order to ensure that you are getting the most out of the tool that has the potential to connect you to so many more people than tradition PR and Marketing allows you to.

A lot of companies who don’t specialise in a communication vocation think that they have to do social media just to ensure that they are keeping up with competitors. What needs to be understood is that it is a free tool and just takes man-hours to make it right. I’ve been to many interviews for PR and Social Media job roles and when I’ve done research in to the company in question I’ve more often than not been left a little let down by the social media already in place.

If you find yourself with fewer followers than everybody else, you need to look at what YOU are putting out on the social media platform, not wonder why people aren’t falling for your spiel. You need to ensure that you are updating regularly, with relevant information to your business (or just what you want to put out there) so that your followers know when to check back with what you’re saying. If you post on a Monday, and then don’t post for two weeks and post on a Friday, followers won’t know when to check back and gradually fall out of the routine of checking back with what you are saying.

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When you think of Facebook and Twitter, chances are you think of your friends or an organisation just broadcasting what they want you to read and there isn’t much room for engagement. In order to gain followers and boost your reputation, you should post content that will generate conversation, don’t forget that this is SOCIAL media and is very much a two way communication channel, use it to your advantage and don’t let it hinder you.

What most companies need to understand is that their Facebook and Twitter feeds are not meant to be glorified ad streams, and need to have good quality content that generates conversation to ensure that followers don’t lose interest. I often find that the easiest way to make people aware of your brand is to not really advertise it at all on social media (within reason, obviously) and a great example of a brand that has got it right is believe it or not, Tesco Mobile. The fact that their Twitter account is more often than not, dedicated to tweeting everybody who tweets the brand with funny, on the line, witty replies is pure genius in my eyes.

Another sin that many people commit on social media, is just auto-post updates across all of their social media platforms. Facebook is incredibly different to Twitter, which is different to Pinterest, which is different again to Linkedin. Look at it this way, you wouldn’t have the same conversation you have with your best friend with your grandma would you? So don’t do it on social media either. Make sure that you connect effectively with each audience to maximise the success of your social media efforts.

It is important to set a social media plan to ensure that there is structure to your posts. Even though many people think that social media is spur of the moment and shouldn’t be thought about to much, there needs to be some sort of similarity in posts so you don’t veer of the mark too much. In order to make sure that there are guidelines, you should figure out the following:

  • Who is responsible for updating your social profiles

Try not to have too many people writing on social media profiles, if your company has a social media team, leave it to them, as silly as it sounds, tone of voice is very important. Consistency is important for keeping your readers interested.

  • How frequently your social profiles will be updated

Figure out a schedule and keep to it, your readers will appreciate the effort of consistent updating and enjoy the content even more.

  • What type of content you will post

It won’t make sense for your readers if you post something extremely serious or sales related to your brand and then post a picture of a puppy with no accompanying copy.

  • How you will use imagery in your posts

Will you include and image in every post? Will your content be mostly images? Imagery plays a big part in how engaging your post is. If a huge lump of copy is teamed with images to break it up, the more likely your readers will finish reading.

  • What tone of voice you will use when posting

This, to me, is the most important of all. If you are writing on a blog and using the tone of voice you would use when talking to your clients, you’re doing it wrong. Figure out whom you are speaking to and adjust accordingly.

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The worst thing a company can do, and I’ve been subject to it, is to delete negative social mentions. It WILL happen, you cannot please all of the people all of the time. I had a dragged out argument with Boohoo over the terrible customer service I had received regarding a problem on their end, and when I commented on their Facebook wall asking for some help because I didn’t know who else to speak to anymore, they messaged me privately and deleted my comment off their wall in order to save their reputation from taking a knock. I personally think that if you publically handle a negative situation, the better you appear to your consumers.

I am no professional when it comes to social media, and I don’t confess to be. I don’t think anyone should say that they are and if you find a method that works for you and your business, stick to it. There are no ‘rules’ that you should follow, and this post isn’t to say that you are doing your social media wrong, but simple hints and ‘guidelines’ to help improve your social media presence. I’ve done extensive research in to social media for the past year and a half, and always kept up to date since starting university in 2010. I did my dissertation on how to be influential on Twitter so I feel I do have some insight in to making it work!

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Clever Social Media

I love nothing more than when I see a well known brand getting over its big name and just being funny. I personally think being PC (within reason) takes too much effort. PR executives can spend forever and a day trying to please all of the people all of the time, but whats the point in coming across like a suck up? I’ve been to many interviews and had some great conversations with some key players in the industry and a common theme has been that they wish they could say what they wanted but don’t due to the fear of losing followers/loyalty. I say throw caution to the wind, it’s a well known fact that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, so theres no point in trying to be honest!

The best social media conversation I’ve ever read in my life occurred in the beginning of November last year and it came to my attention today via Buzzfeed.com and it involved some major players in the UK! To sum it up, Tesco Mobile, Cadbury’s, Jaffa Cakes, Sainsbury’s, Phileas Fogg, Yorkshire Tea and Walkers have some of the best social media executives in the world in my opinion!

It all started by somebody showing Tesco Mobile a Facebook post of somebody dissing their brand (may I just add that Tesco Mobile do not take lightly to people doing this! Just take a look at their Twitter feed, it’s fantastic!) and it escalated quickly from there on out.

Take a look at the images below of the unreal exchange between some of the biggest brands in the UK! It really is great to see such a relaxed and funny stance on social media that people genuinely enjoy reading!

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Do machines really need to do everything?

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I read an article this afternoon about search engine giant Google and the fact that they have patented plans for software that slowly learns how you react to things you see on social media networks. In layman’s terms, the software will mimic the way in which you usually respond to updates and messages from friends and relatives to help you ‘cope’ with the daily processes. The software sifts through the messages you receive and conducts an analysis of continuing interaction and goes on to flag messages that demand a more personal response.

I find it hard to believe that social media is that much of a chore that people need a robot to respond to your friends and family, or even just followers on your Twitter account! This entire concept just takes the personal touch away from what should be a conversation between two or more people!

A software engineer at Google, Ashish Bhatia, said that the popularity and use of social networks and other types of electronic communication has grown dramatically in recent years. It is often difficult for users to keep up with and reply to all the messages they are receiving. Again, I find this very hard to believe that a standard person finds this task difficult, that said, I do believe that businesses find it hard to maintain the amount of messages they receive, and I can see the benefits of having an automated personal response rather than a bog standard repetitive message to all your followers.

The system analyses the responses you initially make so it can eventually start making suggestions of its own that, ideally, should be indistinguishable from those of an actual person. Which asks the question, what is the point. Why do you need this? Does it automatically publish the responses? What if it got a response wrong and made a huge mistake? How could you answer that? This whole concept has many flaws to it, I can see the benefit to a company who wants to please its consumers, but I think it’s just another step in the wrong direction. Some things need to be personal and come from a real person in my eyes!

The article from BBC News went on to say that instead of writing every response individually or clicking buttons to “like” or forward messages, the software would generate suggested responses which a person could simply agree to be posted on their behalf. Now what is the point? The person would have to read the message that they received and then read the automated robot’s response and then decide whether or not it was suitable. Just answer the message! It seems like an awfully long winded approach to just simply writing out a response that takes no more than two minutes anyway!

An example given in the article was:

In response to learning that an acquaintance called David has changed jobs, the system might suggest: “Hey David, I am fine, You were in ABC corp for 3 years and you recently moved to XYZ corp, how do you feel about the difference, enjoying your new workplace?”

That to me reads like an automated response. If my friend told me that they had changed jobs, I wouldn’t feel the need to tell them that they had been working in their previous position for however many years. I think it is a really lazy way of keeping in touch with people!

I find that we have spent so long, especially in Public Relations, telling people why social media is so important, and why you should make every effort to personally respond to relevant messages personally has been totally disregarded with this software, and I find it a strange move on Google’s behalf. Social media allows human-to-human interaction, and I personally think that shouldn’t be messed with. As the old age saying goes, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!

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How to create a good headline!

 

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In order to gain good readership, you have to have the ability to write good, interesting headlines in order to make the reader want to continue reading your story. I consider the headline to be the most important aspect of an article, it is the first impression that you make to your readers, which deserves a decent amount of thinking time!

Of course, it is not just an article that requires the headline thought process, blog posts, book chapters, even dissertations all need to make the reader want to continue reading your handy work. The main question that you need to consider throughout the entire writing process is ‘would this make me want to read on?‘, if it doesn’t, don’t put it in!

There are various different methods of writing headlines and various different types of headlines, it all depends on the nature of the story which method you choose to use to construct it.

1. Direct Headlines

As the word ‘direct’ suggests, these types of headlines don’t beat around the bush, but instead sum up the story in a matter of words. For example ‘50% off all stock all weekend’.

2. Indirect Headlines

Indirect headlines are used to raise the curiosity of the reader, they pull the audience in and the content of the story fills in the rest of the information. Indirect headlines use a variety of different ways to interest the reader such as:

  • Puns
  • Double-meanings
  • Play on words
  • Figures of speech
  • Metaphors
  • Symbolism

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Miley Cyrus and her very strange and erratic behaviour, especially the stunt she pulled at the MTV EMA’s that were being held in Amsterdam. For those that don’t know what happened, Miley won an award for Best Music Video for her song Wrecking Ball, as she was giving her speech she proceeding to pull a joint out of her bag and light it up on stage. I read an article in the Metro whilst on the bus with the headline that read ‘Miley High Club’. This is a great example of an indirect headline, as I’m sure most of the people reading this blog post will know what mile high club means, and the obvious misleading meaning it has in terms of this story!

3. News Headline

This is kind of self-explanatory, as long as the news itself is actually news! This could be a product announcement, software updates. A great example of this type of headline is ‘Apple Release New Iphone 5s’

4. How to Headline

This is one of the most popular types of headlines as it is easy to gain readership with the promise that help is going to be provided for a topic the reader is not too sure about. This headline is very popular online and offline and a perfect example for this type of headline is, well, this blog post!

5. A Question Headline

This type of headline has to do more than ask a question. The question needs to be worthwhile and appropriate to the story and has to spark up some good answers in the readers mind that compliments the body of the article. Ideally the reader can empathise with the question and would like to see it answered. A good example of a question headline would be ‘Are You Tired of the Same Old Shopping Routine?’. After a question headline there needs to be instant recognition of the question, so the first paragraph of the content needs to have the answer before the information, for example ‘If so, then come to the new shopping centre here at … and let us revolutionise your shopping world!

6. The Command Headline

This basically tells the readers what to do. It is a simple headline option, and often helps get the results the author wants. The first word of this type of headline should be a strong verb demanding action, for instance ‘Subscribe to AKavanagh PR Today!

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#fail

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Back in May of this year, a fantastic example of a really bad PR decision came from a company called Ferraro, better known as the creator of a very popular chocolate spread named Nutella. Any company who wants to move forward and use social media as a tool rather than fear the advances it brings, knows that you have to utilise any social media hype.

Nutella is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, and back in 2007, an American fan, Sarah Rosso, who lives in Italy decided to create World Nutella Day in order to show her dedication to the brand and maybe talk to some like minded people and just have a bit of fun with the Facebook page.

Fast forward to May 2013, and after 7 years of World Nutella Day, Ferraro decided that they were just not happy with the concept whatsoever and delivered a cease and desist letter to their #1 fan ordering her to shut down the fan page as there was a misuse of the brand.

The social media backlash to this was huge, after Rosso published the letter she received to the fan page she created, users took it upon themselves to comment on the official Facebook page for Nutella to express their disappointment in the way in which they went about this situation.

As I am someone who has grasped the concept of social media, and understand what it can do for a company, Ferrero completely missed a trick, not only were they receiving the benefits from a brilliant social media campaign, they were doing so for free with no work to do on their behalf! Stuff social media executives dreams are made of! Considering Nutella doesn’t even have an official Twitter feed, they should really have taken this in their stride and sent a letter of appreciation and a free jar of Nutella to Rosso at the very least!

After the huge social media backlash Ferrero went on to drop the cease and desist action which in turn saved World Nutella Day, head over to the website to see what it is all about, and prepare for the 8th World Nutella Day!

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Scheduling Tweets – Good or Bad?

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During my time interning at various different PR agencies, one of my many tasks was to compile a list of tweets that I could schedule to go out at different times of the week. A question that has been raised many times is, is this a good or bad idea? I personally believe that there are both positives and negatives to scheduling. As any PR practitioner would agree, the job is extremely demanding, and though social media is arguably one of the most powerful tools there is to hand, it is also extremely time consuming, and other tasks may be more urgent than others.

So, what are the positives?

  • Allows you to free up more time for bigger, more demanding tasks
  • Allows you time to find relevant stories to tweet about
  • You can plan ahead of time and ensure you tweet about important days or events relevant to you or your client

That said, the negatives I find are:

  • Seems less personal and doesn’t allow for you to engage in conversation with followers, which is the whole point of social media
  • PR is an exceptionally faced paced environment, so planning tweets doesn’t really make a huge amount of sense, you cannot predict what is going to happen in the world, and what will have an impact on you or your client, so you might miss out on posting important information
  • You run the risk of being repetitive, especially if you auto-tweet ‘thank you’ tweets to new followers or followers who have retweeted something on your profile
  • You can often sound impersonal and an information base apposed to a point of contact for your consumers or client base

I think that programmes such as Hootsuite can be useful to PR practitioners but I do disagree with completely depending on scheduling tweets for weeks at a time. As an up and coming practitioner myself, and after writing and researching so much in to social media, I fully understand the importance of social media and all it has to offer to public relations as another planning element. It is definitely time for businesses and organisations to open their eyes and start to take note of the importance and rewards this tool has to offer them. I have been to many interviews and carried out many internships throughout my time at university, and the majority of agencies or businesses have asked me what I thought of their social media presence, and I have always been honest and said exactly what I thought. All to often I have looked at blogs and twitter feeds that haven’t been updated for months, some even years, which is sad to see, as it is probably one of the only free PR tools we have!

That said, and taking all I have said in to consideration, a healthy and happy medium of scheduling tweets and taking the time to plan and construct useful tweets, but also taking the time to follow up posts once they have been published and actually interacting with followers is the only way to have a really successful twitter feed!

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Britain’s most influential tweeters

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I recently read an article published on the Telegraph online, about Britain’s most influential tweeters today. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am extremely interested in social media and my dissertation topic was how to be classed as influential on Twitter, so this article was right up my street!

There is a huge mix of people on the list, which is constructed of 140 Twitter users. I have a problem with the way the word ‘influential’ is thrown about, when really, I think the word ‘popular’ is more suited to the users in the list. The meaning of the word influence is ‘the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.’ and the meaning of popular is ‘liked or admired by many people or by a particular person or group.’

As you can see, there is a fine line between the two words, and yes, I’m sure the One Direction boys are influential to their fans, but I don’t think they have the power to have an effect on the character, development or behaviour on someone who is not a fan of their music, or them as people.

There is an obvious correlation between popular celebrities today and the most ‘influential’ tweeters today in the article and the top 5 in the following order, are low and behold, One Direction members;

  1. Liam Payne
  2. Harry Styles
  3. Niall Horan
  4. Louis Tomlinson
  5. Zayn Malik

Move down the list to the 7th spot, and you find our Prime Minister, David Cameron. He is meant to be the most ‘influential’ person in our country, as the political leader of the United Kingdom, I find it hard to believe that Liam Payne has more power to influence a group of people than the Prime Minister does.

In the 63rd spot on the list, comes Anne Twist, for those who aren’t die hard fans, that is Harry Styles’ mother. Bringing back the notion of perhaps this list is for popular people, and not influential content that has the power to change the way people behave.

The whole list from 1 through to 140 is constructed from a mixture of people, ranging from politics to vloggers (mentioned in a previous blog post), and I have no issue with this information being formulated in to this article. I just think the word influential should be used in the correct manner, as Harry Styles’ tweeting about his dinner isn’t really ground breaking, thought provoking content is it?

As I found out when writing my dissertation, everyone is influential in some capacity. I am influential to my followers, but I may not be influential to yours. One Direction are influential to their fans, but they are popular on Twitter, and so forth.

To sum this post up, I believe the Telegraph published a list of popular people with a lot of followers, they did not publish a list of Britain’s most influential tweeters like the title would have you believe!

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The low down on vloggers

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As I like to keep up to date with all social media platforms, one that seems to shy away from ‘mainstream’ popularity seems to be YouTube. As the majority of people know that YouTube is a video sharing website with varying content, I don’t need to go in to too much detail of the basics of the website. What I will go in to though, is the rising fame ‘vloggers’ are finding for themselves. Vloggers are people that video blog, or ‘vlog’, their lives and upload the videos to their subscribers. The top vloggers I have noticed, who have a huge following of subscribers are:

  • Zoella (Zoe Sugg) – 2,611,816 subscribers
  • PointlessBlog (Alfie Deyes) – 1,430,821 subscribers
  • Marcus Butler – 1,631,663 subscribers
  • Jacks Gap (Jack & Finn Harries) – 2,951,126 subscribers
  • DailyGrace (Grace Helbig) – 2,230,481 subscribers

Each vlogger creates great content for their subscribers and have really found a natural approach to the way in which they create content. Now what I have an issue with, is when it comes to rating the most popular YouTube uploader’s as it seems to be channels like One Direction and mega celebrities like them. The 5 channels I have mentioned have chosen to make YouTube their career for the time being and are doing a very good job of it, so it must be frustrating to see One Direction’s channel attracting nearly 10,000,000 subscribers when all they upload are music videos and short videos advertising the longer ones!

YouTube is a huge business to be part of, there is a lot of money to be made! In order to earn good money from YouTube you have to create original content and you have to create it regularly and have your content viewed by thousands of YouTube users. A lot of users try and fail to attain the success of the aforementioned vloggers, but much like celebrities, vloggers have dedicated fans that watch every single video they upload and share the content on other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

I think YouTube used in this sense is great to see, many people just use it to listen to the latest music for free, or watch funny clips and pranks, but there is a huge world of vloggers who create brilliant content for a huge variety of people with different interests!

I think from a public relations point of view, YouTube is a fantastic platform for business to reach a huge amount of people in original and creative ways. Just like Twitter and Facebook, if you get it right, the world is your oyster!

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Klout

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Since writing my dissertation on what it takes to be classed as influential on Twitter, I have come to know Klout very well. Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the Klout score, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100 (1 being the least and 100 being the most influential). In determining the user score, Klout measures the size of a user’s social media network and correlates the content created to measure how other users interact with that content.

I have used Klout for around 12 months now, and I have managed to increase my score from 14 to 51. I looked at 3 different celebrities in my dissertation, each with varying Klout scores to see what differentiated them from each other and what someone using social media would have to do to attain and maintain a good Klout score.

I found that I had to engage more with my other users and post content that was of interest to get conversations started. I added all of my social media networks to my Klout account which resulted in my improved score of 51. After getting the hang of Klout, I thought it lacked something, it is a very basic application in the sense that there is not much to do on it. You can answer questions other users have based on topics you are interested in, which is a nice touch as it allows you to apply your knowledge to help other users.

The people over at Klout have just added a new aspect to the site, which I love! You update your status’ and tweets to Facebook and Twitter through Klout and it tells you the score impact the update has on your score, which allows you to see what type of content is beneficial to your score, rather than waiting for your score to go up or down without really knowing what the content is doing for you.

I think anybody who uses social media, whether it is for business or personal use, or even both, should know their Klout score and aim to increase it to give your consumers the best content possible!

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