Category Archives: PR

Time to go native? How PRs can get the best out of the ‘new advertorial’

How do PR professionals ensure they are getting the most from content, and context, when trying to secure significant engagement between clients and their audiences in a creative, innovative and cost-effective way?

By Maria Loupa

A few months back, at CIPR HQ in Russell Square, the London GLG Committee had a great panel share their thoughts on the value of advertorials in 21st century communications – it’s been a while, but since this topic is all the more relevant, we wanted to share a few highlights; especially with advertising spend set to reach $253bn by 2018, it’s definitely an untapped market worth exploring for communications professionals. Our panel included Tiffanie Darke, Creative Content Director, News UK (@tiffaniedarke), Jon Tickner, Creative Development Director at IPC Media, and Samantha Cope, Creative Editorial Director at Trinity Mirror plc (@SamanthaCope2); they all provided valuable insight from their respective publishing houses, with their host being former GLG Chair Julio Romo (@twofourseven).

The event kicked off with an introduction of what the speakers’ jobs entail. They all work as part of internal creative departments a lot of comms professionals in the audience didn’t even know existed, to help brand and comms teams create better content solutions for their clients. Sam Cope works within a team of 40 people, from account directors, to designers and everything in between, who make-up the Invention team; it’s been more than a year since Trinity Mirror launched its creative content studio and Sam works across their portfolio of news brands. Trinity Mirror has 110 regional titles, which means campaigns need to be able to talk at a local level, while maintaining a national impact.

Tiffany Darke’s team is Method, the strategic content agency at News UK. They work with The Sunday Times, The Times, The Sun and the entire News UK portfolio; they have cached a creative agency, Method, to produce content for advertising partners across sites, and they now have a sales’ arm and a customer management arm, offering an end to end experience, working with brands on creative campaigns they want to activate. Jon Tickner’s team at Time Inc, work with over 60 media brands and offer their cross-platform editorial expertise, and much more, focusing on a variety of topics from men’s hobbies, to mass market women’s publications such as Woman’s Own, Marie Claire, Wallpaper and Ideal Home.

Why media organisations form creative agencies

The conversation started by discussing what forces media organisations to form creative agencies to develop solutions instead of using PR agencies, content and advertising agencies. All speakers agreed that they know their audiences and the audiences’ needs, that’s why they are the best people to do this instead of a ‘generic’ agency. One of the many interesting things when working with media owners is that brands have the opportunity to work with a platform where people are hunting for content on. “It’s then that you realise certain things about the British public that you can’t assume, unless you’re working with them every single day. They are not marketeers, and that’s a bonus in a sense, because they are like a very intelligent consumer”, as Samantha commented. “We can offer valuable insight in what we call “Modal Britain”, the changing face of Britain which, at the middle percent, has grown and flattened in its wealth, distribution and attitudes”.

Tiffanie commented, “There is currently an ‘agency fight’ – you have digital, social, advertising, video agencies; brands have 6-7 agencies working for them and they have to co-ordinate all of these messages, as part of the whole shifting media landscape right now. It’s all about what’s relevant and useful, and who’s providing the best content and responses”.

However, PR definitely has its place in the paid space, as much as the editorial, as PR professionals are in the best position to broker this kind of deals. They are uniquely positioned in that they understand the publishers, and the audience, and the commercial side of things because they work for commercial clients and understand both sides of the contract. Tiffanie added “It’s a real opportunity for PR professionals. You already understand the audience, so you will sit halfway between us and the client. It’s a useful tool as well for you, especially for pitches and presentations to the client, as you can say ‘we spoke to the Times and they said this and that’.”

A word on audience

Content now flows across platforms, however, there’s still a large print audience present, according to the panel. “There is massive value, trust, massive circulation and communities from both a regional and a national perspective. Communities are everything – it’s a range of people who readily want to engage with you, so brands shouldn’t bother if they can’t manage this engagement”, Sam commented. Increasingly, with digital, where brands are publishers and there is an awful lot of commercial content, the bar has gotten higher. According to the panel, advertorials were considered “second” class, and the quality would have been almost purposely lower so that people wouldn’t confuse it with editorials. In Tiffanie’s word, “the truth is, that people don’t mind watching a good video if it’s for Nike or Coca Cola. So why not make it really good content, engaging and as good as an editorial?”

The panel briefly touched on market differences and similarities from an audience perspective. Jon commented “Although it’s hard to say whether the UK audience is different or not, I feel it may be more similar to the French than we may think, and different to Americans. In general, most clients aren’t set up to have such a global voice, unless it’s a completely clean of character, cross-territory voice that is entirely meaningless to anyone”. Tiffanie added: “Sadly not many clients appreciate buying globally and tailoring to markets – and we all have clients like that. Great, this campaign means nothing; PERFECT!”.

However, there is content that is more ‘transglobal’ and can break down barriers. As an example of this, Jon said that the audience shows an increased interest in ‘comparison’ pieces, especially around sporting or music events, such as the Ashes; i.e. an Australian and UK comparison of the Ashes’ coverage always performs quite well. Samantha added that hyperlocal has been giving their team a real edge, as they can reach people at a very local level, with topics that matter to them, such as the NHS.

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Leveraging social media communities

According to the panel, a few of the key trends for 2016 are unquestionably mobile and video, as well as personalisation. Social media communities swing content very fast and are pretty much asked to spend their time and money when they can get a lot of it for free. That’s why media organisations have a growing responsibility to let them know when content is of editorial or advertorial nature. As Tiffanie mentioned, “A neat way around it that’s kind of a shortcut currency for everybody, is to hashtag/label it ‘spawn,’ so that they know it’s not purely editorial”.

The audience needs to be offered both high quality editorial and advertorial content for them to consume. It would almost be like undermining them, if it was assumed that they’re not interested in commercial content, in print or online; commercial message can and should be the level of editorial. “Advertorials never really concerned the audience per se; it’s all about respecting audiences enough to entertain them along the way,” according to the panel.

“If you’re fulfilling the product for engaging with the right audience, if you raise it to that level, you simply can’t fail. And that’s always a long battle, to reach it to the level it should be and educate clients accordingly. In terms of content, editorial is way more issue-based, so that’s the best way to approach it, by making your content more relevant”, the panel agreed. Different platforms simply require different content. Tiffanie explained, “If we’re running a business campaign for Santander for example and they want some Facebook activation, it would dry as a shriveled raisin, so you have to find creative ways around it. For Xbox, we did something around pig semen that did really well on Facebook, as it was a funny, Facebook-friendly post.”

Communities can empower a brand, and adding a certain tone of voice to advertorials can help brands reach them. When it comes to TOV and different platforms, the ‘would a C-suite’s daughter read/understand this’ test doesn’t always apply. “We’re humans, therefore different to each other, and that’s part of the beauty of the media world; if your daughter isn’t reading the print version product, who says that others aren’t? And if you’re a C-suite working in banking, why on earth are you looking at your daughter? She’s not your target audience”.

Furthermore, the panel argued that their teams can provide insights that only media organisations can – they can approach a huge national and regional audience via social media. They use reader panels of around 6-7k people, who can provide feedback anonymously and unknowingly, by their interactions on the content.  As an example, Tiffanie mentioned that they ran a campaign around perceptions on an online shopping brand by the panel, with the goal to justify cart abandonment. As it turned out, none of the values to purchase were what the client thought, which were the fit of certain ranges and difficulties in the return process. It was simply that potential customers couldn’t picture themselves in  any of the products, so it was just a matter of approach.

How editorial and advertorial work together

Regardless of a budget on a marketing campaign, the panel underlined that publishers can never promise editorial space as it’s not best practice, regardless of how big a marketing budget is for a campaign. Tiffanie commented, “Editorial credits are offered in their own way and media houses need to be accountable; and if you’ve been promised, you need to ask for it. We try to facilitate conversations as much as possible and produce content of the highest possible standard to be able to achieve this. An example of this was McMillan – they are already successful in what they do; they wanted to reach a new audience, so a campaign we did for them opened the door to conversations with the features desks and lead to editorial. Explaining the aspects of the campaign allowed them to alter their PR approach.”

The editors always have the final word; if there is anything of editorial value, they will use it. Tiffanie added “We had a big retailer, who bought Sunday Times’ four page pull-out on the main news section, and they were convinced this was worth a front page news story; especially during the weekend of the Paris attacks, everything got wiped out”. It’s all about providing investment for editorial and serve up the client with something that is directly on brand, that you know will totally engage the reader; you’re not taking readers’ eyes away, you’re just giving them more content to consume”, Tiffanie explained. “Last week as part of the Vodafone campaign, we worked on a start-up list with the Times’ editorial team – an ‘everything you need to know’, hands-on guide and an overview of the best start-ups. We said to Vodafone, “do you want to get involved?” and we produced something really good, that transcended to editorial.”

“Integration is everything in quality press, and there are always ways to open conversations towards this; a few more consumer-focused sectors are ‘easier’, like travel, film, charity (CSR angles) – if it’s a bank for example, it may be tricky to get them on the Telegraph; and it should be. It’s integrity that makes up our products.” Advertorials are sense-checked to fit in seamlessly, clearly marked and of the same standard and feel as editorials. The panel agreed that if content is tailored to be part of the publication and add value to the product, then the readers will back it. Sam shared another example of this “We’re run a  blood-donation campaign as a case study and ended up running it as a feature – it’s what we call ‘earned editorial’”. The advertorial team like to get the editorial’s perspective all the time, in terms of testing new products they’re developing; it’s an amazing resource due to its immediacy, and very good for AB testing. Ultimately, media houses can provide a combination of insight from editorial, creative teams and reader panels.

Church and state – direct editorial conflicts

“As a media owner, you have to not be greedy, and choose the right clients carefully. We once had a cereal brand and they insisted on working with us on a campaign to highlight how healthy their cereals are, but actually, across all our titles we’ve been telling everyone how unhealthy they are, making their children obese; so we decided we weren’t going to pitch for this campaign, as this would cost on integrity and readers’ trust. Regardless, even if we put something on the advertorial side that directly contravenes, the editor will chuck it out”, Tiffanie commented. Sam’s views reflected this “Our audiences trust us and trust editorial teams, so when it comes to KPIs, it’s always readers first. If we know our audiences aren’t going to like something, we are not going to run it”.

Setting benchmarks

“There is massive value on top of the traditional channels, that is why when working on multi-platform campaigns, there is a growing need for our industry to measure and monetise our social media strategies”, Jon commented. Tiffanie added, “Martin Sowers, Mr WPP, was quite clear that the bar for measuring digital engagement is really low and needs to be higher, because people aren’t engaging with it the way they would engage with a print or a native digital product.” There is also a disparity of ad spend compared to the reach of print and the reach of mobile. When it comes to ROI of print sales, these offer more ‘solid’ calculations; mobile channels are enormous and cannot be sold out in the same sense; their reach is in the  millions, but clients don’t buy as much as they should and don’t use it as innovatively as they’d like. Tiffanie added “Have you seen a piece of mobile advertising lately? It’s a really annoying distraction – if you watch someone reading a newspaper, they have a one to one relationship spending 20 mins reading it, which is really interesting in the online era”.

In terms of measuring results, Tiffanie mentioned that her team use Unruly, the video sharing agency; they predict how successful a campaign can be, not by views but by shares. They use a different way of measuring engagement, a different level of analytics. Other agencies may run top 10 videos in terms of views for example, but anyone can buy views by buying space. The key is behind paywalls, measuring real engagement, not via watch. Facebook is trying to go in with publishing organisations, and its targeting has certainly the ability to target, as Tiffanie mentioned, but the issue is the level of engagement they claim; “video view is 3 seconds, as much as it takes you to scroll from the top to the bottom of the screen, which a lot of sensible people would argue is not a decent level of engagement”.

“Have any metrics ever made any sense at all?” Jon added. “Don’t always measure it – I’d argue that, in our lives, not all things are about sharing nor are solid or can be measured. It could be that someone clicked the wrong link and they’re trying to close the video; we all need to be honest and that’s not easy when a client is asking for something that’s not possible”. As an example of this, Jon mentioned that his team worked on a campaign with “Time To Change”, around depression and mental illness. “People immediately switch off when they feel uncomfortable, and they may not share content due to the associations attached. So we needed a different way to measure results beyond video shares; we reached out to our regular celebrity contacts and that became our social campaign, simple to do and easy to measure”.

Evidently, reader panels are also part of every campaign produced and every report sent to clients; they are used usually at the beginning, middle, and end of the campaign to measure effectiveness. As an example, Tiffanie mentioned a Hunger Games’ campaign from last year “We ran a feature around ‘what you need to know if you haven’t watched it’ by the reader panel; three weeks later, they have acted upon it by watching the movie, because we triggered their curiosity”. Tiffanie added “You’ve got to be able to measure; digital platforms need to be measured real time, that’s why they are unique”.

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How to work with media houses on content solutions

The panel agreed that it’s best to get in touch with them at the beginning, get them involved early so they can draft a content plan based on their audience insight. Tiffanie commented, “the sooner we can get around the table, the better. Be open and truthful – say we have a brand, and these are their challenges; for brands, it’s easy to focus on product facts, but we can advise in depth as we know that these facts alone are not always engaging with people”.  The next steps are for the planning team, the PR team and the brand to sit together, and use audience insights to come up with the central concept, which will later be broken down by platform.

In terms of budgets, Sam and Tiffanie highlighted that no budget is too small, as they’ve run campaigns between £10-30k, while Jon’s team worked with a client who simply wanted all the potato recipes in their archive; “we had about 12,000 they bought 5 and they didn’t cost a lot at all, almost the combined change in our pockets right now, so I’ve beat you both!”.

 


WEARABLE TECH SHOW 2014: TRENDS TO WATCH

By Maria Loupa

One of the biggest European Wearable shows took place in London’s Olympia last week, on the 18-19 March. In this year’s expo, we saw a variety of companies tapping in the wearable market, from smart watches, fitness trackers, face-mounted computers, and smart jewellery. Differentiators depend on capability, design and of course, price. Taking a variety of forms, from clip-ons and wristbands to “smart” onesies, bras and socks, the list was endless.

The two-day conference saw speakers and vendors from around the world. It’s definitely an exciting time for wearables, and we were there getting our hands on as many smart devices as possible.

The different types of wearables covered fashion, sports and fitness, health and M2M, which more often than not crossed paths. There was also a developer hack fest and a business start up track, as well as live product demo and an exhibition, giving companies the chance to show off products to anyone attending the event. Finally, the event also hosted ‘The Wearables’, an awards ceremony recognising the UK’s leading large and small companies in the sector.

Smartwatches and wristbands

Plain and simple, bulky or sophisticated, one thing is for sure:  smartwatches have potential but their success will be directly proportional to how easy they will be to use and of course, whether they are serving a useful purpose. Additional elements would be being fashionable, comfortable and supporting a wide variety of apps.

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Among others, a screen-less, seemingly traditional watch that works with a SIM card and a handful of pressable keys and can both place and receive calls caught my eye. Ideal for a night out without having to worry for anyone nicking your £600 phone I’d say.

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One of my favourite gadgets will have to be the gesture band concept which looks as if taken out of the movie “Click”. Working on simple pointing and waving gestures, with receivers hooked up to appliances around the home or office, its application can expand on pretty much any field but can be incredibly beneficial for healthcare purposes.

Fitness trackers

Smart clothing is a seemingly peculiar but promising area. With a lot of the items at the expo resembling super-hero costumes, the tight kind, it’s obvious that the focus is on tracking and feedback based on data from sensors close to the body. Tracking pretty much everything that uses current applied through the skin, you can keep track of your heart-rate, sleep, perspiration, skin temperature, stress levels, fat content, muscle strength and so on. The same goes for wristbands as well.

Health-related recommendations are taking a more practical approach. Smart clothes with inbuilt heating system to keep you warm when your temperature lowers; super-thin stainless steel fibres that feel like wool; smart bands that can be snapped around your wrist; UVA measuring wrist-bands that can measure light and UV exposure can support a variety of smart features. Trackers that can be attached on any piece of sport equipment like a snowboard can provide an accurate reading of measurements of each move of an athlete’s performance.

Jewellery & fashion

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Fashion is gradually becoming more important in the world of wearable tech, as more gadgets take fashionability, wearablility and durability into consideration. But as the Expo proved, they can work the other way around too, with predominantly fashion items borrowing tech elements. Interactive NFC technology can be used to imbue jewellery and skirts with a personal emotive message, video or photos, while seemingly normal shoes can light up upon a camera flash.

Eyewear & Ear wear

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Augmented reality goggles are definitely a strong player in wearables. From riding a roller-coaster to checking if a chest of drawers you want to order can fit in your apartment, the simple and cool 3D headset along with an augmented reality app held a special place in my heart. From gaming to interior design, whatever it may be that you want to experience, you can basically customise your own virtual reality by downloading the app, sliding your own smartphone across the front of the goggles and enjoy!

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Another notable series of eyewear, brings sci-fi movies to mind due to its design and capabilities.  Aimed mostly at enterprise, it offers hands-free access to information; it’s built around an Android smartphone without the cellular connectivity, camera complete with zoom, responds to voice commands and allows headset to headset communication. Additionally, experimentation with lenses on the inside and the outside of the frame and tiny high-res screens that won’t draw unwanted attention are definitely a great platform for innovation in the field.

What can complement an augmented reality experience can also come from… the ears!  We tried on a smart headset with 3D audio, which was particularly fun when demoed as part of a live concert experience. 3D audio effectively means that you can hear sounds differently depending on how you’re positioned, thanks to location-aware technology. It would be interesting to see how this one evolves passed the obvious entertainment applications.

As an alternative to scanners and QR code reading apps, the concept of a piece of eyewear with an embedded QR code and barcode reader was also appealing.

Finally, nano-coating technology seems to be a definite emerging trend. With nanotechnology applied to the inside of devices that can protect electronics from failure due to full submersion in water and other corrosive liquids. This advancement can have many applications, including potentially a solution to the overheating and prolonging life span of computers.

Final thoughts

The majority of the gadgets at the Expo are already available at the market or being released after May this year. Eventually, we’ll see a retail price tag on most of them. With more and more big and small companies involved, the pressure will be on releasing a competing product from every aspect.

However, the real challenge with wearables would be to show some real end-user benefit. While the focus is largely put on the technology, a lot of these devices are taking tracking and measurement a step further. It will be interesting to watch the developments on how the data will be gathered and interpreted to enhance customer experiences.

*As it appeared on http://www.techbm.co.uk/wearable-tech-show-2014-trends-to-watch/.

For more information on the Wearable Technology show you can visit http://www.wearabletechnologyshow.net/.

 


Digital Communication Awards 2013

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It’s been a while.. Since the last time I blogged, a lot has happened. The most significant change being that Tales from the North East moved South- I moved from Newcastle to London, therefore the name of this blog had to be changed slightly!

Another very, very important thing that happened in this time, is that I was shortlisted for a Digital Communication Award for my master thesis,  “Social media in the Public Sector: Hit or Miss? A comparative study on the effectiveness of social media as a PR tool”, which I consider a great honour and true testament that if you love what you do, great things can happen.

Hosted by the Quadriga University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, the Digital Communication Awards are the first awards in European PR and communications that exclusively honour outstanding achievements in online communication. There are 38 award categories that cover all disciplines from social media communications to digital public affairs and explore the full range of the profession, providing a comprehensive look at exemplary best cases. 

In its third year, almost 600 applications from 38 countries were submitted for the Digital Communication Awards, and we all presented our digital communication projects and campaigns to an international jury. Unfortunately, due to a series of unfortunate events, I was unable to showcase my work in the way I would have wanted to.

However, overall it was a great experience and I can’t thank Quadriga University enough for their kind invitation and impeccable hosting. Meeting a “jury of legends” -as they were called in my head- was humbling and thrilling at the same time. A massive thank you should also go to Northumberland & Monmouthshire County Councils, as well as many UK PR professionals who contributed to my research.

The gala ceremony was hosted at Berlin’s Meistersaal. Stars like David Bowie, U2 and Depeche Mode once turned the stunning Meistersaal into a modern legend. The charming presenter Hadnet Tesfai led through the evening, making every winner feel comfortable on stage and the show unforgettable. The event itself was a great opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people within the PR and Communications industry from around the world and talk about their work and their -shortlisted or winning- campaigns.

The experience of joining the Awards this year benefitted me more on an academic level- a few days after the ceremony, I was contacted by a person working on a project in the Energy Sector of US Government, interesting in my research. In my opinion, sharing best practice is one of the best things that one can do, that is why I was not only flattered but truly interested in helping. Digital media strategies in the public -and energy sector- is a very intriguing matter and to see more and more people looking into it is a massive step forward. As an extension to this, I was also invited to speak to a conference in Canada next year, and hopefully I will be able to share some information in the immediate future.

Going back to the event, do I wish I’ve done certain things differently? Every day. Would I do it again? Absolutely. And better.

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For more information on the awards, you can visit http://www.digital-awards.eu/.

You can download the complete list of the winners 2013 here.


Facebook versus Twitter in the public sector

Maria Loupa has created this insightful infographic exploring the use of Facebook and Twitter in the public sector as a means for Councils to connect directly with their audiences. It is based on her experience working in various local authority roles in the UK.

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The infographic was created using easel.ly. Its a neat cloud based service for building online graphics.

About the author
Maria Loupa is a communications intern at Northumberland County Council. She is a highly motivated communications practitioner and advocate of social media as a means of audience engagement. You can connect with her via her blog Tales from the North East, LinkedIn or Twitter @mpfalangi.

*As published in http://wadds.co.uk/2013/03/13/guest-post-facebook-versus-twitter-in-the-public-sector/


Tips on social media for local government

 

In some cases local government and social media don’t mix. Many councils haven’t been actively using Facebook and Twitter and that has to change. It can be a long and complicated process. Here are some tips to get you started.

by Maria Loupa 

Plan ahead

  • It is vital to understand that SM should form part of an overall comms plan

A comms strategy should be already in place and social media will be integrated gradually into it.

You need to comprehend the mentality behind each channel; each organisation is completely different and tools need to be customised to its needs. You need to experiment and see what works; different tools might apply to particular campaigns.

  • You need to consider your social media involvement carefully; once you decide to go for it, you have to go all the way.

As we recently heard from #RUDay ‘You can’t be half pregnant’. If you are not prepared to put the resource and effort behind social media, maybe it’s not for you. Lack of time shouldn’t be an excuse, as social media are gradually becoming part of the press office duties at the very least. Tweetdeck, Sendible and the likes can be used to schedule posts.

Don’t forget that social media channels have to run as a constant campaign, which is occasionally customised to each project’s purposes; messages have to be consistent and coherent and a combination of the tools helps achieve best results.

  • There has to be at least one devoted social media person able to understand how social media work, and you might want to start considering implementing a social media policy or guidelines for the rest of the staff as well.

Tweets and posts can for sure be deleted, but once they go live they can be retweeted and shared, and there’s no recovering them. Also, people respond best to authentic communication; so it’s advisable to use a more personal tone even on official profiles- in moderation-.

Keep in mind that it is best not to have more than 3 accounts in each channel because it will be hard to keep them regularly updated, plus it will confuse people and discourage them from using them

  • Evaluation and measurement

Evaluation is part of the planning procedure; what is the point of implementing a strategy if you can’t measure whether it’s effective or not? The key principles of social media presence are: Listen, Measure Understand and Engage, and you will definitely need an evaluation and measurement tool to follow them. The list is endless, you just have to find which one works for your organisation:  Google analytics, Tweetstats, Backtype, Nearbytweets Netvibes Social Oomph, Radian6, Sprout social, Hoot suite, Google Insights, Social Mention,  Sysomos… even Facebook Insights can get you started!

Most of them can produce reports, conduct comparison with competitors, search conversation history, etc. and give the opportunity to:

i.         check the competition- see how other councils are doing; there is hardly any virgin birth anymore, so why not see what worked best for someone else and give it a try.

  ii.         Monitor conversations about your council; what is your audience and what do they say about you? You could even use Twitter’s much under-estimated Search feature for that.- Understand your audience in order to be able to engage with them effectively.

Practical tips

Facebook:

  1. Works best to promote future events/announcements, as it allows more long-term involvement on thread.
  2. Competitions/surveys are also most effective on Facebook, as it allows for more visual elements; an image is more powerful and will generate much more click-troughs than plain text.
  3. The first few lines are the most important ones; hook your audience, use capitals, slogans & abbreviations if necessary to keep their attention and click through to read more. If you are including a link (esp. to link back to your website or your other social media channels), make sure it’s within these lines.

If the link is too long or confusing use a Bitlly or Tinyurl to shorten links and make them more memorable. Customising links will make evaluation easier too as they can be better used by the relevant tools; by allowing you to access analytics and see how many people are clicking on your links. This is information that you often wouldn’t have access to when posting links on social channels.

4. There is a time and a place for everything. Avoid posting to Facebook after 8 p.m. and before 8 a.m., and on the weekend.

Links posted from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. result in the highest average click through, with the peak time of the week being Wednesday at 3 p.m.

5. Communicate information without spamming; the last thing people want is log on to Facebook to find an endless line of posts from the council on their Timeline; they will most likely either unlike the page or they can now customise their settings to hide updates from your pages.

 For Twitter:

  1. The old KISS rule applies (Keep it short and sweet) – Tweets must be under 140 characters, however try and keep it around 120/125 to allow for re-tweets.
  2. Use abbreviations where possible to avoid wasting characters- use figures and symbols where possible.

Sometimes grammatical sins have to be committed, but due to the nature of the organisation they have to be kept at a minimum- opt for most widely used abbreviations instead of making new ones up!

Twitter works best with real time events/announcements and a more Q & A approach, and can be very effective to start conversations and initiate two-way communication. Since it is by nature much faster paced than Facebook, it is possible for people to skim past tweets and miss them. In order to tackle that and remind to your audience of an event, it is advisable to tweet about it multiple times with slight word variations but in moderation- avoid spamming.

3. Use dedicated hash tags for specific campaigns, or whenever you consider it appropriate, in order to increase the visibility of your tweets

4. Part of Twitter savoir-faire- If you retweet someone, add RT; if you RT  and edit it change the RT to MT

5. The best time to post to Twitter is in the afternoon, early in the week—from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.The peak traffic times, are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Last but not least, both Facebook and Twitter can be used to drive traffic to the website and as excellent customer service tool.

Any feedback or additional thoughts will not just be welcome but appreciated!

Maria Loupa is comms intern at Northumberland County Council.

*As published in http://twoheads.squarespace.com/comms2point0/2012/12/20/tips-on-social-media-for-local-government.html


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