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Three tips for running a great tweetup

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Tweetup tips from Raytheon air show

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Farnborough International Airshow as a guest of Raytheon’s #meetRay tweetup.

As a bit of an aviation geek, I enjoyed the day tremendously – there’s a lot to be said for gaining VIP access (and shelter from the rain) – but what I found really impressive was the way the event was hosted.

Considering that this was Raytheon’s first international tweetup (with several participants flying from America to attend) I thought that there were several key things that other companies looking to host similar events should think about:

1. Regular communication leading up to the event

Raytheon’s social media manager kept participants up to date by email, with about one a week for the month leading up to the airshow. There was plenty of information on the itinerary, what to expect and bring, and who we would be meeting from the team on the day.

We also got to find out a bit about who the other participants would be thanks to a Twitter list of the guests, allowing the group to check out each other’s bios or follow their tweets.

During the run up to the event the @Raytheon twitter account also published mini-bios if an attendee sent one in by email. I forgot to do this opted to remain mysterious, so here is another example:

2. Use your team to give people options

While everybody at an event like this will share common interests, the group had a variety of backgrounds and Raytheon’s team did well to allow a flexible programme. In the afternoon the group split to tour different areas of the show - with the majority going for the space technology route with a former NASA employee. Being more into aircraft, I went along with a smaller group to view the flight line with a former pilot.

If you are running a similar event, it would be a good idea to take all the areas of expertise that you cover - to offer a varied and engaging programme. When everyone came back together to watch the last afternoon’s flying, there was lots of discussion about what each group had experienced, so splitting off doesn’t mean breaking up the group feel.

We were also given the option to stay later than originally scheduled, to catch all the flying displays. Unsurprisingly almost everybody took that option to stay for as long as possible!

3. Keep everyone connected

This might go without saying - but was no mean feat. Many of the tweetup veterans were impressed with the Wi-Fi, but it went beyond that, as Raytheon had a slew of power points and chargers available, as well as loan laptops. Everyone was there to enjoy the day, but being able to update in real time is what it’s all about. No need for worries about roaming data!

It also goes beyond the day itself - part of the appeal of a tweetup is bringing people together and the event itself is in an odd way just the beginning. The #meetRay hashtag is still being used several days later as the group keeps in touch, and we haven’t even begun sharing the many, many photos that were shot on the day.

Social media vs traditional news sources: How the UK differs from other countries

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The first Reuters Institute Digital Report has attracted much coverage in the UK for the finding that 16-24 year olds in this country now use social media as their primary news source. This highlights the changing way that consumers are getting information, and what they are doing with it. But perhaps more interesting for us to learn from is how social media as a new source varies by country - showing not only how consumer behaviour changes by market, but how traditional brands are innovating.

Traditional brands vs aggregators vs social media

Traditional brands vs aggregators vs social media

The research, conducted by YouGov, compares news consumption in the UK, USA, Germany, France and Denmark, looking at how traditional brands (online news and broadcasters) compares with aggregators (such as Google News) and social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter and the like).

Behaviour in these countries varies, with the USA leading for use of social media as a news source (41% of all consumers), followed by Germany (30%) and Denmark (28%) before the UK (22%) and France (21%). So when compared against these countries, use of social media for news in the UK appears to be less developed than reports are suggesting. However, the truth is probably a little more complex than this.

In the UK, traditional news sources are still very strong - with 86% of consumers having used them in the previous week; and it is striking to compare this with Germany and France where only 69% of consumers have gone to these sources. Perhaps there is a connection between the relatively high use of traditional news sources in the UK, and the relatively low use of social media when compared to the other countries in the study.

The study distinguishes social media sites (Facebook, blogs and Twitter) from traditional brands - focusing on the different places that people get information. However, how social media is changing consumer behaviour is often less about the places people go and more about the changed behaviour itself. And in the UK, the more traditional news brands have been fast to change the way they engage with their audiences - the BBC and Guardian, for example, have been quick to innovate with live blogging, data journalism and other ways to adapt their delivery of information as consumer behaviours change.

So, in the UK at least it is these ‘traditional’ news brands that are offering the new ways of engaging with people and content that better reflect how consumer behaviour itself is changing.

The impact of social media on news, as with any industry, should not just be measured in how many people go to new destinations for content and information. Perhaps even more important is to look at how traditional players in the market innovate and change as consumer behaviour itself changes; how they offer new and engaging services which mean that consumers don’t look elsewhere for their needs.

Formula One team social media rankings

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Formula 1 leaders social mediaI am a big fan of Formula 1 - I love the drama, the competition, the nerdy technology - it’s quite a bit like social media!

As Formula 1 travels the globe, there are plenty of opportunities for social media channels to show fans some of what goes on behind the scenes. Of course, it also presents plenty of scope for promotion of those crucial sponsors. Commercial activity can range from branded pages and contests to a driver-branded version of  Angry Birds (yes, really).

With the British Grand Prix just around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to assess the performance of the Formula 1 team’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, and see who is ahead of the pack.

Formula 1 teams on Twitter

We put the primary, team Twitter accounts from each team into PeerIndex to create the following ranking:

Ferrari are out front, and Caterham are close behind despite their weaker results on track.

Ferrari’s Twitter feed makes for interesting reading, as each Tweet goes out three times - in Italian, English and Spanish. That’s commitment to the fanbase and provides a really good example of taking the international audience into account when using social media.

The Facebook Formula 1 ranking

When it comes to Facebook, we are less interested in total fans and likes than we are in engagement. In order to score the teams equally, we have created a rough ranking that takes their “people talking about” metric divided by the total fans.

Ranking F1 team Facebook pagesWhile they are getting lapped on Twitter, Mercedes AMG are dominating with their Facebook page - posting a variety of content and at a regular rate that doesn’t lead to overloading their fans.

Marussia once again punch far above their on-track weight, however with the smallest page on the grid, their engagement levels perform well with relatively low numbers of people talking about them.

It should be noted that Ferrari’s impressive number of fans is due to being the page for the iconic brand itself, as there is no F1 specific page.

The most surprising result is last-place McLaren - they have one of the largest pages but are failing to engage their fans, and just before the home Grand Prix. From examining their page, it appears that updates are few and far between (in one case, no posts between 8-20 June) which goes to show the importance of nurturing your audience if you want them to interact on Facebook.

Image credit: nic r on Flickr

5 tools to keep you up to date with the news

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Keeping track of news on twitterIt has never been more easy to be better informed. The social web has altered how we find and consume information, and also who is sharing it.

Think about how you came to find this post. What led you here? Maybe it appeared in your search results, perhaps in your Twitter feed or even an old fashioned email.

I’d argue that Twitter has been one of the catalysts for this. As an extremely simple, open platform which is based around short and easily digestible pieces of text it was built for sharing news.

However, there’s a challenge amongst all of this. How do you cut through the noise of all the conversation to find the information you want to read? How do you slow the flow to something your brain can keep pace with?

I wanted to share some tools that I’ve been using which have helped me:

Flipboard

An iOS app (and currently in beta for Android) which presents a beautiful, magazine style representation of links from various sources. You literally flip through pages of stories and photos from the places you want to keep an eye on.

One of the most useful features is the ability to read through only the links from your Twitter timeline. I find this extremely useful to keep track of the great things people have shared.

Reeder

Again, another iOS app, but this one allows you to read your Google Reader offline.

If you’ve not set up a Google Reader account, it’s definitely worth it. It’s based on RSS, which is a way of subscribing to content posted by almost every website.

I like Reeder because it has some great sharing features. You can instantly post out articles you like to Twitter or Facebook, which brings me to my next point:

Instapaper

Have you ever seen an article or post that you really wanted to read, but didn’t have time? Instapaper is a great way to save those articles for later reading.

One of its nicest features is the ability to remove ads and other formatting from articles so they’re presented in a clean, almost newspaper like format for easy reading.

Storify

This is a great tool for keeping track of Twitter conversations. Twitter’s speed is great for getting access to the latest news, but can be maddening when you try and keep track of what was shared by whom and with what comment.

Storify let’s you track all of that, and presents the results in an easy to share story format so you can share with others.

Last, but not least: your own blog

This has been perhaps the best tool for me in keeping track of the things I like. If I find an article or post which inspires me or prompts a comment I post it as a link post on my own blog.

It means I can keep track of my views on a particular topic by sharing them with people.

Image credit: faunng on flickr

Beating social media trolls

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You may have already seen yesterday’s news that the Secretary of State for Justice, Kenneth Clarke, has proposed changes to British defamation laws which could see websites obliged to hand over personal details (including IP address) of those posting defamatory messages online.

A number of high-profile cases of online trolling and cyberbullying have become big news of late including those of Nicola Brookes and Louise Mensch MP. The idea behind the change to the law is about shifting responsibility for user-generated content from the web platforms (who are currently treated as the ‘publisher’ under existing libel laws) to the user themselves.

We think that the change is a sensible one. It simply doesn’t make sense for websites like Facebook (25m UK users) and Twitter (10m UK users) to be held responsible for every word written on their platforms – policing content would be an impossible in terms of both the scale of the job and lack of context for judging whether offending posts are indeed defamatory or threatening.

Last night Al Jazeera English interviewed me about this and asked why I think the changes proposed are a good thing for our freedom of speech. So why do I think that? Well, at the moment, as a user of social networks and blogs, if I take offence at something someone says to me, I can contact the platform in question and demand that I want the content removed. The platform, lacking context and in fear of being responsible for potentially libellous or otherwise illegal content more often than not will just remove it – regardless of whether a law has been broken or not. And if the law is broken it would take extremely costly legal action (as in the case of Nicola Brookes) to get a website to reveal the identities of the law breaker.

Under the proposed changes, if I feel genuinely aggrieved and can provide context to prove I have a case, not only can I have the offending content removed, I can have the identity of the troll revealed to me so that I can take appropriate legal action.

The message: that trolls and cyberbullies with fake names and photo-less profiles can no longer hide behind a cloak of anonymity when they fail to act responsibly online.

How to avoid being the victim of trolls

Anyone who engages online - both individuals and brands – is at risk of becoming the victims of trolling. Here are some top tips to help you avoid being a victim:

1. Privacy settings
Tightly controlled privacy settings will help you control who can engage with you online and the places where they can do it. The tighter these are the less likely it is that trolls will be able to infringe on your most ‘personal’ places online – inbox, Facebook wall and in your newsfeeds etc

2. Know your enemy
Is the perpetrator really a troll? What can you find out about them by looking at their profile? Clearly using a pseudonym? Faceless profile photo? Lots of activity on their profile in a similarly negative vein? You may well have yourself a troll.

3. Don’t feed the trolls
A piece of advice I often to give to brands I work with who are worried about trolling is that 99% of the time the best thing to say is nothing at all.Trolls thrive on the attention they get and knowing that they’ve caused offence or got a similar reaction. If you can, avoid getting involved and tell your friends and family (or indeed colleagues) to do the same and they’ll usually just go away.