Archive for the ‘Alex Truby’ Category.

Beating social media trolls


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.

Labour or Conservatives: Who’s making the best use of Facebook?


In the UK, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have been the main political rivals since the start of the 20th Century. Today they are vying to capture the hearts and minds of voters on Facebook. But how well are they doing? Here’s a nonpartisan analysis of what these two parties are doing using this social network, and what we can learn from them.

We used the  Engagement Analytics tool by Socialbakers to compare both pages. Audience size for the parties is relatively even, but the Conservatives have certainly taken a lead here.

Conservative and Labour Party Facebook statistics

However, at FreshNetworks we believe that the real indicator of success of a Facebook page isn’t its audience size but the level of engagement. More on that later…

1. Content strategies

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour seem to have developed the type of content strategy that we would always recommend for our clients.

In fact, it appears that both pages seem to be almost purely focussed on sharing links to blog posts and articles on their respective websites. We find that a rich mixture of content, including photos and albums, as well as short, punchy status updates and questions are great for engaging audiences. Our experience is that links shared direct to the newsfeed are often the least engaging of all Facebook post types.

2. Post frequency

Conservative and Labour Party Facebook post frequency

Probably the biggest difference between the parties in how they use Facebook is the frequency at which they post content, and as far as we’re concerned, neither is getting quite right.

We’d say that it’s Labour who have got it most wrong however, as they are almost certainly over-sharing. Take a look at the graph above – now, we think there’s nothing wrong with posting every day if the message is right, but 11 posts in one day? Even the most ardent fan of your brand (or in this case political supporter) is going to suffer from at least mild fatigue at all those updates. In total over the three month period we monitored, Labour posted 284 times – an average of three posts a day, seven days a week.

At the other end of the spectrum, is the Conservative party who definitely seem to have a ‘less is more’ attitude to sharing content with their Facebook fans – never posting more than once in a day, and often with several days between posts. Over the same three month period they posted just 10 times.

With a proper content plan to support their social media strategies, we think both parties could probably do with meeting somewhere in the middle on post frequencies. It’s all about putting out the right content, at the right time of day for your audience, without over-sharing, but whilst maintaining an ongoing flow of conversation with your audience.

3. Engagement

So what about the all-important engagement rate?

It seems by posting so much less than Labour, the Conservatives have won-out in terms of engaging their audience with an engagement rate of three and a half times that of that their rivals. The number of total interactions by Labour’s Facebook fans might be six times higher, but that’s not so great when you think that they’ve posted 28 times as many posts to Facebook.

So what have we learned?

Well, the Conservatives do have a better engagement rate AND more fans, but we don’t think they’ve delivered any knock-out punches with their Facebook page. They would probably benefit from posting a little bit more than they do, and Labour definitely needs to stop posting so much. Most importantly though, is the content. Content is king and neither party has got it right. Politics is an emotive topic, and over 50% of eligible voters will vote for one of these parties at the next election. There are huge issues to debate out there, and both sides could do with striking up more of a debate with their audience by asking more questions and relaying soundbites of party leaders. More photos shared into the newsfeed can really help tell more of a story, not to mention catching the eye of fans in their newsfeeds.

Lady Gaga vs Rihanna. Who rocks the most at social media?


They’re arguably the two biggest stars on the planet and both Lady Gaga and Rihanna have famously made incredibly innovative use of social media to get real commercial advantage. But which is using social media with the greatest effect, and which is most successful at actually engaging her fans?

On Facebook, these pop queens have both built massive audiences (Rihanna and Lady Gaga have the 5th and 6th biggest pages respectively – only Facebook itself, Texas Hold’em Poker, Eminem, and Youtube have more fans, in case you were interested) with both hurtling towards a cool 50 million fans each.

Long hailed as the queen of social media, Lady Gaga was the first living music artist to reach 10,000,000 Facebook fans, but last year Rihanna famously  leap-frogged Lady Gaga to become the most popular woman on Facebook.

However, huge numbers of Facebook fans are one thing, but what we’re really interested is who’s audience is the most engaged? If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know this is how we really rate the success of a Facebook page. To find the answer, we turned to social analytics tool Social Bakers to find who really is on the edge of glory (Sorry – ed)

And the winner is…

Yep. You probably guessed it - it’s Lady Gaga. Ri-Ri might have the largest and fastest growing audience (her fan numbers are currently growing at a rate of 2% a month compare to Lady Gaga’s 1%) but it’s Lady Gaga who truly keeps her ‘Little Monsters’ coming back for more.

Over the last month, Lady Gaga’s fans have interacted on her page nearly a million times more than Rihanna’s fans giving her an engagement rate over twice that of her rival.

Now, we know that Lady Gaga gave away a music single to her fans as part of iTunes’ 12 Days of Christmas which definitely gave her a spike in social media buzz, but as you can see from the graph below  even without that, her engagement level is consistently around twice that of Rihanna.

Here are a few of our tips on how we think Rihanna should fight back:

Cut the number of links posted to the wall

In our experience, images and Status Updates work much better in the Facebook newsfeed than posted links which are what Rihanna’s team seem to favour. Of 41 posts in the month, Gaga posted 31 status updates and 8 photos, while Rihanna (whose team also posted 41 times) went for 23 links. And eight photos. We find across all our communities that posted links – as a rule – just don’t get the engagement rates that other post types do.

Let your fans post to your wall

Except in exceptional circumstances we would always recommend our clients let fans post to their Facebook wall. It’s much more inclusive and welcoming and gives people a nice warm fuzzy feeling. Lady Gaga lets fan do it. Rihanna should do.

Be more concise

People have short attention spans and overly long status updates don’t do anybody any favours. Keep it short and sweet. Rihanna’s roughly seem to be about as twice as long as Gaga’s do – Oh na na, it’s a no-no.

Why we’ve created a FreshNetworks Google+ Page (and not a Facebook Page)


Image courtesy of

The launch of business and brand pages for Google + has generated a lot of thought here at FreshNetworks this week.

As such, we’ve decided to create our very own FreshNetworks Google+ page. We think Google + will be a good place for us to talk about our business and share our blog  content. This is despite the fact that we’ve never had a Facebook Page (and probably never will).

Why not Facebook?

Don’t get me wrong. We LOVE Facebook brand pages (we run a number of incredibly successful Facebook pages for our clients and advise others on how to make the most of theirs). But when it came to setting up one of our own we just didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do.

Why? Well we always advise our clients to think about what they want to achieve strategically through Facebook, and as other channels like our blog and Twitter are working so well for us we didn’t want to just set up a Facebook page for the sake of it.

We also questioned if our audience really wanted to engage with us on Facebook - the average person who logs into Facebook wants to be engaged and entertained by their family, friends and their favourite brands, and so it just didn’t feel like the right place for us to have a brand presence.

So why a Google+ Page?

We decided that a Google+ page for FreshNetworks was the right move for a number of reasons, the main crux of it being that we think that Google+ is going to have a real impact on search results. Any regular reader of our blog will know that we have lots to say about the world of social media and we want to be heard. Like any B2B business (or B2C for that matter), search is a hugely important way of generating new business leads. Social search is going to become BIG news and we want in.

We also feel that Google+, as it stands at the moment, is a much better social network for B2B marketing. It might sound like a clumsy comparison and we might be proved wrong but right now Google+ feels well placed to fill the middle ground between Facebook and LinkedIn. The people who talk about our industry day in, day out are all on Google+ and the advanced segmentation tools make it perfect for business-focused social networking. That’s why we’re there. We’d love you to come and say hello and visit our Google+ page .

The power of customer advocacy in a social media crisis



Image by PhotoGraham via Flickr

Every brand with a Facebook page is at risk of a social media crisis. It could arise from any number of scenarios - from ostensibly innocuous customer complaints to a huge backlash against your perceived values. A brand’s Facebook wall is now often the first stop for anyone wanting to make their fury known, and if word of that fury spreads you may find yourself on the receiving-end of a seemingly endless barrage of complaints.

Knowing how and when to respond is essential and we would always recommend a detailed crisis management plan and escalation policy as a top priority to any company using social media. It is not always appropriate for you to respond to comments online and a good crisis management plan will clearly lay out when you should respond (and how) and when you shouldn’t.

However, in addition to what you do and how your brand responds, the best brands in social media often don’t have to respond at all. Their advocates do it for them. There are always some issues and queries that you will need to respond to (specific details of their account, complaints about your service) but in many cases having other customers to respond instead of you (or as well as you) can be even more powerful.

There can be a temptation to think that only the most lauded brands such as Apple or Gucci have strong advocates, but this is not true. Every brand has advocates, people who are loyal to your brand, products, people or services and will go out of their way to tell others about this. Identifying your advocates is one task, you then need to cultivate and build relationships with them online.

Here are three tips of how you can build relationships with advocates online:

1. Involve them in your product development processes

When we work with advocates for brands, the thing they most often discuss is ideas for the brand. Things they know don’t always work in the product. Ways the product could be improved. Things they have seen that competitors and substitutes do. Advocates are often the people who have the deepest knowledge of your product and want to talk to you about it. If you make it easy for them to do this and give them access to real decision makers at your brand you will build huge social credibility with them.

2. Let them try new products first

Advocates want to try your products and will tell others about them. Whilst giving out endless freebies is not a sustainable or sensible policy, giving samples of products (especially new products) to those who advocate your brand makes sense. They will give you instant and honest feedback, will feel rewarded by getting access to product before anybody else, and will help you to spread the message about your product before its launched.

3. Get to know them

Finally, but most importantly, you need to get to know your advocates. Spend time talking to them and getting to know them so that you can have a conversation with them on a human level. On a Facebook page that we run for pet owners we know the names of our advocates dogs, we chat to them about what their dogs have done at the weekend and know when it is their birthdays. Why? Because we’re genuinely interested in them as people and as dog owners and want to get to know them. If you are to make the most of your advocates you have to be genuinely interested in them and in their lives. This kind of honesty will be clear to them and will mean that you can have a real interaction with them on a human level.