Archive for the ‘Social media management’ Category.

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.

Facebook ads - focus on growing and engaging your fan base

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General Motors Facebook adsFacebook has been very much in the spotlight, with a great amount of press attention on the run-up to last week’s IPO and the company’s recent stock performance.

One big headline was the announcement that General Motors was pulling its $10million Facebook ads account. This has clearly rocked confidence in the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook, but may not come as a surprise to many, as a social media setting is not necessarily the prime location for people seeking product information on a car.

It is important to note that while GM may be pulling its advertising, it will continue to develop its large Facebook presence across its brand pages, and keep a focus on engagement.

Here at FreshNetworks we take the approach that Facebook ads need to be aimed at growing the audience and engagement level of a page or app. By keeping ads within Facebook itself, the barrier to entry for a prospective fan is much lower than sending them to an external site.  Having said that, there are some important steps to consider when planning a Facebook ad campaign:

Testing the effectiveness of a Facebook ad

As with any marketing activity, you need to test and evaluate various approaches before committing a large outlay to a campaign.

What metrics should you be looking at?

While the click-through-rate is an important measurement, we’ve found that optimisation should be focussed on Facebook’s “Connections” metric, which measures activity in terms of engagement (likes, comments, app use etc.) so that the effective reach of your ad is maximised.

Optimising your Facebook ads

Splitting your adverts into campaigns makes it much easier to segment them according to target audience and content. We’ve found that breaking your ads up into campaigns of five ads each makes it much easier to manage and measure the effectiveness of particular ads.

Selection and formatting of images is vital. The imagery used obviously has to be eye-catching, but also something that is personalised and relevant to your target audience.

Following up a Facebook ad campaign

Once you have tested, optimised, and run your Facebook ad campaign, it’s important to carry the momentum and keep your new audience engaged. As with any social media activity, it is important to keep a clear strategy in mind, and determine why a new fan will want to come back to your page or engage with you.

To really understand social media, you must also understand online communities

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Audience at a Dan Deacon concert

It is very easy to get excited by social media. By “Likes” and “Follows”. To think about the tools you can use. To worry about creating content. To feel you must rush to be on the latest platform or site. But in all this excitement it can be easy to forget something that is more important than the tools, platforms and sites that you can make use of - the skills and expertise you need to identify, manage and grow a true online community.

When we talk about social media we are really only talking about tools that we can use to help us and the people we engage to achieve a task. To make a success in social media we need to understand online communities. For those of us who have been working in this space for many years this has long been the basis of all our work.

What is an online community?

There is a temptation to assume that all use of social media is the same - that we are ‘doing social media’. But this is just not true. There is a fundamental difference in how people behave when they are primarily in a group of actual friends (such as on Facebook) and how you interact with people not because you know them and are friends with them, but because you share a common interest (such as in a forum for fans of Arsenal football club, a site for mum chatting about nutrition in early years or a group of runners helping each other with training advice and tips as they prepare to run a marathon).

An online community is a group of people who exhibit this second behaviour. They do not necessarily know each other, and may not have any desire to become friends in that broader sense of the word. They do have a common passion, interest, concern or question. And they can find and engage with others online because of this.

Working with online communities

For most organisations looking at social media, it is only by identifying, building and engaging with online communities that they will start to get real benefit. Online communities are truly scalable because they do not rely on becoming ‘friends’ with people but mean that you (the organisation) and the rest of the community engage on topics that you all share in common. This is real engagement in a way that just amassing Likes or Follows is not.

Social media just provides the set of tools you can use to do this. But the real skill is threefold:

  1. Firstly to be able to identify the community you want to engage and understand why they would engage with you. What is the passion, problem, concern, issue or question that you can connect with your community about? And why would they connect with you at all about it?
  2. Then how do you find these people and help them to find you? Likes on Facebook or Followers on Twitter do not necessarily make an online community.
  3. Finally how do you manage them. There is a valuable and often heated debate elsewhere about the differences between a social media manager and a community manager, but any community does need the ‘party host’ role. A community manager who facilitates conversations and activities, helps to moderate the community so that it is a productive and friendly place for all, and who acts as the link between the organisation and the online community.

With all the excitement of social media it often feels like we have forgotten what we have known for many years about online communities and the way they work and interact. For anybody looking at or working in social media a solid grounding in how online communities work and how we should work with them is essential.

How to write an engaging Facebook update

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If you’ve got a Facebook account, chances are you will have seen the different ways in which brands approach updating their statuses. It’s worth putting some effort into making sure that you are creating engaging content for your Facebook fans. By ensuring that they are engaging with your content, you can develop and nurture an on-going relationship with them

The way in which you write an engaging Facebook status update will obviously vary depending on your audience, but here are a three tips which could be applied to many Facebook communities.

1. Make it short

A common mistake on a brand page is to treat status updates like blog posts. However, long copy on Facebook often doesn’t work in the newsfeed and simply doesn’t get read. Many updates I see could be cut in half with a bit of clever editing – so think about the key message you are trying to communicate and delete the fluff.

2. Make it personal

We may be working in digital marketing, but it’s worth remembering that most people haven’t ‘liked’ your page because they want you to sell stuff to them. To make your updates relevant to your fans, ensure that they show you are interested in them as individuals. Ask your fans about their opinions and their experiences – and show that you are interested in what they have to say.

3. Make it easy

If you give your Facebook fans an obvious call to action, they are much more likely to engage with your content. With so many other people and brands competing for attention in the newsfeed, you need to make sure that your update is one that stands out as simple to read and respond to.

A great way to do this is to write statements which invite your fans to fill in the blanks – for example:

“My favourite flavour of ice cream is ______”.

It only takes a few seconds for someone to read this short sentence and react. You may not be directly selling them your ice cream, but you will have made your fan stop and think about eating your ice cream for a moment.

What’s hot in social media - January 2012 round up

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With seven in ten brands saying they plan to increase their presence across social media in 2012 (according to a recent survey by Awareness) we thought it would be a good idea to take a regular look at the current social media landscape.

So here’s a quick run down of  what we think has been hot in social media this January:

1. Farfetch.com - the future of social retail?

2012 looks set to be the year of the social online retailer. Luxury retailer farfetch.com announced that it saw a 73% rise in traffic from Facebook in the second half of 2011 and it recently raised a second round of funding to the tune of $18m.

And it’s not just luxury online retailers who are seeing the value of social. As part of its strategy to encourage social shopping, fab.com launched its live feed for members to easily check out what others are buying, liking, tweeting and sharing – all in real time.

Just 7 months since launching, fab.com already has 1.4m members – over half of which have joined as a result of social sharing, so it clearly makes business sense to encourage this channel.

2. KLM and Scandinavian Airlines encourage social flying

Following on from their popular ‘Surprise’ campaign, KLM are getting even more social by launching their ‘Meet and Seat’ campaign. The idea is that when customers book flights, they have the option of creating a public profile and then choosing who they sit next to on the plane. Romantic stuff or creepy as hell? You decide.

Scandinavian Airlines has also got in on the act by encouraging members to use their air miles by booking flights together. Their ‘Couple up, to buckle up’ campaign shared QR codes with members who had to put their phones together in order to access a unique 2 for 1 booking code.

3. Soundcloud gives Instagram a personal touch

It looks like sound hosting just got interesting with the launch of Soundcloud’s new slideshow app, ‘Story Wheel’,this month. The idea behind ‘Story Wheel’ is that members can look through their Instagram photos and record an audio description to go with them. The effect is an old-school slide-show with a personal soundtrack - you can see the founders of Soundcloud’s own version here.

Audio-hosting platform Soundcloud has grown by about 1 million members in the last couple of months and is now fully integrated with Facebook. This month, it reached a milestone of 10 million users, so diversifying their offering is a smart move to show that sound can make images that bit more personal.

With such a large audience behind them, perhaps now may be the time for brands to think about how they can use audio-hosting as part of their social media strategy.