#GoodbyeTwitter. We’re over. It’s not you, it’s me. Well, mostly me.
I still administer the @claremontcomms account, which is thriving. But since 3rd October @bencaspersz has been languishing alongside 300 million other Twitter accounts in the ‘inactive’ pile.
And, I have to say, it feels good. Emancipating even.
Years ago I rejected Facebook for personal use. This has been a bone of contention among certain friends and colleagues, but my reasons are well documented (in fact this is my most read blog post of all time).
Twitter remains a valuable tool for Claremont and many of our clients, but for me personally I have concluded that it is time to say goodbye. Here are my reasons:
1. Twitter drains time. As a new father, this is something I have precious little of.
2. I was using Twitter for a bloody good rant. Question Time. Ed Miliband. Greedy baby boomers. EDL meat heads. Brian Solis. The list went on and on. This felt good at the time and would sometimes prompt an amusing exchange or two with a brother/sister in arms. But on balance it is a waste of energy. No one wants to hear my rants, they change nothing and instead of reaching for my phone and composing something suitably acidic, I’ve concluded it is better for everyone concerned if I just take a deep breath and button it. And relax.
3. Twitter is great for keeping track of the hot topics of the day, but I don’t feel the need to engage. Twitter is unbeatable for gleaning insights and quirky angles straight from the horses’ mouths, or simply gauging viewers’ responses to Gogglebox hilarity. But I don’t need an account for that. Occasional lurking suits me fine.
4. Too much information. For some time now Twitter has been drifting in to Facebook territory; a slurry of inane cack about gym workouts, restaurant starters and countdowns to the weekend/holidays. Sorry, but no.
5. Twitter distracts from day dreaming. I love day dreaming and people watching. Before I got my iphone, being a passenger on the bus was an opportunity to let my mind drift, be consumed by my surroundings, free-wheel through the personalities, sights and sounds of London. But the iphone and Twitter changed all that. Twitter, I want my downtime back.
The launch of a new campaign would no longer be complete without giving some thought to the hashtag.
Sometimes the wording of the hashtag is immediately obvious, but for other campaigns it needs a bit more thought.
So what makes a ‘good’ hashtag?
First up, some important rules of thumb…
1. Think action. What is the very essence of what you are trying to achieve with the campaign and what action do you want people to take. Perhaps you want people to #savebees or help others to #beatcancer. If your campaign’s elevator pitch could have its own elevator pitch, the hashtag is what it would be.
2. Humour works. Adding a little humour will help to engage people with the campaign, making them more likely to discuss the issue and hopefully spread the word. Rather than lamenting the potential pitfalls of using #fracking to release shale gas, perhaps what you’re really wanting supporters to do is to tell the government to #frackoff.
3. Keep it snappy. With only 140 characters to play with per tweet, you don’t want to be using half of those up with the hashtag so the shorter the better.
4. Be unique. Check that your chosen hashtag is not so similar to an existing hashtag that they could accidentally be mixed up. This will make tracking and evaluating your campaign a lot easier.
But what about for those trickier behaviour change campaigns that are at too early a stage to have a crisp, emotive call to action?
1. Focus groups. While you are still in the early insights-gathering stages of the campaign, consider adding possible hashtags as a topic for discussion.
2. Widen you creative net. Rather than brainstorming hashtags with your campaign team, work with a few very small groups of people with different levels of involvement with the campaign issue and see what they come up with.
3. Test out a few possible options in the planning stages of the campaign and see which resonate before settling on one.
FCO recently ran a digital diplomacy campaign in Cambodia to boost awareness of the UK amongst young Cambodians and future decision-makers and grew its Facebook fan base by 24,000%.
This campaign (though not one of ours!) was a particularly well-executed, and I have pulled out the most relevant themes for organisations looking to use digital in a similar way.
2012 was a great year to be British. The Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics and Paralympics showed Britain at its best – diverse, welcoming and outward-looking. From Peter Kay dressed as a beefeater to the Red Arrows’ fly-past and from the Queen skydiving from a helicopter to Jess Ennis, Britain was guaranteed fantastic exposure – piquing interest among expats and Cambodians alike.
Social networks such as Facebook and email marketing tools such as MailChimp provide marketers with more information on target audiences than ever before – but why stop there? FCO in Cambodia made effective use of social media listening and monitoring techniques to research the interests of their target audience (15-35-year-old Cambodians) and adapt content to their interests.
Launch, learn, adapt, rinse, repeat. FCO in Cambodia posted content to Facebook, promoted it using Facebook advertising and used the data to inform their campaign. Using Facebook in a “lean” way like this drives down costs and means your content gets better and more targeted over time. You should be learning something with every update.
Marketing on Facebook does not have to involve creating the next FarmVille. In fact, it’s often better if it doesn’t. FCO in Cambodia found that regular, relevant content that linked British and Cambodian interests in creative ways was the single most important factor in boosting the Facebook page from 200 to 50,000.
People love a giveaway, and Facebook provides a “low-friction” way of entering competitions. FCO in Cambodia cleverly timed giveaways and interactive competitions on Facebook around key events such as London 2012. Timed correctly, your audience won’t see your post as an interruption, but as you “getting involved”. Intuition is key here.
If you look at FCO in Cambodia’s Facebook page today, the latest post announces the opening of a Condolence Book in Phnom Penh for Baroness Thatcher. A post like this can act as a “digital water cooler” – an opportunity for people to gather and connect around a certain issue. And that’s exactly how people are using it – to discuss Thatcher’s legacy. Be the glue that holds your community together. Be the water cooler.
FCO Cambodia has done a fantastic job of punching above its weight with this campaign. Even if it is one of the smallest FCO posts, its page has already become one of the most popular in the FCO network.
It’s a big lesson for any organisation that pitches up on Facebook and sees the digital tumbleweed blowing past. Regular, engaged content – backed by intelligent advertisement spending – can rapidly grow your audience. Nearly everyone on Facebook starts from a low base.
Have you done any marketing on Facebook? What have you learnt? What would you do differently next time?
Long before the written word even existed, and long long before we communicated by text, tweet and status updates, cave-dwelling humans across the globe used pictures to communicate.
In the last century, images of war atrocities and natural disasters, as well as moments of joy and celebration, helped the rest of the world empathise with happenings on the other side of the globe.
The 21st century may have introduced more methods and channels of communication than ever before, but one thing remains constant: the power of pictures remains engrained in the human psyche making images as important as ever in getting your message across.
But it can’t be just any picture. Here are three different examples of how images can take communications to a different level.
On a recent scan through my Facebook feed, among the many Instagram-enhanced pictures of friends’ children playing in the snow, one image couldn’t fail to jump out:
PETA UK are proving that tried-and-tested shock tactics to raise awareness about the process used to make foie gras are just as useful in today’s social media campaigns as they were in the public health campaigns of the 1990s.
If the old adage that a picture tells a thousand words is true, any way we can simplify our message will surely be welcomed, especially in the age of information overload. The right image can help our audience to digest information in a fraction of the time.
With a bit of help from the team at Claremont, the Alzheimer’s Society achieved widespread national coverage by using data visualisation to “map the dementia gap” and bring to life data about dementia diagnoses.
It’s pretty safe to assume that even middle aged men in suits probably find pictures of middle aged men in suits fairly boring.
And so it’s perhaps unsurprising that even the more serious journals are always on the look out for unusual pictures. This includes the BMJ who recently revealed that one of its most popular articles included pictures not of GPs or even skin lesions but…reindeers.
From tabloids to serious medical journals, there is a time and a place for a more light-hearted approach and a quirky or unusual picture can help secure coverage.
As these examples show, effective use of visuals is as important as it has ever been in communication. But as communicators we need to remember that a picture isn’t just there to illustrate a story or make it look pretty.
A good image should grab your audience by the lapels and then deliver your message concisely and effectively, reaching people in a way that words alone cannot.
Google’s announcement that they will be retiring their Google Reader will have been met with cries of dismay from newsrooms and PR teams across the country. Although Google cites declining users as the main reason, the simple, free RSS reader was a mainstay for journalist and PRs. The New Yorker’s Joshua Rothman described it as “the first Web site I saw in the morning and the last I saw before bed”.
Even if you don’t use Reader yourself there’s every chance that what you read online is influenced by it – Techcrunch compares Google Reader users to bees who pollinate the social web.
But all is not lost. Although Google Reader will be shut down on July 1st there are other RSS readers that you can start using today – and even migrate your current Google Reader lists and folders too so you can pick up where you left off.
The Verge have a great summary of the best Google Reader alternatives, many of which are better than the real thing.
Top of their list is Feedly, a great looking RSS reader that works in the browser in the same way that Google Reader did. I’ve been using it for the last week and I love it. It’s much more modern looking than Google Reader’s cramped lists. The two things I love about it are mobile apps that are always in synch (so you can catch up on stories on the bus) and lots of ways to share stories I find interesting. 500,000 people made the switch within days.
For power users with hundreds of feeds The Verge also recommend Newsblur, because it allows nesting folders and it’s superduper fast.
Also, Google Reader shutting down might be a good thing in the long run, because it will bring back the competition and innovation that we saw between different RSS readers before it came along. As Instapaper’s Marco Lament says “We’re finally likely to see substantial innovation and competition in RSS desktop apps and sync platforms for the first time in almost a decade.” The first signs of this are emerging as social news website Digg announced a plan to build it’s own Reader.
Are you a grieving Google Reader fan? How will you replace it?
Hallelujah! The clocks go forward this weekend and maybe, just maybe, we can come out of our long winter hibernation. On Sunday morning the nation will perform the ritual of dial turning and button pressing, and hopefully this year many of us will add the smoke alarm to that ritual having watched this video from safety campaign Fire Kills.
The video has hit The Drum Viral Video Chart (no. 10 spot at time of writing) and shows how hard-hitting, well-timed content can cut through the usual force field people put up to safety messages.
Every day marketers around the world engage in coffee-fuelled brainstorming sessions trying to find some way to fit a skateboarding dog into their message, in the hope that the skateboard of massive people-powered social sharing will carry their dog of a video to Gangnam levels of popularity.
We like to think that if we can just hit upon one genius idea that “influential” people will love then we can achieve the dream and “go viral” as our content is passed from person to person to person.
A new viral research tool from Microsoft suggests they’re (mostly) wasting their time. Jake Hofman and his team used the tool to analyse 1.4 billion tweets. Unsurprisingly the tool shows that most content dies pretty quickly – maybe being passed on once or twice at best – and this applies to Stephen Fry and Justin Bieber as much as anyone else.
Of course Twitter celebrities have huge initial reach so shouldn’t be discounted all together but, as previous research has also shown, it can be equally cost-effective to focus on a large number of ordinary people. This means you then need to think much more about designing content for social effects, such as our tendency to copy others and seek out what’s popular as a shortcut to decision-making. It also means giving serious thought to how to achieve scale by combining paid media with social media (h/t Brilliant Noise).
What is a marketer to do then? My advice is to think less like the Old Spice guy and more like Pete Sampras.
The Old Spice guy was a huge viral hit, fun, and a great campaign. But it was a hole-in-one, a trick shot that came off and looks great in the highlights film. You would never aim for a hole-in-one with every shot. Now Pete Sampras wasn’t the most extravagant tennis player, but he was a consistent winner. He played the numbers, getting first and second serves in consistently whilst hitting the winners when the chance arose.
So by all means keep the great ideas coming, but make sure you know your numbers too, for example:
What are the most important numbers for your communications effort?
Startups like Stickygram, Stichtagram and Newspaper Club are making digital go physical, reconnecting us with physical artifacts.
Three years ago, a trip to Tokyo brought into sharp focus the profound impact converging smartphone and cloud technology is having on our lives – and made me question how much it is costing us.
As soon as I got back to the UK, I pulled out my iPhone. Each and every one of my photographs from the trip was stockpiled in the phone’s memory, tagged by GPS and plotted on a map.
The strange thing about the trip was that, to this day, I still don’t have ny physical photos of it. It’s all on Google+ (previously on Picasa).
Every day, more than 300m photos are uploaded to Facebook. From party snaps to wedding photos, that’s one photo every three days per person on Facebook. And that makes me feel a little icky.
Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, recently said in a BBC interview that he wanted “Evernote to be the place where you capture all your important memories.” Evernote is, he argues, the “secret to eternal youth.”
But browsing through old photos on Facebook, opening up a note on Evernote or clicking through 2009′s New York Times will never match their offline equivalents for emotional resonance.
And what if, one day, Evernote or Facebook is no longer profitable? Many people woke up last week to find that Google Reader was heading into the sunset, hot on the heels of Posterous. Oh sorry, did you have a blog here?
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like this. Digital technology is increasingly enabling us to move our memories between the physical and the digital – and back again.
For those that like inky fingers, Glasgow startup Newspaper Club uses the downtime on large news presses to allow anyone to design their own short run newspaper. One for enterprising job candidates perhaps?
Even Evernote, the doyen of digital notepaper, has got in on the act. The design of Evernote’s Smart Notebook is a modified Moleskine diary that enables smartphones to capture sketches and handwritten notes in a way that can be subsequently be uploaded back to Evernote.
Soon, the boundaries between the digital and the physical world will break down entirely – creating fantastic opportunities to delight and engage for organisations that can move seamlessly between the two.
If a lot of your service users value is locked away in bits and bytes – it might be time to think about giving some of it back. Even if it means being a bit old fashioned.
Have you ever heard of Johnny Cupcakes? Well if you are a marketeer, then it would be a good idea to get up to speed.
Johnny Cupcakes is an upstart fashion brand originating in the USA, specialising in skater-rock-punk imagery splashed across t-shirts. Famous for its gloriously detailed packaging (t shirts are sold in black and silver muffin boxes) and shop fittings that resemble working bakeries, the brand has cult status among its fans that is matched only by the likes of Nike Air Jordan and Hello Kitty.
What’s special about Johnny Cupcakes is the way in which the brand has developed a super loyal community of customers. Meetups are frequent. Special edition clobber is happily traded at crazy prices. The internet is awash with pictures of customers adorned with Johnny Cupcakes tattoos.
Driven by social media, the company’s shop openings draw crowds thousands strong. Product is only sold directly to consumers via the website and their own shops, never via third parties, which enables the company to completely control the brand experience and maximise margins. Advertising budgets are nil; PR and social media drive awareness and pique customer loyalty.
The company has come a long way since 2001 when t-shirts were sold at concerts out of suitcases. With high profile retail outlets in New York, LA and Boston, the brand has recently made a move in to London’s Carnaby Street. But it’s clearly the website that sees the most action. A recent collaboration with Hello Kitty generated $250,000 of sales in a single weekend before crashing the servers through the sheer weight of traffic.
The founder Johnny Earle is a hyperactive brand ambassador. On his first visit to London his first move was to tweet to his 75,000 followers that he is heading to Primrose Hill to hang out with his customers. Several hundred showed up. This week he staged a two-hour lecture for 400 customers/fans in the West End (sold out at £10 a ticket), telling his life story and evangelising on how to make it in business. At one point he asked the crowd to raise their hands whether they’d ever had a conversation with a stranger purely because they were both wearing Johnny Cupcakes gear. The whole room indicated that they had. Johnny Cupcakes manages to make customers feel that they are not just buying a t-shirt, but that they are gaining access to a like-minded community.
At the moment Johnny Cupcakes remains a truly authentic homespun brand with all garments made in America and the firm employing most of Johnny Earle’s friends and family. This may not last. The brand has global ambitions, which may eventually strain the core offer of ‘grassroots authenticity’.
But for now Johnny Cupcakes is a trailblazer brand, showing how its done with community-based marketing, direct retailing and truly innovative branding. This is the future.
Last week we sponsored and attended CommsCamp, an unconference for public sector communicators. We had a great time and you can read plenty about what other people had to say about it in this round-up of CommsCamp.
We ran a session on Listening and Monitoring in Social Media that was pretty well received so here are the slides and notes for you and anyone who was there.
Content marketing is enjoying a renaissance as the likes of Edelman, Smart Insights and Econsultancy pick it out as one of the trends of 2013. If you’re serious about being a credible source of expertise in your sector, the ability to create high-quality, shareable content is critical.
It’s also critical to visibility. Recent changes to Google’s search rules take social shares into account and reward natural, engaging content for humans over the keyword-stuffed blogspam for computers that some “search gurus” recommend.
Generating highly creative, shareable content is time consuming though – so how do you find the time, get the message right and stay within the law?
Having decided that I need to pull myself up by my Bloggerstraps, I sought some advice from Paul Wilkinson’s webinar, Powerful Blogs on the CIPR website (you may have to pay to view if you are not a CIPR member).
And where better to start than sharing with you what I learned.
300 million. 300 million a day? Yep, 300 million photos are shared on Facebook every single day. Printed at a standard 6×4 inches and laid end-to-end that’s enough to circle the Earth and still have 3.7m left over. Social media photos are big.
There’s little doubt that social media has gone all visual. The 140-character tweet has recently been joined by the 6-second video; Facebook has released its own camera app; and image-collecting service Pinterest grew 1,047% in 2012.
This is partly a response to massive changes in people’s photo-taking behaviour. One in three UK consumers say the camera they use most often is their mobile phone. Smartphones now account for just over half of UK mobile phones, with 78% of users taking photos with them.
So any social media content plan that doesn’t including images is really only getting half the picture (sorry!). Here’s some inspiration to get you thinking visually.
This image of the Obamas celebrating election victory last November is the most shared photo in history with half a million retweets in under 8 hours and 3.1m Facebook Likes in 12 hours. What can we learn?
Oreo’s Daily Twist campaign drove a 110% increase in engagement with their Facebook content. The campaign, which ran for five months, featured a new image every day inspired by current events or anniversaries. The lessons are:
Young men are the main audience for the London Fire Brigade’s Facebook page, so how do you keep them interested? One of the ways is a weekly “What caused this fire?” photo that creates lots of comments and Likes. Why does this work?
This is the Walsall group on Flickr, where people who take photos of Walsall share them with each other. Walsall Council approached the group with a proposal: free use of the images for the council in exchange for access to restricted sites for the photographers. So what’s the deal?
Well done to NHS Employers, a kind of über-HR department for the whole health service, who have produced a sensible and pleasantly concise briefing on social media in the NHS. It’s key points are:
Large organisations struggle with social media in part because they still haven’t shaken off the command-and-control thinking that, sadly, leads to them not trusting the people they employ. In HR and IT this usually leads to the kind of social media lockdown that would make the Chinese Communist Party proud.
Things are thawing though. Last year we helped the NHS Institute put together a new social media policy and strategy and there was a clear emphasis on enabling rather than disabling use. The policy “presumed competence” (shock!) and “trusted staff to use good judgement” (horror!). Crucially we followed this up with social media training that developed the skills and, like the briefing, ran through scenarios to develop judgement. All things that wise HR people will be doing.
An angry army of 8.2 million Brits have taken to the internet to vent their fury according to new exclusive research by ICM for Claremont.
Almost one in five (17%) have used social media to complain either about poor public services or private companies, with men, the under 35s and those in London most likely to take to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to complain.
As the infographic below reveals, there is an estimated hardcore of almost 250,000 people (3% of complainers) who complain about products and services online every day.
While utilities companies and poor consumer products get the majority of the online flack, almost one in ten (7%) use the internet to complain about poor service from the public sector, such as the NHS and Job Centre Plus.
With almost three-quarters of the country now using social media networks, public sector organisations and charities should use this research as a wake-up call. The numbers of digital disgruntalists is already at significant levels and will only grow as more people realise that complaining online gets results.
It should no longer be a question of if your organisation needs to prepare for a social media crisis, but how often you need to rehearse your response to online flack.
ICM interviewed 2,015 GB adults between 30th November and 2nd December 2012. Results are weighted to reflect the GB population.
According to the 2011 Census there are 44,105545 people over the age of 18 in England & Wales and an estimated (by GRO Scotland) 4,133,073 people over 18 in Scotland. 48,238,618*0.17 = 8,200,565. 8,200,565*.03 (i.e. the 3% of the complainers who complain every day) = 246,016.
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