Author Archive for: bens1978

Why Facebook’s Reactions Will Be A Game Changer

09 Oct
October 9, 2015

Facebook has today begun testing Reactions, their emoji based variants on the Like button.

The Like button itself was a game changer when it was introduced, and along with the news feed, formed the foundation of how we now discover and interact with content from friends and publishers.

Why Reactions Matter

The dislike button has been a long requested feature, with most believing it to be the opposite side of the coin to Like.

The reality of it is that human reactions are complex and varied. We “like” stories involving tragedy, conflict because that’s our only option from a platform perspective. We have even deeper reactions to updates and news involving our connections — those closest to us.

The like button has always been too simplistic of a reaction to really be valid. We express the deeper reactions through comments.

Facebook Reactions

The 6 new Facebook Reactions – and the little old Like button

What Facebook is doing though will bring nuance to interaction on the platform, by not only giving options to to express sadness and anger, but also happiness and love. The six reactions being tested are by no means exhaustive but then they don’t need to be because as the kind of common things we feel when we read a story, they will fundamentally change the way we interact and share content.

We will move from “Ben likes….” to “Ben is angered by…” or “Ben loves…”. The conversation moves from “why did Ben like this” to “what angers Ben about this…”. It creates more conversation, and an opportunity to explore.

What It Means For Facebook, Publishers and Business

From a Facebook perspective, the outcome is greater interaction and more data to be mined for targeting. This can be a good thing, with actual sentiment and emotion attached, the level of personalisation increases.

For publishers, this will be huge. While it has the potential to reduce commenting, with the nuance of opinion and reaction becoming a one step process, it will also allow for a greater view of the public pulse on issues affecting them.

I see the biggest upside however to businesses, for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important being in customer service and crisis communications. Through being able to see a range of reactions at a glance, customer sentiment and pain points can be more readily recognised and addressed.

From a brand engagement perspective, it might finally get us away from cheap engagement pieces of “like this picture because you like stuff”. New products can be easily fed back on from users. Smart businesses will be able to take advantage of these new kind of data points to shape interactions.

It’s obviously early days, and what is going to tie all of this together is of course analytics and the ability to measure these reactions in a way that makes sense, but I am excited about the potential of this.

Native Video and Why YouTube Isn’t Under Threat

14 Aug
August 14, 2015

Native video is a hot topic at the moment. Last week in a post on Medium, Hank Green discussed the inaccuracies of Facebook’s native video claims, which was particularly interesting given the number of articles declaring it as the beginning of the end for YouTube.

In a nutshell, while reach and views are high, engagement and completion was relatively low, because the point at which Facebook counts a video view is 3 seconds.

When I spoke with Adam Fraser on the EchoJunction podcast a few weeks ago, we discussed Facebook native video and the reasons why, on the surface, it seems to be doing better than embedded YouTube videos.

User Intent

YouTube’s position as the second biggest search engine is because of user intent – it’s a destination where people seek to be entertained or informed. A recent study by Google showed that 100m hours of “how to” content had been viewed already in North America on YouTube this year.

Facebook however, is more of a lean back experience. No one comes to Facebook to specifically look for video, and Facebook decide what they think we might be interested in seeing in our news feed. Promoted content from brands pushes video in front of us.

Discovery of interesting content can be best described as accidental. With a view being counted at 3 seconds, it’s just enough time to for a viewer to assess if they want to continue watching and decide not to.

Some types of content will do well, as the nature of connections would indicate our friends will have similar interests, but would we consider this content as truly useful? While it can certainly be entertaining, does that relevance hold beyond the view?

While the same argument can be made about YouTube being full of content that is interesting but not necessarily useful, it still remains one of the first stops for people wanting to be educated on a topic, and it has depth, coverage and most importantly structure to make discovery and consumption easy.

Truly useful video content will only succeed where there is a customer need, which is why a video platform like YouTube will continue to be more engaging than a platform with native video functionality like Facebook.

* TV image from Susan E Adam via Flickr. Used under creative commons licence

Customer Service Is The Winner in Twitter’s New DM Changes

12 Jun
June 12, 2015

UPDATE – These changes have been rolled out globally. 

Buried under the news this morning of their CEO’s decision to step down, another big announcement from the Twitter saw users now able to write direct messages with no character limit from July.

As other articles have alluded to, this seems to be the first step towards creating a competitor to things like Facebook Messenger, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the functionality grow quickly.

What it signals more to me though is that Twitter seems to be putting an equal focus on themselves as an efficient customer service channel.

Customers Are the Real Winners

A few months ago, they removed the requirement for someone to be following you in order to send you a direct message, and this was certainly a big step forward.

One of the big bug bears of users was that while they may not necessarily want to follow what a brand has to say on channel, they want easy customer service. Connecting with the brand in a manner beyond that interaction ma have been a roadblock.

With the removal of character limits on DMs, the customer service experience becomes almost frictionless, at least as far as the platform goes.

I’m not saying that it’s been impossible or difficult in the past, but for those of us who have used the platform for customer service before, you will know how challenging the character limit has made it to convey issues in a speedy fashion.

We’re talking here about efficiency. Customers not only want their issues resolved accurately, but also quickly. By allowing more characters, it provides the opportunity to communicate a depth of detail quickly, and potentially deliver a solution in less time. The customer can move on and not labour over the issues they have.

There are still the issues of customer sensitive data, and any business with an effective social service policy will have a process in place for moving these conversations offline if required, but for resolution in channel, this is a big step forward.

For brands who maintain one channel for general content as well as support, it also means that they can begin to parse out the two functions into distinct areas and provide better experiences in both.

Top Social Media and Content Posts – The Weekly Round Up

17 May
May 17, 2015

I didn’t get around to a wrap up last week of the top content I had shared, so I’ve curated 10 posts this week to make up for it.

Someone asked me the other day how I measure engagement on these. I use Buffer‘s analytics to understand engagement from a sharing or favouriting perspective, but my main measure is based on click – how many people actually clicked on the link in the content to read it.

8 Types of Social Media and How They Can Benefit Your Business

Hootsuite published a great piece on some often forgotten forms of social media – it’s not just about the big platforms, it’s also about the tools and function they bring.

Cross Platform Use of Social Media

We all know that people don’t just use one channel, but this post was a good analysis of where exactly they are, with a focus on Twitter and YouTube.

10 Types of Visual Social Media That Get Shared & How To Create Social Media Images that Connect with Your Audience

Visual social, as we know, is hot. But what works in the world of visual? These things. Try them out. Two great posts from NewsCred and Social Media Examiner.

10 Marketing Ideas to Test on Every Social Media Channel

It’s easy to play it safe on your social channels, but these ideas around using data and variable testing will help take your content and marketing on social up a level.

Save Time with a Content Gap Analysis

Content marketing is such a hot topic and businesses feel the need to create, create, create. But many might be surprised they already have a decent bank of it, and just need to find the gaps.

4 Steps Framework for Content Curation

One of my own posts got a lot of clicks last week, and that was when I published my framework for how I curate content.

5 Different Types of Content to Make Your Blog Stand Out

CoSchedule is one of the best blogs out there, and this post is an example of why, assembling some easy to use content formats to add a different angle to your blog.

Brands are Powering Opt-In Influencer Networks

Ambassadors and influencers are an important piece in the marketing mix. This is a good look at how some brands are capturing and activating these users.

How To Rock and Awesome Content Plan

An in-depth look behind the scenes of on of my favourite blogs, Convince and Convert

A 4 Step Framework for Content Curation

12 May
May 12, 2015

Any good content strategy is a mix of created and curated content, and in many cases, curated will be the dominant part of that. It plays an important part in building trust and authority in whatever business you’re in.

While content curation is not just confined to sharing links on social channels, it perhaps the dominant method.

I curate at least 18 content pieces a day across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest (in addition to on the fly retweets and shares). and over time I have built up a framework to support the what, when and how.

It breaks down into four elements.

Find Trusted Sources

Your curated output will only be as good as the content you consume. Creating authority through sharing means that you need to find consistent, trusted sources for that content.

I find pieces to share from a wide and varied range of places

  • Newsletters – I subscribe to a dozen different newsletters from individual sites, and scan them each morning for headlines that grab me
  • Aggregators – Further to the newsletters from these individual blogs, there are a number of aggregator newsletters I also use, such as Swayy and SmartBrief that find top pieces of content around a theme
  • Feeds – I use Buffer’s Feeds function, but you can also use tools like Feedly, to bring together stories from other sites I like into a single feed
  • Twitter Lists and Search – I have a number of Twitter search columns set up in TweetDeck around themes like social media and content marketing, as well as lists of key influencers tweets that I can always find something interesting to read
  • Facebook Saved Links / Twitter Favourites – Facebook’s saved links has come in very handy as a way of bookmarking content I like, or want to read later. In the same vein, I use Twitter’s favourite function as a way of bookmarking links for later. These are also particularly good as a way of finding evergreen content to share again.

UPDATE: Looking for some more trusted sources? Check out this post from Buffer.

Read & Organise

Reading the content you plan on sharing may sound fairly obvious, but surprisingly, there is little to suggest that links actually get read before they are shared.

Ever shared something on a channel and had someone like it or retweet it so quickly that they couldn’t have possibly read it? I have seen content on this blog shared multiple times on social platforms, and result in absolutely zero traffic, which as someone who writes with the hope of people reading can be disappointing.

Because you’re wanting to establish trust, read the content you are sharing to make sure that it fits with your social tone of voice and philosophy. Don’t blindly share just because it may have your topic of interest as its overarching theme.

Once you’ve read it, then you need to organise it all. I use Buffer almost exclusively for organising my content that will be shared. It allows me to organise when and where I will share it, and optimise (see next point) my curated content ahead of time.

First I need to work out what content is going to be shared where. The graphic below is a reasonably simple representation of how I determine what to share on the platforms I use the most. Although multiple platforms are listed against each, I may only choose one of them in each situation – as an example, I generally share once to LinkedIn to every five on Twitter. It will all depend on the piece of content.

1

 

Once you know where, then you need to think about the when.

I organise four ways:

  • Relevance – is the topic time sensitive, or relevant right now? Bring those up in the queue and give evergreen content some flexibility
  • Length – I tend to share shorter reads during business hours, with longer content pieces after close of business and weekends. Understand your audiences time available to consume it.
  • Uniqueness – Has it been shared heavily by other people who you could reasonably assume have a similar following to you? If I think yes, I tend to schedule it later when it can still be useful but not lost in a sea of tweets that are exactly the same.
  • Variation – When curating from trusted sources, you will often find many stories from the same site. Make sure you break these up so you’re not sending people to the same site every time.

Optimise

Despite all serving similar function, no two social channels are the same so it is imperative that each piece of content you intend on sharing is optimised for each channel.

When optimising for my channels, I look at four things:

  • Character Limits – Even though Twitter’s limit is 140 characters, according to some analysis the optimal length is actually 70. All networks have different post formats, and you should consider the length text of what you are sharing. Hubspot published a great post of templates for formats on Twitter recently.
  • Hashtags – add appropriate hashtags to content on Twitter, Instagram, G+ and Pinterest. Facebook uses hashtags as well, but there’s a lot of discussion about their actual usefulness. I tend to use 3 at most in any tweet.
  • Images – While most platforms will automatically support a rich preview of content shared, Twitter’s default is still text. Images however increase engagement up to 35% so make sure that where possible, your tweet carries one. Use the Buffer’s Share Image function that appears on hover to make it easy. Also, scroll through the image selected if you’re not happy with it.
  • Credit – Where possible, make sure you give credit to whoever created to the site where you found it, and the writer if possible (in the case of guest blogging and contributors)

Review

Reviewing what is upcoming in your schedule of curated content, as well as what has gone out, is important.

Keeping an eye on upcoming content helps you avoid instances where a story you are sharing has either become irrelevant in light of a change of circumstances, or worse when an event makes that content inappropriate, like Tesco’s ill-timed scheduled tweet a couple of years ago.

I always curate at least 2 days worth of content at a time, as there will be days where life takes over and I don’t find the time. But I am always aware of what’s in the queue.

Keep an eye on this, and also the opportunities to move content around as relevance changes.

Reviewing what has gone out is also important, so you know what resonates with your audience. Look at things like time of day, the hashtags you used and the kinds of users who have engaged with it. All of this will help inform the ‘organise’ step of the process for next time.

I hope you find this framework useful.