Using Media To Be Social Is More Than Social Media

The latest valuation of Secret at $100 Million shows just how quickly social communications is evolving.

Line has listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, a bold move considering it is still a relatively young app.

Only a few months ago we were cooing at the prospect of Whatsapp being bought by Facebook for $19 Billion, with its established userbase a snip at half the price, and wondering what that would mean for the future of closed network conversations.

There is data that suggests the use of social media platforms is in decline; indeed some suggest it is inevitable. What strikes me is that although platform use may be slowing down, use of media to be social, isn’t – you wouldn’t list if you thought otherwise.

We’re seeing the next step change in digital comms happening before our very eyes. Gen C is taking their communications activities into private spaces, not abandoning them altogether.
What we’re seeing is people having deeper relationships with fewer connections.

It means that we’re now applying filters to the amount and type of social interactions we are, and want, to have.

That does not spell the end for social media, it’s just the next step towards an ever-changing end point.

Top Ten Sites For Internet Inspiration

There is an unbounded number of great websites and blogs that focus on Digital Culture.

Whether it’s smart content, clever activations or emerging behavioural theories, there is something to suit everyone.

Below are ten of the blogs and sites I go to, to get inspired in no particular order.

2. Brain Pickings
3. Smashing Magazine
4. Flowing Data
5. Change Agents
6. Digi Day
7. Five Thirty Eight
8. Ad Busters
10. Great Talks

What have I missed? Share your favourites in the comments.

How To Run An Effective Promoted Tweets Campaign

Twitter Promoted Tweet campaigns are an excellent way of reaching new or existing audiences.

I’ve been very fortunate to have run several programmes over the past few years for a variety of clients who have wondered about the potential of Twitter ads; they have always been pleasantly surprised by the end results.

I’ve tried to set out my thoughts on the main components to consider when running a Promoted Tweets campaign and how to make sure programme as effective as possible.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Before you start your campaign, you need to decide on what you want the final outcome of the actvity to be, this will determine all of the other factors that you’ll need to consider when planning and executing your programme.

Here’s three ideas:

  • Drive traffic to a website
  • Generate content shares
  • Increase brand/product awareness

The main question that a client asks is “how much should I spend?”. The response to that should be “how much do you want to spend?”.

I’d always suggest £5k as a starting point, especially if you want the assistance of one of the Twitter Account Managers who are extremely helpful, knowledgeable and good fun to work with!

Promoted Tweets work on a bidding system – your tweet is competing with hundreds of others to be served and one of the contributing factors is how much you want to spend for each of those potential clicks.

Generally you’ll be asked to bid somewhere in the £1 – £2 region, but that varies according to demand on an hour by hour basis.


As with all online activations, content is the most important key to success. If your content isn’t funny, interesting, inspiring or informative, it’s going to fail.

Make sure your Promoted Tweet has a call to action – it has to be direct, not inferred – otherwise you’re missing a big opportunity to encourage people to interact with the tweet.

Keep your copy below 120 characters: it makes it more retweetable and gives you space for an image.

And on that, make sure your tweet has a visual to accompany it. It encourages engagement because it makes the tweet stand out in the newsfeed; even more so, it needs to do something more than the copy of the tweet. That means including something funny, informative, interesting, entertaining… you get the idea.

Call To Action
This ties in to those objectives you set out at the start.

Do you want people to click through to see content on another site? Tell them “Visit us!”.

Do you want them to share your content? Tell them “Retweet us!”.

Do you want them to know more about your brand? Tell them “Follow us!”

Content Frequency
I’ve always been told that the life of a Promoted Tweet, or when it’s at its most effective, is 2-3 days. People tend to only click on Promoted Tweets once, so when they re-appear in a user’s Twitter feed they are largely ignored.

You’ll tend to see the most activity on a tweet in the first 24 hours of it being live.

This means that you should look to create a number of tweets that have different copy or visuals to run over the course of your activation. If you are running a week long programme, make sure you have three tweets in your armoury as a minimum.

You have three main metrics to help you assess whether your campaign is working:

Impressions – the number of times your Promoted Tweet has been served
Engagement Rate – the number of clicks, follows, retweets your Promoted tweet has had as a proportion of impressions
CPE – Cost per Engagement, or the price you’ve paid per click

You want your Impressions to be high (if nobody sees your Promoted Tweet, what’s the point), your Engagement Rate to be high and your CPE to be low.

The number of Impressions you get depends on the size of your potential audience and the size of your budget, so there’s no real benchmark for success here.

You want to aim for your Engagement Rate to be between 1-3% and to keep your CPE below £1.00.

Serving Content
Twitter’s ad platform has a plethora of options for targeting people; based on their interests, key words they’re searching for, people who are like a particular handle, their location, the TV shows they watch or even your own data.

It means you can be precise and target the exact people you want to engage with.

You can choose whether you’d like your Promoted Tweets to appear in ordinary newsfeeds or when people are searching for something in particular. I’ve found that both work equally as well, depending on what your campaign is and how well you’re optimising your campaign.

The advantage we have as Community Managers is that we live and breathe the communities we serve. It means we know them inside out.

It gives us a spectacular advantage over ad agencies who set campaigns off and let them run until the budget exhausts.

Twitter ads allow you to constantly fine tune your programme based on the keywords people are looking for, the main topics of the day and the amount of money you want to bid for each content serve.

Know your community are always online between 6-8pm? Up your bid to reach them and then lower it overnight.

In Summary
I find Promoted Tweets to be one of the most cost-effective ways to engage with an audience online.

It’s agile because you can tweak your content as you go, you can optimise according to your community and you can keep re-defining your programme as you progress.

I’ve had great success over the years with Twitter in reaching audiences and expanding client communities with useful and engaging content.

Have you run Promoted Tweet campaigns, what tips do you have?

The Rise of Infrequent Blogging

As Danny Wong noted in a blog post on The Next Web yesterday, Infrequent blogging can be a great way of making sure your voice is heard when attention is harder to hold than ever before. People want quality content and posting too much can dissuade your audience from returning.

It’s a theory that flies against the notion of posting regular content to keep in constant contact with your community.

By posting every now and then, rather than every day, you are signposting that the ideas you are trying to communicate are thought through and of real value to your readers.

This can be just as effective when trying to retain readership – hopefully your content’s every word will be clung onto, rather than dismissed because it’s just like every other set of words you’ve written.

Typically, we used to advise clients to post once a week as a minimum: stay connected and share an insight into your business or way of tackling a problem that will resonate to build your community.

This has now evolved, as time and resource become scarcer: blog as and when you can, but make sure what you’re sharing is of genuine value – people don’t have the time to read mountains of missives, so make sure yours counts.

The power of the notification has had an effect here too.

Seeing 999 unread blog posts means you’re more likely to hit ‘mark as read’ than seeing 3 unread blog posts. Who wants to plough through 999 pieces of content when you’ve only got time for two?

As we look to have greater worth in the attention economy, it’s beginning to ring true that less is actually more.

And, as if you needed it, Ben Cotton has only recently posted 10 Reasons Why Businesses Should Still Blog. Go read it, and remember why blogging is important in the first place.

Make Your Own Way

Whilst working at Edelman, Marshall was always expressing how he (and please excuse the paraphrasing Marshall) ‘made up the job as he went along’.

It’s a sentiment I have focused on increasingly over the past year or so.

Last week we welcomed Don Baer from the US team to the London Burson-Marsteller offices. In a great session, he regaled us with stories from his time in politics, law and PR.

It struck a chord with me then, when he said that to succeed, we must ‘make our own way’.

That’s two people with vast experience sharing the same message. Works for me.

The social media landscape is always changing and It’s one of the reasons I enjoy working in this space. In one moment, a new tool or service can explode out of nowhere and create it’s own industry: Vineographers anyone?

Maybe it’s because I’m very much in the Millennial camp, but I don’t believe in workplace rigidity. I want to have new opportunities outside of what my job description says; I want to be able to work where I want, when I want (within reason) and for who I want.

The great opportunity for Millennials and Gen C is that we can make our own way. Technology allows us to work anywhere there’s wifi and a decent cup of coffee.

A job description just tells me what I need to do as a minimum requirement to be able to do my job effectively. This is good because it sets parameters, but it can also have a negative effect in so much that subconsciously I might put myself in a position of not learning anything other than how to do a set of tasks well, repeatedly.

I like breaking things, especially job descriptions – it means you can learn more skills, try new things and become a better professional and a better person.

I don’t want to be effective; I want to be constantly evolving. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I hope it is a notion we all strive for.

What Is There To Like About Not Being at South By South West?

As a serial #SXSW non-attendee, I often think that I’m missing out.

The new tech that’s going to be used; the developments in social networking behaviours; the parties; I miss out on them all.

I think it’s a good thing.

Setting up filters
The joy about not being at South By South West is that you can filter the useful from the not so much.

Watching from afar you have an opportunity to see the wider landscape of what is being talked about and who is making an impression. You can see which companies most people are talking about and which products are having an impact.

I get the sense that on the ground you can lose that perspective amongst the press-fleshing and tech-testing.

Watching paid media
It’s always pretty fun to see which companies are trying to be disruptive around the #SXSW hashtag or using promoted tweets to flaunt their wares.

From big companies to startups, each wants to grab your attention and get you to ‘check out’ their website. Nobody visits a site anymore, they just check it out. Remember to include a proper CTA ;)

Finding new people to follow
It’s a great way of widening your online network. New people crop up in searches or retweets who you might not have heard of before.

A non-presence at SXSW can introduce you to lots of new potential digital buddies and help you to identify the emerging faces of the tech scene. Sounds great to me!

Maybe, after some justification, you can say you’re making the most of the opportunity to follow SXSW from the comfort of your sofa rather than missing out.

I’d still quite like to meet Grumpy Cat though.

Expanding Your Network

People in communications like connecting with other people, I guess that’s one of the reasons we end up doing it.

As much as having great video conferencing facilities is an economical way of talking with current or existing clients, nothing beats having a face to face discussion.

Social media allows us to connect in real-time with people all over the world around a shared interest, news story or meme. Making those connections can instantly transform your online experience and introduce you to new ideas, creativity and people you never knew existed.

We’re very fortunate to be living through this time of great change and the exposure to new ways of thinking can only benefit society as a whole. We need to learn to make the most of it.

If you find something on Twitter and you retweet it to your followers, keep an eye on who retweets it and look to see who else they’re following. It’s a great way of expanding your network and learning more about the people you follow.

It’s incredibly fun when you pick up a new follower and it turns out they are from outside of your network and then look at who else they follow.

It’s the same way we tend to find new bands – if you like one band, once you’ve consumed everything they have to offer, you find out who inspires them and check those artists out. Once you’ve looked at those, you’ll go back to their influencers and so on, until you’ve developed your own musical family tree.

So, don’t settle with the 100, 2,000 or 10,000 people you already follow, you’re just limiting the possibilities that the technology has given you.