It saw GMP go from the Darling of Twitter for its commitment to engagement and social media to a pariah within moments and was quickly followed by…
Thanks to all for feedback messages – all your comments have been noted. You are right, it is not our place to comment on sentences.
— G M Police (@gmpolice) August 13, 2011
That made it into the Guardian, no less. And yes, it was a stupid editorial to add to a tweet about a sentencing, but feeds are run by people, and people make mistakes.
This week it was London Midland having to apologise for tweets about a suicide on the line causing delays.
Among the tweets complained about was:
Hmm. Maybe I’m being insensitive but I can’t get exercised about that. And having looked at the London Midland Twitter page, which responds not just to @messages but also to tweets generally referencing the company, I think it’s pretty exemplary and the result of decent training and, possibly, some harsh lessons.
Whoever helps run it (assuming it’s a team effort) has a good line in engagement and conversation, understands hashtags, doesn’t overdo the emoticons and generally sounds, well, human. All in the face of people tweeting intelligent responses such as
Tweeting as a brand is a hard balance to strike. You need personality, but not too much, and a degree of familiarity might work some of the time but not always – or at least not always with everyone.
Some people are apparently keen to be offended, some people will respond in inappropriate ways, but expect you to remain respectful and informative.
Engaging as a news brand is an even bigger minefield. You ask a question around, say, what people would be interested in reading about and get a “Why should I do your job?” tweet back from someone.
At which point, you can either shrug and respond to those who do want to engage, or try to strike some common ground with those who prefer to complain.
The benefit of the latter could be very real… it could also end up being a mutually dissatisfying time-suck.
I’ve got some personal rules about responding to people who are in full fighting plumage – usually on Twitter rather than Facebook – as a brand (ie. tweeting as WalesOnline or WalesonSunday)…
1. Are they simply grandstanding? (Generally, they don’t want a response, they want a reaction)
2. If they are grandstanding, who follows them? (If you’re broadcasting to 3 pornbots and a couple of mates, fill your boots)
3. On Twitter, do they have an avatar or are they an egg? (Often indicative of whether they’re likely to engage or not)
4. Does their tweet make any sense or are they swearing? (I won’t talk to you on the phone if you swear at me, I’m not making an exception in digital life)
5. Are they agent provocateurs? (if their Twitter stream comprises complaints, whinges and attacks then there’s a good chance they just enjoy annoying people)
6. Am I responding simply because the person is bone-crushingly stupid, and I’d quite enjoy smashing their point out of the park? (If yes, it’s generally not worth it)
Four years ago I would have said it was wrong to have a criteria for responding to anyone online, but now I’m not so certain.
I’ve closed two online forums because in both cases my overstretched digital teams were intervening in rows not only between users of those communities, but with some of the community-appointed moderators. The horse hadn’t just bolted, it was accelerating into the next county.
Shutting them down wasn’t a decision lightly-taken – the page views were advertiser-friendly (100k+ in one case) but the spite and fighting weren’t.
Getting those channels back on track might have been possible with concerted, full-time community management. Ergo, from a team manager point of view, it wasn’t practical or desirable. Putting new efforts into Facebook, Twitter and site users elsewhere proved far more beneficial, and led to lessons learned and better engagement.
The beauty of social media for brands is that it brings a connection with other people.The drawback is that other people will be, well, people. Add a little anonymity, distance and the opportunity for some manufactured outrage, and the results can be illuminating.
* Update: The subject of engagement and brands has also prompted a blog post from David Higgerson. Recommended reading: SOCIAL MEDIA: THE PERILS OF GOING TOO FAR WHEN TRYING TO MAKE A BRAND INTERACTIVE
|Image via Wikipedia|
WalesOnline has joined the Pinterest revolution – or leapt on the bandwagon depending on your point of view – and it’s early days (and invite-only) but the prospects for good social sharing and driving traffic through specific curation activities are looking pretty bright.
Pinterest has become very fashionable in recent weeks with 2.2m users a month, and was bolstered last month by news it was driving more traffic than Google+ to retail sites.
We’re currently focussing on the female-friendly aspects of Pinterest, and specifically promoting content from our Lifestyle section – fashion, cosmetics, crafting, fitness and diet – onto boards.
So, for example, this pin about how to enjoy family-friendly holidays…
Both have been repinned by other users and we currently have 17 boards with six topics – I expect that to increase, and gain some serious momentum as Operation Get Ready For Bikini Season starts up (OGRBS is, of course, a MSM churn phenomenon that kicks in around April and involves diets, exercise, fake tan, hats, sunnies, sarongs and a host of other be beachy accoutrements).
The ’embed pin’ option allows more bloggers access to our images and content than before, with in-built links, and it displays attractively.
It’s too new for analytics on traffic to show any real uplift but, since these sections have traditionally required a lot of promotion on social media – such as relevant Facebook pages – to reach the required audience (Lifestyle has a niche audience and WalesOnline tends to be more heavily weighted towards men, user-wise) an external site that can boost the number of visits and users is a gift. I’ll update this post as I get more numbers for visitors and visitor paths.
Personally, I sign up for more new things in the social web than I ever really use, but I don’t advocate the same for work as I’m conscious that sometimes these shiny things take up more time than they are worth. And sometimes go paid for-only (hello Dippity!), or close after you’ve put time and effort into them (hello Trunk.ly!)
But I suspect Pinterest is different (not least because you can add the handy Pin it! extension to your browser bar and pin without pause) and it really does add value. The more we use it for curating our own and others’ content the richer source we become, and the greater opportunity there is to reach new people.
Currently we’re Pinterested in Lifestyle content as a pathfinder, but next sport and news will need to follow, sport being a particular opportunity.
Of course, there will be pitfalls – look at this source code image Zach Seward tweeted today…
…but the potential is exciting. I’ve been using Pinterest myself to gather images, video and graphs linked to my MA dissertation around innovation, disruptive industries and leadership. I think it works ok for that but (as a member of the community rather than an interested individual) I’m actually more interested in the lifestyle pinboards – that’s what I’d browse in my
lunchhour five spare moments eating a sandwich at my desk.
Also, I still like Pearltrees for displaying curated web pages, though my main bookmarking site is Diigo, which autoposts to my Delicious.
Meanwhile,this post 17 Free Resources & 59 Tips For How To Use Pinterest For Your Business is excellent for getting started. If you’re thinking of using Pinterest as a media organisation, I recommend bookmarking it.
It’s not exactly a raging controversy, but there are decided opinions held on whether news organisations should schedule their tweets.
It makes a huge difference when someone writes a tweet as opposed to a bot spitting out a link – the colour, interaction, nuances are quite different, but you can’t hover over a keyboard promoting links 24/7 and there are times when planning ahead and scheduling means you put the reader first.
So, some thoughts…
1. Be mindful of what’s happening
One of the big issues with scheduling tweets is that the news agenda and public mood can change quite rapidly; a jaunty tweet about a showbiz story is obviously jarring to people gripped by a major, rolling news break of significance.
If you did schedule tweets in advance and then have second thoughts about them, log in and quietly unschedule*. In Hootsuite and Tweetdeck (which I flit between – especially now CoTweet is ending its free model) you need to add Scheduled Tweets as separate columns to edit/delete them.
Just because you’ve set a tweet in time it doesn’t mean you’ve set it in tablets of stone, after all Just… kill your schedule for the time being. *May necessitate some midnight logging on if something of international significance occurs late at night.
3. Humans rock
4. It’s not gatekeeping – it’s curating
Possibly some the resistance to scheduling was born out of the Journalists as Gatekeepers backlash – certainly I think a lot of us working in MSM digital spaces were terribly conscious a few years ago about the stigma of being seen to hold back the flow of news.
Personally, I’m not so worried about it any more – news flow happens whether we want it to or not, there are so many options out there for stories to be shared that it’s laughable to assume things won’t find their way into the world independent of what the newsroom does (this goes double for sport stories). Don’t try to gate keep but do try and curate interestingness to make things more convenient for online users – and your average time-poor, Daily Mail sidebar of shame lunchtime reader deserves a bit of help in finding something other than TOWIE and Branjelina updates to read.
5. Check your tweets
Don’t assume the link will be perfect, or the photo will have uploaded as you planned. It looks unprofessional and uncaring if your Twitter page starts spitting out broken links.
Hootsuite has a good scheduling option but ow.ly links are flaky and frequently break; Tweetdeck scheduling is, in my experience, a disaster.
The analytics on Bufferapp (I use Bit.ly) and SocialBro show me how many times each individual tweet has been reshared, who retweeted it and what its likely reach was.
From that, and from on-site analytics, it’s easier to build up a picture of who your readers are, what they want and when they want to read it – which makes it easier to consider what tweets you should be scheduling, and at what time. It’s practically a virtuous circle.
Those are my thoughts; anyone who has some other views or scheduling thoughts tricks or tools, please share – I’m always on the look out for new things to try.