Blog Archives

This Is Not An Insight at Social Media Week

It’s Social Media Week (#SMW) in London and other cities around the world.  And, like any social media conference, the microphone seems to attract more than its fair share of nonsense and misguided opinions masquerading as facts.

Fortunately there’s a deliciously barbed anonymous Tumblr page to bring our attention to some of the most mindless tweets emanating from any of SMW’s events across the capital. Not every victim deserves the pillaring they get, but others have no-one to blame but themselves.

Stunning revelation

2006 called

The irony of the social media industry’s biggest enemy being social media itself isn’t lost here.

We’re all guilty of a lazy tweet here and there, and not everyone was early to the party. But let’s hope that this very not-so-gentle kick up the backside may encourage our industry’s spokespeople and observers to start thinking more deeply about the issues and the profound importance they have for our society. I know our industry can do better than this.

Why You Should Schedule Your Updates With Buffer

Buffer has been a staple ingredient in my social media management workflow for a couple of years now. If you’ve not tried it yet, now’s the time!

One million Buffer users It’s a simple, free tool that allows users to schedule tweets and posts to other social networks including Facebook (pages and profiles), LinkedIn (profiles, groups and company pages), Google+ (pages only) and App.net. And with yesterday’s announcement that Buffer now has one million users, the future looks bright for the business that Joel started in Birmingham UK in October 2010.

Why would you want to schedule posts?

If you’re anything like me, you don’t spend all day monitoring social media channels. Every once in a while you get a few minutes to read some interesting articles and blogs. And if you see something you’d like to share you know how easy it is to post it to one of your social networks. But if you only send out posts there and then, there’s a risk you could be seen to be spamming your followers with lots of content in one go. And anyone who’s not online at that moment may miss the great content you’d love them to see. By scheduling your posts to drip feed out over the coming hours, you enable your followers to hear from you regularly and you increase the likelihood that they’ll engage with your content.

So, what does Buffer do and how does it work?

In a nutshell, Buffer acts as a holding bay for your social media posts. Rather than sending them out immediately, it puts them to one side and sends them at a later scheduled time. There are two ways to tell Buffer when to publish your posts: there’s an auto-schedule that you configure so posts go out at the times/days when your audience is most likely to be online and there’s a custom schedule which allows you to specify when each individual post should go live.

Unlike some tools like Hootsuite, which only schedules in five minute increments, you can specify the exact time (to the nearest minute) your posts should go out. Buffer also integrates with tools like SocialBro, allowing them to configure your auto-schedule based on audience data collected from the social web. It’s this sort of functionality that gives me confidence that Buffer will send my posts out at the right times of day.

Buffer also provides detailed analytics for each post it sends (with optional link shortening through buff.ly, bit.ly or j.mp) and allows you to reorder or edit scheduled posts if required. I also use the app extension for Buffer in the Chrome browser giving me one click access to schedule posts to any of my social networks.

It’s a freemium model, of course, so there’s also a paid for version of the tool. At $10 per month (or $8.50 on a yearly contract) the Awesome Plan adds extended support for unlimited posts, up to 12 social profiles and allows two team members to manage one Buffer profile.

Of course, there are many other tools that can help you schedule posts in the future, but the superb performance of Buffer and its great customer service means it remains a firm favourite here at Wild Orange Media Towers.

To get started with buffer, click over to http://www.bufferapp.com. I think you’ll like it.

How To Fly A Plane With A Hashtag

Race the Plane microsite

It may be a barely veiled attempt to drive Twitter mentions, but you have to admire BA’s Race The Plane competition that’s running in the UK today.

The campaign idea is simplicity itself. Twitter users can race (virtually) a BA jet flying from London to Toronto by tweeting with the hashtag #racetheplace. Presumably—although it’s not explained on the microsite—every tweet increases the distance travelled by the “tweetliner.” Meanwhile, back in the real world, a BA Dreamliner plane is making the actual journey with the distance it has travelled shown on the site.

It’s unclear what the point of the game is, other than giving Twitter users the chance to win flight tickets by taking part. Whether the Dreamliner or Tweetliner arrives first at its destination seems largely academic, but that hasn’t stopped some feverish tweeting from people willing the Tweetliner to win!

We shouldn’t analyse this too deeply, but I can’t help wondering if any of this is actually happening in real time? The two planes seem remarkably close today, just as the marketing team would want to stoke up continued tweeting.

But, that stuff doesn’t really matter. BA has taken a simple idea, presented it tastefully and simply in a dynamic, responsive site, incorporated a succinct promotional video and social proof in a Twitter stream, and seems to be driving lots of mentions across the Twittersphere. Plus they’ve made it easy for players to share the competition to Facebook, and Google+ too, what’s not to like?

The State of Friendship in a Social Media World

I’d love to attribute this image to someone, but I have no idea where it first appeared.

But it’s great and says a lot about the shifting meaning of ‘friendship’ and the inescapable shallowness of many of our daily interactions in a digital world:

Modern Friendship in a Social Media World

Many thanks to whoever created this. I’m sure we’d make great friends.

Happy Friday everyone!

How to Ask for Help On Twitter (Please Read This!)

Please-Help-call-to-actionIt’s well known that if you ask people to retweet something on Twitter they’re more likely to do so than if you don’t ask. But exactly how much more likely has never been quantified before.

Step forward Hubspot’s Dan Zarella, author of The Science of Marketing, and a huge dataset from social update scheduler Buffer.

Dan analysed common calls to action featured in over 2.7million tweets to gauge what impact they have on recipients. While I should urge a little caution given the slightly skewed nature of the data (Buffer users tends to be more sophisticated social media players than the average) the findings are still pretty impressive.

As I’ve shown before, sometimes the littlest changes can have the biggest impact. So, here are the Top Seven Best Performing Calls To Action from Dan’s study:

1. Please Help – this simple, human plea generates more than 160% more retweets than the average tweet. Evidence, if it were ever needed, that social media is all about people helping other people.

2. Please Retweet – the old favourite solicits around 130% more retweets than average, still a great performer.

3. Please RT – interestingly for a shorthand world limited to just 140 characters, abbreviating Retweet to RT leads to 30% drop in retweets received! But ‘Please RT’ will still bring in around 90% more RTs than the average tweet so remains popular amongst the Twitter elite.

4. Please – OK, so this word may not always relate to an overt call to action but your mum was right: a little politeness goes a long way bringing home more than 70% more retweets than average.

5 Retweet – if you’re too cool to be polite, this one word still helps elicit over 50% more retweets than average.

6. Spread – we’re in the long grass now, but tweets featuring the word ‘spread’ still manage to attract over 30% more tweets than average

7. Visit – last on our hit list, the word ‘visit’ brings a tiny retweet uplift of around 15% over the average tweet. Not to be sniffed at perhaps, but a long way from the 160% boost at the top of our list.

So now you know which phrases are most likely to encourage your followers to retweet your content. But when and how often should you use these calls to action?

Clearly, if you beg for a retweet every time you post, your followers are likely to lose interest before very long. Instead I recommend you save your pleas for those times when you really need some help, maybe once or twice a week at most, depending on your activity levels. There are no hard and fast rules, but ask yourself what it must feel like to be on the receiving end of your tweets. If your Sent Tweets starts to look a bit like a charity fundraiser, you might be overdoing it. A little moderation will greatly increase your impact when the time comes to ask for those retweets.

And it almost goes without saying, it’s far better to focus on providing high quality content that your followers will spontaneously want to pass on than to force feed them rubbish they feel obliged to pass on to satisfy your constant requests for their help. Great content always generates the greatest response, even when you don’t ask for it.

How to infographicise your Twitter profile

imageIs this useful or not? Probably not, but it’s harmless, good fun.

A tool from Visual.ly allows you to “Twitterize Yourself!”, essentially creating a near-instant infographic of your Twitter persona.

Quite what you’ll do with the resulting diagram I’m not sure. Maybe impress your mum or print it out to stick above your desk to convince any naysayers of your awesome social media powers.

Or you could do like me and ponder what you’ve done to only achieve “17.82% interestingness” before concluding that even answering that question is unlikely to improve my score!

What do you make of this tool? Any practical uses you can uncover?

(And here, for my mum, is my full profile)

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