Tag Archives: privacy

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

5 ways to build social media engagement

Why are we obsessed with vanity metrics? Like Love Island, we know they’re bad for us, but we keep coming back for more. There’s a guilty pleasure in notching up followers, or clocking more likes on a post. But measurements that involve sheer numbers, such as follower counts and likes, don’t actually prove very much. They aren’t particularly good indicators of how well you’re really engaging your audience.

Love the ones you’re with

The social media platforms know this, which is why Twitter has been so keen to shut down growth-hacking tools (like TweetAdder and SocialQuant) and why this month we heard that Instagram has been experimenting with removing likes, citing them as an unnecessary distraction.

Instagram says it wants to focus on enabling expression and fostering connections. As users, this may sound great, but what does it actually mean? If likes and follower count don’t indicate engagement, then what does? Obviously, social media owners still want you to buy their advertising! But there are many ways to improve engagement organically, without spending a penny.

We are family

Research shows it’s much cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. So it makes commercial sense to engage with people who are already following you. Here are five great ways to do this.

1. Create original, meaningful content that is unique to you – and useful and interesting to your audience. Examples include informative blog posts (industry tips, reviews, checklists), infographics, videos (interviews, how-to’s), surveys and competitions. Once you’ve created this content, share it across all your social media channels. Make it easy for people to find you by adding appropriate hashtags (slightly different for each platform, eg: YouTube or Pinterest).

2. Establish a specific tone of voice and use it throughout your content. Are you going to be formal or informal? Chatty or aloof? Politically-driven or neutral? Agree a style guide for your brand – and stick to it.

3. Facebook’s new focus on privacy means it’s now prioritising Groups. Consider setting up a Group that you can link to and promote from your existing Facebook Page. Choose an interest or cause that’s related to what you do, and build a community of people around that. Give members special offers, discounts and exclusive content to keep them interested.

4. Encourage engagement other than “likes” – if people “react” with a heart, applause or even a dislike, and especially if they comment, Facebook ranks this organic content higher in its algorithm.

5. Test and experiment. Try different types of content and change your tactics. Note what works and what doesn’t work. Keep on iterating. Be open – don’t be afraid to ask people what they’d like to see!

Don’t you love me, baby?

Facebook is still reeling from last year’s scandals (Cambridge Analytica/ Alt right extremism) and is having to dramatically tighten up the way it handles user data. With Facebook and the other tech giants coming under further scrutiny, the situation is only going to intensify.

This means it’s increasingly hard to reach users on both Facebook and Instagram unless they really want to be reached. It’s not surprising that marketers across the board are seeing a drop in engagement.

The flipside to this is that it’s really worth putting time and resources into boosting your organic reach, and into improving your relationships with existing customers. I hope the tips above will work for you. Let me know how you get on in the comments, or ping me on Twitter @JemimaG.

Thanks Mecca Ibrahim for help with this post.

And thanks Element5 Digital on Unsplash for the photo!

Ethics panel at the ODI Summit

ODI Summit: can we take back control of our data?

Open data is a nebulous concept. What does it actually mean? Openness is generally considered to be a good thing. And we all know data is valuable. So open data must be double plus good, right?

We tend to get confused about what’s “open” and what’s not (hardly surprising when few of us read the terms and conditions on anything). As Tim Berners-Lee pointed out at the fifth ODI Summit yesterday, most of us don’t realise we shouldn’t be using Google Maps on event invitations, because that data is copyright Google (he recommends we use OpenStreetMap instead).

At the same time as being trigger-happy with other people’s copyrighted data, we’re even more foolhardy with our own. What we really don’t want is what Sir Tim calls “promiscuous data” – that’s personal data which goes off in all sorts of directions we don’t want it to.

The Open Data Institute believes that open data is the glue society needs. It is campaigning to establish data as “an infrastructure not a commodity”.  If we all share data and collaborate, we’ll save ourselves billions of pounds annually. But if we’re individually confused about what we should and shouldn’t share, the companies and organisations currently managing our data for us are even more conflicted.

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Dan meets Kate in The Circle - screenshot from All 4

When the catfish wins, everyone loses

I’m so gutted for Dan! He seemed like the one straight-up, trustworthy guy on Channel 4’s new reality show, The Circle (screenshot above). But Dan got nothing but public humiliation while his fellow contestant, Alex (aka “Kate”) walked off with the £75,000 prize.

In case you missed the show, which ended last night on Channel 4, here’s a summary: 8 contestants are holed up in an apartment block for 3 weeks, only able to communicate with each other via social media (using a specially made platform called The Circle). Every day they “rate” each other: the highest rated contestants become “influencers” and choose another contestant to “block” – or expel.

Fatal attraction

Dan and Kate quickly became friends, but Dan is being fooled. Kate is a catfish: she’s not a girl with a sweet face at all, she’s a “social media comedian” called Alex. At the end of 3 weeks, the highest-rated person wins. That person ended up being “Kate” (in part thanks to Dan’s consistently high ratings).

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Blog - working with design club

Why I’m working with Design Club

Even before the Cambridge Analytica story broke in March, public trust in social media was at an all-time low. The Edelman Trust Barometer published in January reported concern around bullying, extremist content and lack of transparency, with only a quarter of the UK population saying they’d trust social media as a source of information.

Cracking up

The seismic shift in the way we see social media was summed up nicely by a former Silicon Valley executive speaking on Radio 4 this week (The New Age of Capitalism: the Attention Economy). James Williams was working in search advertising at Google, when he realised things weren’t right:

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Design Jam at Facebook London

Big Brother is watching us – he wants to play nicely

Andy Warhol said that in the future we will all be famous for 15 minutes. George Orwell predicted constant surveillance. Maybe it’s only with hindsight that we see these two things as inextricably linked: our “fame” always comes at a price.

Online social networks offer us free connectivity and the ability to broadcast edited versions of our lives. In exchange, we give them our data. Trouble is, the details of this contract have never been clearly articulated or explained, much less negotiated.

Last week I went to Facebook’s new office in London for a Design Jam. The Design Jams are open innovation – a series of hackathons to help Facebook users better understand, improve and navigate the legal complexities of its website.

Facebook is understandably concerned that it may be losing younger users and that hours spent on the platform are declining. Last week’s event focused on data transparency for young people.

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