Social media: Are we doing it right? #socialconvo

I went to an unusual event yesterday. Unusual because it felt like the start of a conversation. I didn’t even tweet much on the day (I know!), I was thinking…

socialconvo

What the hell is going on with Facebook?

In a room of around 12 people, at an event about social media, there was no love for Facebook. There was a lot of positive talk about Twitter but, for Facebook, just disdain.

Why?

Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool but it got no traction in the room. Because it is too reciprocal. Too filtered. Too, well, too Facebook.

I don’t suppose I disagree with any of that. I don’t use Facebook as me. But as the brands I have worked for I have used it a lot and I’ve seen Facebook used to build a sense of community and deliver “value” where before there was none. For example, using Facebook groups to build a team/community for several 100 marathon runners who are spread across the country.

Are we dismissing Facebook as a tool simply because our annoying cousin is too heavy with the selfies and complement fishing?

Are marketing and communications teams getting it all wrong?

The language and culture of marketing, and the media focus of communications teams, are largely unhelpful. They bring to the table pre-set ways of thinking and doing things that are not right for the brave new social world. Marketers are too shouty and needy, storming onto twitter and screaming “like my crap, like my crap”. And their colleagues in comms are just as bad. They just want to post links to their latest press releases when they should be having a conversation!

Or do they? I think you can easily encounter this sort of behaviour but you can also encounter the opposite. Perhaps though, we can agree on what poor marketing and comms looks like on Twitter; Too corporate, not human.

What’s wrong with all our organisations?

The room felt that social media (if we must call it that) was of huge significance for any organisation that wants (or needs) to reach/engage/consult a public audience. But no one thought any organisation was good at that really. Not one. Local government was thought to be especially poor.

I felt organisations where painted the enemy of progress. The bastions of mediocrity where control, risk aversion and dull content live. Part of the problem.

But the problem is hard to define. It might be that “there is no  punishment for mediocrity”, that the culture is wrong. That the powers that be have the tools to change the world but not the digital leadership, or will, to make that change happen.

There was a sense, or hope, that the diverse voices found on the twittersphere could collaborate is some way to challenge “the old way” of doing things. But also a sense we need help to do this. We need more people to collaborate with. Too many legends of life on land are not online. We need to get them involved, to improve the quality of the democracy people are finding on Twitter and to enrich it. But how?

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The (perceived) discrepancy between Facebook insights and the posts on your page explained

Juding by the amount of questions listed when you serach for “discrepancy” in Facebook help, a fair few people are puzzled by what they see on their page VS what they see in insights. At first glance it can be a puzzler, but dig a little deeper and all becomes clear.

This is the summary data you get on all posts:

Here's what you see when you look at post data in Facebook insights (correct as of Oct 2013)

Here’s what you see when you look at post data in Facebook insights (correct as of Oct 2013)

But when you compare this to what you (and everyone else) sees on your Facebook page:

Here's what you see on your actual page - the figure is much less than the summary in insights

Here’s what you see on your actual page – the figure is much less than the summary in insights

To get to the bottom of why this is, simply click on the post from within Facebook insights and all is revealed:

Here is the breakdown of how the total likes of 2.4k are calculated

Here is the breakdown of how the total likes of 2.4k are calculated

In conclusion

Facebook is not telling you porkies but perhaps their insights could benifit from showing more data in the summary section.

Also in the process of figuring this out, I discovered that pinning a post to the top of your page temporarily removes it from the insights but I’m not sure why. Something to do with it no longer being at the correct place in the timeline perhaps?

How to fail – my top 5 mistakes (plus an infographic of some things I did right)

After six years and quite a few job titles, the time has come for me to move on from the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign to an exciting new role as Director of Fundraising and Marketing for Dignity in Dying. In my last few weeks of an epic three month notice period I took stock of what I have learnt.

What I learnt, was how to fail.

My top 5 #Fails

1. I late adopted

Sometimes the “next big thing” is the last thing we want to hear about. When you are a one and a half man digital team (half of me, one web manager) you don’t want another profile to manage. For this reason, I was very late to the Twitter party – what opportunity did I miss when my head was buried in Facebook?

I think I made up for it later, and a combination of getting colleagues posting their own content on Twitter coupled with a bit of content curation (like Storify)  is paying dividends now. But it all should have happened a year sooner I think.

LEARNING: You’ve got to be in it to win, fail fast

2. I made my mind up

I’m stubborn. Once I have decided something is a waste of time, it is a waste of time.

I would tell people not to waste time messing around with Google+. “Meh to Google+” I would say, *tumbleweed*. But the goal posts are always moving, especially in digital places, and a closed mind will fast go down the path of making big mistakes. Is it time for a rethink?

Fortunately I often caveat my Google+ advice by saying,  “if three people ask you why you are not on there then, perhaps, you should consider it”. So I might just wriggle my way out of that one. But I am still questioning my thinking on it. I am a fan of Google products and have heard the Google+ described by a very smart man (smarter than me, as I have forgotten his name but it was in a Google+ hangout at BarcampNFP) as “a platform unlike any other”. Also I recently read that Google+ is Google. Deal

LEARNING: Beware a closed mind

3. Nothing is optimised for mobile

Not one stinking page on the sites I looked after. It’s all pinch in, pinch out, thumb around and pinch again. I know how important it is, but I have failed to make it happen. I’ve included it in my handover, but that is lame. Utter fail.

LEARNING: Try harder, it’s always possible/worth it

4. I spend more time capturing data than analysing it

So much bloody data! Email data, web analytics, Facebook insights, social media monitoring, direct mail response rates, dashboards, heatmaps, reports, income forecasts…will it never end!

But what did I do with it all? Did I notice what the data was showing me and recommend the right way forward?

Well, some of the time I made good changes and some of the time I spent ages crunching numbers, slaving over a hot spread sheet only to realise I don’t know what the bloody hell is actually going on. But I can make a nice graph.

LEARNING: Always be clear about the difference between reporting and analysis?

5. I work too hard (no really)

I wanted to prove how vital adoption of digital tools and tactics to an organisation like MDC was and is. To a certain extent, I think I may have, but in doing so I have made my remit and workload too large. After an intensive three day handover with my replacement, it dawned on me how much stuff beyond what is the core of my job I do.

I’m always sticking my nose into other people’s problems to – I like to fix things. I like to show people how to do stuff – I’m part trainer/part coach and I love that. But it does mean to get all the core work done, you have to read draft copy on the way in to work, arrive a bit early, leave a bit late, skip a proper lunch break and tweet from the train on the way home. I’m a victim of the ease of mobile working. (Got your violin out yet?)

In all seriousness, no matter how good someone is at their job and developing their role, the more they do that the harder they are to replace and the bigger the risk of them leaving is to your organisation. I know one (or perhaps two) small organisations that might very well close shop or shrink dramatically if one key member of staff left. That’s a genuine concern for the our sector I think.

LEARNING: Stay focussed, delegate something

Final thought (and the promised infographic)

A recent study has shown that if you want to learn from failure, the path to learning is to forgive yourself after you make a mistake. Sometimes that is easier than others, but I can always take solace that I did do some things right. To mark some of those things I did do right (I think) at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, I have created the infographic below.

It is by no means a masterpiece. I cobbled it together using Hubspot’s  Marketer’s Simple Guide to Creating Infographics in PowerPoint. But what it does do is mark the end of a huge part of my life and the start of an exciting new chapter in my career.

Thanks to all the people at MDC, who made this infographic possible 🙂

You don’t need a microsite, you need a message!

People often ask me about building a fundraising microsite and I’m happy to help them. But, the thing is, I think they are asking the wrong question. Maybe they should ask, “what tools do I need to fundraise online?”

The microsite delusion – if you build it, they will come

Is there a cause you are passionate about and you want to raise funds for them? Great. Here’s a tip for you – you don’t need a website, you need a message.

A message and an audience. So where is the biggest audience, like, ever? Facebook.

“Alough the website was useful, the most effective tool was Facebook”

Phil Szomszor, Fundrasier for St Michael’s Hospice

Hell yeah it was.

Now I know Phil also said his website was “useful” but this is a guy who works in Technology PR, so he probably had skills and resources that most people don’t. And, even then, the most effective tool was still Facebook.

So don’t go about building a website unless you are slinging them up left, right and centre faster than a boy scout can pitch a tent. Otherwise it is simply too much effort for what you will get out of it – not enough bang for your buck, a mediocre return on investment, a sub optimal cost income ratio. Getting the picture?

Fear not, Facebook is an awesome tool

Facebook works great for fundraising – spreading your message, hosting events, sharing photos, video, links to press coverage. It does pretty much everything a website can do. Not Convinced? Then ponder these facts:

  • A spontaneous Facebook campaign resulted in the NSPCC gaining 50,000 new supporters and around £100,000 in donations in just 48 hours. The number of visitors to the children’s charity’s website also shot-up up by 500%.

NSPCC tweet

  • 27% of Just Giving donations are from Facebook and that was in 2011, it’s probably gone up.
  • Facebook completely outstrips other soical networks for the number of donations it provides

(Many thanks to Just Giving for those stats, you can find our more in their fundraising infographic.)

That’s right – you don’t need a fundraising microsite

You need a message. A story. Something people can identify with. I can’t tell you what that should be, but you will know it when you see it.

I would advise though not to rush into the raising awareness and spreading the word about your fundraising until you have worked out what your story is. It is very important. People learn through stories and if you want them to listen to you and take action, you need the right message. The right story.

Once you have a message, then you can think about the most effective tools to spread the word and what might work for you. I would only consider three in the 1st instance and in this order

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Blogs

And I probably wouldn’t bother with the blog to start off with.

Once I was happy that I was spreading my message, telling my story effectively, I might consider adding in some other elements to build upon that. Perhaps a little content curation but only if I thought what I was doing was working. By “working” I mean spreading my message, getting people to help out, getting some press coverage, getting people sponsoring or sending in ££. Things I could count, measure or spend.

If you are Facebooking and Tweeting away and you still don’t think you are getting the results you want, you might need to make sure your message is working for you. Do people “get” your story?

Disclaimer

All of these things, Facebook and wot not, are just tools. It is your story that is doing the fundraising because your story is the most powerful way to get your fundraising message across, social media is just a way to share the story.

So, what’s your story?

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign on Facebook

Here a few examples of posts that got people talking on the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Facebook page

They pretty much cover all areas of the charity’s work; these are just a few highlights for you:

Research

This was following the news about encouraging results of UK Duchenne exon skipping from July 2011.

Research on Facebook

Campaigning

This post was about our campaigning on the issue of Easyjet’s wheelchair policy:

Campaigning on Facebook

Fundraising

We often use Facebook to thank supporters for their support at a fundraising event (we also tweet about them, here’s why) as well as supporting the fundraising supporters are doing themselves. Like this:

Fundraising on Facebook

Information and support service

Back in June 2011 we shared details of a visit from from Muscular Dystrophy Nepal. We are pleased to now get regular updates from them via Facebook.

Information service on Facebook

 

That was just a few highlights to share with delegates at the MDC National Conference, if you want to see more of this stuff then get yourself over to Facebook.

See you there.