At the end of 2020 Twitter began overhauling its verification process with a view to launching the new and improved version early this year. It’s a move that’s long overdue and will improve trust between organisations and their audiences by defining what verification means, who is eligible and why some accounts might lose verification.
This year has taken us on quite a ride hasn’t it? Things kicked off with devastating bush fires in Australia whilst Prince Harry and Meghan Markle upped sticks to America and it wasn’t long before Covid-19 arrived, the stock markets crashed, Black Lives Matter protests flooded the streets and life as we knew it changed forever.
Sometimes when you’re developing a creative for a campaign, the stars align in terms of subject matter, objectives and, in the case of one of our latest projects at least, the time of year.
With the new BBC Director General, Tim Davie, taking up his post this week, at the top of his extensive to-do list is the task of restoring trust in the corporation and re-establishing the notion of impartial reporting.
Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence are everywhere. For most people working in communications we’ll already be aware of them and what they do, but a tweet by the Chair of the CIPR’s AI in PR Panel, Kerry Sheehan made me stop and consider what the wider implications of the use of these technologies are now and what they will be in the future.
With more and more of us connecting virtually using Zoom, Teams and other online systems, DTW Director Lorna McAteer-Bingham takes a look at some of the simple steps you can take to help make your online meeting a success.
One of the biggest changes to businesses as a result of Covid-19 has been the increase in online meetings. At DTW we have used online meeting software such as Skype, Teams and Zoom for many years to keep in touch with clients who are often spread across the globe. But, with lockdown resulting in a shift to home working we have found these tools have become just as crucial for internal communication.
With more time being spent conducting meetings virtually, we wanted to share our top tips for success.
Think about your environment
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is adapting to work full-time in an environment away from the office. Added to this, in many cases we’re now sharing our workspaces with partners, children and pets – all of which can be an unwanted distraction when taking part in a meeting.
If you’re lucky enough to have a space you can set up a home office in, try to avoid strong sources of natural light behind you and anything that might generate unwanted background noise. If you’re in a particularly dark area you could invest in a simple ring light that attaches to your laptop to give things a boost.
Where sharing your space with other family members, try to plan your day in advance to allow for some peace and quiet around the time of your meeting. Equally, don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you might be subject to the odd unexpected interruption. After all, many of us are in the same position. Where sound is a challenge, consider headphones or a headset; the ones that come with many mobile phones have a microphone built in.
Test the technology
There’s nothing worse than joining an online meeting only to spend the first 20 minutes dealing with technical issues, with participants sorting out connectivity, audio or video challenges. Whilst this is sometimes unavoidable, it’s worth planning in some time in advance of a meeting to carry out a test run. This is especially important if you’re using a system for the first time as it may require you to install additional software and restart your computer.
Test out functions like screen sharing, get your documents ready in advance and don’t be the one everyone is watching struggling to get to grips with technology.
Set a clear agenda – and use the technology to help you stick to it
Knowing what you want to achieve from a meeting and setting a clear agenda is key to success – online or otherwise.
Where you are working on a long term project with a client, consider creating a standing agenda for meetings which covers off key points from the project plan. You can assign each section of the agenda to a specified team member to take responsibility for driving forward.
Be very clear in what you are saying
What you’re sharing on screen is as important – if not more so – than what you say. It keeps people focused and provides a record that you and others can go back to.
Working remotely takes away some of the non-verbal cues we all give off in meetings, so be really clear and explicit with people as to what you need them to do.
It comes back to good planning – but the online virtual delivery is a little different.
Follow up with actions
Make sure your meetings result in action. Appointing one of the team to do this at the start is critical. We always circulate a Contact Report after a meeting which captures key decisions, actions and deadlines.
They provide an extremely useful record of progress and prevent important aspects of a job getting sidelined or missed!
And, as with any meeting, getting the fundamentals right is only one part of it. Giving time and space for everyone involved to give their input and listening to their views can be key. It’s also worth bearing in mind that those taking part may have different learning styles and approaches to communicating, so it’s important to reflect on this and adapt your approach accordingly.
Thanks for reading.
Recent headlines around data and social media means both consumers and marketeers are feeling wary about using and sharing data on platforms like Facebook. Is data being used ethically? How can it be used to effectively target the right audience?
This blog is not here to scaremonger. Instead, it is going to show you how, when done right, targeting using social data is a win/win for everyone involved.
We’re going to focus on Facebook, but LinkedIn and Twitter have similar advert targeting platforms and functionalities.
How targeting works
Once a consumer has signed up and accepted those terms and conditions (the ones we all accept, but hardly ever read), a social network can start gathering information on them. They look at who they follow, which posts they like, where they log on from, what device they log on from and – through cookies – what sites they visit.
It’s worth noting that social networks like Facebook are not unusual when it comes to this data gathering – Google is just the same.
The networks then provide this information, confidentially, to advertisers so they can serve content that they think is relevant to the consumer. For example, if a consumer has interacted with a lot of fitness and swimming content from their phone, and you are running the new swimming baths nearby, you might want to advertise your new swimming lessons to them when they’re on their phone next.
Image source: Buzzfeed
How to target effectively
Poor targeting is the thing that gives social data a bad name. If you’re a passionate swimmer, you’re not really interested in seeing an advert for expensive running shoes. You also don’t particularly want to see an advert too specific: “You love swimming, why not try running instead?”. This can, quite rightly, freak people out.
Facebook has advertising policies that outline what advertisers can and can’t put in their adverts to ensure the content is relevant to their users. Users can also access, and limit, the information Facebook provides advertisers via their account settings (and for the record, Facebook doesn’t listen to our conversations).
When you first start looking to run an advertising campaign on Facebook, the best place to start is Audience Insights. This helps you define who would be best suited for your content and see how you can make it relevant to them. Again, let’s reiterate, this is all confidential data, there will never be any personal information like names, emails and addresses available to advertisers.
When you go to Facebook Audience Insights, you can filter for users within certain locations, demographics or interests. Once you’ve defined those filters, you can look at which pages they like, how they interact with posts, and what devices they use.
So, with our swimming example – we can see that the people we’ve defined on the left are more likely to click on ads than the average Facebook user, and use Facebook on their iPhones more than desktop.
Then, once we’ve got that audience defined, we can save it and use it when setting up an advertising campaign.
During this time, Facebook helpfully tells you if your audience is defined enough to run a decent campaign as seen here – the target is always to be in the green.
With this information, we can create relevant ad content for our audience, and make sure our ads look good on mobile.
Once your campaign is up and running, you’ll get a relevance score, which is a number between 1 and 10 that tells you how your target audience is responding to your ad. The higher the score, the more relevant your ad to your audience. This will hopefully mean that your audience is seeing the right content for them and won’t be annoyed or disappointed at seeing your content in their news feed.
We’ve established the sort of data that social networks can get from a user, and how it is used for advertising purposes, but the key thing to remember is that the better the targeting, the happier your audience will be and the more effective your marketing will become.
Here are some key things to remember to make sure you target your audience correctly:
- Don’t be too broad or too niche – you want to cast a net wide enough to get your message out, but not too wide that people who wouldn’t be interested in your content get annoyed at seeing your ads in their feeds.
- Tailor your content to your audience – using Audience Insights is a great way to get a steer on the kind of content that works for your audience.
- Stay relevant – if your relevance score is under 5, have a look at your campaign results (in ads manager). See where people are clicking, who is clicking and tweak your targeting accordingly.4. Talk to an expert – If you’re really struggling, or just want a sense check, there are plenty of social media experts who know the ins and outs of good audience targeting.
AI… it’s a Steven Spielberg film starring Jude Law right? It’s a distant concept that isn’t impacting us yet. Think again. Machine learning and AI is growing and already impacts everyone’s lives every day. As I learned in a compelling morning of presentations around AI in PR at the very impressive PROTO in Gateshead, hosted by the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations).
The thing is, AI (that’s artificial intelligence by the way) is already in our lives, from social media algorithms, to customer service chatbots on websites. I can guarantee we all encounter AI every day in some form or another.
AI is defined in the dictionary as:
A branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behaviour in computers.
The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behaviour.
That’s quite a broad definition. If we took that at face value, a calculator is AI… so we need to add an extra layer to this, and that’s where machine learning comes in.
To quote AI startup Wordnerds: If it’s not making decisions, it’s not AI.
What struck me from the presentations I saw, is there are two aspects to perceptions of AI: Fear and opportunity.
Kerry Sheehan from the CIPR’s #AIinPR panel talked us through the impact that AI is having not only in our industry but across a lot of enterprise. On face value, AI is replacing a lot of work done by humans; doing it quicker and better, hence a fear that machines are taking our jobs; the robots are taking over!
Well, this is partly true. What machines are doing is taking away the entry-level work for graduates and young people to get into an industry. This is around the traditional skillsets such as risk management, data management, and listening; the day-to-day bits and bobs that get many of us starting out do to get the experience needed to take the next step on the career ladder. Without this work, what is the new starting off point for those coming into the industry at the beginning of their careers?
There are still some essential human skills that the robots will never be able to gain. Think strategy, creativity, ethics, and people management.
These two diagrams are the result of a study looking at the skillset in PR now and in 5 years, and how AI will impact on them.
As scary as new technology is, there is some real opportunity for all of us to use AI to improve our productivity and service, whatever line of business we operate in.
We at DTW have found opportunity in AI through some of the tools we use. We’ve been trialling a tool that automatically transcribes our videos so we don’t have to manually make subtitles (thus increasing accessibility of our clients’ messages). We use social media smart scheduling tools that analyse when the most engaging time of day is for our clients’ Twitter and Facebook accounts so we can post when they’ll get the most exposure.
So, these are some of the lessons we’re learning in PR around AI that can be applied to other industries:
- Don’t be scared. Take advantage of the technologies to improve your productivity and professional offering.
- Make sure you have an understanding of the technology. The CIPR is going to offer coding classes so PR professionals can create and better understand how AI programmes work.
- Don’t use tools for the sake of using them. Make sure they offer the right solution for you.
- We all have an ethical responsibility to ensure AI is influencing decisions in the right way (i.e. not biased or prejudiced or inappropriate). For example, Amazon became aware that children were learning how to talk through voice commands on their Echo devices, which meant they were learning a blunt way of talking: “Alexa, do this… do that”. So, they decided to adapt the AI technology to only respond to commands from children that included a ‘please’ or a ‘thank you’.
So, the robots? Not so scary after all!
We all try to keep our LinkedIn feeds up to date don’t we? We try to log in frequently to check-in to the oldest ‘big’ social network out there but let’s face it, for many of us it’s never our most used app or website. Well, this blog might change all that.
In October, LinkedIn announced BIG changes to their feed algorithm meaning not only will we be seeing some fairly different content when we log in, but we’ll notice our personal content getting a lot more attention.
What’s the update?
Let’s set the scene: LinkedIn has over 567m members who post more than a million posts, videos and articles each day. The thing is, it was the content from a select few (the most followed 1%) that dominated the LinkedIn feed meaning that lowly users like me (and probably you) didn’t get much of a chance of our posts appearing on feeds, let alone get engagement.
LinkedIn followed the common rule in social networks – the more engagement a post gets, the more likely it will appear in feeds, which means that key influencers like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, who have a lot of followers, get more engagement, and therefore appear in more feeds – which gives them more engagement, which gets them in more feeds and…well, you get the picture.
What those clever folk behind LinkedIn have decided to do is look at who is posting that content and evaluate how much a like, comment or share would mean to the author.
Following me so far? Ok – to use the examples that the social network have used themselves:
Why does this matter?
LinkedIn started as, and remains to be, a social network focused on individuals (professionals) connecting with each other; rather than organisations talking to their audience. Indeed, here at DTW, we champion individuals using LinkedIn over organisations – as seen in the employee advocacy work we do with our clients. It is this personal level that LinkedIn are bringing with this new change.
Therefore, if you are looking to spread your organisation’s message on LinkedIn, now is the time to do it from your personal profile, rather than your company’s.
What should communicators do?
- When you’re posting content on social media, what is the main objective? It’s for your audience to read it, and engage with it. From DTW’s perspective, it doesn’t matter if that reach comes in the form of a company post, or an employee’s post, as long as that content is being read and engaged with.
- Therefore, if you use LinkedIn as a platform for your communications, now is the time to think about enabling your employees to share that content in their own feeds and networks, as well as sharing it on your company page too.
- It’s important to encourage employees to share your organisation’s updates and content on their own channels. This might be in the form of internal communications like an intranet or companywide email – either way, let them know the content is there. As part of this, encourage engagement on other posts that they see in their feed too.
- This personal-level of sharing might be trickier to monitor as engagement on personal posts won’t appear in your company’s LinkedIn analytics. For us, it’s not too important (we all chat to each other about our posts), but if tracking ROI is a key objective for your organisation, there are employee advocacy tools out there that can help; like Smarp or Sprout Social’s Bambu.
- We’ve helped clients build confidence amongst their employees to post on their company’s behalf, and using an employee advocacy tool, it can be easier for everyone to share content. With this new algorithm update, it’s a great opportunity to get engagement and recognition for it.
We’re really excited about this LinkedIn update – it’s a step forward to bringing social media back to being social.
Thanks for reading!
I have a busy job. A very busy job. As one of the owners of DTW I split my time between working in the business and on the business – which can mean doing regular night shifts for the latter.
I also have two young boys who I try to pick up from school now and again – and I do mean now and again! Plus their swimming lessons, gymnastics classes, friends’ parties… you know how it is – just a regular working mum really.
“So how can you afford to take two days out for a marketing conference?” you might ask. The answer – how can I afford not to?
Having spent the last two days at the B2C Marketing and Advertising Expo, B2B Marketing and Advertising Expo and the Marketing Technology Expo 2018 at ExCeL London, I’ve come away believing more than ever that the talent in our industry is immense. The digital world we live in creates opportunities beyond belief and the young people of today are growing up already creating the next big thing.
Conferences like these make me proud to be a marketer. Proud to work with clients whose work genuinely makes a difference and proud to work on campaigns that mean I get up each morning with a smile on my face, ready to face the next big challenge.
“So, what have you learnt from Marketing Expo 2018?” you might ask. I’ll tell you what I’ve learnt. I’ve learnt that we’re doing it right. When we meet talented people, companies whose work genuinely excites us, we see that as an opportunity and not a threat.
We collaborate with them to create amazing campaigns that continue to make us proud, continue to excite us and continue to provide great results for the people who really matter – our clients.
So, next time you have the opportunity to meet some of the best in your industry; to learn from people smarter than you; don’t say you can’t afford the time – you can’t afford not to!
DTW already works with great partners including Digital Allies, Interel, Public Knowledge, Gooey Creative and Arcus. They’re clever people who share our values and bring a fresh perspective to what we do.
Thanks for reading