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Digital Social Media Strategy

Ethics in the age of Algorithms and AI

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.

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Creative Design Social Media Strategy

Are we entering the era of shitposting as a valid communications tactic?

Shitposting masterclass or just a plain shitshow? That’s the question that everyone is asking after the design horror show in the government Covid-19 public health campaign. And it’s not only communications professionals.

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#teamDTW Latest News Social Media

Top tips for managing social media in a Covid-19 world

Covid-19 has changed the way businesses and organisations position and market themselves. DTW Strategist Hannah Cheetham takes time to draw breath and consider how organisations need to re-focus social media in a Covid-19 world.

The social media world was turned upside down by Covid-19. The landscape changed overnight and content that was appropriate suddenly became redundant and out of date.

When Covid-19 began to emerge as an issue in the UK during February and March, we reacted quickly for our clients to review plans and strategies. In many cases this meant quickly pivoting to remove or replace content and tailor messaging.

For clients like the Law Society, we re-planned the list of topics we were covering for our weekly Twitter chat, SolicitorChat, and developed new graphics focussed on Covid-19. For others, such as Road Safety GB North East, we updated our content schedule to focus messaging on the increased number of pedestrians and cyclists using the roads.

As we look ahead to the next 12-18 months it’s important to move beyond the react and pivot stage. Plans need to be made for the “new normal” where social and digital media will play an increasingly important role in communications.

If you’re wondering where to start with dealing with all of this, here are our top five tips for getting your digital and social strategy right in the new post-lockdown world:

1. Be clear on your goals

Before you start out, it’s critical you know what you’re setting out to achieve. Targets, goals and KPIs that you have set previously may no longer be relevant or may require revising. Depending on what your approach to digital and social has been over the last 10 weeks, take a look at the data and analytics you have available to help inform this process.

2. Know your audience

When was the last time you took the pulse of your audience’s online activity? Covid-19 has changed the way that people use and interact with their peers and brands online and what you knew in January could have changed massively now. Tools such as Sprout Social’s listening platform (paid) and Answer the Public (offers free and paid options) are great for getting snapshots of online behaviours which you can feed into your plans.

3. Be timely and be relevant

This was always important but is even more so now. Consider things like greater use of long form content such as featured articles and blogs which provide your audience with a more detailed insight into the topics you’re communicating than you might have done in the past. We’re all spending more time online now and as a result are more likely to engage with this detailed content.

4. Stop, evaluate and listen

Things are changing constantly, so consider breaking your campaign or activity into phased bursts with pauses built in to review what is working (and what isn’t). This allows you to tweak and amend your approach to take into account what’s generating the best results and any changes in the wider world which may have an impact on your work.

5. Don’t be afraid to be bold

We’ve already seen a number of big brands successfully change their approach to social and digital as a result of Covid-19. If the data and insights back up the idea of ripping up your carefully thought out plans from earlier in the year and setting out in a new direction, don’t be afraid to do this!

What’s certain, in addition to the above, is that things will continue to change and develop as we adapt to new ways of living and working – and I think that digital and social media will be right at the centre of this.

Thanks for reading.

Hannah

Categories
Latest News Social Media

Is social media advocacy the solution to reduced organic reach for brands?

How does having your own private social media army sound? Interesting…then please read on.

When it comes to posting content as a brand on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn it’s becoming increasing difficult to reach your audience if you just rely on organic (i.e. you don’t pay to promote it) content.

There is a rapidly diminishing return in terms of the natural organic performance of content – this can mean reach as low as 2% of your page’s audience – as networks push to make themselves more relevant to users and simultaneously try to grow revenue through advertising.

So, aside from reviewing the approach and tone of the content you’re posting or going cap in hand and asking for a bigger budget for promoted content on social media, what are the options?

Social advocacy

As I see it, the biggest opportunity for anyone delivering social media in 2019 has to be around harnessing the power of your employees as social media advocates who can utilise their personal social media channels to amplify your organisation’s messages and activity.

Advocacy grows the potential audience for your content beyond your owned channels to the networks of your employees and creates a more personal link between your messages and the audience – think of it as having your own private army of micro-influencers.

And you’ll be getting one over on those pesky algorithms. The platforms are much more likely to favour content that has been posted by an individual rather than an organisation.

Naturally, there are risks to taking this approach – you are delegating some control of your brand away from the carefully controlled confines of the marketing/communications team and in the hands of your employees, but with careful planning and oversight the risks to this can be negated.

For example, in our work with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we have helped to train over 100  advocates on how they can effectively use their presence on social media (across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to amplify the SRA’s messages in a time and place that suits them whilst at the same time enhancing their own presences on social media – a true win-win situation.

Training and resources

In conjunction with training, putting in place a system to centralise and track advocates not only ensures that sharing content is a simple and straightforward process, but also means you can track and reward the advocates who are doing the most to share content. There are a whole range of these platforms out there including Smarp (which we use in our work with the SRA) and Bambu which we have access to as part of our membership of Sprout Social’s Agency Partner programme.

We’re currently working on a whitepaper which will provide a much more detailed insight into how we see social media advocacy developing over the coming months, but in the meantime here are our three top recommendations for setting up an advocacy programme:

  1. Plan ahead – make sure what you want to achieve from launching an advocacy programme is aligned with your organisation’s overall objectives
  2. Support your advocates – consider ways you can train your advocates around effective use of social media, provide context and give them the confidence to take ownership of their work in the programme.
  3. Put a structure in place to systemise the programme – this includes thinking about how you will disseminate the content you want to be shared, track the effectiveness of the programme and recognise/reward success.

If you want to register to receive a copy of our whitepaper when it’s published later in the spring or find out how you could make an advocacy programme work for your organisation get in touch with me – pete@dtw.co.uk or Jess – jess@dtw.co.uk – and we’d be happy to chat things through with you over a cup of coffee.

Thanks for reading,

Pete.

Categories
Digital Social Media

How to target your audience effectively through social media

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.

Facebook targeting

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.

Audience Insights

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.

Audience insights 2

Then, once we’ve got that audience defined, we can save it and use it when setting up an advertising campaign.

Facebook ad targeting

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.

 

 

Facebook relevance

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.

Conclusion

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.Ad demographics4. 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.
Categories
Digital PR Social Media

The lessons, fears and opportunities in AI

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.

Fear

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?

Opportunity

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.

Source: CIPR

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:

  1. Don’t be scared. Take advantage of the technologies to improve your productivity and professional offering.
  2. 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.
  3. Don’t use tools for the sake of using them. Make sure they offer the right solution for you.
  4. 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!

Categories
Digital Social Media

How to use the new LinkedIn update to increase your reach

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:

LinkedIn update

Source: LinkedIn

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Jess

Categories
Social Media

Creating meaningful content for Facebook

Facebook have announced it will be taking steps to limit the number of low-quality ads on their platforms by disapproving more of them and reducing the distribution of the ones that are approved. Which got me thinking, what are the key ingredients to creating high-quality content on Facebook?

Before we dive in let’s go through a little background and talk about what ‘low-quality’ actually means. In Facebook’s own words low-quality ads “include clickbait or direct people to unexpected content, create bad experiences for people and don’t align with our goal of creating meaningful connections between people and businesses.”

Facebook break it down in more detail in their own blog post, but it’s basically the trashy content shown in the images below, the kind which either directly asks for engagement or where, when clicked on, presents you with a gazillion irrelevant pop-up ads which you have to get rid of before you can get to the inevitably underwhelming content hidden underneath.

Working in communications, Facebook does a lot of stuff which makes me bang my head against my keyboard, but this one I think is spot on. At DTW, we’re not in the business of begging for likes, and we’re certainly not out to deceive our audience into clicking on our content. And from my own perspective as a consumer, it’s great news – these types of posts are annoying, pointless and not what I’m on Facebook to see.

So, as communicators, how should we be engaging with our audience on Facebook in a way that resonates with them whilst still benefiting our brand? And not just in ads, but in organic content too. Obviously, every organisation is different, but I’ve whittled it down to these three basic key ingredients:

Know why you’re posting in the first place

Every single thing you post on social media should have an aim, because what’s the point in posting just for the sake of it? What story do you want to tell your audience, what impact do you want to make, and what do you want to result from the post? It’s easy to get into a repetitive cycle of posting things because ‘it works’ without really knowing why. But it’s important to take a step back, take a look at things strategically and ask yourself those questions, because you can’t create meaningful content if you don’t know the meaning of it in the first place.

Create content your audience can connect with

The joy of marketing on Facebook is that it’s easy to get into the mindset of a consumer, because you probably have a Facebook account and are one yourself. Think about how you and your friends or family use the platform. What do you click on? What do you like? What engages you so much you leave a comment or share on your own profile? Now think about how you can apply that to your own organisation. Aim to educate, entertain or evoke an emotional reaction. To get the most out of Facebook’s algorithm you want to create content that starts a conversation rather than posts which are consumed in passing and then quickly forgotten about.

Be transparent

Hopefully, you aren’t alarmed by Facebook’s latest announcement, and if you are then maybe we should have a chat about your social media strategy. But it does highlight the need to be completely open and honest with your audience about what you’re asking them to click on. Do you want them to find out about your latest initiative? Tell them! Are you asking them to sign up to a service? Make it clear. Either way, be upfront, and don’t get too caught up in having incredible engagement rates across the board. If your post is about a niche topic, expect engagement to be lower, but know that the engagement you do get is probably better quality than if you’d tricked your audience into clicking on it.

So, I think that covers off some of the basics. Of course, there’s more I could chew your ear off about, but we’re all busy people and we’d be here all day. If you made it this far, let me give you a virtual high five and a bonus tip – always, always, always include images (or preferably video) in your Facebook posts, the algorithm loves it and your posts will get noticed by your audience. I’ve already waxed lyrical about getting your social media image sizes right, maybe my next blog will be about getting the creative content right too.

Thanks for reading! – Hannah

Categories
Latest News Social Media

Does size really matter?

It’s the question we all ask at some point in our lives – does size really matter? Everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks theirs is right. For me, size totally matters, if your social media images aren’t in the right dimensions you could be massively reducing your engagement levels…

So, now you’ve picked your mind up out of the gutter, let’s have a chat about why that is.

Whether you’re educating your audience with an infographic, shouting about your latest offer with an image or simply updating your profile and header images, we often spend hours crafting the perfect creative content for social media, but do you put as much effort into making sure it’s the right size for each platform? If the answer is yes, high five to you! Grab a cuppa, maybe a biscuit, and put your feet up because your work here is done. If the answer is no, you might want to read on about the impact this could be having on your brand…

First of all, do you even use images on a regular basis? At DTW we recommend that clients always include visual content like an image or a video when posting to social media, with a few exceptions of course. So, why do we do this? It’s simple, social media is an increasingly visual space, and you’re more likely to receive engagement and increase reach if you do. The numbers speak for themselves, tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without*, and it’s the same on Facebook with image-based posts receiving 2.3x more engagement than those without**.

But of course, it’s no good just using any old image, it has to be relevant, interesting, eye catching and if you’re posting on Facebook ideally containing less than 20% text. We call it a thumb stopping creative, an image that’s so good it cuts through the noisy social media landscape, grabs your audience’s attention and stops their thumb from scrolling down the newsfeed.

So, where does size come into all this? Let me paint you a picture. You’ve written the perfect post and you’re feeling pretty smug because it’s topical and witty but still hits your key messages. And you’re even more smug because the image you’re using is so mesmerisingly thumb stopping it would halt even the most jaded Twitter user in their tracks. It’s what social media management dreams are made of, right? But once that thumb has stopped, what do you want your audience to see? Making sure your image is the right size means your audience:

  • Appreciate the full image
  • Aren’t confused by cut off words
  • Don’t misinterpret what you’re trying to say because of cut off words (like your meet-up event for Cockapoo owners…)
  • Don’t miss important details like locations or dates

Everything you post on your social media feed reflects your brand, so what do you want yours to say? And more importantly, what does it currently say? Tailoring your images to each social media platform helps you to engage your audience, easily convey your message and give the appearance of being a professional, up-to-date organisation.

However, as with everything there are exceptions that prove the rule. Sometimes you might make a graphic too large for the feed preview so the audience are forced to click on it, or if you’ve taken a photo on the go it’s much better to get it out there whilst it’s fresh and relevant than waiting to get back to the office to squeeze it into the right dimensions.

And let’s gain a little perspective, if you post an image that isn’t exactly the right size, the world won’t fall down around you. The key takeaway here is to try and use relevant, eye-catching imagery in the right sizes whenever you possibly can, so your social media feeds can look their best and deliver the best results.

So, you’ve made it this far – congratulations! As an added bonus for sticking with me, I’ll let you in on a great way to make sure your social media images are always the right size. Sprout Social have this nifty cheat sheet containing every social media image size you could possibly need, and the best part is that when the platforms make an update (which, let’s face it is practically all the time) Sprout updates this guide too. And as a Sprout Social Partner Agency, we can vouch that they’re good eggs with reliable info.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah

*https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-power-of-twitters-new-expanded-images-and-how-to-make-the-most-of-it

**https://buzzsumo.com/blog/how-to-massively-boost-your-blog-traffic-with-these-5-awesome-image-stats/

Categories
Latest News Social Media Uncategorized

Twitter: When brands break up

**Editors note: This blog was originally published on 24th July 2018, with all details correct at the time of publication. The dispute between UKTV and Virgin Media has now been resolved, with an announcement on 11th August 2018 stating the two had reached a ‘long term agreement’ reinstating all of UKTV’s channels and services to Virgin Media.

Breakups – we’ve all been through them. The boyfriend who refused to wash his socks, the girlfriend who lost your cat, or the friend you realised you actually have nothing in common with. Accusations thrown around, harsh words said in the moment. Sound familiar? I thought as much. So, let’s all agree we can relate as we grab our boxes of popcorn and watch the spat currently playing out between UKTV and Virgin Media in the very public arena of Twitter.

Now, I’m not here to comment on who’s right or wrong in what is clearly a complicated negotiation of contracts and something I know nothing about. Instead, I’m going to happily sit here in my comfort zone and analyse who’s doing the better job of managing their reputation and communicating with their audience. (TLDR*? It’s UKTV)

So, before we begin, I’ll catch you up on what the issue is here. Around four million Virgin Media households have lost access to 10 UKTV channels following a dispute over fees. Virgin Media have said that UKTV are “holding back channels” and asking for “inflated sums of money for its paid channels like Gold.” UKTV have said that Virgin Media want to “drastically cut” the fee they pay for their channels and UKTV just can’t afford to take the hit. Got it? Good– let’s go!

The news first broke on 19thJuly and since then UKTV have tweeted about it (including retweets, not including replies) 19 times, whilst Virgin Media are trailing behind with a slightly less impressive 3**. Now, whilst I’ll usually champion the whole “quality over quantity” approach, in this situation, with such a major change to the package they pay for, Virgin’s customers want to be kept updated with conversation about what’s going on. They want to know that this issue is at the forefront of Virgin Media’s minds. And, most importantly, they want to feel as though something is being done about it. 19 tweets say, we’re here and we’re concerned, three tweets in the space of 6 days doesn’t really cut the mustard.

As with the tone of most arguments, it’s all a little “he said, she said.” But if we compare the tweets being put out by each account, UKTV have done a great job of putting Virgin’s customers first, whilst explaining their own point of view. Virgin Media on the other hand are taking an approach more concerned with directing the blame away from themselves and trying to instigate a manhunt for UKTV. Not very classy. It’s worth noting that at the time of writing, Virgin Media haven’t issued any tweets about why they’re asking for more money from UKTV.

Whilst we’re here, I’d like to do a quick shout out here to UKTV’s use of video throughout all of this. Great use of video is so important in social media and has been for a long time. Platforms like Twitter want to show it, audiences want to engage with it and it’s way more personal than a press release.

Whilst Virgin Media have posted a video, it’s a recording of a BBC News clip showing their Chief Digital Entertainment Officer giving his statement, retweeted from the Virgin Media Corporate Twitter account which isn’t even remotely consumer facing. Come on guys, let’s try a little harder…like our friends over at UKTV. They’ve issued two of their own pieces of video, presented by their General Manager for Comedy and Entertainment channels, straight to camera so he’s directly addressing the audience, making them feel acknowledged and heard. And the content hits the mark too, clearly explaining UKTV’s point of view, recognising Virgin Media customers’ frustrations and apologising. Whilst this is turning into a bit of a love letter to UKTV, I will give credit to both brands here – their choice of spokesperson is spot on.

Choosing someone who is clearly in charge and is directly involved in the situation is important as it gives them authority and credibility.

UKTV Tweet:

Virgin media Tweet:

When it comes to engaging with their audience, in this situation it’s incredibly important. Not only to provide them with good service, but to manage your reputation and influence how customers perceive your brand. To their credit, Virgin Media have done a great job of responding to frustrated customers and haven’t just ignored their complaints. On the other hand, as we can see in the examples below, a lot of their replies are obviously coming from a batch of stock responses.

Now, don’t get me wrong – stock responses can be very useful, but they start to become problematic when responses are required in such high volume. Although very handy for your workload, they do come across as robotic and lacking in personal touch.

And it doesn’t go unnoticed:

So, this blog is getting a little long, so I’ll wrap things up. What can we all learn from this? It’s not that Virgin Media have done anything outstandingly bad here, they haven’t.

But UKTV have done a much better job at engaging with their audience and promoting themselves as a brand who put their viewers first.

My main takeaways are:

  1. Keep those stakeholders primarily affected, such as customers, at the forefront of your communications
  2. Engage your audience with meaningful conversation
  3. Use engaging and informative video to convey your messages

Hannah

*Psst! In case you’re not into internet abbreviations, TLDR = Too long, didn’t read, although that’s probably not relevant given the length of this one!

**Accurate at the time of publishing.