Table tennis & social media learning

Working life can often feel a bit like table tennis – as soon as you hit one over the net another one comes flying back at you – so attending a seminar held in a giant ping pong arena felt strangely appropriate.

In between frantic sets with paddle and ball – and nothing says social media chin stroking like office  table tennis sessions – there was plenty of learning to consider.

A few thoughts from some of the things I’ve seen and read in the past month:

Falling trust

Social plays a huge role for traditional organisations in trying to combat the continuing fall in institutional trust. In a post truth, red pilling world it’s much more difficult for organisations to capture attention and get people to believe in them.

Newcastle Council has won a hat full of awards for its approach to video, primarily on Facebook, which relies on ‘people like us’ to deliver key messages instead of more traditional spokespeople like managers or elected officials.

Often done in one shot with no cuts they look to deliver key messages in a much more grassroots way and their videos on littering or recycling look like the types of thing influencers would upload to YouTube.

They look like simple, conversational videos that match lots of content that real people put out there and fit into the existing social architecture. This seems like a very clever piece of comms because they build trust by feeling more egalitarian, less preachy and not broadcast from on high from councillors.

Their bin man video is really worth seeking out.

The three Rs

I loved the British Council’s 3R approach to social media management:

  • Be Responsive
  • Be Relevant
  • Be Real (authenticity)

‘Nobody wants to read your shit’

The battle for eyeballs is real because people are busy and their timelines are stacked with other content.  You need to give people a reason to look at your content and your curation is increasingly important because people will lose interest or unfollow if you don’t get it right.

The British Forces Broadcasting Service offered this and more excellent insight on understanding genuine engagement and the value we put on some of the social metrics. What does someone just lazily scrolling through a feed and clicking like actually mean for your brand?

The rise and rise of Video

Despite the huge rush to move all content to video, and the algorithmic encouragement to communicate this way, you still need to remember that there must still be an objective behind doing so. Otherwise video will become the new ‘I need a leaflet/press release/poster’.

The vast bulk of videos are watched on a phone with the sound off and on social you get three seconds to hook people into your video before they continue scrolling (so don’t use a logo at the start).

Oxford University had some great cases studies and believe that videos should be people-led storytelling and (much like Newcastle council) say that production quality can be overridden by authenticity.

Notes & observations

  • The Battle of Mosul in Iraq was the first time that a conflict has been live streamed on social media.
  • Nothing turns off an audience like jargon and assumed knowledge.
  • When people are signing off any creative they instinctively want to change something so make sure you insert a deliberate mistake (look up the blue duck approach by an advertising agency).
  • When you’re busy the first thing to go is time to reflect or horizon scan. This means you fall back on what you’ve always done well in the past and innovation stops.
  • Speed is now key and people often need a near instant response online.
  • Need to use tactical paid social media otherwise you’re basically talking to yourself.
  • A thematic approach to content can be much more engaging and help social media reflect the organisation as a whole.

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