Real World Social Business’ – RNLI at the Seaside

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Social Media at The Beach

Yesterday I went to the beach to enjoy our two week long British summer. Once we’d found a parking space, we (I) carried the entire contents of our home minus kitchen sink, the short distance from the car to the beach. Struggling along the promenade, kids straining at the (virtual) leash I saw the last vacant spot on the sand and headed towards it. “Hi how are you today?” I heard a voice say. “Are you going to build a nice sandcastle?” the same voice said to my 4 year old. Peering around the pile of towels, goggles and assorted balls in my grip I saw an RNLI lifeguardImage talking to my son. He was highly engaged in conversation with her as the topic was ‘how to build the best sandcastle. The girl next to her then asked my wife if she wanted any info on safe swimming for kids, which of course my wife did. What kind of a mother wouldn’t want this information. Impatiently tapping my foot, the cynical marketer in me was counting down the seconds for the goal conversion to occur, i.e. donate some money. It took 6 minutes for my wife to finally walk away, nearly as weighed down as I was, by donation /sign up forms.

This is nothing new in ‘real life’, however social media have allowed this commonplace tactic to occur in the digital space. All organisations, businesses, brands, SMEs and charities need to make a profit. It’s their ‘raison d’etre’ whether said profit goes to shareholders or good causes.

This will never be overtly communicated though. In fact mentioning the fact that a business is an actual money-making business these days is a heresy. Organisations want to ‘be your friend’, ‘tell you a story’ and share ‘the moment’. They definitely, DEFINITELY don’t want to relieve you of your hard earned $$. Yet.

Social media now allows organisations to enter in to that same conversation as my wife and son had at the beach:

Summary

  1. Location – we were at the beach, therefore a related subject is beach/sea safety, for which the RNLI are an authority.
  2. Weather/season/relevance – It would be fairly pointless those nice ladies from the RNLI standing in that same spot in mid-December.
  3. Conversation / engagement – Had they just asked us to give them some money we would have completely ignored them. They asked a pertinent question, at the right time and began a relevant conversation. This applies exactly the same in social media.
  4. Conversion – They weren’t there just to have a chat, they had targets and goals. With any social media activity you should also have a firm idea of the purpose of the conversation.
  5. Awareness – Even those people that walked straight past couldn’t have failed to notice the RNLI branded tent and branded paraphernalia. Not all (hardly any) social media activity will lead directly to a conversion – it’s largely an awareness thing.
  6. Value exchange – in this example, the RNLI gave us some useful advice on beach and sea safety with a helpful booklet for us to keep. That’s value for us so we may reciprocate by ‘liking’ them on Facebook or even signing up to a monthly direct debit.

You can donate to the RNLI (who do incredible things and save lives hereImage

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5 Quick Tips For A Better Facebook Brand Page

I don’t know about you but I read so many generic, copycat articles concerning  Facebook advice. Most mention such things as creating ‘engaging content’ and ‘entering in to a conversation’. All completely correct of course however I’ve heard social media ‘gurus’ touting the same thing for 6-7 years. No-one ever seems to have genuine tips – until now!

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I manage a brand page that has 50,000+ highly engaged fans so I just wanted to share some tips that come in handy for me on a daily basis:

1. Facebook Image Sizes

This is a balancing act between sharing high quality images and making sure that those images look as good as possible within Facebook. First of all, make sure that the image you start with is at least 2mb. Then use Photoshop or which ever software you prefer (Ifranview is a good, free image resizer) and reduce the pixel size of the image. Facebook images are 403×403 px but you don’t want to go down this small as when your fans open the image it stays too small. I usually reduce the image to around 600-700 px, keeping to ratio the same as the original. This way most of the image still gets displayed in people’s newsfeeds, but there’s still a little added value in them clicking to open up the full image.

ADDITIONAL: I’m told by Luke Williams (Social Media Coordinator at the RNLI) that he resizes to 843px to ensure images look ok when ‘featured’ on a timeline.

2. Promoted Posts

Facebook ads budget

Yes, these days we pay Facebook to get fans and we then have to pay Facebook for the majority of those fans to then hear what we’ve got to say. When you go to ‘promote’ a post, Facebook will give you a list of budgets to select. Now this is anecdotal, but try selecting the highest budget possible but STOP the promotion once it’s spent however much your actual budget is.  So you have £31 to spend, set it at £500 but then pause once you’ve spent £31. I find that this seems to hugely increases the ‘pool’ of people exposed to any single post, just don’t forget to stop the promotion.

(These are quick tips, there are lots of different methods for promoting your posts within the Facebook ad manager area.)

3. Respond & React

First came one way, broadcast messaging, then came ‘two way symmetrical’ (uh oh they’re answering back and talking to each other.) Now we have this situation where brands are sharing things with fans, who share things with their friends and fans are sharing things with brands. Brands need to then make sure they share these nuggets of insight around the wider business.

You need to keep a constantly close eye on the notifications/admin area of your page. For every person that says ‘me too’ or ‘love this’ etc etc you can show fans you heard them and you’re listening, by ‘liking’ their interactions with you. If they posted a justifiably negative comment, you need to look in to that too, gather more info, speak to customer services and offer to help. If it’s a compliment about the Swindon branch – pass that on the goddam Swindon branch (they’ll love you) and tell the fan you’ve done this. If a fan says how they hate the little bit on the packaging that always rips then pass this on to Johnny in innovation/NPD – it’s just what he wants to hear!

4. Facebook To Drive Other Channels

Ok so you spent 6 months just trying to get sign off on that Facebook advertising budget. You don’t HAVE to use that for building just your Facebook page, you can use it to cross-pollinate your social platforms! If you’ve just started your Pinterest account, you may have noticed that there is no Pinterest advertising. Same for Instagram.  Share a photo as part of a post and then expand on that image by creating a board of similar images on Pinterest. Link to this board “more over on our Pinterest page <link>”,  from your Facebook post and promote the post – voila a bunch of people wil now visit you on Pinterest and you’ll see that follower count increase. There are many other ways to get the most out of your Pinterest page…

5. Devil’s In The Detail

Just because Facebook generally allows for a casual, more informal tone of voice, this doesn’t mean you can allow the quality to drop. In fact, you may find that your Facebook fans, being the committed, passionate bunch they are will be very helpful and forthcoming in correcting any mistakes. Double check everything, then check it again. Then check the links. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t allow you to preview photos so set up a ‘test’ Facebook page to avoid sideways or pixelated photos. If you’re not sure how something’s spelled, look it up in the dictionary. Old school I know but useful to be able to cite the OED when you get in to the whole US vs UK spelling discussions…