GROUP WORDS: Here’s a post to keep you up to speed on tweaks to Facebook groups

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A quick shout if you’re looking to connect with Facebook groups as there’s going to be some tweaks.

Don’t worry, they’re not bad ones. They’re just tidying up around the edges and changing the terms.

Facebook is the largest UK social media platform and since groups are really hot right now this is something communicators need to know. it’s something I’ve blogged about before.

The names are changing

Secret, closed and public are going and are replaced with new terms. Secret groups are groups that have been set up, closed and can’t be found in a routine Facebook search. You join by invitation. Closed groups can be found but unless you’re a member you can’t see the content. Public groups are exactly that.

Now the change will be…

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No doubt using the word ‘private’ emphasises the drive towards privacy that Facebook are trying to promote. The full announcement is here.

But even private groups can be policed

One interesting line from the announcement is a reminder that certain rights holders will be able to have access to closed groups. That would appear to say that Sony BMG music can look to see if knock-off Madonna DVDs are being knocked-out in a for sale group.

It also means that you shouldn’t be featuring Beatles tracks in your content thinking that John and George are dead and Paul and Ringo are busy. The algorithm will get you. Intellectual Property is quite closely policed.

One for trading standards and police?

This does pose the question about trading standards and law enforcement. Will they be able to have access? It would be interesting to see how they can keep a weather eye on the myriad of buy and sell groups that have sprung up.

I help run workshops to help you use Facebook better with groups, pages and advertising. You can find out more here or drop me a line dan@danslee.co.uk.

 


WOOOAH: What 5G will mean for all comms people

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‘The future is here,” scifi writer William Gibson once said, “it’s just not evenly distributed.”

It’s a line I thought of while travelling through London this week while looking at an advert for 5G on the back of the Evening Standard.

What is 5G?

In a nutshell, it is the new mobile network that predicts hugely ramped-up connection speeds not just for mobile devices but for all internet connections. It is a UK government target to have the country entirely 5G by 2033. We’re behind on broadband so we’ll catch-up through 5G is the plan.

How fast will 5G be?

To download a full HD film, the timelines are:

  • More than a day at 3G.
  • Seven hours 4G.
  • Four to 40 seconds at 5G.

Of course, what you find  is often slower than what the poster offers. But even so.

This week, I spent a few hours reading-up on 5G and what it may bring. It’s a mistake to think this is just a quick way to watch movies on your phone. It meant reading through a list of new technologies.

The advent of 5G is predicted to lead to massive changes for how organisations operate. There’s a whole new babble of new technologies that 5G can open up. Reading through them is mildly mind blowing.

What’s the upside for comms?

Marketers will love what the platform can do as it will supercharge many of the things they struggle to do. Internal comms will need to understand it so they can explain what’s coming. Comms people will see how they need to adjust their communications.

This isn’t just a quicker way to download blockbusters. This could change a lot of things.

Video gets bigger. Even bigger

As download speeds increase, video becomes an even more important part of the way people consume content. Especially on mobile devices. The kid on the bus heading home can download a feature film in seconds will do so. They’ll also be able to create and post video even faster, too.

A two speed comms strategy short term

If you live in London and key British cities where there’s a patchwork 5G roll-out then you’ll be fine. Outside of those hotspots people will be disadvantaged until they roll out across the whole of the country by 2033. You’ll also need 5G-enabled phones to make the most of it. Short-term while it is tempting to make lots of lovely video content for new 5G areas and their high speeds there may need to be super-aware of audiences.

But that’s just looking at existing comms.

Virtual reality and augmented reality can happen

I’ve blogged before about virtual reality and how comms can make more of it. With the platform to more easily serve it the ability to stream VR content gets easier and it gets more of a proposition. So does augmented reality.

This will lead to innovation… and internal comms

As 5G evolves, what organisations can do with technology will change. Intelligent automation is a phrase you’ll hear more of. What’s this? This is a blend of automation and artificial intelligence. It is software that replaces tasks but it can apply some thinking to those repetitive tasks. Self driving cars is one use. So is voice recognition. But so is a system to serve marketing based on the user’s previous choices.

All of this is going to need communications to explain it to customers, service users and residents as well as the staff who will be deploying it. It will also make for less members of staff. So, it will be useful for comms people to understand exactly what intelligent automation is.

And an end to big rooms with servers in

5G can allow for cloud computing. Cloud computing can do away with traditional networks. So, the organisation can run without rooms full of servers. It’ll take some time for the public sector to feel comfortable with this approach and some parts won’t ever be cool with it. There is a risk the cloud-stored data will be hacked or stolen. But where the technology exists, the carrot of saving money may be enough to shift some organisations. I’m reading that 5G also leads to mobile edge technology. There’s a limit to what you have to know in detail. To a comms person like me it means less servers in the server room.

Prepare for those cloud computing data breach media queries, comms people.

Marketers will love it

Reading through what’s out there I kept reading about ‘closed loop analytics.’  In plain English, this is the ability to see what your customers did before they made that transaction. There’s a handy Hubspot guide here.

Good news, bad news…. comms people will need to read and get up to speed more

In every day use, comms people are plenty busy as they are. Bad news is that they’ll need to keep abreast of the changes. Good news, is that comms people will be key to explaining and exploiting the 5G changes. DCMS are sponsoring a network to encourage innovation and industry which you can join here.

Comms people will need to think through the business case to upgrade their equipment.

And there’s a danger

Working in and around the public sector for the past 14 years I can see there’s a real mile-wide risk. Predictions for what 5G can bring are bold and imaginative. But is there the funding to transform? Not just in communications but across the organisation? I’m not convinced. I’ve seen too many comms people with dated phones to cope with 4G let alone 5G.

Let’s see, shall we?

Picture credit: istock

 

 

 

 


VIDEO CHANGE: What are the optimum video lengths for social media in 2019?

Facebook has gone and done it again and shifted the algorithm.

For video, the optimum video has shifted from just 15-seconds to a bumper three minutes.

The new number is contained in advice to Facebook page admins spotted by eagle-eyed Bradford City Council digital comms whizz Albert Freeman.

Thinking behind three minutes

For a while it’s clear Facebook has had designs on being YouTube.

The optimum time for a YouTube clip has consistently been around the three minute mark for years. Of course, some will be longer and some shorter but around the three minute mark has been optimum.

The thing is, people head to YouTube in the same way people head to the library. They want information or to be entertained. So, to spend three on YouTube to learn how to change a tyre or watch a cartoon is fine.

But I’d bet the real driver for Facebook’s shift to three minutes is driven by money.

The longer you spend on Facebook the more attractive you are to advertisers. That includes ads cropping up part-way through videos that Facebook are keen on and with a short 15-second clip you can’t really do that.

An unscientific check of my own Facebook timeline shows these results:

56 per cent are over three minutes.

9 per cent are between two and three minutes.

22 per cent are between one and two minutes.

6 per cent are between 30 seconds and one minute.

3 per cent are 30 seconds or less.

But grabbing attention remains paramount

The temptation to use the three-minute mark as an excuse to park sloppily-edited content would be a mistake in my view.

Let the camera run for three minutes on a subject?

That would be a huge mistake.

The one thing that I think hasn’t changed is people’s attention span.

How are they consuming media? They’re scrolling through their timeline looking for something interesting.

So, the first three seconds are STILL paramount

A week or two back I met a journalist from a news site that is part of the new breed of journalism. Video, he said, is a key driver.

But for him the first THREE seconds were critical. If it didn’t have anything to grab attention in those seconds he tends to skip over your email.

If your content is interesting and tells a story then you’ve a chance. A film sent back from an embedded journalist on life as a medic in Afghanistan was re-edited to open with the burst of machine gun fire that came in towards the end.

Why?

To grab attention.

Length is one factor but quality is another

It’s tempting just to look at video length and keep the record button pressed for the required amount.

That would, of course, be really silly. The optimum lengths are useful to know what is being encouraged by big tech companies so you can plan your video accordingly.

But you also need interesting and engaging content.

You need an eye-catching start and story telling is a strong asset while you are planning your content or editing.

You also need to think titles and sub-titles as 80 per cent of video gets watched without sound.

Notes and queries on the research

YOUTUBE: The maximum length of 15 minutes can be increased to 12 hours through a straight forward verification step.  Optimum length is much shorter

INSTAGRAM: Maximum length was increased from 15 seconds to 60 seconds with research via Newswhip suggesting a much shorter length. 

TWITTERMaximum length of 240 seconds   is comfortably within Hubspot’s suggested 45 seconds.

SNAPCHATMaximum length is a mere 10 seconds but Hootsuite suggest five seconds is the sweet spot.

PERISCOPE: A maximum length and the sky is the limit but there is no research on what the optimum length of a live broadcast is. 

FACEBOOK LIVE: Can run for 240 minutes but 19 minutes is best say Buzzsumo.

LINKEDIN is the new kid on the block with native uploaded video. Five minutes is the most you can upload and there is research that the best length is 30 seconds.

I’ve helped train more than 2,000 people from 300 organisations over the past four years. For more on workshops near you click here. Or give me a shout by email dan@danslee.co.uk.

 


DODGING HIPPOS: How to say ‘no’ to the highest paid person in the room without actually saying ‘no’

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Its been a busy few months. One of the good things about it is travelling to places and hearing new ideas. Often when I’m training I come back with a few pearls of wisdom.

I heard about HIPPOs when I was in Devon.

Not the large irratable African animals that can block and then flatten your car. Oh, no. The HIPPO is the Highest Pail Person’s Opinion. The HIPPO in the room can flatten your idea simply because they are the ones with the large salary and the job title.

There was a smile of recognition in the room at the description. I smiled too.

Problems HIPPOs pose

Bright leaders know they don’t have all the answers and surround themselves with people who are expert in their field. Bright leaders listen. Less bright – lets call them heroic leaders – think they have to have the answers and stand on top of the tank and point heroically.

It’s where the ‘the executive director would like a poster’ line comes from.

The problem with this is they are rarely right.

Convincing HIPPOs they are wrong

Of course, once the HIPPO has spoken you are in trouble.  It’s then you against the senior person and it can be very tricky for you to turn the column of tanks around. But you need to. If you don’t give your professional advice there is little between you and a shorthand typist.

But the problem can be is that it can appear as though it is you folding your arms and saying ‘no’ because you are just being difficult.

The way round it is by adopting a process to find the best idea.

Data driven communications

One slide I very often point to is from the Edelman Trust Barometer. This research was started the best part of 20 years ago after the Battle in Seattle when anti-globalisation protesters clashed with police. ‘Why do people hate us?,’ the cry went up and the research helped map trust.

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The useful thing about this is that tells you that the person like your self with 53 per cent is more trusted than the director who has 38 per cent. So, if the issue is around children playing on railway lines,  then children and maybe parents are the best people to deliver that message.

Need another example? The acclaimed NHS #thisgirlcan campaign used the word ‘girl’ rather than woman or female because the data said that the word ‘girl’ would cut through to most people. So data won and helped the campaign fly.

Data driven communications is a really good idea.

It’s not you that’s saying ‘no’. It’s letting the data points to the right answer and that just takes the sting and the personality out of it.

And that can be brilliant for getting past HIPPOs.

Picture credit: Daniel Jureno / Flickr

 


ROBOT COMMS: What public sector comms people need to know about artificial intelligence

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There’s this amazing clip from late 1970s Blue Peter where the presenters are demonstrating the first commercial mobile phone.

John Noakes stays in the studio while Peter Purves heads into the Blue Peter garden and whips out from under his mac an over the shoulder plastic phone. You can tell the smugness in his voice as he dials his colleague.

Ladies and gentlemen, the mobile phone.

And so, Artificial Intelligence – or AI – will become as normal as texting or taking a selfie is now. This is not sci-fi fantasy but what is happening today. Just less than four million Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices have been sold in the UK, researchers voicebot.ai say. By far the largest number in Europe.

But, what is Artificial Intelligence?

In 2018, most people don’t know what Artificial Intelligence is. But what they do know is it sounds scary. In a nutshell, they are computers that learn. The dictionary definition is computer systems that can complete tasks that normally require human intelligence such as visual recognition, speech recognition and decision making.

To get you started, I’d suggest taking six minutes to watch the HubSpot animation that makes it as Blue Peter as possible without a trip into the Italian Sunken Garden:

Artificial Intelligence can be very scary, can’t it?

AI at home is still the preserve of early adoptors. My video skills colleague Steven has had one for months. When he asks Google to do something it often even does the thing he’s asked it to do.

Me? I’m in several camps. I want to know more as it is going to shape the world we live in but I’m dubious. I’m not thrilled by the idea of a swarm of killer drones. I’m not that thrilled that the top search for military drones is the Chinese mail-order giant Alibaba. Robotics researcher Peter Haas in his Ted Talk talks about the lack of ethics in the field.

Me? I’m more struck by the rather excellent @internetofshit that talks RTs accounts of Teslas being stranded in the desert as they can only re-start with a mobile phone signal. Or the lift that can’t be used because of a system update.

In that context, AI is very, very scary indeed. But that’s not where AI is right now.

Artificial Intelligence is here, baby. Right here

Of course, its not all swarms of drones with machine guns.  In fact. It’s hardly that at all. Former CIPR President Stephen Waddington has been leading some superb work to look at where AI is in PR. I simply cannot recommend his work enough.

Through the #AIinPR project, Stephen and around 20 volunteers have collated an open list of tools that already have elements of AI in them. The results are truly surprising. There are more than 150 tools identified that have an element of AI in them.

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The full Google sheet with the findings can be found here.

What’s striking about the list is how commonplace the tools are. Link shortener bitly, for exampls, has been a staple for the best part of a decade. Mailchimp, If This Then That and Canva are staples of my working day. Your’s too, maybe.

So, if AI is also day-to-day, doesn’t that mean that AI is already having an impact on PR and comms?

The answer to that is ‘yes.’

How much AI is affecting you… and will affect you

Again, Stephen Waddington’s inspired research is useful to map the next steps. His work leads into CIPR’s excellent ‘Humans Still Required’ report by Canadian academic Jean Valin. This sets out how much of PR is already AI-affected. At the moment, 12 per cent of PR is potentially AI. That’s things like evaluation, data processing, programming and curation.

But it starts getting even more interesting when looking at the future. The figure rises to 36 per cent by 2023. There’s a whole range of areas that can be maximised from stakeholder analysis to reputation monitoring. Areas like ethics, law and career management stay outside the long reach of the robots.

Other research from the University of Oxford put PR managers as the 67th safest from a list of more than 700.

All this is striking. But where does it affect you?

The future is already quietly colliding with the presentout of view.  There is no one single moment but a series of moments. It’s already happening. There is no announcement to close 100 pits but 100,000 decisions to use different software that can help you do your job more easily.

AI will come not through the organisation but through suppliers. In all likelihood, this won’t be driven by individual teams writing code but an arms race between providers. A to-be-invented Google tool, for example. Or the news management software company that adds AI elements to existing AI elements to its own existing press release management system.

Content will be written by AI. News agency Press Association are experimenting with distributing news stories written by AI. If news stories can be written this way then press releases and other content can be too. But that’ll be through a supplier doing the hard yards and pricing it.

At first, AI knowledge will be outsourced. Given the rapid developments in the sector and the fact that existing public sector teams are busy enough already there isn’t the headspace. Advice from outside will be important at the start. It’ll be as much about efficiencies as it is delivering a better job.

Sit back, but don’t sit back. Others will be doing the hard yards to make this work. But don’t sign your future away.  A baseline need to understand AI is needed. You won’t need to know how to code. But you will know how that code can affect you and most importantly of all, you’ll need to know the ethics and the law of it.  For the public sector, this is going to be tricky. Right now, there isn’t a publicly-accepted code of ethics for AI. But there are broader approaches that can govern it across the sector. Like GDPR, for example.

Leaders will have to lead to bring teams along. AI is and can be scary. It is different. Yes, it can mean fewer people doing the job. But the tasks it may replace are likely to be the routine in comms and PR rather than the the big ticket. You won’t be sending a robot along the corridor to the crisis meeting with emergency planning to discuss the three day old fire. You will be automating the fire’s evaluation.

The risk of ‘computer says no’ IT teams. PR and comms risk outsourcing AI knowledge at their own peril. From fear or ignorance, there is a temptation to look to IT for answers. But with many IT teams being the blocker and struggling even 10 years on with social media, this isn’t a strategy to take. You need to know some of the basics yourself to work out what can and can’t be done.

Data driven decisions. Often public sector comms can be driven by personality, politicians and practice. One of the great achievements of the UK’s Government Communications Service is to move away from comms that’s just churning stuff out for the sake of it. But other teams and other organisations still shoot from the hip. In an emergency, there is nothing better than working at speed on-the-hoof. That skill will stay hugely valuable. But there feels like a clash between this and the more data-driven strategic approach of AI. It’ll be interesting to see how this works itself out.

Reputational damage and lots of it. The application of bad AI in parts of the sector will be keenly felt. The self-driving car delivering meals on wheels to the wrong house. The very idea of self-driving cars delivering meals on wheels in the first place.  This will all be bread and butter. The benefits of AI won’t be celebrated but the disasters absolutely will be. There is a huge role for comms in explaining – and warning – against the delivery.

‘Hey Google, what time does the tip close?’ Websites are useful but cumbersome things. Your organisation will not prosper if they can’t work with tools like Alexa. One idea kicking around is for a box in the kitchen that talks to the local council website and flashes the colour of the right bin that needs to go out the night before. That’s AI right there, that is.

Learning. Ever learning. The comms person who thinks they’ve learned everything is the one who will be replaced. This is not remotely a bold statement. We’re seeing it. If the only skill you have is writing press releases that’s not something you’ll be getting a new job with. But a range of skills and a willingness to learn gives you a chance of a career. AI just underlines this. Stephen Waddington’s advice to learn, read and keep learning is valuable.

Open the pod bay doors, Hal. In 2001 A Space Odyssey the human is faced down by Hal the robot who refuses to open the pod bay doors. This is one moment is the nightmare scenario for humans. It’s the moment when computers take control. But I’m genuinely not seeing this in comms and PR just yet. Hal the robot refusing to do write the Facebook update? Probably not. R2D2 software running the alerts and producing the reports for you? Then next week producing machine-learnt better reports? Absolutely.

Pic credit: Robot by Alexander Svensson /Flickr.  

 

 

 

 


UPDATED: What are the best lengths for social media video?

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All video is no the same… it really does depend on what channel you are looking to post it to.

Where your audience is should frame what channels you are looking that.

In turn, those channels should have a big say in how long your video should be.

So, if you are aiming at people on Facebook, 15 seconds for video that is likeley to drop through the timeline is best. Longer than that and your audience is likely to be evaporating.

Here’s an update on the optimum times.

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Notes and queries on the research

YOUTUBE: The maximum length of 15 minutes can be increased to 12 hours through a straight forward verification step.  Optimum length is much shorter.

FACEBOOK: Facebook maximum length against Facebook’s own suggested lengths for ads. INSTAGRAM: Maximum length was increased from 15 seconds to 60 seconds with research via Newswhip suggesting a much shorter length. TWITTER: Maximum length of 240 seconds   is comfortably within Hubspot’s suggested 45 seconds.

SNAPCHAT: Maximum length is a mere 10 seconds but Hootsuite suggest five seconds is the sweet spot.

PERISCOPE: A maximum length and the sky is the limit but there is no research on what the optimum length of a live broadcast is.  FACEBOOK LIVE: Can run for 240 minutes but 19 minutes is best say Buzzsumo.

LINKEDIN is the new kid on the block with native uploaded video. Five minutes is the most you can upload and there is research that the best length is 30 seconds.

Other platforms

There’s a number of other ways to present video I’ve not touched upon. VIMEO has fallen behind in recent years but still has fans and you can upload via VIMEO LIVE with a premium account. You can go live via YOUTUBE LIVE but there is little accessible guidance for the amateur. FLICKR can take video of up to 1GB but will only play back the first three minutes.

360 & VR Facebook and YouTube in particular are chasing this new way of shooting video but there is little out there on maximum and optimum upload times.

I’m @danslee on Twitter and dan@comms2point0. If you hate missing out on the good stuff subscribe to my weekly email here.

Picture credit: Documerica / Flickr


30 days of human: day #41 Lidl Ireland ask how your weekend was

So, spare a thought for Lidl Ireland.

They had a rough weekend.

The tail end of a snow storm closed a raft of stores and caused all sorts of supply and staffing issues.

Thieves used a JCB  to break into a Dublin store… which then set on fire and collapsed.

So Lidl Ireland’s Monday morning tweet was a masterpiece.

It’s exactly what someone who had had a high profile disaster of a weekend would have said to break the ice.