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…
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 email@example.com.
‘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
The thing about human comms is that you know it when you see it.
When you see if you respond to it.
Good communications is a mix of targeting the head and targeting the heart. Numbers can tackle the head fine well. A well reasoned argument put together with skill can do this.
But the heart can often be a way to turn heads, change opinion and make a difference.
This social care picture dropped into my timeline and I love it.
Two older people who have been taken to the seaside by their care workers to dip their toes in the water.
A look of pure joy on their faces.
The years roll by and they’re remembering what it was like to be a kid with a ice-cold wave splashing on your toes.
I say it, time and time again, but the most interesting content is not in an office.
Your best content are the human beings you have as staff and especially the human beings they are looking to serve.
The orginal pic can be found here. Dr Mark Redmond posted this image. His Twitter bio says that he is an academic passionate about social care. He has 2,500 followers but the image itself connected enough with people to be liked 13,000 times and shared 2,400 times.
Social care can often play things safely and not take risks. Having worked in local government I can hear the pre-packed arguments against taking and releasing this image. Well done Dr Redmond for ploughing through this.
Social care has many problems facing it. Many are shaped by money. But without public support and understanding the debate for extra funding won’t get off the ground.
What made people share this image? Because its human.
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.
- There is research that says 30 seconds for LinkedIn is enough.
- Instagram is leaping from 60 seconds maximum length to a bumper 60 minutes.
- Spotify has entered the market with video for brands. So, if you have some cash you can get your content in front of your audience.
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.
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.
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
You’ve made a short video but you need some music to make it fly. Where do you go?
Firstly, don’t ever rip of a pop track from your itunes library. You don’t want copyright lawyers on your tail.
Do go and find some music and make sure you use it with the right permission. This can be through a site offering royalty-free or creative commons music.
Tips on searching
Most music libraries organise their content through mood and genre. So, if you are after upbeat and happy you can find what you are after quickly. Quite a few mix up their free content with paid for. So if you have no budget just stick to the free.
Tips on crediting
Many sites allow you to use the track with the artist’s blessing so long as you meet the terms of the licence. This could be credit including a web address in the content or just the name of the composer. But maybe not if you are a business. Always check the individual permission on the piece of music. Don’t cut corners and deliberately forget to credit. You’ll be in breach of copyright. At best, that’s bad form. At worst, your content will be pulled and you’ll be billed.
Tips on downloading
Most sites which have music will involve you downloading the track. Your mobile device may not have stacks of spare memory so I’d be tempted to download and save to something like Google Drive using a laptop first if you are android or icloud if you are Apple. This means the track is stored in the cloud for you to call on as and when. Make sure you keep a note of the licence you are using somewhere so you can be sure this random mp4 file is actually fine to use.
Here are a few places you can go to
Bensound.com This is a royalty free site with around 100 tracks ranging from cinematic to world, acoustic, folk and the interesting classification of corporate / pop. Lots of royalty free tracks and some you need to pay for. PRO: Free with a credit. CON: Not the largest selection.
YouTube Music Policies. This is where you can use some chart hits from recognised pop stars like Ed Shearan, Celine Dion and Psy. There are dozens there. PRO: You can use music people will have heard of. CON: You can only use on YouTube and you agree to ads being played during your video that will earn the artist – not you – money. You won’t have control over what ads.
YouTube audio library. This has more than 150 tracks with different layers of permissions. The site itself is well classified and easily searchable. PRO: The library is straightforward to use. CON: You can only use on YouTube and you’ll need to give a credit.
Audionautix. This has several hundred tracks which have been added with a creative commons licence. PRO: There is a wide range of genres to look for. CON: The website is a little clunky to navigate around.
Kinemaster. This is editing software that also has some 30 tracks for you to download. If you take out a pro subscription you have an extra 50 to choose from. PRO: This works seamlessly with the editing software so you won’t have to navigate around the web saving to Google Drive. CON: A limited number of tracks for free and is also mobile or tablet-only.
Purple Planet. This comes highly recommended from my colleague Steven. PRO: There is around 100 tracks that are available royalty free. CON: There are larger collections around.
freemusicarchive.org. This site is recommended by the Creative Commons organisation and has hundreds of tracks. PRO: There is a wide choice of genres. CON: The site is trickier than others to navigate around.
Facebook sound collection. This is Facebook’s library of music to use. You can search through tempo and genre. Great if you want a Mariachi band singing happy birthday on Facebook. Not so great if you want to post to Twitter. PRO: There’s a lot of decent tracks that’s fairly easy to search. CON: You can only use the music on Facebook and nowhere else.
ccmixter. Another site recommenced by Creative Commons with a library of several thousand tracks. PRO: A lot of choice. CON: The tracks are filed by artist and song so you’ll need to do some digging to find the right mood or pace.
mobygratis. Music visionary Moby has 150 tracks he is prepared to release to non-profits and students. There is a process to go through but its well worth a look. PRO: It’s Moby. CON: Not everyone will get licensed and it will take time. Thanks Chris Davies for this tip.
If you want to learn more about creating video with your smartphone or tablet I’ll be co-delivering ESSENTIAL VIDEO SKILLS FOR COMMS in London on March 27, London on May 21, Manchester on May 30, Birmingham on June 4, and Edinburgh on June 7. I’m also co-delivering SKILLS YOU WILL NEED FOR LIVE VIDEO in London on May 22.
Picture credit: US National Archives / Flickr
I was reminded of low level civil war happening that pits people in the same organisation against each other.
It’s the comms team against the rest.
In the red corner, the comms people who don’t much like the idea of people outside the team having access to social media. In the blue corner, service areas who glower at comms teams who don’t let them do what they want to.
“The idea,” one senior comms person told me, “Of giving access to social media to anyone outside my team and having a free for all just fills me with horror.”
A free for all would fill me with horror too. But some basic training can reap some really positive results. Let me explain.
Where non-corporate accounts can work well
During training, I often quote the Edelman Trust Barometer. A fine piece of work that points out that people trust 52 per cent of people who are ‘someone like myself.’ That’s significantly higher than the chief executive or any of the suits.
It’s part of the science behind why things like Dave Throup’s Twitter account works so well for the Environment Agency. You can see day-to-day content like this:
Looking at potential natural flood management opportunities to reduce flood risk to Worthen and, at the same time, improve water quality. pic.twitter.com/BPu779PO6E
— Dave Throup (@DaveThroupEA) March 6, 2018
A web page presents tailored content on a topic. You want Baswich library in Stafford? It has its own webpage. You don’t have to sift through lots of irrelevant information. In the same way, a social media profile on a specific topic does the same job. I live in Brierley Hill in Dudley. So the Sergeant that polices the area is more relevant to me:
We have just had a great result! Officers on patrol came across a burglary in progress at a shop in Kingswinford. Offenders drove off but 3 makes now under arrest. Great work by @SWDYResponse @FSU_WMP & track by @WMPDogs led to 3rd arrest. #teamwork
— James Harrison (@SgtHarrisonWMP) February 13, 2018
Sergeant Harrison has 1,617 followers and 13,935 people live in Brierley Hill. Even taking into account some of those followers will be fellow officers that’s potentially 11 per cent of the population. That’s compared to 8 per cent of the population – 447,000 – who follow the corporate West Midlands Police account.
Sergeant Harrison’s account works best when he talks about the bread and butter of what is happening in Brierley Hill. To a Brierley Hill audience that’s perfect. Would I sift through the noise of the corporate account looking for Brierley Hill? Probably not. But from the corporate account I want the big messages. And if it kicks off somewhere, I really want the corporate account most of all, please.
Earlier this month I was carrying out a comms review for a fire and rescue service. The community fire station’s page wasn’t engaging. It was rarely updated. But it did have 10 per cent of the population signed-up just waiting to be told things. The decision was taken to carry on but with extra training.
It’s not all plain sailing
Experience of looking after social media policy and delivery for a large council that grew from one to 60 accounts is that things don’t always go well. Over the last few years I’ve reviewed hundreds of social media accounts. Experience shows they fall into three categories. A third are useful and are prosper. A third need a hand and a third you should think about closing down unless they radically improve.
Not every devolved account will be great at sharing the corporate message and somtimes they will frustrate. But for me, it’s about accepting the balance. For me, the third that are doing really well outweigh the downside.
Research that paints a picture of the corporate v non-corporate
My eye was caught by a tweet from Police Oracle with ‘Officers better on Twitter than police PR teams report says: The study analysed almost 1.5 million tweets.’ You can see it here. The tweet prompted several devolved accounts to rail against their comms team. The only trouble was, the research doesn’t show that at all. To her credit one of the authors Miriam Fernandez pointed out in a tweet that it was wrong.
But what does the research say?
Funnily enough, it shows that there is a role for both the corporate and the non-corporate devolved account. They just do different things. If you want to read it you can download it here. Caution: there is a paywall. It is called ‘An Analysis of UK Policing Engagement via Social Media.’ It is by Mriam Fernandez, Tom Dickinson and Harith Alani.
The study looked at 1.5m posts 48 corporate 2,450 non-corporate UK police accounts on Twitter.
The researchers found that corporate accounts got higher engagement – measured as retweets – talking about roads, infrastructures, missing persons and mentioning locations. They got lower engagement on crime updates and advice to stay safe. They were found to broadcast more. The non-corporate accounts were less formal and were more likely to respond to questions.
A quick lesson for better engagement from the research?
- Have a clear message with a concrete action
- Know the message but also know the options to act.
What a good corporate account should look like
For me, there are two purposes for the corporate and the devolved non-corporate. The corporate can put out the central messages. It should be a Match of the Day highlights show sharing the best of the rest. It should be human. The comms team can set the direction. It can deliver the training. But the non-corporate team, service area or individual accounts are where the real gold will be found. So have both.
So, spare a thought for Lidl Ireland.
They had a rough weekend.
Thieves used a JCB to break into a Dublin store… which then set on fire and collapsed.
— Dublin Informer (@dublininformer) March 3, 2018
So Lidl Ireland’s Monday morning tweet was a masterpiece.
So err… anyone do anything nice over the weekend?
— Lidl Ireland (@lidl_ireland) March 5, 2018
It’s exactly what someone who had had a high profile disaster of a weekend would have said to break the ice.
It’s the winter and of course the council never treated the roads. Ever.
Only thing is, yes, they do. But icy blasts can see things deteriorate quickly.
Perth & Kinros Council made that very point using a Twitter thread. This is the convention of linking a series of tweets. For me, this functionality is a gamechanger as it moves things from 140 characters to as many characters as you like.
They used two shots from a traffic camera. One to show you the road conditions shortly after the gritter passed and then a new shot 45-minutes later. They used GIFs in addition to sugar the pill and reinforce their points.
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to say thanks to our/Tayside Contracts road crews out today battling against the elements to clear roads. To give you an idea of what they’re up against (builds drama by starting a thread …) pic.twitter.com/T8Mj7aB0QG
— Perth&KinrossCouncil (@PerthandKinross) March 1, 2018
So far so good. Now the first image. The road that’s just been cleared.
— Perth&KinrossCouncil (@PerthandKinross) March 1, 2018
Then a GIF that illustrates snow.
However, as folks in Kinross will know the snow has been hitting particularly hard. pic.twitter.com/CJQcJtlH4D
— Perth&KinrossCouncil (@PerthandKinross) March 1, 2018
Now the second picture of the same scene less than hour later.
But, imagine the disappointment if you’re on the road team who had to look at this image at 4pm – just 45 minutes after it was cleared. pic.twitter.com/GDYTIs7HpZ
— Perth&KinrossCouncil (@PerthandKinross) March 1, 2018
Now the two of them side by side.
So, if you’re in any doubt that snow ploughs are out on the main road near you, then just think of these two images.
Huge thanks to all of the staff out clearing today, and who will be continuing to work shifts over the next 24 hours to make sure our roads are kept clear. pic.twitter.com/0r8uxkIhLY
— Perth&KinrossCouncil (@PerthandKinross) March 1, 2018
And a round of applause for those doing the hard work.
Thank you to everyone working on local and trunk roads today to keep Perth and Kinross and neighbouring areas moving. pic.twitter.com/933O7p6WRD
— Perth&KinrossCouncil (@PerthandKinross) March 1, 2018
A complex point simply executed. Bravo Perth & Kinross Council. Well done their comms officer Lisa Potter.
If you don’t think that love is a little bit like gritting in icy weather then, boy, let me convince you.
There’s a short 48-hour window every year when Valentines cards are hugely important. Then for the other 363 days a year they’re not all that.
For a handful of days a year the state of the roads, grit levels and snow are really important. But unlike Valentines Day those days don’t come pre-printed in your WH Smith desk calendar. You don’t know when the cold blast will come.
My gritting obsession
For three years, I was a local government Twitter account. Every tweet in. Every tweet out. I put back Christmas dinner by 10 minutes to tell people that we were going out gritting. The reason for this? Those handful of days people wanted to know if it was safe to go out.
There’s a lot riding on getting it right. Reputational damage. A switchboard in meltdown. Serious injury. Loss of life. Get it right and your follower numbers increase and people see what you are doing.
Why video is important
I’ve been banging a drum for video as a comms channel for three years now. More than 70 per cent of the UK population have a smartphone and almost three quarters are happy to watch videos of less than five minutes, Ofcom say. That’s your audience right there.
In the latest cold snap,#BestFromTheEast – or #BeastFaeTheEast if your are in Scotland – has shown public sector communicators going into overdrive to communicate.
Here are SEVEN videos that communicate a cold weather message
Using humour and song a pre-prepared snow day announcement
Frimley Junior School in Surrey made this great video to announce a snow day. They’ve used a homage to an 1980s rapper to get their point across to parents. It shows humour and delivers the message.
— Frimley Junior School (@frimleyjunior) March 1, 2018
Using a Facebook Live on icy roads
The Facebook Live platform is currently being encouraged by Facebook. Shoot one and you’ll reach more people. So, hats off Oldham Council for shooting this on what looks to be an ipad. An officer introduces himself and introduces the vehicle driver who is responsible for the gritting operation. As they negotiate the streets they talk about the myths and what they are doing.
Importantly for a Facebook Live is that there is a reason to keep watching. In training myself and my colleague Steven often talk about this as the ‘sword of Damocles.’ You want to keep watching for a specific reason. Here there are two. Will the WiFi cut out? Will it cut out before the exposed heights? Spoiler: they make it to the closed hill and see a Spanish truck stuck.
Using an animation to tell a story
The Met Office need to get a series of messages out with weather warnings. They’ve done this through a variety of means bu the animations have proved eye-catching and effective ways to reach people.
Three separate Amber severe weather warnings for snow are in force for parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales.
— Met Office (@metoffice) March 1, 2018
Using a GIF to make the text more interesting
The GIF is the 1990s technology that’s at home on the web. They are short animations that allow you to repurpose some footage. You can make your own or you can use a GIF library. Both Facebook and Twitter have libraries you can delve into.
Here Transport Scotland lists the prevention advice and then adds a GIF of a sliding car.
Temperatures are scheduled to plummet over the coming days with snow forecast. 😱
Winter check list:
– clear your windscreen/windows of ice if driving
– drive to road/weather conditions
– allow for a greater stopping distance
– smooth with braking/steering
– build a snowman pic.twitter.com/71VdI7dksB
— RoadPolicingScot (@polscotrpu) February 26, 2018
Using pre-shot footage to explain how grit works
During the time I spent in local government comms I tweeted the fact that grit was not fairy dust dozens of times. Same too for how grit works. This Kirklees Council clip with the backdrop of a salt barn shows a man in hi-vis talk through how things work. Shoot them in the autumn and have them to hand. Good tip.
Just under an hour and a half til we send the gritters out again so seems like a good time to share this clip of our engineer Stuart explaining how snow can settle on a gritted road pic.twitter.com/mH7jnyA4fu
— Kirklees Winter (@KirkleesWinter) February 26, 2018
Using realtime footage of work in progress
Fake news! I never saw the gritter! Well, here is video footage of the gritters in action. It doesn’t have to have a narrative arc. Just point, shoot and publish. And combat thosze trolls who say that you weren’t out.
We’re doing everything we can to clear routes today – we’ve got 11 mini tractors, 22 gritters + 60 street cleansing staff on snow clearing duties. However, due to the amber snow warning, please be advised NOT to drive into the city where possible pic.twitter.com/bT3y48HRMe
— The City of Edinburgh Council (@Edinburgh_CC) March 1, 2018
Using hyperlapse video
North Yorkshire County Council had the bright idea of using footage from the cab of a gritter as it passed through the rural county. Shoot the footage on the hyperlapse app and you can look as though you are moving far faster.
Ever wondered what the view is like from the #gritter cab?
Our 86 gritters will be keeping main roads open, but remember gritting doesn’t guarantee an ice or snow-free surface, as snow can lay on top of a treated road. Drive safely. View gritting info at: https://t.co/y8xJZkI8Xf pic.twitter.com/0flQPaOa9B
— North Yorkshire CC (@northyorkscc) February 26, 2018