Adam Fisher
3rd October 2017 - 5 mins read
B

ritish Gas, Seaworld, JP Morgan and author EL James are among those who, to put it politely, have seen their social media chats, trend for the wrong reasons.

So, what can we learn from these social media disasters? How can you do it right?

Timing

Timing is a key component for social media Q&A success. Holding an interactive session when you are already creating headlines in the traditional media for the wrong reasons is a recipe for disaster.

British Gas was the victim of one of the more memorable scheduling disasters, opting to give customers the opportunity to ask Customer Services Director Bert Piljls questions on the day it announced a 9.2 per cent price hike.

The #AskBG hashtag was used by thousands of customers airing their grievances and those who took the opportunity to poke fun at the energy giant.

The lesson here is clear - these social media sessions should be restricted to when you either have good news to tell or when you are not in the news at all.

 

Right person

In the same way you need the right person for media interviews, you must think carefully about who you are going to put forward for question and answer sessions.

You need someone who is senior enough to make decisions so that bland, generic responses can be avoided.

And some natural humour can be helpful.

But you also need someone who you can trust and who will need little moderation.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is no stranger to controversy and a Twitter question and answer session a few years ago predictably created plenty of headlines.

Most controversial was his comment of ‘nice pic. Phwoaaarr’ to a question from a female customer, which led to allegations (and headlines) of sexism.

 

 

Memorable hashtag

Memorable hashtags can promote and create a buzz about your question and answer session. Ideally you want something short but still descriptive.

You should also check the hashtag is not being used for anything else.

And perhaps most importantly of all, make sure it can’t be misread – a lesson the promoters of singer Susan Boyle could have done with before they opted for #Susanalbumparty.

 

Show some self-awareness

Not every post you receive in these sessions is going to be on the subjects you want and some may mock what you are trying to achieve.

The key is to not take yourself too seriously and to respond with similar humour.

Although not strictly a question and answer session, Waitrose responded cleverly when its #WaitroseReasons hashtag was hijacked by posters making fun of its upper class reputation. It said it had found the tweets ‘funny’ and had ‘enjoyed reading most of them’. 

 

Prepare for the negatives

As with media interviews it is important to spend time considering the negative issues which could arise during the question and answer session.

Prepare lines to take which can be given in response and consider creating a page on your website which you can link through to for answers needing more than 140 characters.

 

Wider issues

As well as possible negative topics, it is also worth considering the wider issues which could arise during the question and answer session. These could be issues affecting the wider sector or perhaps some new Government policy which could have an impact on the industry. Currently, you could face questions about the impact Brexit or Donald Trump might have on the sector. Prepare some lines to take for these wider issues.

 

Not suitable for everyone

While a question and answer session may seem like a great way to boost engagement and get positive messages out, it is not a format that is suitable for everyone.

If your brand or area of work is divisive, the session will act like a magnet for critics and keyboard warriors.

When 50 Shades of Grey author E.L James held a Twitter Q&A it is fair to say it did not go to plan. As well as plenty of users taking advantage of the opportunity to question her writing ability, the author was also faced with more serious questions about her books promoting an abusive relationship.

Similarly, when SeaWorld held a #AskSeaWorld session it backfired massively, with people taking the opportunity to bring up animal welfare concerns and ask when the park would be closing down.

 

Promote

You need to promote your question and answer session ahead of the event. Begin posting about it a few days in advance using the hashtag you have opted for - this has the added benefit of enabling you to see any questions which come in early.

Also use your email lists and other social media networks to raise awareness of the sessions and encourage your employees to tell their friends.

 

Don’t be afraid to walk away

About the one thing JP Morgan got right about its infamous Twitter Q&A session was deciding to abandon the idea 24 hours before it was scheduled to take place.

The company found itself inundated with negative posts when it promoted a live chat with one of its executives, which was intended to be about leadership and careers advice.

With questions including ‘did you have a specific number of people’s lives you needed to ruin before you considered your business model a success?’ it was clear it had completely lost control of the hashtag.

Sensibly it took the decision to prevent further damage by returning to the drawing board.

 

Crisis plan

If your question and answer session does go ahead and goes horribly wrong, make sure you have a crisis plan in place to limit the damage, including how you will manage the media if it sparks their interest.

 

We realise that these examples of social media Q&As could put you off holding one of your own. But that is not the aim. The idea is to make you aware of risks so that you can prepare for them and avoid making similar errors.

We firmly believe Q&As can generate highly productive conversations which can develop excitement around your brand and products. It just needs considered planning to avoid the pitfalls.

Mark Mars, Managing Director of Thirty Seven, said: “Just like an in-person press conference or an open discussion, Twitter Q&As provide a way for the audience to ask questions and hear responses directly from the host. But, all you need is Twitter. And anyone can do it.

"A Twitter Q&A is a great way to engage with your audience as it allows them the opportunity to talk to you in real-time conversation, in a more human way.

"Twitter Q&As are a great opportunity to get insightful feedback and for your audience to know you are taking their views seriously."

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

Marketing

Social Media Trends

Adam Fisher 3rd October 2017 — 6 mins read
A

nd with constant growth – 30 per cent of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction – the pace of that change is going to increase.

The good news is that the Thirty Seven crystal ball has been put to good effect and helped us identify the things you can expect to see much more of.

 

Ephemeral Content

This type of content is intriguing and one that can be quite hard to achieve successfully. It is where your followers see a short clip of content or an image for a matter of seconds before it disappears.

It is the format Snapchat was built upon.

However, more brands are exploring ephemeral content to provide a different side of the business for certain occasions.

For example, ephemeral content is great for giving an audience a sneak peek or a behind the scenes look of a product or event. Burberry used it to wide acclaim in 2015 to create an ad in real time.

Alternatively, it can be used for competitions and giveaways, interviews, holidays or a daily/weekly series.

The key to being successful with this form of content is to be human. It should be unpolished and light-hearted or, in other words, ‘flawed’.

 

Stories

Snapchat has, since pretty much the beginning, had a feature called ‘stories’ where users can publish snippets of what they’re doing out to everyone who follows them.

Within the last year or so Instagram and Facebook have copied this idea and interestingly, Instagram seems to have become the more popular platform for this feature with 100 million daily active viewers in 2016.

Many people and brands share snippets of their day and then add text, stickers, filters or emojis and publish it so anyone who follows their account can view it.

Since Facebook now owns Instagram it has also rolled out the feature to its own platform but with little success.

 

Live Video

There’s no doubt that live video is on the rise with more and more brands tapping into it. It’s estimated that 43 per cent of marketers plan to use interactive video in 2017.

While there are many video streaming platforms – and LinkedIn is in the process of rolling out one to its users now - Facebook Live and Periscope appear to be the most popular.

Periscope, in 2016, stated that users watched 110 years of live video every day in the app and on New Year’s Eve Facebook Live reached a record-breaking number of users around the world.

Twitter and Instagram have also launched a live video platform within their apps, in Twitter’s case they now have a button to live stream via Periscope.

This feature is particularly useful to those who want to live stream an event, for example a product launch, to everyone who couldn’t be there. Q&A’s and a live video series are also opportunities to pick up on.

With new capabilities like 360-degree videos, there are new ways to engage an audience.

 

Artificial Intelligence

This is a fairly new feature for most social media brands but Snapchat has paved the way since the beginning with their variety of filters.

Powered by artificial intelligence the filters are known to be engaging and interactive. I mean have you seen how many selfies have dog ears over them now?

Due to its growing popularity, other platforms have adopted the feature in order to entice users.

Many companies are investing in artificial intelligence and creating new interesting ways to engage audiences.

It’s believed that artificial intelligence will drive social media in in the coming year with some stating that is essential for social media. It is certainly something Apple has placed a lot of emphasis on while launching its new iPhone X.  For businesses, it’s a new way of opening doors to interact with customers, publish adverts and network.

 

 

Messaging Apps 

With more people spending more time online, social media companies are investing in instant messenger functionalities.

Facebook is the first to initiate this with the Facebook Messenger app. This allows people as well as brands to communicate globally for free.

These aid in customer service processes as they provide a faster and easier way for customers to get the assistance they need, compared to email or phone.

The hotel chain Hyatt utilises Facebook Messenger for 24-hour customer service so guests can make reservations or ask questions.

Many companies that don’t use social media messaging apps use similar technology which can be embedded into their websites.

 

Marketplace

E-commerce is becoming more prominent within social media platforms. With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter offering ways for users to buy products directly within their apps.

With one simple click, a user is taken to the company’s desired URL to either browse products or with the intention to buy.

The marketplace is powerful. In a recent survey, 56 per cent of consumers said they follow brands on social media to know when products are on sale and 31 per cent said they use social media to specifically look for new products to purchase.

Many people go on social media to interact with interesting content and are more likely to engage in posts that provide information to them rather than an advert e.g. gift ideas for your sister. Indirect advertising allows companies to reap more benefits.

Remarketing via adverts on social media is also known to increase sales for businesses and can be a very effective strategy when done well.

 

Mobile Advertising

If you haven’t started investing more into mobile advertising it’s about time you did. It’s wise to advertise across all social media platforms if possible and take advantage of the new features that come out.

In 2016, Facebook brought in $7 billion worth of social media ad revenues. Their algorithm ensures that a user’s friends and family’s content comes first so that the 75 per cent of brands that pay to promote adverts on Facebook will have to create appealing and engaging ads in order to capture the user’s attention first.

Twitter, on the other hand, has paid advertising features including videos, sponsored hashtag icons and stickers to provide users with a variety of ad options.

Interestingly, users said, in a recent survey, adverts on Instagram were more memorable compared to ads on Snapchat. However, Snapchat offers more appealing ad features like sponsored filters that are popular during film releases making them more likeable to users.

Overall, each platform runs a pay-to-play operation to make advertisers pay as much money as they can so they can get the results they want. For example, if you’re looking for conversions and have a budget of £50, Facebook will put this in front of only a select few people. But if your budget is £500 your ad will be placed in front of many more people who are likely to complete your desired conversion action.

It’s more common nowadays that we are seeing the four main channels copy each other’s most popular features, as we have seen with the ‘stories’ functionality.

The social media platforms are becoming standardised with the only difference being which one your audience uses most.

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

Adam Fisher
3rd October 2017 - 6 mins read