Aimee Hudson
28th November 2018 - 8 mins read
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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 only 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

5 types of video content to help your business make an impact

Emily Stonham 12th October 2018 — 6 mins read
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ideo content is the perfect way to achieve this. Using videos to interact with your customer shows them the person behind the product, and demonstrates how it could benefit them in real life. After all, the modern customer is busy. And with more content available online than ever, it’s important that your content stands out from the crowd and captures their interest.

Of course, different content will work for different people.  You need to narrow down your audience and figure out exactly what they’re going to be interested in watching. This means profiling your existing customers and talking to people who chose to buy from you, as well as those that chose not to buy from you. Content formats like surveys or social media polls can be really useful for this sort of research.

There are so many types of video content to consider. Here are 5 of our personal favourites for you to consider adding to your content strategy.

Behind the scenes

A video showing the inner workings of your business is a fantastic way to personalise your marketing and build a deeper level of trust with your consumer. If you’re promoting a product, show sneak peeks of how it’s made or a snippet of a brainstorming meeting. If your business offers a service, try filming a set-up before an event or consultation.

Obviously, you don’t have to show the whole thing, but giving your customers a glimpse behind the scenes can help them relate to your business on a more personal level and feel more interested in what you’re offering.

Some of the best behind the scenes video content comes from online brands. Fashion brands are particularly good at using this style on social media to keep their fans excited about upcoming products and collections.

A great example is the printing company Awesome Merchandise, who create personalised merchandise for businesses. They show behind the scenes shots of their machines embroidering and printing, and take a lot of photos off their staff working or on days out. These pieces of content help the customers feel like they’re in the factory or office with the team, and thus feel more connected.

Interviews

On the other end of the spectrum, an interview could be a great piece of content to film. This could be an interview with a team member, to find out more about the business and their day-to-day life. It could be an interview with a key influencer in your industry, perhaps talking about predictions for future trends or technological developments. You could interview customers, your boss or even strangers at a convention or networking event. There are a lot of possibilities with this idea - just figure out what you’d like to communicate, and work backwards from there.

Our sister company, Media First, often uses this video format to create customer testimonial videos such as this one. The benefit of using interviews in your content marketing is that it offers an engaging narrative for consumers, and can showcase different points of view.

Instructional videos

If you’re offering a product, a video detailing how to use it can be really beneficial for customers. Numbered videos can be really helpful e.g. ‘5 ways to use make the most of…’ or ’10 ways XX product can help your team’.

A key benefit of instructional videos is that it can also help to reduce the strain on customer services, sales and support teams. This style of video will often be created to answer a frequently asked question, and thus make the customer experience more pleasant overall.

A great example of this style of content would be makeup gurus, specifically on YouTube. Jeffree Star, a famous fashion influencer and businessman, creates makeup tutorials using his own products and techniques. The overall effect of this is that the customers gain more information about the product and engage more deeply with the brand itself.

Product launch

A great piece of content to create is a video promoting new products or events that your business is launching. A video could include sneak peeks/glimpses of the product, to generate hype around your brand. This could even tie in with other pieces of content, like competitions or give-aways to get more customers excited.

Alternatively, you could create an in-depth piece of content that highlights the key benefits of your new product, and gives the customer a reason to come back to your business.

This is often done really well by game development companies. When new video games are being released, companies often rely on social media hype to get the word out. They’ll post sneak peeks and snippets of game play, all leading up to an elaborate reveal of the game. A great example of this would be the most recent installation of the Super Smash Bros game from Nintendo.

Vlog

This one may be a less popular idea, depending on the industry you work in, but vlogging can be a great way to humanise your business and connect with your customers on a more personal level. A vlog is essentially a video blog. They’re incredibly personal, and are hugely popular on social media.

An example of the crazy hype that these pieces of content can create is the latest trend on YouTube called ‘mukbangs’. A mukbang is an eating show, with the creator simply having a meal and chatting to the audience. This might sound ridiculous if you’ve never seen these - who would sit and just watch someone eat for fun?

Surprisingly, tens of millions of people tune in to watch these on YouTube and Twitch. The appeal is the personal aspect, where the audience feels like they’re having a meal with a friend. Here's an example from a popular creator named Josh Peck.

Mukbangs can be used for marketing new products from fast food companies, like Taco Bell or McDonalds. They may not seem like the most obvious choice for a piece of content, but the cult following that they have online is immense.

Additionally, this type of content can be tailored well to fit most industries - for example ‘a day in the life of a digital marketing apprentice’ or ‘spending the day at a media training course’. They’re personal, fun and tie in well with the previously mentioned idea about a behind-the-scenes video.

Overall

Overall, it’s worth your time considering adding video into your content marketing strategy. It’s modern, engaging and also quite fun to produce. Customers love video content, and it can do incredibly well on social media.

And they don’t need to be long, either. When Thirty Seven launched a printed magazine earlier this year, we created a 15 second looped video to promote it that could be used on Twitter and LinkedIn- take a look at it here.

If you try out any of these ideas for a social media post, feel free to tag us - we’d love to see it.

Thirty Seven offers a huge range of content creation services, and we’d be happy to have a chat about any marketing projects that we could help your business with.

Emily Stonham
12th October 2018 - 6 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.