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

Podcasts: How can you tell you are getting a return on your investment and time?

James White 5th June 2020 — 4 mins read
T

hat is more than double the number that was listening to them just two years ago.

We are, it seems, absorbing more and more content through our ears.

So, it is hardly surprising that increasing numbers of companies are becoming aware of the benefits and are looking to include podcasts in their communication strategies.

One of the questions we are often asked by companies looking to get involved in podcasting is how they can measure success in this area.

And that is an important question because you need to see a reward for your investment in time, effort and resources.

Let’s take a look at some of the key metrics you could use.

 

Downloads

This is the most obvious metric and will help to give you a good idea of the size of your audience.

But it is important to remember that a download does not necessarily equate to a listen – your content could remain unheard even if it is downloaded.

Additionally, a listener could download the same podcast on multiple devices.

Rather than looking at total downloads, opt for using unique downloads as this refines the numbers and removes multiple downloads from the same user.

Also, look at the number of downloads per episode. Fluctuations here will show you what content your listeners are most interested in and what they find less appealing.

 

Subscriptions

This measures the number of people that are subscribing to your podcast and who get notified when a new episode is available.

If people are opting to subscribe to your podcast, it tells you that they want to hear more from you and that they don’t want to miss an episode.

 

Social mentions

If people like the content of your podcasts, they are likely to talk about it on their social media channels.

And you will be able to use your social media listening tools to see who is discussing your podcast and what they are saying about it.

Likes, shares and retweets are all good measurements and the comments can give you a good understanding of what is resonating with your audience.

 

Backlinks

Backlinks are another good thing to monitor and show how many times another website has linked to your podcast.

In theory, the more backlinks you generate the better.

But you also need to look at the quality of those backlinks. For example, there could be a small chance a backlink may be trying to persuade people not to listen to your podcast.

 

Create a dedicated landing page

Creating a dedicated landing page for your podcast is a great idea.

It establishes a home for your podcast, it can offer incentives to encourage new listeners to sign-up and you can use it to thank your subscribers

And it can help you gauge the success of your content. You can measure the hits and engagement on the page and the number of people who go from it and subscribe to the podcast.

 

Special offers and promotions

These are a really easy way to measure the success of your podcast.

Special offers, discounts, incentives and promo codes can either be read out on air by your presenter or used in the text of your landing page.

And by promoting these deals with your podcast, you can pinpoint exactly what leads are coming from your listeners.

A good idea with these types of offers is to set a time limit for them as this may encourage your listeners to take action quickly.

 

Email marketing

Competition for listeners is pretty fierce and you need to work hard to attract and grow your audience.

Email marketing has an important role to play here and we would encourage you to use your mailing list to promote your podcast.

Not only will you increase awareness but there are useful measurements you can use as well, such as open and click rates and the numbers of unsubscribes, all of which will give you an indication of the appeal of your audio content.

 

Context

All of the figures I have mentioned will help you understand the success of your podcast.

But it is also important to have realistic goals.

For example, the more niche the subject you are talking about the harder it is likely to be to attract large numbers of listeners and, on the face of it, your unique downloads may not look that impressive.

However, a relatively small number of dedicated listeners in this instance could be a real business win and show more buying intent than a more general podcast with a bigger audience.

 

Get in touch with one of our account managers to find out how we can help you get your podcast started. You can also find out more about starting a business podcast in this recent blog.

 

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 a podcast or email marketing.

Adam Fisher
23rd May 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.