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May 2012

10 reasons for using Twitter

Recently, I was invited to talk to a retiree group about social media.

They were a lovely, inquisitive bunch, seriously pondering whether social media might offer something to them.

Sign up to Twitter
Sign up to Twitter

It was one of those presentations which reaffirmed my appreciation for Twitter in particular. This happens whenever I explain why I like Twitter so much. So I’ll reiterate for you, what I said to them:

10 reasons for using Twitter:

  1. Twitter can help you find new friends.
  2. Twitter can give you breaking news.
  3. No matter what your hobby or passion, Twitter can help you follow it and find out more.
  4. Twitter can help you find answers. Also known as #lazyweb. Why Google something or ask a workmate, when you can tweet a query and crowdsource even further?
  5. Twitter can prod and provoke you and change your mind on issues. You might change other people’s minds. It’s a place where you can engage in debate.
  6. Twitter can put you in touch with your role models, idols and others who you may have thought you’d never be able to interact with.
  7. Twitter can provide fun, distraction and company when you need it.
  8. Twitter can keep your mind agile. Join a silly Twitter hashtag (which typically ask for variations on band names, movie names or book titles). Or join into movements like #artwiculate, “the Twitter based word of the day competition”. See @artwiculate.
  9. Twitter can keep a record of your life. It’s the whimsical little things, ponderings and small talk that you might not recall if it weren’t for Twitter, but could be precious in years to come. It might even contribute to history. You can use a Twitter archiving tool for this, like Twournal.
  10. Twitter is whatever you make it: you subscribe to (or follow) the Twitter accounts that add value to your life. If you change your mind, you can easily unfollow.

Did I miss anything?

The worst things you can do with your Facebook business page

[This is a Social Media 101 post]

Does your business have a Facebook page? Are you guilty of any of the following?

  • Not responding to fan’s questions or comments
  • Not filling in all the biography fields available to you: your company overview, email, website address and so on
  • Not removing offensive posts (pornographic images, offensive language)
  • Not removing spam posts (posts from other pages that have no relevance to your community, often selling something, often posted on many other pages)
  • Not having a large cover image (If you have the Timeline layout)
  • Posting relentless sales/advertising posts
  • Not having any community guidelines posted. Here’s an example of community guidelines for Tourism Australia’s Facebook page (loaded in the Awards section of its biography):

    Tourism Australia Facebook guidelines
    Tourism Australia Facebook guidelines

Your Facebook business page requires regular attention and care. While the examples above are ‘sins’ you shouldn’t commit, there are many positive things you can do to maintain a great Facebook space. These include:

  • Posting updates regularly – and these updates should be of interest and relevance to your Facebook community. See this recent article from Facebook for engagement ideas
  • Having a conversation with your community. Thank them for their posts, ask them questions, answer their questions promptly.

Who has the Biggest Voice on social media?

I’ve got a confession to make.

I watch The Voice. I like it. I watched the American version featuring Christina Aguilera and enjoyed that; so I looked forward to the Australian version and have had fun watching the blind auditions. The current live shows? I’m not enjoying those so much …

But I digress.

The point of this blog is to look at the social media program of The Voice.

The Voice is one of a number of TV shows that is using social media to:

  • Listen to audience feedback
  • Promote the show’s brand and products
  • Lift the profile of the show and generate buzz

They’re certainly not the first or the only ones doing this: the ABC’s Q&A has long been displaying the viewing audience’s tweets on screen. The Block is using social media, The Biggest Loser, My Kitchen Rules and other reality TV shows.

The Voice AU on Twitter
The Voice AU on Twitter

But The Voice seems to have spread its tentacles a little further:

  • Each contestant has a Twitter handle and that’s displayed on-screen along with audience voting details
  • Each celebrity judge has a Twitter handle and tweets about the show; sometimes chatting with each other, offering feedback on the performances and occasionally chatting with their Twitter followers
  • Public tweets are displayed on screen
  • It has a few hashtags: not just #thevoiceau, but also for example #teamseal and #teamdelta
  • Social media interactions are strongly encouraged, with the co-host sitting in a room with contestants shown (somewhat awkwardly) reading public comments sent in.

The Voice has also cleverly made all contestant tracks available for download in iTunes. That’s a fantastic move for fans and the brand. I wouldn’t purchase any of the tracks, but years ago as a fan of the first Australian Idol series, I may have purchased a track or two. It makes sense to have them available.

The numbers

I took a snapshot of leading reality TV shows’  Twitter and Facebook fan numbers (as at 16 May 2012):

MasterChef        Twitter 46,021                   Facebook 890,248            (Total 936,269)
The Voice            Twitter 50,366                   Facebook 225,566            (Total 275,932)
The Block             Twitter 5,203                      Facebook 162, 164           (Total 167,367)
Biggest Loser     Twitter 6,263                      Facebook 64,090              (Total 70,353)

MasterChef has the biggest overall numbers and this is not surprising because it’s been screened annually for several years and has a jump start on shows like The Voice. It’s intriguing however, to see that The Voice already has a larger Twitter audience.

The imbalance between Facebook and Twitter audiences (for all shows) is an indicator of where Australians spend their time: more are Facebook users.

This isn’t a complete snapshot of numbers for these TV shows’ social presence.  They have offshoot social media sites, most developed by fans. For example, the Biggest Loser’s Commando coach has more than 17,000 fans on this Commando unofficial Facebook page.

The engagement

How about a quality measure? I’ve appointed myself the judge here, and looked at the nature of the tweets being sent from the TV show accounts …

This morning The Voice Twitter account sent the following tweet “What I love most about #thevoiceau …” aimed at encouraging interaction (and perhaps a tilt at trending). It gained little traction, with only a handful of responses immediately afterward. What does this mean? Perhaps fans only want to interact with The Voice when the show is airing, or immediately after. It’s two days after the live show now, and it would appear fans are disengaged.

This isn’t to say that the tweet was the wrong move. I would think The Voice wants to encourage week-long engagement and that was a good experiment to undertake. Perhaps questions related to actual contestants would have sparked more conversation, rather than a somewhat blatant “tell me what you love about me”.

The Block sent a similar tweet: “You all seem to love the music on The Block…if you could choose one song to be in an episode what would it be?” and while it had a few more responses, it didn’t gain a lot of traction either.

There’s not a lot of personality in the tweets, but again that might be because they’re sticking to brand (and also staying safe online). While there’s some enthusiasm and warmth (and a lot of exclamation marks!) there’s not much fun, ribbing or probing of fan feedback. Most tweets revolve around recounting what’s happened in the show, asking the audience what they think, and occasional interaction with an audience individual.

(By the way, MasterChef community manager: you need to update the Facebook bio, which reads “It all begins Sunday May 6”.)

Of course, the social media interactions for these brands are just the tip of the iceberg. Their official websites no doubt gain massive online traffic, and these sites have their own online communities. It’s important to have these, to cater to non-social media audiences and also have some more ‘control’ and ownership of your brand online.

In a future post, I’ll be exploring tweeting while watching television. I touched on this last year in Twitter Encourages Live TV Viewing.

The social media time machine

Social media users often move through different phases according to the length of time they’ve spent on social networks.

And “time” is a common thread that comes up in conversations around social media.

I’ve pulled these two time themes together in the list below. Do you recognise yourself or others in these sayings?

“It’s a waste of time”
This person isn’t using social media and doesn’t understand the appeal. They think it’s a fad that will go away. They scoff at social media users. They often reason that they prefer other methods of communication.

“I haven’t got enough time for it”
This person understands that social media can help them stay in touch with others and hear news first. They probably have a Facebook profile. They are cynical about others’ enthusiasm and may only check their networks on the weekends.

Time is a big factor in social media
Time is a big factor in social media


“How do you find the time?”
This is a social media user who’s having some light bulb moments. They are using Facebook, Twitter and perhaps Foursquare or Instagram. They’re gaining an understanding of social media as something that can be useful and fun – but can’t quite work out how to fit it into their busy lives. Rather than giving up, they’re asking for tips from more social-savvy friends.

“Where did the time go?”
This is someone who’s fallen hard. They’ve spent hours down the social media black hole. They’re late for work because they started reading Facebook over breakfast. That TV show they are watching? They keep missing bits because they’ve been too busy reading what other viewers are saying on Twitter. They may have tripped over a gutter while walking and using their smartphone at the same time.

“I make time.”
Finally, this is a social media user who has a solid few favourite platforms. This person knows what suits them and has ditched the rest. Facebook? They’re over it, and may have deleted their profile. They might use Path instead.  They may use Tumblr. They have well-ordered Twitter Lists. Their social networking is achieved during a few niche times of the day, usually on their mobile device. They may network and conduct business via social media and make sure they have the time to pay attention to their earmarked important channels.

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