A client recently asked me about the difference between a Facebook account, page and group. If you’re familiar with Facebook it’s straightforward but for newbies it can be confusing.
An account is usually personal, for individuals. Set up an account to connect with your friends and family. Use it to share photos and updates about your life, and other things you and your friends are interested in. An account has two main sections: your news feed where you see your friends’ posts and posts from pages you follow; and your profile where your own posts appear in a timeline.
A group is for people with a shared interest to join. For example, you might have a group for people who live in your area so you can discuss local issues and share details of nearby events. Groups can be public or closed. If they’re public, anyone can join the group and see its members and posts. If it’s closed, an admin has to approve requests to join. People can see the group’s members but not the posts unless they become a member too. Before you set up a new group it’s a good idea to check that there isn’t a similar one that exists already to avoid duplication.
A page is the best option for a business or cause. Pages are public so everyone can see the content. Content is created by the page admin(s). Other people can post to the page (unless you turn this setting off) but you’re able to approve their posts before they show up in the visitor posts section. Visitor posts won’t appear on the main page unless you share them. Anyone can ‘like’ and ‘follow’ your page. People can also message you via the page.
Pages are also useful if you want to keep your business interaction away from your personal account. For example if I was a personal trainer, I would have an account where I add people I know to my friends list. Then I would have a page where I advertise my services and talk to clients.
Someone told me I should call my blog ‘The Alexis Bailey Daily’ but that would mean having to post every day and I don’t think I can manage that. But I do need to post more than once every four months, so I’ve decided if I’m busy I’ll just keep it simple.
I train people on using social media and this is a question I get asked repeatedly:
What’s the difference between a hashtag and an @mention?
Well they’re both tags but they serve different purposes.
A hashtag is a way of categorising your post. When you add the # symbol in front of a word it becomes a link that people can click on to find other posts with the same hashtag. You might hashtag one or two key words in your post. Those words can be part of a sentence, or just added to the end of the post. For example:
A hashtag can be more than one word, but it mustn’t include spaces or symbols (numbers are fine). Anyone who sees this tweet and wants to find more tweets about Woolwich or Italian food can click on the hashtags. If someone searches for either of those hashtags on Twitter, the tweet will come up in the results.
You might want a unique hashtag for a campaign or event. Something that no one else has used before so that tweets using that hashtag are only relevant to your campaign/event.
You can use hashtags on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as Twitter.
An @mention is a way of drawing someone’s attention to your tweet, or crediting someone. If you use an @mention you’re adding an account’s username to your tweet and the account you’ve mentioned will get a notification about your tweet. People will also be able to click on the @mention to see that account’s profile. For example, I could add an @mention to my tweet above:
You can tag accounts in a similar way on Facebook. You start by typing @ followed by the person’s name or the page username. You can then choose the account you want to tag from the drop-down list that appears.
A final note on hashtags: If you’re joining two words together it’s a good idea to use capital letters for each word. This not only makes it easier to read, it also means screen-reading software can read the hashtag.
Since I became freelance earlier this year, I’ve acquired several clients in the food industry. I work on the digital marketing so they can get on with the catering.
Working with food is more fun than working with government policy. A lot more gorgeous pictures; a lot less trolls. But rather than just posting food pics on social media to temp people to come to events, I wanted to get more in-depth content. I interviewed Marie Soh, the amazing chef behind sohMarie supperclub in Woolwich, to see what makes her tick and what tips she has for aspiring chefs. The full interview is below and it gave me some great content to break down into short posts ideal for social media sharing. The combination of ads and useful content seems to work well.
Interview with Marie Soh
What’s your favourite type of food and why?
My favourite type of food is simple and hearty food. I love strong flavour in my food (as in aroma, taste and texture).
I love love love Italian and Japanese, pasta and ramen of any kind or, should I say, EVERY kind!
When did you first discover you love cooking?
When I watched my first few episodes of Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef. Something just switched in my head and I started my new adventure; I started reading and learning.
What’s your favourite London restaurant?
I would have to say the family friendly restaurants Buonasera in Clapham Junction and Chelsea. I have had many memories there and I love the simplicity and flavour of the food. Their prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is always buzzing and lively! I love that they top half of their pizza with garlic butter and the other half with tomato sauce.
What tips would you give to someone just starting their career as a chef?
Be open minded: Listen and learn constantly with open heart and mind, without judgement or prejudice. There is always something to learn – from your kitchen porter, veg supplier, waiter – all the way to your head chef
Be a family: You are going to be sharing a lot of your life, life’s experiences and knowledge with each other!
Always grow: In mind, heart and knowledge. This, in turn, will keep your creativity flowing
Last tip is to enjoy the whole adventure!
What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
The disposable blue jay cloths that are used a lot in commercial kitchens. You can use them to soak up spills, wipe down surfaces as you cook/prep and to stem bleeds when I cut myself!
You can also place freshly fried foods on a brand new cloth to soak up the oil; likewise for poached eggs to soak up excess water before placing them on your plate. You cut them into small pieces to line herbs in containers to keep them fresh, and many more uses!
If that’s not considered a gadget, then I would say my Wusthof Compact Knife Sharpener. It’s small enough to use as a key ring, so it goes everywhere with me, but big enough to be found by my colleagues when I’ve misplaced it for the umpteenth time! It helps me have sharp knives to work with wherever I am!
Where do you like to go on holiday and what’s the food like there?
I haven’t been on a proper holiday in years! I would ask locals where they would go and follow the queues!
Do you have a favourite wine? What does it go well with?
I love sweet wine and my fav is Tokaji. It’s from the Tokaj wine region. People regard it as a dessert wine but I learnt recently that in Slovakia, it is served as an aperitif! For me, it goes with everything. I like to have it with ice, which makes it very refreshing! Sometimes I get creative and mix it with ice-cold sparkling water and sliced ginger.
What do you like most and least about your job?
Most: Being able to welcome people into a space of warmth and nurture, and share my passion and love for simple, delicious heartwarming food with them.
Least: Loading and unloading the dishwasher!
If you were talking to a group of students who were considering a career in catering what would you say to encourage them?
Go for it! You have nothing to lose. You can always walk away with your knowledge and experience, and apply it to something else!
What has been your worst cooking disaster and what did you learn from it?
When hot oil bubbled over the pan onto the stove! It is a humbling experience as my mistake could harm lives or cause damage to property. Never get cocky because nature (as in fires) is always unpredictable.
I learnt to think fast, switch off the gas and move the pan. Always half fill a pan and don’t put more than three pieces of food in to fry! Invest in an electric fryer.
How do you stay calm under pressure?
I consciously slow down my breathing, shut down my emotions, break things down to tasks and then get on and just do it.
I condition my mind to do what it takes to make that event a success. It may not be perfect but it is always a success: for me, for the team, for my guests and clients.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It comes from the word ‘family’. It’s my desire to create a family through sharing my love for feeding people and my passion for cooking.
I get my ideas from books, memories (mine or other people’s) visuals, nature, anything really.
What made you decide to start supperclub?
It was at the end of 2015, I was in a place of great uncertainty and change. I knew I had to do something more in 2016. I had toyed with the idea for a while but didn’t take any action because I believed I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have the capital, I didn’t know of any venues etc.
It was the strength and tenacity of my boyfriend (who saw more than what I saw in myself) that encouraged me to take the first step. He is always there when I start to wobble – reminding me that this is only the first step, to build my self confidence, amongst other things, and that will eventually lead me to opening my dream space.
So I wrote to owners of cafés to enquire about renting their space in the evenings. I wanted somewhere within walking distance from home, that had a ready kitchen in a local community. Julia’s (at The Cornerstone Café) reply and subsequent continued support has helped me to open the supperclub, and this is where I am now 🙂
Working on the Great British High Street competition was fun. Exhausting but exciting too. The competition grew last year, and while I’m delighted it was so successful, there was a point where I feared it was spiralling out of control!
The competition is about driving footfall to high streets; encouraging people to shop locally and use local services so the money you spend benefits your local economy.
In 2014 a panel of judges chose the winning high street. In 2015 a public vote helped decide and this was a game changer. We set ourselves targets, based on past experience, for the number of entries, number of website page views, number of votes and number of mentions of our hashtag #GBHighSt. We wanted 200 high streets to enter; we got 230. Not bad. We estimated 25,000 hashtag mentions; we got 29,000. Pretty good. We hoped to get 20,000 votes; we got nearly 200,000. We were very happy with that. We expected around 30,000 page views for our website; we got 800,000. We were stunned.
It wasn’t all plain sailing and I learnt a few things along the way which I want to share.
Public voting was open for six weeks. This was too long. It was exciting for us to watch the vote count going up but the entrants started to run out of steam and found it hard to motivate their local communities to keep voting.
Social media makes a difference. One poor high street didn’t send a single tweet or Facebook post, didn’t Instagram any images or put a video on YouTube. They got about 700 votes. Their competitors went all out on social media to rally local support. They got about 15,000 votes. The majority of traffic to the website came via social media.
Facebook advertising is complicated. I was excited to have a small budget to spend on Facebook ads. Little did I know how confusing the process would be. Facebook operates a bidding system for advertising space. If someone outbids you, your ad gets knocked off by theirs. You have no way of knowing if you’ve been outbid until after it happens. I thought our ads would keep going until the budget ran out, but they disappeared much more quickly than expected. Still, the ads increase web traffic by 285% and there were 60,000 clicks from Facebook to the website.
Trying to keep on top of Twitter is a full time job. With 29,000 mentions of our hashtag to track, a similar number of @mentions, and queries coming in by direct message, there were times when I was checking Twitter from 7am when I woke up to midnight when I went to bed. Anticipate every question in advance and make sure the answer is online already to reduce the volume of Twitter queries you have to deal with.
Live tweeting doesn’t always go to plan. I love the idea of tweeting about events as they happen. It’s live, spontaneous, original content. Unfortunately, at the awards ceremony people were so excited about receiving their awards they didn’t notice that they were standing with their backs to me. They didn’t think to move away from the window so they weren’t just a dark shadow in my photo. They didn’t politely pause and turn and smile whilst shaking hands with the minister so I could get a good picture. They rushed off at the end to tell the world they’d won and didn’t hang about to give me a quote. Live tweeting works well in some situations, but semi-live tweeting, where you draft your tweets and get some nice pics in advance, is less stressful.
The 2014 winners told us that the competition had increased footfall, boosted tourism, helped the local economy and attracted investment. It’s good to know that the competition achieved what we set out to do.
I got a letter from High Streets Minister Marcus Jones praising my work. (Okay I’m just showing off now but if you knew how rare praise from above was in the Civil Service you wouldn’t blame me!)
I was lucky enough to be invited to three great events recently where I picked up some useful tips on creating engaging content for social media channels. The first was a session with the Guardian Public Leaders Network. The second was a marketing and campaigning event hosted by Facebook. The third was a masterclass with LinkedIn. Here are some of the most useful things I heard:
There are three key ingredients for the best content. It needs to be useful, relevant and inspiring. Interesting isn’t always enough. If you’re posting for a professional audience include information that will make people more knowledgable and help them make better decisions, for example latest trends.
Case studies work well on traditional media but on social media people don’t just want to hear what someone did, they want to hear how. Rather than just telling an interesting story, turn your content into a list of useful tips that people in the same situation can use.
People remember how things made them feel, they don’t remember details. If you want your message to stick, your content needs to evoke an emotional response. Emotional headlines also work well on social media.
Recycling content that’s been successful in the past can work better than creating new content, and saves you time.
For LinkedIn in particular, the most popular content is: original insights, thought leadership, sharing expertise, exclusive data and ‘The future of…’ posts.
Use photos, video and graphics to get your content noticed. You’re competing for people’s attention with all the other content on their timelines so make yours stand out with something visual. People understand images much faster than they understand text so make sure your images are relevant to your posts.
Mix it up a bit – having recognisable branding can backfire. If it’s too familiar people will ignore it.
To help you understand your audience better, think of a particular person who’s representative of the people you’re trying to reach. Write you’re content as if you’re writing it for that person. Always put your audience first by taking about what they’re interested in, not just what you want to tell them.
92% of audiences trust earned media (content endorsed by a third party) over traditional media (Nielsen). This includes word of mouth from friends and family. Social media is idea for spreading word of mouth. An influencer is someone with an interest or passion, with a network of people who want to share it. Find your influencers and use them to spread your message.
The great thing about digital is you can see straight away who’s reading your content and what works. Take time to analyse the analytics.
The best way to generate engagement is to find a topic people are really interested in. If you work in government, like me, you’re lucky because we have subjects lots of people are passionate about.
Make sure your ask is simple and not too personal. For example, if you want people to share successes they might not want to talk about themselves. Ask them about their team’s success and they may be more forthcoming.
I’ve been working with social media for seven years now so I thought I’d share my top seven tips. If you’re just starting out you might find these useful. I don’t consider myself to be an expert – there’s still so much to learn and there are always new channels and technologies popping up – but here are seven things I wish I’d known before I started:
Sometimes on social media grammar and punctuation go out of the window, but the full stop has an important role on Twitter. If you start a tweet with a username, Twitter thinks it’s a reply and it won’t go to your followers’ timelines. Stick a discreet full stop in front of the username, and all your followers can see the tweet.
Don’t let the trolls get you down. If you’re managing a corporate account (especially if it’s a government one) you’re bound to attract abuse. At first it upset me, then I became immune to it, now I sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit and enjoy the entertainment. Don’t reply to abusive comments. People will soon see that if they phrase their question/comment politely they’ll get a response; if they’re rude and sweary they won’t.
Posts with images and video get a better response. You’re competing with a lot of other content so yours needs to stand out.
If you’re posting a link, for example on Facebook or LinkedIn, once the preview loads you can delete your link from the text – and the preview stays. This looks much tidier than including a long link in your text.
Start with your objective not your channel. For example, people come to me and say ‘I want to talk to people about X and I want to set up a Facebook page’. It turns out there are several high-profile blogs about X. That’s where their content should go. They might feel comfortable with Facebook because they use it in outside work, but it may not be the best place for what they’re trying to do. Bloggers are always looking for good content and may be willing to let you write a guest post.
Experiment. When it comes to digital and social media no one has all the answers. You have to keep trying different things and be prepared to fail. You might post something you think is exciting and will get a great response, only to find no one cares. You might post something you think is a bit dry and suddenly everyone’s talking about it. It’s hard to predict what content will do well and what will flop. Keep evaluating everything you do until you understand what your audiences like.
Chose your username carefully – you can’t always change it. And when you’re coming up with a name for a campaign, keep it snappy, and make sure it can be easily turned into a hashtag.