All posts by Lance Concannon

What customers hate about your social media channels

We recently carried out some research into what brand behaviour annoys people in social media. Surveying a total of 1,003 UK consumers, we asked what would be most likely to damage their opinion of a brand in social media.

Most people flagged up poor spelling and grammar as their number one turn-off. This is interesting because so often in social media we see brands being much less formal and even using heavily abbreviated txt speak, perhaps in an effort to appear more laid back and human. The survey findings show that this could actually be counter-productive and is more likely to annoy people than win their trust.

Broadly speaking the results were very similar across all age groups and between the different genders, with one notable exception. When we drilled down into the 18-24 age group, we found their biggest complaint was brands not updating frequently enough, which happened to be at the very bottom of the list for all other age groups.

Here’s an infographic we made to illustrate the survey results.

Why fake social media fans are bad for your business

Fake social media fans
Fake fans on your social media profiles will not help your business. (Photo credit:7-how-7)

Last night’s Despatches investigation into brands that buy fake fans and followers sparked off a heated discussion amongst the numerous PR execs and social media wonks I follow on Twitter. I didn’t get involved because, for those of us who’ve worked in social media marketing for a while, it’s a tired old issue and there’s only so much that you can say about it without repeating yourself, which gets a bit boring.

But for what it’s worth, here’s my take on the #fakefans controversy. Artificially boosting your follower numbers in social media is a complete waste of money and will only serve to damage your business. The whole point of a brand having a social media presence is so that its customers, fans, employees and other stakeholders are able to interact with it directly, and the benefits to the business are that people will talk about you more often, provide you with valuable feedback, share your messages with their own networks, be more loyal to your brand and, ultimately, you will sell more.

But all of those benefits will only happen if your followers are people who are genuinely interested in engaging with your business. One million fake followers serve no purpose at all, except to create admin headaches and provide you with a distorted view of how your business is really performing in social media, which prevents you from ever learning or making genuine progress.

So why do brands continue to do this? The problem is that when a marketing executive doesn’t really understand how social media works, they fixate on the follower number as the key success metric. It’s a nice easy number to understand – more followers is better, simple. This problem is then compounded if they hire an agency which has an equally poor understanding of social media marketing, or is just a little relaxed about ethics. If the client is going to measure your success on the number of fans and not ask any difficult questions, why not just buy in a load of fakes to keep them happy?

Sadly, our experience tells us that there are still plenty of people in business who approach social media with this mentality.

So what’s the right way to get more fans for your brand’s social media accounts? First of all, forget about how many fans you’ve got – it’s an unhelpful metric to fixate on. What you should measure is how many of your fans are sharing your updates with their own networks, how many are leaving comments, or otherwise interacting in a meaningful way with the content you post? This gives you a much healthier view of how you’re performing in social media.

The best way to grow your audience size on social channels is, and always has been, to consistently create and share great content, interact with and reward fans who want to engage with you, make sure your social channels are visible on your website and other marketing collateral. These are simple things to do, but they require a long term commitment. Too many marketers think of social media in terms of short term projects when it really needs to be something that you continue to develop and build on consistently, every day, forever.

Can you set up an office using just free, open source software?

While we were setting up the Disruptive Communications office we were keen to use open source wherever possible. Why? Primarily to keep our costs down but also because it just kinda feels right – the open source community is a hotbed of innovation and creativity, with thousands of hugely talented people working towards the goal of building high quality tools that are free and open for anybody to use, modify and build upon. Something about that strikes a chord with us. Also, free is good.

So what open source office software are we using?

For our our office suite (word-processor, presentation tool, spreadsheet, etc) we chose LibreOffice. It’s a really polished, user friendly package that is reasonably compatible with MS Office and is capable of handling pretty much everything we need to do with a productivity suite. We’ve also played around with OpenOffice and IBM’s Lotus Symphony, both of which are impressive, but for our money LibreOffice is the best.

We’re using Mozilla Thunderbird for our email client, another professional quality package that’s easy to use and powerful enough for our requirements. We added calendaring capability with the Lightning plugin, and the Provider plugin enables us to synchronise with Google Calendar. All in all the bundle works nicely and we’re able to exchange calendar invites with Outlook users seamlessly.

Since we frequently need to do image editing work, we’re using GIMP for this – a great alternative to PhotoShop. In the old days GIMP had a reputation for being very clunky and difficult for newbies to learn, but the more recent versions have a much simpler to navigate interface and we find it a lot easier to use now. For photo editing, graphics manipulation and infographics creation, it’s a really useful tool.

Our website is built entirely on WordPress. While it’s best known as a blogging platform, WordPress has grown into a mature and stable content management system that can be used for building a much wider range of websites. It’s easy to set up, simple to use and incredibly flexible.

While we’re still using Windows on some of our computers, we’re also using Linux to breathe new life into a few of our older laptops. Specifically, we’re using Lubuntu – a variant of Ubuntu designed to run smoothly on lower-spec hardware. And run smoothly it does. The machines which were creaking under Windows are now zippy and responsive again. Best of all, most of the open source tools we’re running on our Windows machines are also available for Linux too, so all the machines can run the same apps.

We’re still using some proprietary software out of necessity (such as Skype) and, while we were keen to try out some open source accounting software like GnuCash, our accountant pleaded with us to stick with the widely used Sage package. We’re also struggling to find a good open source video editing tool for Windows – although now we have some Lubuntu boxes we can experiment with some of the Linux only editing software options.

As the business develops we’ll see how easy it is to carry on using open source software in a world dominated by proprietary and commercial packages, but for now it’s all working pretty well.