Tag Archive for twitter

Do I need a new social media channel?

new channel

My 11 year-old son, a keen and sensible youtuber asked me a question last night –

“I want to start a second youtube channel, can you set it up for me?”

It’s a common theme on training courses I deliver and for clients – I often get asked to set up new channels, or if new ones are a good idea. And my response is the same as I gave my son.

Do you have a separate audience you are trying to reach?

Are your target audience using social media channels that you aren’t currently? If not, then why do you need a new channel? It is far better to put your efforts into building the one you have through engaging content that informs, educates or entertains and use networking hours and hashtags effectively.

There are often valid reasons to set up different social media channels. I used to work for the Environment Agency and they have a range of channels, particularly on Twitter. They maintain a national twitter account @EnvAgency as well as regional accounts such as my local one @EnvAgencyMids. The content varies on those channels – the regional accounts carry information only really of interest to local people for example flood warnings. Move to another level and you have well-followed staff such as @TrevorRenalsEA who have an interest in either local or specialised issues; in Trevor’s case it’s invasive plant species. Each account has its own specific audience. Trevor’s detailed look at invasive non-native species is perfect for other specialists in that field, but wouldn’t suit the national account that covers a huge range of subjects and a wide geographical area. Sometimes the national and regional accounts retweet content from individuals and vice versa. During #invasivesweek the content did overlap to broaden the reach of messages about non-native species. The Environment Agency accounts are all captured in this Twitter list if you want to have a look through and see how they do it.

Do you have enough content for an additional channel?

Another important question to ask yourself is – do you have enough content to satisfy a second channel? This is particularly important if you’re struggling with content for the channels that you already have. Do you have enough to sustain it for the future? You need to be able to regularly service all your channels and keep the information fresh and interesting. As technology develops, it’s always tempting to jump into a new channel, without thinking about what you’d use it for.

So in many cases, as I told my son, the answer is unless you’ve got something different to say to different people – ‘build on what you have and do it well’.  He doesn’t have a discrete audience for another account and sometimes struggles to know what to post on his current account. But as he’s 11 and his mum has advised him to do one thing, obviously he’s ignored me and now has two youtube channels!

A check list to work through if you are thinking about a new channel

1 – What is my overall objective, whether it is leads or sales for a business, communicating with the public for a government agency, or engaging supports for a charity – your social media activity should support your work and aims.

2 – How are my current channels performing?  This can help you to decide whether to add new ones, replace one or more of them, or stick with what you’ve got.

3 – Who is my target audience and where do they spend their time? You need to go to where your audience are and communicate with them there, rather than expect them to come and find you.

4 – Do I have enough content to sustain another channel?

5 – Do I have the right sort of content to sustain another channel? If not, do you have the budget or resources to create the right content?

Election news bot cuts through the chatter

election news bot

Like many people, I was amazed to wake up to the news that Donald Trump was close to winning the US Presidential election. As the day has gone on the final result is gradually sinking in.  I’m a big fan of Hillary Clinton and wrote my dissertation on her transformation of the role of First Lady, so I was particularly disappointed by the result.

Not least because one of my main sources of US election news the New York Times Facebook Messenger bot, had updated me daily with the chances of Hillary Clinton winning, and not once did it drop below an 86% chance she would be victorious.

FB Messenger bot

However you’ve kept up to date with election news – in print, online, or via new technology – the polls were largely wrong.  I think the model the New York Times has used to reach people is really interesting. Social media has changed the way we consume news, it’s a long time since people favoured one paper, bought a daily copy and read it from cover to cover.  These days we get our news from multiple sources and in a variety of ways.

Twitter was a key channel on election night, with millions of tweets sent as the results came in. But it is becoming increasingly hard for publishers to make their content stand out among all the noise on social media.  The use of Facebook Messenger is one way to overcome this.  By signing up for the New York Times bot, I received daily updates with notifications. Had I liked their Facebook page I would only have seen a fraction of the content I did.

I liked the fact that I only got updates on a particular subject area.  I think we’ll see far more of this type of publishing in future, tailored to our individual interests, and in this way news organisations can reach more of their potential audience.  Sadly it can’t change the election result for this year.

The value of hyperlocal channels during incidents

I’ve been involved in the social media management of incidents many times, mostly flooding on behalf of the Environment Agency but also fires, and a major power cut too.

Yesterday was my first experience from the other side, as a resident and also as one of the admins for social media accounts in my local area.

I woke up to this tweet from Solihull Police

The location is about half a mile away from my house and so I retweeted the information on my own and the @balsallcom Twitter accounts.  I assumed it was a traffic accident and didn’t think too much more about it, until I saw some posts in a closed Facebook group of school mums indicating it was something very different. Shortly after that there were local news reports about the situation that I shared on both Twitter and Facebook. 

The incident was resolved around lunch time, and later in the day I was able to share confirmation that the road was open and the mother and child were no longer on the roof.

Experiencing this as a resident, there were three key things that I think it highlighted:

1. Hyperlocal social media channels are really important to communicate in an incident

They are the best way to engage with those that need to know what is happening.  The road in question is a busy one in and out of Balsall Common; the social media accounts for the village reach large numbers of local people who were then able to make alternative plans for their commute, school run, and other journeys. The Facebook post alerting people to the incident reached nearly 6000 people. From Facebook insights I can see that people reached and engaged this week live largely within a few miles of Balsall Common.

2. Don’t trust the wider media to pass on information correctly

The Daily Mirror got the geographical information horribly wrong. But even ITV Central had the wrong location on their map. Presumably they’d googled Kenilworth Road, Balsall Common and then uploaded the result to their website. Unfortunately they did this without realising the road is a few miles long and the pin was at least half a mile out of place. The true location was off the bottom of the screen shot they’d taken – not helpful for drivers and others needing to navigate around the incident. Also worrying for people living near the pin.

ITV Central map

ITV Central map and news story headline



3. Organisations need to tell people when an incident is over

From a practical point of view drivers and others need to know whether the road is open or not for their journey home. There was also huge concern for the woman and her child locally. Fellow mums and other residents were anxiously waiting to find out whether the situation had been resolved.  Informally some of us found out from nearby residents but it was a while before we had official confirmation from a trusted source.  Thanks to West Midlands Fire Service for letting us know via Facebook. Solihull Police sent a great initial tweet alerting people to the situation with precise road closure information, but more than 24 hours later that is still the most recent tweet they’ve sent.

A dramatic day and one that I hope isn’t repeated any time soon. Another local resident, summed up the thoughts of us all perfectly.

Tips for Twitter networking

Twitter tips Social Media tips


We’re lucky in our area to have so many high quality Twitter networking hours. This week I’ll be helping Balsall Business Club members take part in #SolihullHour.

Twitter hours are a fantastic way to network with other local organisations and businesses. They are an hour of the week where you can guarantee other people will be on Twitter, looking at your tweets, and tweeting interesting things for you to read and share. All you have to do is tweet at the allocated time and include the hashtag in every one of your tweets during the hour. Sounds simple but they are often very busy so can be a bit daunting if you haven’t joined in before so here are my top tips to get involved.

1 Watch and Listen

Before you dive in, search Twitter for #solihullhour, see what comes up, who gets involved, which tweets catch your eye and why?

2 Plan
What do you want to say? Can you explain who you are in one tweet? The limit is 140 characters but by the time you’ve added the hashtag, an image and a website link, you’re down to around 75. Can you condense your crucial information to one sentence?

3 Use a laptop or desktop
While you get to grips with Twitter networking it is much easier if you use a computer rather than phone or tablet. A bigger screen makes it easier to follow the action and keep track of who is saying what and how your tweets are being received.

4 Try Tweetdeck
Tweetdeck is a great Twitter tool that allows you to have separate columns for notifications, searches, and anything else you choose. It can be really useful to help you to manage your twitter activity particularly during networking hours. You don’t need anything other than a Twitter account to get started.

Tweet deck screen shot










5 Be social
Social media is supposed to be social, so reply to other tweets, ask questions of your audience, and retweet other people’s messages. If you want other people to help to share your news and information it is polite to share theirs too. You wouldn’t go to an in-person networking event and only talk about yourself – would you?

And finally, always say thank you!

#SolihullHour takes place from 7-8pm every Tuesday evening

Other local Twitter hours to try are:
#Kenbizhour 11-noon on Tuesday mornings
#LeamingtonHour 4-5pm on Wednesday afternoons
#KenilworthHr (note the Hr not Hour at the end) 7-8pm on Thursday evenings
#CovHour 8-9pm on Thursday evenings
#BrumHour 8-9pm on Sunday evenings

Ground control to Major Tim

Like many people, I’ve been fascinated by Tim Peake’s journey into space, and I’ve learnt so much in the last few days.

As a family we have enjoyed researching the space station and life as an astronaut. The things my boys wanted to know were the popular things; two of the top four google search suggestions for ‘how do astro…’ are toilet related!
How do astronauts
Our journey highlights the way many of us now consume news and information. We don’t use one newspaper, website, or TV news programme.  Between us we used a wide range of sites and sources, including traditional books, but more often than not a computer, tablets, TV programmes watched on demand, and social media.

For today’s launch while I was at home I watched BBC News, while I was out and about I relied on Twitter to keep me up to date.  Tonight, when we realised our recording of the BBC special had ended before the big moment when the hatch opened and the astronauts entered the space station, we were saved by a tweet from @space_station with a video clip of history in the making.

Twitter is brilliant for live news and updates. This evening BBC News were using posts from the @space_station account for their live programme. So much easier for NASA than having to issue updates and images to journalists in any other way.

I’d urge Twitter to leave well alone with their ideas for changing news feeds. Live updates like this wouldn’t have worked on Facebook where the posts wouldn’t have gone to everyone and wouldn’t necessarily have been in chronological order. I haven’t had time to explore Twitter’s new moments tab yet but I haven’t seen much to encourage me so far.


One of the other things I love about Twitter is the ease with which people can connect. Tim Peake has had good luck messages from a huge variety of tweeters including @duranduran @JamesBlunt and @TheWho. Pre-Twitter it would have been much harder for those people to get in touch and have those conversations.


My favourite interaction has to be this one, only on Twitter could Simon Le Bon chat to NASA:


One of the key aims of Tim Peake’s mission is to inspire kids to want to become astronauts and so far I can say it has been hugely successful in our house, helped in no small part by some great tweeting. I’m looking forward to @astro_timpeake’s tweets from the Space Station.

Bowled over by cricket’s social media approach #youbears

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog, largely thanks to a very busy summer, a fair proportion of which has been spent in and around the game of cricket.

In many ways it is still a very traditional sport including the (highly impractical for small boys) white clothing, and we’ve had some lovely afternoons eating picnics at picturesque grounds watching my eldest play.

cricket in summer

But it is also a sport that has changed massively in recent years and at every level is embracing the benefits that digital and social media can bring.

As a treat for good school reports I took my two eldest to see a Warwickshire T20 blast, we tweeted them our news, and not only was it retweeted, we had a lovely reply,

a great example of the friendly tone that works so well on social media, and to top it off the photo was shown on the big screen at the ground, which my kids thought was brilliant.  


My eldest was thrilled a couple of weeks later when he was invited by his local club to see day 2 of the Ashes test at Edgbaston.  I wasn’t lucky enough to be able to go with him, but thanks to this brilliant audioboo – a useful tool for broadcasting short conversations with star players and young hopefuls alike – I got to hear how much he was enjoying the day long before he arrived home (mine’s the one who likes Stuart Broad because they are both tall!).


The final highlight for the boys was being asked to be flag bearers for the Warwickshire T20 quarter final, again at Edbgaston, and slightly nervously the day we were flying back from our holidays in France.   My initial tweet was favourited by Warwickshire player Ateeq Javid and retweeted by the club and their T20 account.  

An interaction that wouldn’t have been possible through any other channel, and made us feel like we were already part of the day despite being sat in an airport in a different country.

Following the game the boys were lucky enough to meet Ian Bell.

Ian Bell

Along with the traditional photos and autographs, we’ve also got a favourite on Twitter from Ian Bell’s account. His is a nice example of a player who doesn’t just use his social media accounts for promotional purposes but uses them like a normal person and interacts with friends, team mates, and fans alike. As a Birmingham City fan there’s bit too much Aston Villa content for my liking this week, but no-one’s perfect!

We’ve had a wonderful summer of cricket, and are very lucky to have some fantastic memories as well as digital records of all that we’ve been up to.

My lovely little cricketers in grandma's home knits

My lovely little cricketers in grandma’s home knits

Flying high in a crisis

WestJet run one of my all time favourite Twitter accounts, it’s friendly, humorous and useful. They have also produced one of the best ever Youtube videos from a company.

Recently they’ve been doing a great job in a much more challenging situation. A series of bomb threats to their planes has resulted in diversions, delays, speculation and a lot of questions.

They’ve handled it admirably with all the key ingredients of a good social media crisis response

1. Fast and authoritative updates


2. Shareable informative messages


3. Directing people to relevant information from partners


4. Not engaging in speculation and encouraging others not to speculate


5. Answering questions




6.Thanking supporters



7. Moving on with confidence

There’s a lot to be learned from their social media and crisis handling. They have a fantastic style and tone that really hits the mark no matter what the situation.

Let’s hope they can get back to fun YouTube videos soon.

A dog’s dinner of a crisis response

Crufts is in the news for all the wrong reasons at the moment and there are now over 108 000 signatures on a petition to strip Rebecca Cross of her Best in Show win.








The Twitter sentiment score from Topsy is just 14% positive from over 3000 tweets a day on the topic of Crufts.

Topsy 14






Compared to the sentiment over the last 30 days of 70% positive it’s clear their reputation is taking a hit.

Topsy 70






So, how are they handling it on Twitter? To be honest it’s a dog’s dinner. These are all the tweets they’ve sent from @KCLovesDogs since the end of the competition.

Screenshot 2015-03-11 14.26.22

Screenshot 2015-03-11 14.26.46









Surely one tweet with a link to the full statement on their website would have been more effective and much easier for other people to share.


The Mother’s Day tweet that precedes them is yet another example of the dangers of scheduling tweets and not thinking to delete them if circumstances change.














Since then silence! An advanced Twitter search for tweets sent to @KCLovesDogs shows lots and lots of people asking them questions (some polite, some not worthy of a response), criticising them, and wondering what is going on.

In the absence of information from the Kennel Club, people have started creating and sharing their own material, their own stories about what happened, and they are spreading all over social media, without proper explanations or rebuttals. There is nothing for dog lovers to counter stories with, even if they wanted to show their support for Crufts.

Own content












The good ingredients of a crisis response include: regular updates, taking control of the situation and clearly demonstrating that you have, monitoring closely what is being said, myth busting, responding to reasonable questions, allowing your supporters to help you, and continuing those efforts for as long as it takes for the crisis to end and for your reputation to be either protected or rebuilt.

Perhaps there really isn’t anything else the Kennel Club can say, maybe things are as bad as others are making out, but I’m sure there are some updates, some responses, some engagement that could be made before their sentiment score drops into single figures.

Literally as I did a final check to see if there had been any further Twitter activity I spotted these, again presumably automated tweets, to web articles about how to support the Kennel Club and access their grants!


Tweets since














No Best in Show win for @KCLovesDogs! Definitely must do better.


Who sees your tweets?

It’s a funny one to get the hang of until someone shows you, but important to remember that if you put an @ at the start of any tweet you are limiting who sees that tweet.

To make it easy to understand we’ll use two accounts @clairet18 and @jamesturner1912 (which just happen to be me and my husband)!.

So this tweet, with Hi at the beginning, will show up in the timelines of everyone who follows me. James will also get a notification to say that I have mentioned him.


If I tweet it with the @ at the beginning James will still get a notification but the tweet will only appear in the timelines of people who follow both of our accounts.  

The tweets are also visible to anyone on Twitter whether they follow us or not, if people go and look for them.  The first one would show up if people look at all my tweets.


To see the second one, they need to look at my tweets and replies.

tweets and replies

So if you are naming another account in your tweet but you do want all of your followers to see something make sure there is a . or something else at the very beginning of your tweet.

Some tweets not appearing to all of your followers can be really useful. For example if you don’t want to bombard people who follow you with conversations you just want to have between one or two people, or you are a company using Twitter for customer service. It means followers of the @londonmidland account will see their updates and information,

but not every tweet they send in response to customer questions, comments and complaints.

If you’re keen to know what the overlap between two accounts is, you can use followerwonk. James and I have an overlap of 46 followers!


Also remember if you do want to keep your conversation completely private, use Direct Messages – here’s mine explaining to James, that I was about to use his account to create the examples above.  Only he and I had access to that conversation, until I screen capped it, nothing is ever truly private on social media! Happy tweeting!


Blues head to the top of the social media table

Today is Trevor Francis Day #TFday; a celebration of one of Birmingham City’s favourites who became the game’s first million pound player when he was sold to their opponents today, Nottingham Forest.

Trevor Francis courtesy of Birmingham Mail

Trevor Francis courtesy of Birmingham Mail

My love for Blues started early, had my dad had his way, I would have been named Trevina Francesca in honour of the hat trick he scored on the day I was born!

Times have moved on a bit since then, Chelsea spent more than £16million on agents fees last year. This season social media is more important than ever for football clubs to engage with their fans.

Birmingham City may not be able to match the all singing all dancing second screen TV match day app of Manchester City. But their understanding of great social media means they have top flight accounts. They get the balance of content, tone, and integration into their overall communications. The figures are impressive 200 000 Facebook likes and 80000 Twitter followers but more importantly they way they use the channels, their interaction with fans, and their approach are key.

So what can we learn from how they do it?

Different channels work better for different things, BCFC’s Facebook page is a place for fans to chat to each other, feedback to the club, share tips on away grounds, and something all fans love reminisce about the good old days! The club does post updates on match days but thanks to Facebook’s newsfeed not appearing in time order, it doesn’t always make sense, by Saturday night it can be that a popular pre-match post will appear above one with the final score on!

Twitter works perfectly for match updates and the club do minute by minute updates so fans around the world can follow the action in real time. The club are very adept at using hashtags, regular ones include #bcfc, #keeprighton (the club’s song), #bcfclive and #bcfcawaydays. They also create them for special events, for example the new manager Gary Rowett #rowettreturns, and with success; #TFday has reached 3/4 million accounts at the time of writing. They use hashtags already popular on Twitter to increase their reach; #throwbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday are perfect for reviving memories of past glories. The club also took part in #bidtoremember.

Many of the players have Twitter accounts, the club retweet their post match thoughts as they tweet them, giving fans a chance to interact directly with their heroes. Several staff at the club have accounts too including the head of retail @wayen_cowen, allowing the club to promote special offers, @BCFCticketlady who provides social media customer service, and until recently @_andywalker_ who has been responsible for much of the club’s social media success. He has now moved on to the FA. These personal touches really help fans to feel involved in their club and connected to what is going on.

Like all football clubs, Birmingham City are lucky to have great content for their youtube channel particularly player interviews and match highlights. They package them really nicely and promote them via Facebook and Twitter.

Steven Knight and Gary Rowett

Steven Knight and Gary Rowett

The club aren’t afraid to use the same content in different places where appropriate. This very popular photo of manager Gary Rowett with Peaky Blinders writer Steve Knight was both tweeted and used in the programme.

Tweets are used to create an article in each programme. The club also do a weekly news story on their website of the top 5 most popular social media posts on each channel.

As I found working at the Environment Agency, when there are issues and they receive a lot of negative press coverage, the reaction on social media is usually less negative and more supportive. Even after an 8-0 drubbing fans bounced back and really rallied round as rumours grew that Gary Rowett was to be the new manager.

Last year Birmingham City came top of the Championship teams in the Sport Social Media Index. If only they could have a few league points for the quality of their social media!

Claire Turner
@clairet18 (aka Trevina Francesca!)