A daughter of a good friend of mine attends the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES) — A public school that has a particularly fine educational track record.
However, due to the difficult financial situation of the State of California funding for some of the school’s programs are either being squeezed or are ceasing. While recognizing the need for cutbacks, concerned parents feel the cutting of the study group programs, in particular, are unfair and could possibly damage the educational prospects of their children.
The parents, working together, made this short campaign video, Help LACES Fight Budget Cuts
Wanting to take further steps to get the message out, especially on social media channels, my friend contacted us at Technology Voice (TechVo) to see if we could help.
We should say at this point that we are not social media experts in any guise nor do we aspire to being so.
However, since we have had a lot of dealings with people, technology and issues involved in the social media field we have become somewhat familiar with the area and its practices.
With that in mind we wrote back with a few suggestions to help them get started.
The following is an edited (for clarity and privacy) version of the tip guide that we provided.
This article is aimed at the complete beginner with the idea of getting them up and running as quickly as possible.
Each group or person’s campaign will have its own aims and constraints. Hopefully, by reading the material and implementing what is appropriate to their needs the new user of these tools will be able to configure and shape a useful and effective campaign of their own.
But before we start, let’s just deal with a commonly held misapprehension.
Producing a video to with the specific aim for it to ‘go viral’ is an ill-advised strategy for getting your message out. It is about as useful a plan as buying lottery tickets is for accruing wealth. Very few videos go viral and a major reason is because there are so many of them.
On the YouTube faq page this is their answer to the question, “How many videos are on YouTube?”
“48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.”
In YouTube’s own list of “Most Watched Videos of 2011” the only common factor seems to be randomness and unpredictability — which for our purposes is not very useful.
With years of video footage being uploaded every day it is clearly going to be hard to be stand out in a unique and compelling way.
I say this to just to clear the working space of unhelpful ideas and misguided ambitions.
But what can be done, extremely effectively, is to run a targeted campaign to a clearly defined audience.
You don’t hear so much about this sort of strategy because, as you will see, it needs time, focus and good organizational skills to keep track of all the balls in the air. The ability and willingness to make a consistent effort is an absolute prerequisite.
Choose the title carefully: A clever title might be cute but a more descriptive one that people can either guess or remember easily, will make the video that much easier to find when people search for it online.
For the school’s funding campaign, we suggested; “Save Math Study Group at LACES” and “LACES Needs Funding for Math Study Group” or that they use some combination along those lines.
(The title the parents committee eventually decided on was: “Help LACES Fight Budget Cuts” which is very workable in this context.)
Video Length: Between one minute and one and a half minutes is ideal. Unless the footage is something very special, two minutes is pretty much the outer limit for holding people’s attention in this format. One exception is an interview where ideas need extra time to be laid out and discussed.
To keep the campaign video short and punchy it is important that the story it tells should just make one major point. Only include other elements if they contribute to reinforcing that point.
If you have more than one major point to get across you can always make another short. punchy video with another undiluted message.
You will then need to open accounts on the following platforms:
You will have to put the video up on to:
Youtube — It is best to do one upload to YouTube rather than posting the video on each individual platform. The YouTube video links and embed codes can be inserted into your social media pages simply by copying and pasting them.
This method gives you a better count on how many views the video had and you only have to make edits or changes in one place.
A website — For the purposes of this article a home site isn’t really necessary but it is usual and something people expect to see. It can be useful to act as a holding place for various materials and a place to put a call to action. The problem is that websites just don’t have anything like the connectedness that the major social network platforms have.
Connecting is what a social media campaign is all about.
OK, Deep breath, here we go.
Since you are going to be setting up YouTube and Google+ accounts later on it is probably best to get a gmail account.
You will have to use your real name or run the risk of Google blocking your account.
The gmail account you provides an easy bridge between your YouTube and Google+ accounts, in addition, of course, to being able to handle email.
Once you have set up the gmail account you will be taken to the gmail homepage.
In the selection bar at the top on the extreme left click on ‘+You.’
That will take you to your Google+ personal set-up page.
Link the video and add your text to this page.
Before you start adding people to your ‘circle’ set up the brand page first.
With the Circles of networks on Google+ it is not obvious until the Circles are populated how they work and much easier for you to simply do rather than me describe.
It is best to just have everything public from the start. You can lash down your privacy controls later once you get the hang of it.
The first key tactic to implement on all the networks is to get the invites out, to get the people in, and get the conversation and exchanges of information going as quickly as possible. In any campaign velocity and momentum are the keys.
Link the video and add your text to the description box.
Thumbnails:Go to settings. Once the video has processed you will eventually see in the thumbnails section three images to choose from. Hopefully, YouTube will have grabbed the opening title image but quite often it doesn’t.
YouTube captures thumbnail images from the video to allow a still image to be displayed if the video hasn’t been started. But it doesn’t allow you to do this with any degree of accuracy. What they do is offer you an automated, pre-selected choice of thumbnails.
There is no workaround for this except to delete the video and reload a new version hoping Google will select a more appropriate set of three thumbnails. It’s a pain.
(Unless the thumbnail is completely blurred or totally misrepresentative, it is not something to spend that much time over. They are transient images in people’s attention space and aren’t viewed the same way as the cover of a book or a cinema poster. Both of which are specifically designed to be noticed.)
Underneath the video on you tube you will see a link and a dropdown box called ’embed.’
Copy and paste the links to your Google plus account and your Google brand page.
Pages: Once the brand page have the videos and blurb up (are ‘populated’) then send out invites to as many people as you can think of who would appreciate hearing from you would possibly like to support your cause.
Using a Page is far more preferable than using your personal page. People Liking your Page have no access to your personal updates or your friends details and this helps to maintain your privacy.
With both Facebook Pages a Google+ Pages, the key thing is to keep updating and not to let them languish. That means encouraging the other participants in the campaign to leave comments, updates and click on the likes.
Communication: A good policy is to ban email altogether for those involved. Have all communications come through the social platform. If needed, there are ways to send messages privately.
The amount of activity matters a lot. So the more you can interact with other people on the sites and the more you do to keep the page alive the better.
Despite the order of construction that we have laid out for building your social media campaign using popular platforms there can be no argument, at least for the present, that Facebook should be the hub of all your activities.
It is probably the place where you will get the most activity and spend the most time.
This is my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tom-Murphy/136274716385273?sk=wall
As you can see it takes in feeds from where I am elsewhere on the web. I rarely update it directly. I don’t really need it now as people can either subscribe to my public statuses or view my public timeline. But in the old days it was a way to reduce noise on my personal newsfeed.
A Facebook Page has to belong to someone. And that someone has to have a Facebook account. If you are the lead in the endeavour then you can either create it from your account or delegate the ownership to else. Others can join as administrators once it is setup.
Facebook > Home> (Left hand column, below FAVOURITES and LISTS) PAGES > In the dropdown box that you need to roll the curser over) MORE> (New page) Click on “Create a Page> Click on “Cause or Community”
This is the Facebook page for “Friends of Laces.” Please feel free to give them a like or support them in any other way you can.
Enter text about what you are trying to achieve in the ‘about’ section.
Link the video from YouTube.
The first goal is to get 25 people ‘Liking’ the page.
With 25 ‘Likes’ the page can have its own title which is really important for search. Vital in fact.
NB: Don’t be deterred. Like a lot of computery things it is easier and quicker to do it rather than read about it.
Following these instruction and getting the page up should take about 15 minutes.
There are other settings and so on that can be configured but getting the page up but getting the 25 first subscribers is the immediate goal.
Time for a cup of tea.
If you don’t have an account then set one up. It is important to fill it in as fully as possible. The search engines will discount accounts with incomplete profile entries.
Once you have your account you will see a search box in the top right with a dropdown box labelled ‘people.’ If you click on that and select ‘groups’ you can then search for groups whose members maybe interested in your cause.
But first create your own group. Select ‘Groups’ which is 4th from left on the same bar as search box. Select ‘create groups’ and your away.
Again, invite as many people as you can to the group and make sure everybody understands to cross post between all three platforms.
Now the hard bit. Using the search find all the other likely groups that would want to know about your cause. Once you have a list of likely candidates assign people in your group to each join one or two of these other groups so they can post updates into that group and if needs be engage in debate.
Be human and treat other people like humans. Civil and appropriate conduct is as important online as it is offline. Also, spamming is counter-productive. You want people to join with you so that you might achieve your aims. Alienating them at the very outset isn’t going to help you in any way.
Linkedin doesn’t take too long to set up but finding groups and joining them is time consuming. A get together with laptops for coffee and assigning key groups to particular members of the team might be the best way to share the load.
Warning: If you join all the relevant groups and try to manage them yourself you will not have a life — at all.
Because users interests are so conveniently grouped on Linkedin it is possible (if you behave appropriately) to get some very good responses but because of the time involved in getting to know people and the dynamics of individual groups it is the slowest of all the platforms for upscaling engagement.
Make sure there is as much relevant information in the bio as possible.
Twitter is very dynamic and an account for a cause or a campaign has to be actively managed. One very good tool to help with this is Buffer. It allows you to schedule your tweets thus freeing up for other activities.
Scheduling your tweets is key. If we didn’t get our first tweet out for TechVo by 09:30 we missed the morning window for maximum reach in our timezone as people had checked their email and had drunk their coffee by then and were now settled into work.
With just a bit of brainwork and some trial and error you will be able to work out the times that are best to tweet out at depending who you want to reach.
The timing for messages to parents at the school gate may differ from reaching public officials who maybe locked in meetings at the end of the school day.
Tweets should be short and to the point and if possible have a link but always a hashtag.
For any campaign every tweet you send should have a hashtag, ‘#.’ Like the Twitter name it should to be brief. #ntp12 would work for something that we might want to do this year.
What the hashtag does is aggregate the results for a given term. Putting a hashtag in front of a word or combination of words and letters ensures that when people use that hashtag on Twitter they only get the results for updates that include that tag. It reduces ambiguity in results and cleans up the noise somewhat.
Go to the Twitter search engine and enter a common word like sugar and have a look at the results. Then type in #sugar and see the difference.
Although, you have to use an email address to set up Twitter you can use any name that is available for the handle.
Have all friends in your circles and on Facebook follow you.
Setting Twitter up is probably the easiest and quickest of all three.
The Twitter home site is not the greatest to use. Tweetdeck is a very popular Twitter manager. I don’t care for it that much. However, the official Twitter app is particularly good for mobile devices.
These four platforms are your priority and should be up and running before you spend time registering with other services.
Setting them all up should be either a morning’s or afternoon’s work.
The key thing to remember is that online campaigns, like any other campaigns, are not passive activities. While the platforms allow you to reach people in ways not possible before, they are not hands off, automatic processes.
They don’t do your thinking for you, they don’t do your strategizing for you. They don’t work out your tactics for you. They are just tools that need skill and care in implementation much like any other tool.
- Create Google account using gmail
- Create YouTube account
- Upload video to YouTube
- Fill in description
- Choose Thumbnail from settings
- Create Google+ account
- Copy YouTube link into Google+ account plus description
- Copy YouTube link into Google Page account plus description
- Invite people to Google Page
- Create Facebook Page
- Link in YouTube video plus description
- Invite people to Facebook Page
- Create Linkedin account
- Copy YouTube link into account
- Create group
- Copy YouTube link into group
- Invite people to join
- Get help finding relevant groups
- Assign people to post, update and engage in those groups
- Create Twitter account
- Craft bio
- Follow as many relevant people as you can. (Tweet out to your community for suggestions.)
This is neither a definitive approach nor the only approach but simply a way to get people started on a social media campaign. If you think there other, better ways of doing this then let us know.