Category Archives: Uncategorised

A Swinging Christmas Playlist

Christmas is fast approaching and most are working hard to wrap things up and complete the present list in time, before heading off to relax and enjoy quality time with family and friends. Therefore, to get you in the Christmas spirit a little sooner and provide you with a seasonal soundtrack to calm the mayhem, we’re sharing a festive, but sophisticated curated playlist.

In my opinion, there are two types of Christmas song: the classic carols and pop songs, fun, but a bit sickly sweet and mildly cheesy and then those timeless jazz tunes that remind you of your favourite Christmas movies or moments, often based in festively themed London or New York with snow flurries surrounding. As the HdK web developer and resident jazz musician, I’ve gone for the latter option and curated you a playlist of only the best.

You know that swinging Dixieland big band style fronted by the raspy, yet powerful voice of Louis Armstrong or the sound of a laid-back walking bass line, swinging percussion and bellowing improvisation on alto sax, accompanied by delicate and complementing Piano. Well, some of it’s like that. Oh, and of course we’ve included some Charlie Parker.

Listen below on either Apple Music or Spotify.

Hope you enjoy this and let us know if there is anything you think I missed out on.

Merry Christmas,

Jamie

Christmas Facts Infographic

For all those trivia pursuit/pub quiz fans out there, these fun festive facts should appeal to you. I was particularly surprised by the favourite foods sections, how have peas shoved honey glazed parsnips off the list?!

Personal Best List

The HdK team love working within the arts, because of our passion and interest in the sector; whether it be theatre, music, literature or dance and each team member is particularly interested in a different area. Therefore, as the end of the year fast approaches, we thought it’d be fun to find out the teams favourite cultural moments of their year and give you all a chance to get to know us all a bit better.

I created this list using a simple questionnaire on www.surveymonkey.com (great for market research if you’re not using this already), which I then curated into the list you can see below, rounding up our favourite technology, books, series, websites and more…

What book would you recommend reading?
Beware of Pity, Stefan Zweig. A beautifully, tragic story with an engaging plot. Zweig’s real strength is in his complex and detailed portrayal of characters , allowing the reader a complete insight into their mental struggles and motives. 
Sophia – Social Media & Digital Arts Marketer

What film would you recommend watching?
Call Me By My Name is a beautiful atmospheric film with the best rolling credits scene at the end I’ve ever watched.
Hans – Director

What is your favourite website?
The Caret www.thecaret.co
A great source of learning about digital trends.
Raf – Designer

Have you been to any great gigs or festivals? Why are they so memorable?
I was gifted a weekend in Paris to see the Hans Zimmer Live Orchestra perform, the combination of musical virtuosity accompanied by captivating cinematography as a backdrop made this an incredibly memorable experience. Although many of Zimmer’s compositions are marginally simple, they’re very effective and well-produced ideas.
Jamie – Developer

What is your favourite theatre show?
I really enjoyed Cockfight, it delved into many controversial topics of male competition within the office in the form of physical theatre. An extremely visceral and emotional show.
Rochelle – Social Media Apprentice

What is your favourite restaurant? What dish would you recommend?
1921 in Bury St Edmunds, the bunny was amazing, I’d definitely recommend.
Kate – Finance Manager

What is your favourite exhibition? Why?
David Hockney at Tate Britain was fantastic. The exhibition is an extensive collection of Hockney’s most famous works celebrating his art in painting, drawing, print, photography and video across 60 years.
Raf – Designer

What is your favourite TV series?
I found ‘Sense 8’ interesting. I really liked the concept of small groups of 8 people telepathically connected, living in different locations in the world. Those in the group are able to call upon each other’s skills and expertise when needed AND it’s available on Netflix.
Jamie – Developer

What is your favourite new technology? Why?
Machine learning. For those who don’t know, the basic idea behind it is that machines can learn processes rather than having them programmed, allowing for significant automation in many roles.
Audrius – Developer

We hope this list has given you some inspiration for the holiday downtime, or perhaps some gifting ideas.  Join us tomorrow for another seasonal delight with a bit of a quirky twist…

My Favourite Christmas Recipes

To me Christmas is all about relaxing, having fun and catching up with family and friends. Having said that, modern festivities just wouldn’t be the same without a table straining spread of food and booze. So, to ensure you don’t fall behind on your hosting duties (or most valued guest) here are a list of some of my favourite recipes, which are easy to knock up and taste a dream.

Sugar Cookies

What Christmas would be complete without Christmas cookies? Icing these cookies can seem an effort, but you can always make the icing with a set of sprinkles etc. to add to them and then tell your friends to ice their own as a ‘fun Christmas activity’!

Ferrero Rocher No Bake cheesecake

If you like chocolate and impressing people, but can’t be bothered with the hassle of cooking on the day, this is the recipe for you. This no bake cheesecake requires very few things, looks brilliant and is delicious. So easy to take over to someone’s or bring out as the pièce de résistance at the end of a meal.

Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (V,GF)

I find some guests very frustrating, and those guests are generally vegan (sorry for all vegans reading this, but you know its true). However, this site is full of amazing recipes, which have almost convinced me I could cope without cheese. These cookies are an example of one of those recipes, they’ll please everyone and you can use the leftover chickpeas to make this recipe.

Christmas Rocky Road

If there’s one recipe you need during the holidays it’s this one. When arguments ensue or you set fire to the turkey, eating one of these will soon bring back the yuletide cheer.

 

I seem to like different cocktails every year and its very dependent on the crowd and atmosphere I’m going for, but these two sisters have such a vast list of delicious cocktails and mocktails, I guarantee everyone will be able to find a tipple of choice on here.

The two below are simple classics to get you started, but I’d definitely recommend stepping outside the standard cocktail comfort zone here, because it’s always good to learn something new and if it doesn’t go to plan, you’ll still be left with some form of boozy concoction to soften the blow.

Mulled Wine

Prosecco and Cranberry Mimosa

 

Well that’s all folks, let us know your favourite recipes and if you’re in Hoxton/Shoreditch anytime today, do drop by and pick up a slice of cake or a mince pie from our Christmas Bake Sale in aid of Save the Children UK

Merry Christmas to each and every one of us, watch out for tomorrows seasonally inspired post.

Sophia

How to use Google Tag Manager to Simplify Your Life

Engaging with users online through digital advertising is often a daunting task, especially in the face of corporate campaigns, which have a large budget and can seem to be dominating the sector. However, arts companies, no matter their size, can still advertise effectively on multiple social media channels and there are several tools to help with this, including Facebook and Twitter pixels and Google Tag Manager.

I discussed pixels briefly before in my google analytics article, but today I’m going to delve into them more, explaining what they are, how they can benefit your business and what part google tag manager plays in all of this.

So, what is a Pixel?

Pixels are commonly used on advertising platforms to help you measure the effectiveness of your online campaigns. They come in the form of a snippet of code which a web developer implements on your website. This code will then allow the advertising platform to track specific user activity in relation to the adverts you have set up, their online activity and the users interests.

Facebook and Twitter have custom audience pixels for analysing and then targeting your website visitors on their platforms. For example, if a potential customer is interested in going to see a theatre show and visits that theatre company’s website, the implemented pixel will gather information on them and then, if the visitor is a user of the social media in question, will start to advertise the theatre or show to the visitor on their Facebook/Twitter account. The result being, that this individual who has already shown an interest in the theatre, will receive prompting to book, so if they didn’t book on their first visit to the website, they will be more likely to do so later.

Additionally, the pixels can track customer journeys on each website, showing who has booked tickets, who has got to the homepage and left, or who has almost booked tickets. This enables you to make your adverts more specific, targeting the type of people who are most likely to purchase tickets; resulting in a good conversion rate to budget use for you.

How to use Pixels with Google Tag Manager

Implementing pixels can be a frustrating, long process with several bits of code to meticulously add to each page of your website. Also, having to hire a web developer to add this code to your website and sort out any problems which may arise will incur additional expenses and may leave you feeling as if you have limited control over your own site.

However, Google Tag Manger (GTM) can solve many of these problems for you. Once you have set up an account for this tool and it has been added to the header of your website, pixels can be added from the GTM interface. The user friendly, simple and reliable GTM dashboard allows non-developers to add code to website, such as a Facebook pixel, and then monitor updates and installations immediately, without having to get any third parties involved.

This will not only streamline the process of implementing pixels and google analytics, but will also put the power back in your hands, allowing you to run effective advertising campaigns, which will target the most relevant audiences to your show, thus hopefully increasing engagement and ticket sales.

Hope this helped, get in touch with us via social media or email if you’d like to discuss this further.

Jamie

 

Twitter Tips & Struggles

Hi all, I’m Rochelle, the new apprentice at HdK. My daily duties include updating websites, being a lovely voice on the phone, research, assisting with the company’s social media and working on the lumpy mail campaign.

As a stereotypical millennial I really enjoy using social media apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram and of course the fiery topic, Twitter. However, I can also find it hard to keep up with all the latest updates and adaptations.

Additionally, even as a person of the younger generation who understands the impact social media can have, I often find myself asking what I should be posting? It can be hard to come up with a Twitter post, which is punchy, to the point, reflects my personality, suits my audience and is on a subject I want to discuss, without losing my voice.

How to create tweets for twitter

  • Think about the audience: When researching content, I always start by thinking of the audience it’s aimed at and ask myself what do these people engage with and will they find this article interesting. And the best way to answer these questions is to see what the audience is engaging with, what they are commenting on or discussing and who they follow. Once I know this, I know what kind of content is likely to appeal to the target audience and what writing style will be most accessible to them.
  • Be Original: When generating ideas try to avoid becoming repetitive. Consistency is a great way for consumers to understand your brand but too much of one type of content may become boring and cause people to disengage.
  • Stick to the point: With twitter it’s important to remember the purpose of your content. Before posting tweets, I ask myself three questions: will this suit the audience, what phrases are striking and if I saw this on social media, would I want to read it. Which brings me nicely to the next tip.
  • Enjoy what you post: As a content creator it’s important that you enjoy what you are sharing – if you don’t like it why would someone else? If you’re not passionate about a subject/ topic this can impact the engagement and relationship you have built with your audience and negatively impact your social media profile.

 

Following on from this point, one of my daily HdK duties is to find news stories to share on social media, which I really enjoy doing, because I’m regularly learning something new. However, at times I have found it hard to find original, compelling stories and we often get asked by clients where to find relevant content for social media. So, here’s my wood to the flame, it can be hard to discover original articles which I’m interested in and are also suitable for the brand, with pieces being too sales focused or not right for the audience etc. However, thankfully I have now managed to compile a list of strategies to help with this, which I have shared below:

How to find Social Media content

  • Download Feedly: Feedly is a free app and google chrome extension which brings in the latest news stories from a wide range of sources, covering a variety of topics including technology, social media, marketing & gaming. Use the app to follow pertinent topics and create boards to categorise them and it will then bring in the most popular and up to date features direct to your dashboard. Saves a lot of time!

 

  • Set up Google Alerts: Google Alerts sends you notices via email about subjects you’ve followed. All you need to do is enter a topic into the search bar and let it do the hard part for you. Google will scour the internet and will update you whenever the topic is mentioned, doing the hard work for you.

To summarise, social media can be a pain, but it is a rewarding, valuable tool, which when used well builds brand engagement and awareness. Therefore, put a plan in place to help you overcome the challenges you face on twitter and when creating content, consider what your brand stands for, who it is targeting and the reason you are doing posting on twitter.

If you have any further questions or queries, please do contact HdK on the contact page or book yourself in for one of our bespoke one to one social media tutorial sessions.

Rochelle
Digital Marketing Apprentice

 

How to Prepare for GDPR Changes

We received a lot of questions about the new GDPR laws, which will come into effect on the 25th May, 2018, asking what these changes are and how to practically implement them. Therefore, I thought I’d write a comprehensive blog post to firstly calm the panic, which these new regulations seem to be causing, but also to breakdown the most important points and to remove the mystery surrounding these fairly standard updates.

First question answered: it is highly unlikely that Brexit will stop these changes coming into force or that this law will be repealed when we leave the EU. In May we will probably still be in the EU, but also to keep a trade agreement with EU countries, we would probably need to have similar data protection policies. Therefore, if you are hoping you won’t have to deal with these regulations, then stop hoping and accept they are coming.

Now, onto the better news; the updated General Data Protection Regulations are actually very similar to the previous guidelines, so if you are responsibly following these then there is no need to panic. The main shift within the rules is that companies are now legally obliged to follow them, implementing them to the best of their abilities and can be reprimanded and fined if they don’t. Additionally, the onus will now be with the company to ensure their data records are up to date and secure, as opposed to the previous rules which relied on active individuals keeping track of where their information was and how it was being used.

Below, I will go into more detail about the updates and provide some tips on ways to ensure you remain within the law and the transition is as smooth as possible.

Aims of the new law are:

  • Update the use and storage of personal information to reflect the digital society we live in
  • Protect people’s fundamental rights and freedoms, which include privacy
  • Enable free movement of data securely within the EU
  • Contribute to the social, economic and trade progress
  • Create a cohesive, intelligible data protection regulation for all the EU

 

Main requirements of the 2018 Regulations:

  • Personal data must be acquired and processed within the law, in a fair and transparent way
  • Data must be used and collected for a specific purpose and cannot be reused after that purpose is finished without permission from the individual
  • Ensure you keep systems up to date and if a customer asks for their information to be removed it is done so as soon as possible
  • If data is no longer relevant to the purpose it was collected for or is out of date, it must be cleansed from the system
  • Each company must keep a paper trail of their actions to demonstrate they are within the law
  • Data must be kept securely, protected from unlawful process and there should be a policy in place for a security breach
    • Data protection is extremely important in the new regulations so don’t ignore this
  • Individuals need to be able to be told what data you have on them and how you got it
  • It is a company’s responsibility to contact any third parties

Tips

  • Look over current systems and discuss with staff regularly using them what they think are the drawback and flaws in them
    • If you are going to do this, create a form for people to fill out, so you can prove that you have done this
  • Don’t disregard staff training, it may be that your current system is fit for the job, but could be used better
    • Book in staff training sessions, which are recorded for potential auditing
    • Create a staff handbook for working with data properly
  • Keep a record of who can access individual’s information and decide how you will stop people accessing this data when they leave the company or change departments etc.
  • When collecting high risk data, which includes detailed personal information on life activities and behavior, create and document a privacy assessment to show you have thought about the information you are gathering, why you need it and the implications of having these statistics
  • Keep records of all the data gathering you do and ensure in all these attempts, you have told the individual what their information will be used for and how long you will keep it
  • Send out an email to the people you have on file, explaining why you have their details and why you would like to keep their details, whilst also giving them the option to remove themselves from your database if wanted
    • Example: we collected your information in 2015, because you asked to join our ‘news’ mailing list. If you are happy with us continuing to contact you and storing your details, please ignore this email. If you would like us to cease contacting you and remove your details from our database, please click here. If you would like further information, please get in touch with us here
  • Share your organisations data policy on the company website, so it is accessible and transparent
  • Expect users to be more active than previously, asking about data systems and policy, wanting to change information of theirs and reporting you if you appear not to be within the law
    • I don’t think people will be aggressive over this, but I do think with the heightened awareness surrounding data protection, companies should be prepared to handle enquiries and have an easy system to assist users where necessary

In short, I know that I just gave you a lot of information to think over and suggestions to make, but I think the most important element to hold onto is that the new GDPR rules coming into place in 2018 almost mirror the old ones, so it should not require a great shift in company thinking to understand them. However, you must be prepared for a dramatic change in company culture and the sooner you start this change, the easier it will be. If there is one final thing I can give you it is that these changes are essentially a reflection of what everyone wants; when you give your information out you don’t want a stranger to suddenly get it, you want to know it is stored safely, protecting you from future invasions of privacy and if a company that you are no longer interested in is contacting you, you want to be able to make them stop easily and efficiently. If you can provide this to your database and prove that you are doing so, that is all the new law really asks of you.

Google Analytics for Beginners

At HdK we often get asked about implementing google analytics on websites, what this does and why it’s important for you and your organisation. Although I deliver in-house training sessions to help clients achieve a deeper understanding of google analytics, I wanted to give an introduction to the topic here for all of you who are unable to come in and chat with me in person. So here it is, the wizardry of Google 101!

What is Google Analytics?

As said by Google: Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.  Google Analytics is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet.

In a performing arts context, this basically means that it’s a very handy tool for improving understanding of your online audience and hopefully with these insights you can attract more people to appreciate your art, buy tickets, attend performances and engage with your work.

What is it used for?

The primary purpose of Google Analytics is to track and report how people use a website. When you understand this you can develop your website to attract a larger, more relevant audience.

Why every website needs Google Analytics

Here are just a few of the most common questions Google Analytics can help you answer:

  1. How many people visit my website?
  2. Where do my visitors live?
  3. How are people finding my website?
  4. What age and gender are my visitors?
  5. What device do people use my website on?
  6. What marketing tactics drive the most visitors to my website?
  7. Which pages on my website are the most popular?
  8. Which pages on my website are the most unpopular?
  9. How can I improve my website’s speed?

Why is it helpful to know these answers?

Create Stronger Content

By learning what content gets the most traffic and gives you the strongest results you are able to create similar content to this and therefore attract and retain more customers.

Study Behavior Flow

Learn the ‘Behavior Flow’ of your customers. This tool in Google Analytics gives you visual insights of how your customers interact with your website, which pages they click onto first and which pages they leave the site from. Not only does this give the admin a fast understanding of customers behavior, it will also help them create a detailed strategy on optimizing their website for user enjoy ability.

Examine Trends

Through Google Analytics the user is able to examine trends; what infographics are getting the most attention, which search terms are the most competitive and which are getting ranked. Monitoring these trends over a period of time – weekly, monthly, annually – will help you appreciate what words, topics, and content is most popular throughout the year and therefore will assist you with planning an effective annual marketing strategy and will assist with SEO throughout the year.

Discover Sources Of Traffic

Google Analytics also shows where traffic comes from, showing how individuals came to your site – whether using a click through ad, a link on another website or through previous knowledge etc. Knowing where customers are coming from and how effective these people are for you can help with the understanding of which paid adverts and sponsored content is worth the investment, which brands you may benefit from building a relationship with and which markets you should invest more of your time and finances in to grow a customer base in, amongst other things. This is essential for developing your business and engaging with its natural customer base.

In short, Google Analytics is important for you if you want to understand and grow your digital audience, strategically tailor your online content and attract more potential ticket buyers!

If you have any questions after reading this or want to book a bespoke training session with me at HdK, please get in contact via our contact page.

Jamie

Web Developer

 

 

Introducing our new Social Media & Digital Arts Marketer – Sophia

Hi, I’m Sophia, the new Social Media & Digital Arts Marketer. I’m your go to for social media strategies, website dilemmas and a friendly voice at the end of the phone.

I have a passion for the Arts, having performed in several pieces, as well as working in Arts marketing and Development previously. Also, I try to cram as much culture into my free time as possible, whilst eating my way through every London pop-up and recommended hot spot I can find.

I’ve always been interested in the ways people use technology to communicate with each other, especially in how companies are taking advantage of social platforms to expand their reach and interact with new audiences. This led me into marketing and now I love to test out new tools and discover innovative approaches to engaging with existing fan bases and potential customers.

I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you better, so give me a call if you have any questions!

Sophia

Introducing our new Web Developer – Jamie

Hello,

I’m Jamie, the new Web Developer at HdK, you’ll probably meet me if I’m developing your website/app or integrating tech into them.

I studied Music at University then lived in Asia for almost two years teaching English and Music. During this time, I traveled as much as possible and had the chance to explore online performing arts communities. I gradually became more interested in technology for the arts which led to the decision of diving into web development, studying at the General Assembly Immersive Bootcamp based in London, upon my return to the UK.

My ambition is to focus on tech within the creative, music and charity industries. I’d like my work to contribute to impacting others’ everyday lives in a positive and subtle way, whilst making the arts more accessible. Alongside this, I continue to work as a freelance musician, teaching, and performing in London. I perform in a duet and a jazz orchestra.

I’m very much looking forward to meeting and working with all performing arts clients at HdK.

Jamie

Web Developer

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality

Like busses, similar new technologies often follow one another at short intervals. This is the case with Augmented Reality or AR and it’s similarity to Virtual Reality.  Like our recent article on VR, we wanted to examine the potential for Augmented Reality in the arts.

Augmented Reality is a technology that superimposes computer generated information over a users view of the real world. That information may be images, data or text. You’ll need special eye ware  or a mobile app using your camera phone to see the composite view or “augmented reality”.  You may have come across it at a place with a panoramic view where information about the nearby buildings are explained.

AR technology is still evolving and people are just beginning to figure out how to apply this technology to what they do, as discussed in Hans’ blog, where he wrote about the different phases a technology goes through before universal acceptance.

Even though this technology is still relatively new, people have been making a lot of exciting products using AR. A few years back, performance artist Adam H. Weinert  had his work refused by The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Many people may have accepted this and moved on. Instead, Weinert was rather more persistent. He decided to develop his Dance-Tech Augmented Reality App which enabled people to look through their phone and see ghostly dancers move through the space. His work challenged what belongs and what doesn’t belong in the museum.

The Royal Shakespeare Company is another company which has taken the plunge and started exploring how the use of AR can encourage a younger generation to enjoy the theatre. They have worked in collaboration with Intel to develop a motion-capture suit (see photo above) which allows the actor wearing it to become a flying creator and bring a completely new dimension to the play.

The technology still has many years of development ahead before reaching the plateau of productivity. It will be incredibly interesting to see how this technology is going to be applied in the future.

5 social media features – and how to use ‘em!

If you work on the digital marketing side of things, you’re probably on edge with the endless stream of new updates, social media tools and advertising features, and wondering how you can find time to make use of them in all your campaigns.

I can’t help with the nervous disposition, (that said, my recent blog post on mindfulness is a good place to start) but I can offer a handy list of the features that I think are most valuable to you, and how you might use them.

Let’s get cracking.

1. Instagram story ads

You can now run a photo or 15 second video advert that will appear seamlessly between stories from two accounts that the user follows. Astonishing really. And it’s as simple as editing your placement options (Note: these can only be run using the reach, video views or conversions objectives within Facebook advertising).

How do I use them? Use story ads to drive awareness of your organisation or brand. The idea is to pique their interest enough to want to find and follow you afterwards. We suggest a very short trailer or photo of an exhibition/performance. Questions help drive actions: where will you be this Friday? Remember to keep the message simple, so it could be: tickets now on sale! Or One week until the show begins. Or One show we highly recommend

Tips: Use clear, large branding that stands out aesthetically; keep the message and ad concept simple; and make use of the full length of the screen by uploading a 9:16 vertical image. Remember that viewers will only see your ad the once, so let them know where to find you afterwards.

2. Live audio on Facebook

This one’s been around for a while, but I don’t see many people taking advantage of it. Just as with a live video on Facebook, listeners can discover live audio content in News Feed, ask questions in real time, and easily share with their friends. An advantage of audio is that listeners can continue to listen to your broadcast while they browse other areas of Facebook, and Android users can even continue listening if they leave the Facebook app or lock their phones.

How do I use it? Use live audio to stream live interviews, readings, debates, podcasts, music, discussions, poetry, audio performance extracts, artist talks, post-performance Q and A’s and more.

Tips: Consider live audio when you’re in areas that lack strong network connectivity or when the backdrop isn’t pretty! If visuals are not adding any extra value to your content, streaming audio will allow your listeners to focus on the content more easily.

3. Instagram shopping!

It’s been around since November 2016, but have you tried it yet? 56% of consumers said they followed brands on social media to browse products for sale, and 31% of online shoppers say they’re using social media specifically to look for new items to purchase.

How do I use them? Just select the “Conversions” objective when setting up your advert, and select “Purchase” as the type of conversion you want to optimise for (on the ad set page). All the budget and targeting settings are the same for running a Facebook advert, but make sure to select Instagram only when it comes to selecting your ad placements. For further help with this, drop me an email.

Tips: Your priority might not be to sell products on Instagram, (or sell products at all!) but perhaps it’s something to think about. Do you have exhibition catalogues/postcards/programmes to sell? This might be an effective way to reach out to potential new audiences, and raise awareness of your brand and the work you do at the same time.

4. Facebook split testing

Facebook have been phasing in the option to split test on  Facebook ads. Split testing is a method of determining how different elements of your advert affect its performance.

How do I use it? The three elements available now are: delivery optimisation, audience and placement. You can use Split Testing to interpret how changes in these variables impact the success of your ads. For example we can test the same advert on two different audiences to see which audience engaged most. This helps refine audiences to those most engaged with ads, and from here we can create lookalike audiences.

Tips: Split testing is only available for the following advert objectives: traffic, app installs, lead generation and conversions. We’d recommend a minimum of 3 days for your ads (to yield sufficient data to draw conclusions) and a maximum of 14 days for your tests – around 5 days would be spot on. With split testing it’s best to start broad and work from there. An effective split testing campaign will have a thorough plan and schedule that details WHICH element to test, WHY test and WHAT you hope to discover. Also, WHERE to go from there!

5. Accessible images and videos

This one’s more of a tip as it’s something I feel is really important, especially with Global Accessibility Awareness Day in May. Have you noticed the rise in subtitles on your Facebook news feed? This is due to the rise in mobile viewers and subsequently, the rise in viewers either with sound but without headphones, or in noisy environments. Viewers without sound – this also includes the audio impaired – are 52% more likely to stop and watch a video with subtitles.

How do I use it? By simply adding subtitles to your videos before uploading. It requires a little extra work, but the result will be a video more accessible, more attractive and more informative. This is extremely important for the audio impaired, and also for non-native English speakers, as it helps to increase the amount of information they gain from the video.

Tips: While we’re on the subject of accessibility, Twitter have been focusing on making Twitter more accessible for Tweeters who are visually impaired. This means you can now add alt text descriptions to images within tweets. Go to your Twitter settings (the gear icon); tap Display and Sound and then Accessibility and turn the Compose image descriptions on. From here you can add descriptive text to your Twitter images by tapping add description. Adding accessibility may seem like a win for only a small audience, but it’s a best practice across the board for organisations looking to grow their audiences and be open and accessible to all.

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 18th!)

If I’ve lost you on any of the points above, or if you’d like more help getting to grips with any of the features, just drop me an email. And if you’d rather read about how to be more relaxed in the workplace (why wouldn’t you?) click here.

Sarah

Getting to Hyper Drive – when should you embrace the latest technology?

Over the years, we’ve seen how many of our clients get excited by the latest technology such as Live Streaming, Social Media or mobile phone apps. However, there are usually three issues they contend with:  can they afford it; where do they get the right expertise to help them; and most of all, how can their organisation benefit from the innovation.

While they take the time needed to fit the pieces of their jigsaw together, they miss out on the opportunities given to early adopters such as the big press stories. The flip side is that they benefit from the investment and experience that others who go before them make.

I’ve seen this countless times over the years with each innovation such as email marketing, online booking, video trailers, social media marketing, SEO, online advertising and currently, with augmented and virtual reality.

Many of these developments have gone on to be part of the day to day techniques modern marketers use. But at the time they were emerging, there would often be much uncertainty.

When practical and affordable, I always encourage early experimenting.  The risk is that it can be seen as gimmicky; this can be both a good thing or a bad thing for different reasons depending on your brand values.

Gartner Hype Cycle is a way of viewing the growth and adoption of any new technology and helping you predict at what stage you want to jump on board and invest time, money or resources.

This distinctive shape has five phases each with a rather interesting name: the Innovation Trigger, the Peak of Inflated Exception, the Trough of Disillusionment, the Slope of Enlightenment and the Plateau of Productivity which are described below.

Innovation Trigger is when a new technology kicks off. There may be lots of publicity but maybe not much understanding of its uses. At this stage there is no significant usable products.

Peak of Inflated Expectation (sounds like my teenage years) – by now there are often a few well known success stories but also many failures that may make some people question the potential. Some of us take action while others may not.

Trough of Disillusionment – this is where many lose interest because of a lack of really good case studies showing the way. Investment in the technology may weaken and things could look bleak for the future of the technology.

Slope of Enlightenment (I like to think this describes my current stage of life). This is where we start to see practical examples of how the technology can be used – maybe ideas we’d never thought of before. This is when most of our clients start bringing ideas into conversations and meetings or want to commit budget.

Plateau of Productivity – this is when a new technology goes mainstream and is accepted without question and adopted into default budgets.

So where in the Hype Cycle do you like to get involved?

Chart the relevant technologies that you’re interested in and see where they fit on the graph. Take a note of when you tend to adopt new ideas into your mix.  Are you a risk taker who jumps on board at the beginning? There could be big rewards when you pick the right innovation. Or are you moderate – insisting on sound advice and clear return on investment but willing to experiment? Maybe you are the type that are happy to sit back and learn from everyone’s mistakes first?

Hans

Student visit

The office has never been so full as the day when Sally Mould, Module Leader – creative digital imaging,  brought some of her students from London Metropolitan University into the Studio.

It was fun swapping stories about what they’re learning with what we do on a day to day basis. They were a group full of talent and ideas.  We look forward to hearing how they get on with the rest of their course and finding work. It was clear they have a lot to offer.  We look forward to welcoming more digital students in the future.

Using impactful visuals to sell the arts

We invited the wonderful Jane Hobson to talk about how careful planning results in stunning photographs – something she happens to be an expert in! – and ultimately, bums on seats.

© Jane Hobson. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in “Necessity, Again”, by Jo Stromgren, Festspielhaus, Baden Baden, Germany, for Dance Consortium

It’s only words… or is it?

Whilst a beautifully crafted piece of copy is a joy to behold, its impact can be multiplied by the judicious use of a cracking photograph. In fact, I’m willing to bet that some reviews are only read because the accompanying image has grabbed the reader’s attention. As for getting bums on seats, a striking poster, leaflet, social media post or web ad invites the beholder to engage with the emotion or theme of the production, and to at least consider booking.

So how can you maximise the chances of this happening?

  1. Quality. Horses for courses. There are photographers who are performing arts specialists for a reason. It’s a specialist area. It takes years of experience, constant practice, and rather pricey camera gear. (I swear the camera sensor manufacturers are in league with contemporary dance lighting designers!) Even within the performing arts, there are photographers who are stronger in one area or another, whether dance or circus, opera or theatre, studio work or live performance – check portfolios and client list. The quality of the imagery is key to whether your communications will get seen/not and how/whether they are responded to. If you don’t have the budget for someone external (see point 3, and remember to budget next time) then by all means DIY/get a mate with a camera in, but please bear the following pointers in mind (and remember to budget next time – I can’t say this too often!)
  2. Plan. Do you need a studio shoot or a live performance/theatre lighting shoot? Sections or full dress? What costumes and lighting will you need? Full cast/not. What are your deadlines? Which media do you need to shoot for (see also below)? Portrait or landscape? (All of these, except for portrait v landscape, impact on timing and cost.)
  3. Budget. I know the arts are underfunded and that budgets are tight, but if you are in the lucky position of being Arts Council/Kickstarter/etc. funded, please remember to put in a budget for marketing and PR that includes photography. I know it sounds obvious but…get a quote first.
  4. Single-minded proposition. What is the one key thing that you wish to convey about the production? (Hint: it’s not ‘come and see this show’) The images selected should help you convey this.
  5. Target. Choose your media according to your target market and when/where they will be most receptive. (This probably warrants a whole post to itself – if in doubt, HdK can advise!)
  6. Shoot. Look for striking shapes, expressions, lighting, moments – they can be subtle or not-so-subtle, but things that trigger something in the photographer are likely to also trigger something in the audience. (Also, keep your photographer in water/hot beverages – it’s thirsty work, and you will become a favourite client if you do!)
  7. Select. Choose an image or a small set of images that convey key intelligence about your production. Whether it’s a theme, key character, moment or emotion (or all four!) Avoid spoilers though, and try not to overload with too many messages – simplicity is key here.
  8. Spread. Having multiple options of images (though not too many – you don’t want to reveal the whole show!) for use across social media can help keep the message fresh/keep intrigue up.

In putting together this guest post, I have probably both told granny how to suck eggs for the experienced, and made it sound too complicated for the uninitiated. Such is the nature of having only a limited space! It goes without saying that HdK are the experts and that, whatever the experience level within arts marketing the client has, HdK will be able to discuss your own particular needs, opportunities and logistics with you – in language you understand.

Jane Hobson

Jane is a photographer who specialises in the performing arts, and has a director/partner level background in advertising, brand and creative strategy (as well as market research). Her clients include Scottish Ballet, Sadler’s Wells, Rambert, English Touring Opera, Birmingham Stage Company, etc.

www.janehobson.com

How to be mindful at work

Mindfulness is a mental state that involves living in the present, staying in tune with our surroundings and being more aware of our thoughts, feelings and actions. Sarah practises mindfulness in and out of the office, advocating that being ‘mindful’ in the workplace increases productivity, focus and overall well being – as recommended by experts!

I actively encourage the HdK team to be mindful to avoid stress and create a relaxed and creative office environment, so today I’m sharing with you my 6 tips to remaining mindful at work. You may not be able to put all these into practise instantly, but just being more aware of your body and mind throughout the working day will help increase positivity and decrease stress levels.

1. Pause and breathe
At the beginning of the day, take a moment to pause and observe. Whether this is at home before you start the day or at your desk in the morning, take a couple of deep breaths, observing your surroundings and how your body is feeling that morning. You might feel silly or unproductive but these two minutes can help you break out of unproductive habits and pave the way to a more creative, focused day.

2. Get to know your body
The next time you have a negative experience – an awkward conversation or a challenging meeting – take a moment to observe how your body reacts. Do you clam up, tense your shoulders? Does your temperature rise? Just being aware of your physical responses can help you to reduce unnecessary bodily tension and help you to develop a more positive physical response over time. It might be that you make small adjustments to your day based on these responses. If a phone call makes you feel tense, have a little walk around the office or make a tea. This way you’ll return to working mode feeling refreshed and relaxed.

3. Practise non-judgemental observation of others
We tend to fall into a critical, auto-pilot mindset at work. Perhaps the office is chattering loudly or someone suggests an idea that you think is tried and tested. Avoiding critical observation takes practise but it’s one of the most effective ways to turn off auto-pilot, replace critical thinking with healthy debate and ultimately get to know your colleagues better.

4. Practise non-judgemental observation of self
Number 3 can be applied to yourself too. The more you train your mind to find fault in your actions or decisions, the more you’ll build self-doubt or stress. You probably find, like us all, you learn more from your negative experiences while not learning enough from your positive ones. Gain a more balanced perspective by making sure any accomplishments in your day are acknowledged, rewarded and learnt from. Every tick on your to-do list is a positive achievement!

5. Encourage mindfulness amongst colleagues
Has your colleague been working flat out without taking a lunch break? Are they working on a stressful task and they seem tense? Make them a tea or encourage them to take a minute out. If all team members feel comfortable to take a walk or have a brain break when they’re out of focus, they can return to their desks with a refreshed sense of purpose and concentration. Not only does this help to reduce tensions, it also improves team spirit and builds on working relationships.

6. Practise radical acceptance
Did you spend two hours procrastinating and then spend time punishing yourself mentally? Or did you make a mistake at work and spend your lunchtime mulling over it? Reflection is healthy but agonising over performance is a waste of time and for the purpose of mindfulness, experts recommend focusing on the present and simply acknowledging the reality of what has happened. Radical acceptance involves learning from a negative experience and moving on with a positive outlook.

That’s all for today. As I said, a lot of these tips take practise and focus, so it’s a case of being aware of mindfulness and how it can benefit you. One thing to remember: allow yourself permission to pause.

Thanks for reading!

Stay mindful. HdK

Baked Goods

We love cake. Anyone who knows us well knows this to be a fundamental truth. We wanted to put our love of cake to a good cause in our first office Bake Off – this time for Comic Relief.

We all brought our home made cakes in and offered them to the the other offices in our building.  From Banana bread, cup cakes, biscuits, cookies, flapjacks, rock cakes to brownies – they all featured in our spread. Theis’s Danish Dream Cake raised the most money – it was delicious.

All the cakes went. We raised £60 for charity and we’re already planning how we’ll make it bigger next time.

 

Starting an Instagram account from scratch?

In 2012, Facebook paid 1 billion dollars for Instagram, an app that had 30 million users and only 13 employees. Fast-forward to 2017 and Instagram is a social media powerhouse, with over 500 million users and 40 billion photos shared every day.

I’ve been having conversations with clients recently around Instagram, its growing popularity and its value for organisations – so whether you’re starting from scratch or managing an Instagram account, I’ve put a few tips together on how to make the most of the platform.

Tips for starting:

  • Have a recognisable, representative username. As technology get faster and faster, people are becoming more and more impatient. If they can’t find your profile through search within one minute, they’ve moved on to the next visual distraction.
  • Same goes for profile photo. The photo you choose needs to be recognisable to people who know you. In most cases, the best choice will be your logo.
  • Make your profile informative in 150 characters. Because of the text limitations, you need to be clear about who you are and what you offer. Remember to include your location, website and contact details (these appear as ‘Contact’ on your profile.)
  • Create a strategy. I can’t stress the importance of planning. What are you trying to do and how will Instagram account help you? What do your audience want to see on Instagram versus what can you offer your audiences? How often is practical to post and what are your content pillars (themes, interests and values that will form the basis of your content)? A good brainstorm is required here.
  • Goals and KPIs (key performance indicators) are an important part of your strategy. It might be that you want to gain 10 followers every month and you want each post to receive at least 10 engagements. Your goals will adapt as your audiences grow, but having targets in place makes you more likely to strive to achieve them. And if you don’t, it’s a case of analysis, evaluation, and looking forward – learning what has worked well and less well.
  • Research! Stalk your audiences. What are they doing? Who are they following? Websta is a great tool for viewing your Instagram statistics and exploring what’s popular on Instagram. Know your field before you enter it.

Tips for building your following:

  • Tell people you’re on Instagram! This could be via newsletter, other social media platforms or even word of mouth (people do still talk to each other!) An effective method is to include the Instagram icon on your website. This goes for all your social platforms. (NB. We can help with this.)
  • Follow and engage. Instagram’s search function makes it easy to find people and brands to follow. Find your friends, clients, colleagues, organisations you like and hit follow. Following more people, theatres, galleries, artists, businesses is a great way to make new connections and can provide inspiration for your own account. You can also find your fans from Twitter, Facebook etc. and follow them on Instagram too. This lets them know they’re valued while encouraging a reciprocal follow!
  • Be social. Like, comment and tag (using the @ function) when relevant to let people know you’re active and sociable on the platform. It’s important to communicate with your followers too, especially if they’re commenting, liking or asking questions. The more people you can actively involve and encourage to comment on your photos will increase the attractiveness for others who want to contribute or comment on your photos too. You’re aiming to create a positive community where followers feel comfortable to communicate not only with you, but with each other.
  • Cross-promotion. Find similar accounts on Instagram that are a similar size to yours and have followers that you would like to attract to your page. Reach out and see if you can help promote each other’s accounts through shared shout-outs.

More Instagram tips:

  • Caption effectively. The right captions can go a long way, so you need to make sure that you are using them to your advantage. Decide if your subject matter requires a long or a short caption and what you want to communicate, then be consistent with your messaging. (Any URLs you share should lead people to mobile-friendly pages as it’s a mobile-only platform.)
  • Be strategic with hashtags. 3-5 hashtags is optimal on Instagram. Don’t add irrelevant hashtags to reach more people (as this doesn’t work). Your hashtags need to be relevant and descriptive. Click here for more on hash tagging effectively.
  • Use emojis wisely. Emojis can be hugely effective in increasing engagement and affinity with your business as they make you seem more relatable (Simply Measured, in its analysis of 2500 Instagram posts, found that “love hearts” receive the maximum engagement per post) but as with hashtags, don’t overdo it!

(Visit Sarah’s previous Instagram blog post for further tips on being Instagram savvy.)

If you’re still wondering whether Instagram is for you and how it can impact your business/brand, drop Sarah a line at sarah@dekretser.com.

Happy Friday!

When technology gets boring things get interesting…

The writer Clay Shirky wrote “Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring”.  Well, here are five technologies we think will become boring in 2017 so we can all  get on with the job of making them socially interesting.

1. Live Social

You can’t have missed it. Facebook have run a massive advertising campaign about it in the last few months. They want us to broadcast live via our mobile phones.  We’ve been experimenting with it for some of our clients in recent months and will incorporate it into future campaigns in the coming months. We think its great for post show talks, workshops as well as behind the scene opportunities that can grab attention on peoples news feeds.

Tip: Read our guest post about an affordable device to make multi-camera style streaming to Facebook Live managed from an iPhone.

2. Lots of Bots

We touched on them in our post on  Artificial Intelligence last October and have seen many predictions for 2017 about how Chat Bots are on the rise. We’ve already helped clients install live chat features on their websites to help ticket buyers in recent years but will we now start to see automated chat bots being used to help ticket buyers with their queries? Could we see further reductions in box office staff following the advent of online ticketing 15 years ago? On a lighter note, much fun was had this week trying to work out if one of the customer service bots we were using was a real person or a cleverly programmed bot. We were convinced it was a bot. The spelling mistakes were deliberate to throw us of the scent we think. “Are you a real person?”. “Yes!” (Well they would say that, wouldn’t they).

Tip: use the chat bots on your phone and any other opportunities to familiarise yourself with the scope of what they can do and watch how they learn and improve as the big players gather more data from us.

3. Data Visualisation

We’ll always need to work on reports for funders, boards, angels. According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, at 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day. In the digital world, there’s more data available to make a business case than ever before. However, most of us find it difficult to quickly grasp the meaning from a set of statistics when it’s a table of numbers. Yet, we regularly ask report readers to grasp an understanding from a mountain of statistics overload.

Tip: As well as asking HdK to design beautiful infographics for you, use some of the online tools such as Canva, datawrapper, infogr.am. If using charts and graphs, keep them simple and use the familiar ones that are instantly recognisable rather than 3D style graphs or anything weird.

4. Speed

It goes without saying that page speed affects the experience of your website visitor. For many years, it has also affected how high up you may appear on Google. Sites that are slow to download are likely to be downgraded on search results too. Well, some months back Google started to take into account the speed of your mobile site too. Theis wrote a post about Accelerated Mobile Pages back in September to help improve the speed of your mobile site. We’ve developed a number of techniques to optimise websites for speed.

Tip: Ask us to run speed tests on your site and make suggestions on what strategies can be implemented to improve download speeds in order to attract more visitors to your website.

5. Images and Videos

We’ve watched as the use of videos and images on social media has risen over the last couple of years to a frenzy. Finding ways to stand out on people’s newsfeed becomes more important.

Tip: In 2017 don’t just use standard photos or videos on your feeds but explore how you can use the latest technology to hold viewers attention for a few extra seconds with tools like 360 degree cameras, animated gifs, tilt-shift, cameras on drones, fast frame, slow frame, video and any technique that gives a fresh view.

 

 

 

 

 

How to get affordable professional live streaming

Facebook Live and similar live features on other platforms are going to be big in 2017. We can tell because so many of our clients are asking how they can make the most of the opportunities now available to them.  Clients thinking about their Digital Policy and Plan as part of the current Arts Council NPO applications process feel its a good opportunity to explore the benefit of live elements in their strategy.

We invited Andre Portisio, Director and Executive Producer at Artstreamingtv.com to update us on a device that will help make high quality affordable live streams.

Andre writes:

In late 2016, Livestream company revolutionised broadcasting solutions by launching Mevo Live Event Camera. This pocket-sized live streaming camera allows you to edit while you capture live videos.

Mevo combines a camera, a live streaming platform, and a video switcher to form an all-in-one story-telling device. The camera fits a UHD 4K sensor behind a 150° wide-angle lens in which the configuration endows the Live Event Camera with the capability of supporting 9 virtual camera angles at 720p resolution. Relaying on a single camera operator, it transforms a single frame from Mevo into multiple live shots right from an iPhone.

The ability to streamline production without compromising the quality of content democratises live stream capabilities and provide an affordable yet sophisticated solution to reach and engage current and new audiences.

Mevo is particularly good to live stream in-studio rehearsals, R&Ds and other intimate performances, talks, discussions, seminars, training and conferences.

Events can be streamed on multiple platforms including Facebook Live where you have the option to keep the broadcasting content live in your page thereby combining quality, engagement, affordability, convenience and easy to reach solution.

How Virtual Reality will change the arts

Virtual Reality or VR is something a lot of people are very excited about. The technology is still in its infancy yet it is already clear VR has the possibilities to do absolutely anything we can imagine.

The concept is simple: you strap on a headset and you’re transformed to a different reality. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the first Google store in London the day they released the Pixel Phone. At the store I could try out the VR headset for the phone and in an instant I was transformed to the top of a mountain, where I could look around and almost feel the breeze.

VR gives us an endless supply of exciting things to do from anywhere. Not only will you be able to explore caves in South America and climb Mount Everest, from the safety of your living room, it will also give you a chance to create art such as paintings, sculptures and many other things. Companies such as Google and Facebook have created exciting tools targeted for artist.

One interesting product from Google is Tilt Brush. With Tilt Brush an artist can choose a material / canvas when they start their session, either sculpting or painting. In the video below you can see a short trailer for Tilt Brush.

 

In the world of performing arts, the Dutch National Ballet have been exploring the technology with a version of “Swan Lake” that can be fully appreciated with a VR headset. You can explore the 360 degree aspects of the video by clicking and moving your cursor to explore the view from different angles. It was presented at the worlds first VR cinema located in Amsterdam where people got to experience the performers as if they were standing right next to them.

 

We can imagine VR being used in other ways in the future. A VR version of immersive theatre, an aid to rehearsals when a performer can’t be present, a way to share behind the scene secrets, a tool for set designers.

If you have any questions regarding Virtual Reality or might be interested to have a chat about how we could produce VR ready content for you please do not hesitate to contact us.

HdK’s Online Booking plugin

A system for selling tickets to events where you don’t have to pay a  licence fee or per transaction fee is now available. In 2016, HdK built a WordPress plug-in for two of its clients that does just that. A one off fee to customise the plug-in and then the usual costs to a payment gateway like PayPal is all that is required to be able to set up events and sell tickets.

Last year, HdK developed a WordPress plugin for The Research Club for their marketing events. It currently works for general admission events where seat allocation is not required. Another client is performer and artist from the Pussycat Dolls, Kimberly Wyatt and her Dance Academy which has a series of masterclasses this February in London and Manchester.

Features of the system include the ability to set how many tickets are available, the ticket price and promotion codes for discounts. Customers receive personalised confirmation emails, while their details are all available online or downloadable. Sensitive payment details are managed by the chosen payment gateway (such as PayPal or WorldPay) to avoid any risk or complicated security arrangements. There are no limit to the amount of events you set up and no extra cost the more events or tickets you sell.

The plugin is ideal for any of our clients who have general admission events such as workshops, talks as well as performances but don’t want to pay the fees for an online ticketing company. It’s just the start and with more investment through future projects, there are endless possibilities to how the system can be developed. Let us know if you want more details.

Bespoke Digital Marketing Training

HdK have always shared experience and skills in digital marketing at conferences and seminars across the UK and Europe, in journals such as JAM and Arts Professional and through consultancy.

We now offer bespoke training sessions in our new Hoxton office near Old Street in East London.

Topics include:

  • Social Media Planning,
  • Specific channels such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat
  • Google Analytics
  • Online Advertising – Google, YouTube, Facebook
  • WordPress/Content Management Systems

Other topic can be specifically devised on request.

Each session is tailored to your requirements and skill level for one or two people a time.

We’ve been testing out our in house training programme with some of our clients in the last few months and the feedback has been very positive. Now, we offer it to anyone who would like to benefit from a tailored and personal training session where we share the knowledge we have built up working with over 300 arts organisations over 10 years. HdK has been there to watch all of these digital practices develop over that time.

I was given incredible social media tips and shown some really useful apps to use to make our posting more engaging. I felt that being introduced to the world of google analytics will enable me to start monitoring and assessing the relevance and success of our marketing which is important to our growth as a company… I would come every month for a booster session if I could.
Pheobe Holman, Paraorchestra

An inspiring and insightful session that boosted my confidence and skills. It was great to have training from different members of the team that each focused on a specialist area and were very knowledgable! A relaxed, friendly environment that you felt comfortable in, enabling you to ask questions and stay engaged. I thought it was extremely useful how the session was adapted to our company and needs, so that it was relevant and we were not overloaded with information. Overall a high quality, hugely helpful session which I’d definitely recommend – thank you HDK associates!
Georgia Heighway, Dance Umbrella

To arrange a bespoke training session contact us for more details about course content and costs.

 

Keep up with social in 2017

Happy New Year! We hope you’re settling in nicely to 2017.

Social media accounts for a third of all our time spent online, and this will only grow this year together with a number of exciting social media trends such as artificial intelligence, live video and virtual reality (lots to keep up with!) So now that the festivities are truly and sadly over, pull out your social media content calendars*, as we have 8 tips to keep you on top of the trends and boost your start on social this January.

1. EVALUATE

You can’t run a marathon without finding your pace, just as you can’t start on a social strategy before looking at your performance so far. So before racing ahead on social, we recommend taking a look through your social media statistics and comparing to previous years. What were your personal triumphs of 2016? What targets will you set yourself for the year ahead? Evaluate your benchmarks and use this information, together with the following tips, to inform your future strategy.

2.  KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

80% of Instagram’s 500 million users are under 35, while 70.3% of Facebook audiences are over 35. Though it’s likely that your audiences are a similar bunch across your channels, you should never assume this. Your Instagram audiences might be 16-25-year-old females while your Twitter audiences are middle-aged dads – they require different messages and different creatives – and you won’t know until you’ve seen the stats. Review your audience demographic across your channels regularly, so you know who you’re talking to and what appeals to them most (point 8 should help with this). Don’t treat your channels or your audiences in the same way; what stands out on a Facebook feed might not be that catchy one liner you need for a tweet.

3. EMBRACE THE TEMPORARY – GO LIVE

Were you amongst the 10% who went live last year? Following 2016’s live boom, the social media platforms are ready for this year – Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Periscope on Twitter – as ephemeral content becomes more and more popular. Facebook has just announced that 2017 will see its 360-degree video released for Facebook Live users while Instagram has recently released live video to US residents (keep an eye on this one). Live streaming offers you the chance to connect with your audiences on a whole new level. Is it time you joined Snapchat? Or have you considered Instagram’s temporary video feature? Identify opportunities to go live this year and plan carefully for the moment.

4. PLAN FOR FORMATS

When planning your content, make sure you are also planning your formats – simply the way your content will appear to your audiences. For instance Instagram requires a square image while a Facebook shared link thumbnail is exactly 470px by 246px; Instagram’s video limit is 60 seconds while Twitter’s is 2 minutes 20 and have you noticed Twitter only allows for more than one photo if it’s a live tweet? So how about photo-shopping four images into one? Think laterally and don’t restrict yourself with your campaigns. What will work seamlessly for each platform and what considerations are there for the size, length and volume of content? Drop us a line for help with this.

5. MAKE EVERY POST COUNT

Don’t post for the sake of posting – chances to be seen are getting slimmer and slimmer (unlike us last month). As more and more content is posted on social (42,000 photos per 60 seconds on Instagram and 136,000 on Facebook), the networks’ algorithms are working overtime to pan for gold to keep users engaged. This means that only the best organic posts are pushed to the newsfeed. Our advice is to create content that your audiences will want to click, watch, share and respond to. Make sure content is timely, relevant and always with high quality and accurately sized (if appropriate) media.

6. MIX IT UP

Ensure your social media plan incorporates a range of media types. Consider posting your own gifs, long-form content such as blog posts or interviews, short-form content such as quotes and questions (great for Twitter), images (square, panorama, collage), videos (slow-mo, time-lapse, live), sound bites, infographics, competitions, guest content… the list goes on. Make it a resolution to explore a new form of content.

7. BATTLE THE GIANTS

The social media giants want social media users to remain exactly that – users. Since they don’t want these users to leave, they’re developing more features to discourage audiences from linking away to your website. This means 2017 is the year to find new, alternative strategies for building website traffic. We suggest beginning to convert social media users using methods that focus on building engagement, developing audience relationships and encouraging user-generated content. This could be via live (interviews, rehearsals, talks…); by creating quality blog content shareable on your channels or simply by asking questions, hosting competitions on Facebook or polls on Twitter – whatever works to create conversation and engage those fans.

8. REVIEW

This brings us full circle. Analysis is key. What are audiences responding to? Regularly reviewing your most popular posts and engagement analytics helps you understand what’s working and what audiences are responding to, enables you to track your progress throughout the year, and ultimately, save the time you spend on social.

Good luck with your social media strategies! Remember, evaluate first. Let us know how you get on.

Sarah

*contact Sarah for advice on your social media content calendar, or a personalised template to get you started.