Having ripped into Facebook Live over a number of paragraphs on this blog recently, I had assumed I was all ranted-out.

It seems, in fact, that rants are like Pringles - once you pop, you simply have to keep on going and going until you're out of crisps and left feeling both disgusting and wonderful at the same time. No, wait - that's not the slogan. Anyway?

I have another moan to bring to the table, one that is so simple to avoid and yet is a trap I've seen many a social media account fall into. That trap? Quite simply, not being helpful.

To help explain what I mean, allow me to show you a tweet from something very close to my heart, Aston Villa Football Club.

This is apparently a tweet announcing the date and kick-off time of an upcoming match. Except it isn't. The two things this tweet doesn't do is tell you either the date or kick-off time. Despite the fact that the club has gone to the trouble of creating a composite image featuring a player from each team, an image that they could easily have included said date and time. But no, if you actually want the information they're claiming to be putting your way, you have to click the link, leave Twitter, minimise a pop-up and read an article.

This tweet adds no value to my timeline and is just plain unhelpful, which is something your organisation needs to avoid doing.

And it's not just Villa who are at it in my timeline; another Birmingham institution - the National Indoor Arena (or Barclaycard Arena if you're a slave to the corporate world), is also guilty.

KISS are coming to Birmingham in May. Great! Want to know exactly which of May's 31 days they'll be here? We're not telling you. You don't even get a link. You do get a cr*p hashtag, that no-one will use.

What's really annoying is that these organisations are sharing these useless tweets in some vain attempt to drive up their own vanity metrics, rather than actually adding some valueintoour noisy timelines. For the NIA, they clearly value engagement on their hashtag as being a marker of success, while the Villa are simply obsessed with getting clicks to their website.

Call me crazy, but I don't believe any organisation should be on social media to make its own monthly dashboard reports look better. How about giving your audiences useful information and valuable content instead? If you're holding a University Open Day - share the time, let your followers know the exact dates for Foster Care Fortnight and, if there are severe road closures in the local area - then for goodness sake let the local people know. Everything posted online, especially from professional accounts, should have a clear objective, with a measurable outcome. How else do you expect to truly track the success of your social media activity?

I've tweeted both of the organisations mentioned above, asking some quite obvious questions when they share useless tweets. They've replied with the information, almost instantly. Does this mean they actually are helpful and engaging and that I should let them off? Or, does it simply mean that they also report on how quickly they reply to incoming tweets? You can probably guess which one I think it is.

Both of these organisations have also shown that, actually, they can offer something useful to the Twitterstream.

Like this, with dates and a link to buy tickets...

Or this, complete with date and kick off time?

 

So, what is the point of this post?

Well, think of this post as a plea - a plea to make sure your organisation's social media channels are powered by a soaring ambition to add value and be useful to your audience. Not driven by website clicks and hashtag uses. As nice as these are, they should be an added reward for doing the basics well.

That means including dates and times in your actual posts, as opposed to hiding them behind a link. Give your followers enough information just from seeing your post fly past in their timeline.

Why? Because by doing this you'll add value, which in turn will build trust, interest, engagement and loyalty from your followers. All that stuff is really important - you won't get the website clicks or hashtag uses without them.

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Article by

Dave Musson

Head of Content