Helpful Links: December

Recently we have:

  • Published a full guide to Crisis Communications Planning with a downloadable template to help you to write or update your Crisis Comms Plan
  • Delivered a mix of crisis training, social media skills and LinkedIn training for clients in 15 different countries, including Papua New Guinea, Tunisia, France and Hong Kong
  • Begun testing a new social media training program for 55000 employees in a Fortune 500 company
  • Helped a law firm to put dozens of their clients in Asia through a virtual cyber incident, collaborating live online using our Crisis90 tool
  • Added new functionality to our flagship Social Simulator
  • Shared our tips on Creating an online learning community
  • Created our first reel on Instagram

As always, we’ve been busy reading too, here are a selection of some of the articles we’ve found interesting and wanted to share with you.

Firstly some ideas for coping with the ongoing COVID situation and the helplessness that comes with it:

This is a relatively nonsense free piece on home working (and home IT in general) security.

And here’s a handy guide to keyboard shortcuts.


Facebook tweaked their algorithm after the US election to prioritise mainstream news sources. Twitter has started to warn you before you like a tweet with a fact check label.  

Now the US election finally (we think) has a winner, efforts to tackle misinformation are now being focused on the Covid 19 vaccine.

This is an interesting read on COVID vaccine narratives and misinformation in different language communities, from the excellent First Draft News: 

Ipsos Mori’s recently published Veracity Index 2020 makes for interesting reading and shows what a huge difference there is in the level of trust we have in certain professions – we’d recommend using it to help inform who your spokespeople should be, both day to day and in a crisis. 

Social Media and Digital News

After a few early glitches, Fleets, Twitter’s equivalent of Stories, have rolled out to all users this month. 

It’s also that time of the year when round-ups start.

YouTube have announced 2020’s top-trending videos and creators on their platform.

TikTok have revealed their top 100 of 2020. This was the most popular video!

On a smaller scale but of note are posts under #TeamHalo and accounts like Dr Anna Blakney working to combat misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. 

LinkedIn have published their Top Voices of 2020.

Our friends at Empower have put together this list of free social media monitoring tools.

We also like this useful tool to help you check your social media previews when your content is shared to social platforms and understand how to fix problems. 

Crisis Communications 

We’ve used the Gatwick drone crisis as an example in some of our training courses, highlighting some of the things the airport did well in their crisis response. With any crisis once the initial peak is over there will be times when attention comes back to what happened; this recent Guardian article goes through the incident in full. 

Good Digital Communications

Good work by the Office of Rail and Road announcing station usage statistics, including a departure board style top 10. 


A well made video from Bristol Zoo Gardens to announce major changes

Helpful news and updates

Our London office is open again, the Christmas tree is up, but we’re being very careful about how many people are in the office at any one time and working from home where we can.  Our team catch ups are still via Google Hangouts and Zoom and we’ve organised a virtual Christmas party – Mibo looks like it would be fun to try too. 

Get early access to our briefings, updates and product news when you sign up to our emails via this link. You’ll receive a copy of our guide to Twitter’s new reply functionality when you register. We’ll only send emails when we have something useful to send you.

How to create an online learning community on zero budget

2020 has revolutionised the way we work and learn. Our homes became our offices with many of us having to adapt to working completely online and disconnecting from in-person coffees, conferences and commutes. The impacts of the pandemic may have resulted in learning and development budgets being reduced for some, but the silver lining of the remote working ‘new normal’ is that there is a greater opportunity to learn from each other in real time.

During the summer of 2020 I worked with the team at NHS England to, among other initiatives, develop an online community where social media officers from around the country share and support each other in their work. During one of the most challenging times for our health service, it has never been a more important time to share learnings and skills between one team and another.

Using a group space in Microsoft Teams and members committing to a 30-minute sharing and collaboration session once a month, the community keeps giving back to members at no cost to an L&D budget, aside from the time commitment from individuals. At each session a different community member prepares a guest presentation about a recent learning or project, which also duals as a networking experience and developmental opportunity for public speaking practice. Outside of sessions, members can ask questions on the forum section of Microsoft Teams to help each other find solutions and offer advice.

Reflecting on the community so far, our senior client manager at NHS England said:



So, how can you create an online community for your team? Here’s five pieces of advice to keep in mind when getting started:

1. Create an ‘online first’ community

An online community means that everyone, no matter where they are located, can equally contribute. When the world returns back to office-based working in the future, it’s important to keep the discussions and events primarily online to preserve inclusion and momentum between members who are not co-located. Remember; it’s the varied and diverse experiences of the community which allows everyone a greater shared-learning opportunity.

Ideally, select a hosting platform that community members already have access to and use regularly. As a starting point, consider platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack or Yammer. The platform should have a space where members can post and comment on threads, upload documents, and have video call functionality for collaboration sessions.

2. Keep events regular and consistent

When starting your community, first survey members to understand the level of commitment members can offer. Weekly collaboration sessions are likely to be too much, so a recommendation would be to plan for fortnightly or monthly sessions, with discussion threads on the community space to keep conversations going in-between. To maintain momentum, book sessions in diaries in advance and try to select the same day and time for sessions to help members remember and regularly commit to attending.

If you find attendance numbers begin to dwindle, evaluate why and look for a solution. Perhaps the time or day of the week is challenging, or the regularity of sessions is too much and needs to be reduced to monthly instead of fortnightly. It can take time to build a community so always aim to try a new solution before cancelling sessions completely.

3. Make sure to have an agenda

The easiest way to plan for sessions and keep them to time is by preparing a simple agenda. To get started, download my Community Agenda template which allows you to sketch out timings, speakers and considerations. If sessions regularly run over time it may discourage members from attending in future, so having a well-planned agenda is vital. Creating an agenda will also allow moderators to let guest speakers know how long they have to complete their presentation, which will help them to prepare.

4. Encourage professional development

Aim to keep the topics and speakers at events varied and encourage members to shape the agenda of collaboration sessions. An inclusive way of doing this is to have a different community member give a guest presentation at each session. Topic ideas could include; evaluation techniques, review of social media channels, campaign insights, or learnings from a recent incident response. Encourage speakers to be from a range of levels to make the most of this developmental opportunity.

Remember public speaking can be a daunting or new experience for some members. For the team at NHS England, I developed a ‘guest speaker information guide’ which advised on presentation timings, recommended number of slides, accessibility and structure. A few tips can help someone who is nervous or less experienced at preparing a presentation feel a lot more in control.

5. Keep it community-led

As a community moderator, take notes of questions asked in collaboration sessions and monitor the regular themes discussed on threads in the online space. What topics are people talking about? What subject attracts interest or questions? Often these themes are a great starting place for future guest presentations.

Creating and maintaining a community takes time and dedication, but the reward of people learning and gaining professional skills from each other is well worth the investment. After all, during this time of challenge and great change, the need to learn has never been more important.


Updating Social Simulator to make our virtual crisis simulation exercises even more immersive

We’ve been spending much of 2020 working alongside our clients to re-imagine how we deliver crisis training and validation exercises together.

A core component of that is our life-like exercising platform, Social Simulator. It’s a hands-on, private digital experience that enables realistic, interactive simulations of social media and corporate channels in a challenging scenario or crisis. It gives your team a practical ‘stress test’ of your processes and plans, to improve your preparedness.

With corporate life adapting to the changes wrought by COVID-19 on all of us, most of our clients have opted to move to virtual deliveries of crisis simulations and training to reduce the risk of transporting teams to one location, and enable them to test how effectively they can mobilize their teams and manage a crisis response remotely.

Pandemic or no pandemic, the chances are the first stages of a crisis will be managed remotely rather than conveniently around a conference table. So, your ability to work as a virtual team in a crisis is a core skill now, and one that is worth rehearsing.

We’ve run virtual exercises for several years now, and the savings in time and cost are a big benefit over traditional exercise facilitation methods. But as teams adopt new tools and work in new ways in their organisations, we’ve been working hard on new features and improvements to our flagship product, to make virtual exercising even smoother.

Integrating collaboration tools into exercises

For a recent emergency exercise, our client integrated our Overview Dashboard right into the Teams instance they set up for the drill.

Our platform uses native web technologies without any special plugins or installs needed, so it slotted straight into the tool the team was using and helped those in strategic and management roles to keep tabs on the key developments in the scenario, while their PIO (Public Information Officer) colleagues had full access to publish statements to replicas of their website, Twitter and Facebook.

Social Simulator embedded within Teams

Improving remote facilitation

Facilitating and observing a virtual exercise is an acquired skill. Listening in to team conversations in multiple virtual breakout rooms can be a challenge, especially while also trying to keep track of what’s going on in the exercise scenario and direct the roleplay.

Our new Facilitator Dashboard brings the key events in the exercise timeline, the simulated social media feed, and the email traffic between all participants into a single, private view. Our clients are giving us great feedback about the visibility this gives them of what’s happening across the exercise without needing to switch between modules.

We’ve also added a system-wide newsflash, so it’s easier to send a prominent alert to all participants. We’ve had clients use this to indicate scenario time jumps or ask participants to complete post-exercise feedback surveys to feed into virtual debriefs.

Supporting global teams better

A key strength of our platform is that we take a global view of crisis communication channels and social media – for example, while Twitter is a key channel in Europe and North America, it’s much less salient in parts of Africa and Asia.

We’ve expanded our template library to over 1,000 lifelike media brands covering local, national and international media organisations, blogs, forums and communities. We’ve recently added replicas for emerging channels such as the alt-right Parler and growing communities such as NextDoor where local issues can blow up quickly.

I’ve written more about how important we see Facebook Groups as being to an organisation’s digital communications – in peacetime or crisis. We’ve introduced Groups and timelines into our virtual exercises, and clients have been using them actively to simulate the additional challenge of engaging in these ‘earned reputation’ spaces.

Facebook group simulation

Our roleplay features now have a wider range of local character profile names, from French to North African, Singaporean to Vietnamese.

Making social media more lifelike

A big focus for us has been keeping pace with the richer forms and norms of social media content being posted now – applying learnings from some of big events of 2020 including Black Lives Matter, the US Election and of course, the misinformation around COVID-19.

We’ve added and refined our social media roleplay features to:

  • Better simulate the scale of reaction to posts going viral, with simulated counts of likes and retweets which roleplayers can update during the exercise as a post gains traction by editing published tweets
  • Integrate GIF reactions with access to the GIPHY library to add to posts on Twupdates or Friendbook
    Greater use of video, with easier upload and playback of video by participants and roleplayers, to Twupdates or Instantgram – simulating video posts, or simple Stories
  • Rework our Autopilot: our auto-tweeting functionality now handles up to five parallel streams of tweets on different topics and from different categories of Twupdates characters, simulating the mix of business-as-usual, customer and wider general public reaction to an incident, and how that changes over the course of a crisis
  • Make exercise preparation smoother, with pre-drafted and editable tweets
  • Make the internal comms challenge more lifelike: adding a social intranet/chat module simulating Yammer, Teams or Slack, which participants can use to post, share files or comment on roleplayed posts as they manage the situation together

Simulator features


All in all, the challenge of running almost all of our work in a virtual format has pushed us to enhance our core product and work closely with clients to ensure it gives them the feedback they need to manage exercises effectively.

It’s been incredible to see virtual teams taking on scenarios ranging from cyber attacks to COVID outbreaks, influencer allegations of racism to environmental activism – and really learning as they collaborate virtually to manage the crisis, so when the real thing happens, they’re better placed to respond.

Helpful Links: November

Recently we have:


As always, we’ve been busy reading too, here are a selection of some of the articles we’ve enjoyed and wanted to share with you starting with some very important advice for the next lockdown – eat more chocolate

Crisis Communications

What is coming next? No one knows for sure but, if you want to be prepared, our Scenario planning guide for winter 2020 is suitable for lockdowns, staff sickness, loss of funding, tropical storms and sea monsters!

Tackling misinformation ahead of the US election has been a long ongoing process, and was continuing on election day with both Facebook and Twitter flagging posts from Donald Trump.  


Social Media and Digital News

A handy round up from The Next Web, based on We Are Social’s latest survey of global trends in social media usage. 

Instagram celebrated its 10th Birthday.

LinkedIn has seen record levels of engagement over the last three months.

Twitter has changed its content moderation policy after suspending the New York Post’s accounts over controversial articles about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden

Good news for the open data movement (and charity bid writers and data journalists) with the publication of open data about government grants

And in late breaking news Baby Shark is now the most watched video on YouTube!

Good Digital Communications 

A good example of a trusted voice in action during tragic events: the UK Ambassador to Austria, Leigh Turner, is probably the FCDO’s most established blogger and tweeter. He was retweeting police messages in two languages during the attack, quote tweeting them himself to add emphasis, and then retweeting messages from others in his organisation

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez does a fantastic job of engaging with young people. This article is an interesting look at fandom, Twitch and AOC. 

Nice work from Essex Council, using a trusted voice, the Director of Public Health, to explain a complex topic, with subtitles which is important to reach anyone watching without sounds and is great for accessibility.  

Helpful news and updates

Our London office will be closed again during the UK lockdown but all of our team will be working hard from home. Over the past few months we’ve switched to pretty much 100% virtual delivery of our crisis simulation exercises, digital training sessions, and social media audit and content work. 

Get early access to our briefings, updates and product news when you sign up to our emails via this link. You’ll receive a copy of our guide to Twitter’s new reply functionality when you register. We’ll only send emails when we have something useful to send you. 


Five ways to work with Facebook Groups

Helpful Links: October

Recently we have:

As always, we’ve been busy reading too, here are a selection of some of the articles we’ve enjoyed and wanted to share with you all including this round-up of etiquette tips for Slack, by Slack.

Communications Tools and Toolkits

This is a nice concise, practical list of things it’s useful to put in a communications toolkit.

Here’s a nifty tool like for link shortening and stats but with the ability to tailor social sharing previews: 

Our Tallie Proud has also put together this mammoth list of web, social, and design tools on her own blog. 

Email newsletters are becoming an important digital comms channel says this new report


As the US election campaign enters the final month, Facebook have removed Trump campaign ads on refugees and Covid-19 

Twitter removed accounts that were attempting to disrupt public conversation around the 2020 US Presidential debate

YouTube has added new voter awareness prompts in election related search queries.  

This podcast episode is an interesting look at how a new kind of citizen journalism is changing the world with Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, the foremost pioneer worldwide in online investigations and open source analysis. 

Good Digital Communications 

We always love to see senior leaders sharing updates on social media. This was a nice tweet from Richard Moore to mark his first day in a new job as @ChiefMI6

Tweet from senior leader ChiefMI6

Stuck for inspiration on what to post and how to illustrate it? GCHQ social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram are worth a look for the way they balance the secret nature of parts of their work with a desire to engage with a range of audiences including potential recruits. They aren’t always able to use photos but make good use of the ones they can take, as well as video and graphics so their feed is consistent and engaging. 


We’ve worked with the RAF to support individuals to promote their work on social media and it’s fantastic to see it come to life in Twitter threads

Tweet from one of the RAF 'StoryTellers' MortenKathy

and Instagram story chats.  Look out for posts under the hashtag #RAFStorytellers.

If they aren’t already, Facebook Groups need to be on your radar. Facebook have announced big changes to the way groups will work including content from public groups appearing in some news feeds of those who aren’t members, and a range of extra tools for group admins. Dan Slee has blogged about the changes.  Look out for more from us coming soon on the best ways for organisations to engage with Facebook Groups.

Helpful news and updates

Steph has now completed 1000km cycling to and from Helpful HQ. This is his experience so far and some useful tips for other commuters. 

Get early access to our briefings, updates and product news when you sign up to our emails. You’ll receive a copy of our guide to Twitter’s new reply functionality when you register. We’ll only send emails when we have something useful to send you. 

You can read previous Helpful Links here.

Scenario planning for Winter 2020: Where to begin?

Comms teams across the country must feel a bit like the first explorers right now. There are bits of the map they know, some other bits they can imagine, and some uncharted parts which are completely unknown. 

2020 has completely ruined all our powers of prediction.

The Loch Ness monster could probably swim up the Tyne and we would all just shrug and get on with it. 

Despite the ever-changing situation, we do need to start thinking about what we can do next. So where to start?

Firstly, stop. Breathe. And appreciate that you have already weathered (and continue to weather) an unseasonal and unsettling storm. 

Now, draw a grid. A bit like this one. 

Blank table to fill in scenarios based on impact and likelihoodOr download a copy.

Next map out what risks your organisation could face this Winter. What is likely? What poses the greatest risk? And don’t be afraid to be overly apocalyptic. 

If I was a 15th century explorer setting out on my maiden voyage then my grid might look a bit like this. 

Now ask a few members of your team to do the same. You can do this collaboratively with your team on Jamboard if you like. We have an open template which you can copy and use.

Once you identify the recurring themes (e.g. second lockdown / spike of staff sickness / loss of funding) then you can begin shaping your responses to them. 


Ask yourself:

  • How can you best mitigate against those potential challenges?
  • Who would be your priority stakeholders? 
  • Who would your key audiences be and what is the best way of reaching them?
  • What sort of messages would you want to issue and do you have any of these already drafted? 
  • Do you have templates for social media graphics that you can easily adapt and publish? 

Over time you will be able to build up a library of the most-likely scenarios and even develop plans for coping with them. If the Kraken appears off the coast of Blackpool in January then you might not have a specific plan ready for dealing with a ferocious sea monster but you will at least have parts of a plan. You will have a plan for losing part of your crew. Or getting a hole in the side of the boat. Or not having enough food. And these will take you a long way in the unknown.  

Helpful Digital on G-Cloud

We’re thrilled to have been accepted again onto the Crown Commercial Service’s G-Cloud 12 Framework. That makes it 12 out of 12 iterations for us on the groundbreaking digital framework, stretching back to February 2012.

But G-Cloud 12 marks a bit of a departure for us: since we refocussed our business earlier this year, our new line-up of cloud support services reflect our new emphasis on digital capability-building. But first, some nostalgia…

Eight years of helping government clients work in the cloud

Way back in 2012, we joined the first G-Cloud framework, part of the insurgency led by GDS and its forerunners like Chris Chant, against the unacceptable gouging of public sector buyers by systems integrators and inflexible contracts.

In the early iterations, we mainly delivered intranet work through G-Cloud, helping clients deploy our open source Govintranet system – an intranet that people actually like to use, built around user needs and content strategy – to a range of cloud-hosted environments. Govintranet is now led by the fine folks and Helpful alumni at Agento Digital.

DCMS intranet

Delivering digital change at pace and on tight budgets

Through G-Cloud, we helped launch Local Digital’s local government revolution in digital government in 2018, with an agile, iterative presence for the programme. It enabled hundreds of local authorities around the country to commit to more collaborative ways of working through the Local Digital Declaration with online signatures and applications for the groundbreaking grants programme:

Supporting government’s highest profile communications campaigns

Our work on G-Cloud with the Department for Transport led us to build the site for THINK!, the road safety campaign which stretches back over 30 years. The cloud server replaced tricky to support in-house technology, and the platform integrates a range of cloud services to showcase the campaign’s evolution over the years, and support safety work in schools.

Video-based peer-to-peer learning in the cloud

We supported the pioneering innovators behind the Metropolitan Police’s Metflix application, which gets officers and staff creating and sharing bite-sized video tutorials about how to do the day job – even when they’re working remotely. The cloud has transformed what’s possible and the costs involved, enabling grassroots teams like Metflix to go from an idea to a proof of concept, up to a service supporting 15,000 users using low cost technologies such as WordPress and Vimeo.

For 2020: a focus on supporting digital skills and capability-building

Since April this year, we’ve sharpened our focus as a team on digital skills, from social media management and analysis, to preparedness to handle cyber threats. Our line-up on G-Cloud 12 has the same fundamental Helpful values of practical learning and empowerment but covers a new range of areas to help teams use cloud tools confidently:

We help your team create engaging content, in the right places to capture your audiences’ attention. From in-person classroom sessions, to virtual self-paced blended learning on your in-house learning platforms or our Digital Action Plan, we tailor learning to the needs and skills gaps of each individual.

Through workshops and analysis we shape a blueprint for your digital communication. We audit current channels and teams, diagnose current barriers and gaps – and identify how to bridge them. We help set realistic KPIs, SMART objectives and appropriate governance and operating models, and help embed them in the team.

Our crisis training workshops and simulation exercises ensure your crisis plan is adapted to modern media, and your team has the confidence and skills to deliver. From issues of terrorism to natural disasters, reputational threats to internal risks, we offer readiness assessments, training and immersive simulations for crisis management teams.

Our cybersecurity crisis simulation and training workshops help you work through incident management plans in a controlled communications environment – either to train or test teams on cyber threat handling. We combine rehearsal of the technical response with stakeholder handling, customer communication and internal engagement (HR, legal, operations, customer service).

We help you pick consultation methods and platforms which achieve constructive results. Our implementation support ranges from scoping and strategy design to coaching leaders and community managers; platform integration of cloud-hosted tools for consultation and engagement and the content design of materials for effective outreach and involvement of your audiences.


We’re currently working on some fascinating projects with a range of government and commercial clients around the world, from combatting disinformation to building trust in frontline staff online, in-house video production skills to rolling out social media skills to a global workforce. We’d love to work with you too!

From in-house to Agency – 1 Year on

This week I’m celebrating my first anniversary at Helpful Digital. It’s been an eventful year (particularly the last few months!), but it’s been rewarding too.

Moving from working in an in-house digital team to a digital agency has been an adventure. Not that long ago I was the client, now I’m the one supporting the clients.

When you work in-house, you get to know everything there is to know about an organisation over a number of years. You can play a part in seeing products improve, audiences develop and engagement on campaigns increase. You know what messaging will work, what hashtags to use, what time of day to post, which accounts to not engage with and what audiences really need from you.

Since moving to an agency, I have come to appreciate the strong foundation coming from an in-house digital team has given me. Having that experience to draw from has allowed me to pass on practical advice that the clients can put into practice. I understand what it’s like to have a lack of resources or budget. I’ve managed social media channels, run campaigns and communicated work to colleagues who don’t fully understand digital comms. I know what will work and what’s unachievable. I can empathise with the struggles an in-house team faces, and I can honestly say I know how it feels!

I’ve learnt a lot in my seven years of in-house digital communications, but there’s always more to learn, and the opportunities given to me at Helpful to up my game and learn new skills have been invaluable. Understanding everything an agency like Helpful does and how to manage current and prospective clients is a steep learning curve. Having the support of the rest of the team, the space to make mistakes (and learn from them), and their patience with my many questions has made it a whole lot easier.

No two days are the same, and that’s a good thing. I like to be kept on my toes and be challenged. I’ve been able to travel (pre-COVID!), work on crisis simulations using our Social Simulator platform, deliver training to hundreds of people, develop effective strategies and dig deep into organisation’s social media channels. Some projects have lasted a few months and others for a few weeks.

In-house digital teams have immense value, and having digital skills within your organisation is no longer a ‘nice to have’. To be seen and heard nowadays, you need to be communicating using digital platforms, but one of the things I’ve understood the value of since joining Helpful is an outsider’s perspective.

It’s not always easy to see what isn’t working when you’re immersed in the work every day. Over the last twelve months, I’ve been able to provide that perspective. I’ve helped out clients detangle accounts, suggested ways to improve content, highlighted potential risks and help pinpoint what training their staff will benefit from.

Even in just a short time, I have been able to work with a variety of clients. From small charities to huge corporations and in many different sectors, instead of knowing one organisation really well, I have insight into many. From the Royal Air Force to government departments, Kew Gardens to a major energy provider. Whilst each client has their own needs, audiences and goals, there are always things I can take away from them and use to support the next client.

The reason Helpful stands out from the crowd (in my biased opinion) is because we want to give companies the tools to help themselves. We want to give organisations the right tools and knowledge, not just what’s the most expensive or what they think they need. It’s been amazing to see the value I (and the rest of the team) have provided our clients over the last year, and I’m looking forward to everything that comes next.

Helpful Links: September

Recently we have:

  • Written a guide to social media account security
  • Delivered virtual crisis training exercises and supported agencies to deliver simulations using our Social Simulator software
  • Held the first session of our new mobile video skills training for press officers 

tallie standing in front of a camera

As always, we’ve been busy reading too, here are a selection of some of the articles we’ve enjoyed and wanted to share with you all including this practical guide to managing distractions and focussing on your attention span


Public Sector websites need to meet the new accessibility guidelines by 23 September 2020. It’s important that social media content is accessible too, both day to day and during a crisis. We’ve put together this guide. Social media channels are working on improving accessibility too. Twitter rolled out audio tweets earlier this year and were criticised for their lack of accessibility. They’ve now accepted they have work to do with a range of improvements planned including automated captions to audio and video by early 2021


Misinformation and disinformation around coronavirus and the forthcoming US election are still circulating despite the efforts of digital channels. Efforts are being made to help people to check the information they see and share. 

Microsoft has launched a Video Authenticator to help identify deepfakes. 

First Draft have built an App containing links to a series of verification tools to help you to assess whether digital content is genuine or not.

WhatsApp have incorporated quick links to Google search results into viral messages to help users to check the accuracy of what they are reading. 

The US election has prompted action from Facebook and Twitter as well as TikTok, and big tech companies are coming together to work on scenario planning and wargaming.

Twitter has written up some useful tips on effective use of Twitter lists.  One of ours that we often look through is Social CEOs to find examples of trusted voices using Twitter well. 

Twitter is also making quote tweets easier to find. This is useful if you want to see all of the engagement for a particular tweet whether it’s one of your own or someone else’s, in the past quote tweets have been hard to find.

Good Digital Communications 

Ashley Rogers use of twitter in a diplomatic capacity is really interesting. 

Tim delivered a session on how to handle Social Media in a Crisis for MEPRA members recently to help them to develop confidence and practical skills to deliver under pressure through a live simulation. We also enjoyed listening to this podcast from MEPRA and AMEC on evaluation

Helpful news and updates

We’ve enjoyed a partial return to the office and pleased to say our orchid survived lockdown. We’re looking forward to speaking at a PRSA NY event in early October. 

pink orchid flower

Get early access to our briefings, updates and product news when you sign up to our emails via this link. You’ll receive a copy of our guide to Twitter’s new reply functionality when you register. We’ll only send emails when we have something useful to send you. 


Ten ways to keep your social media accounts safe

Keeping your social media accounts safe is a real worry for organisations large and small. But whether you are a team of three or three hundred there are some key steps you can take to keep your social media accounts secure.

Good social media governance is about making sure that you:

  • Protect your accounts from being hacked
  • Are able to access your accounts no matter where you are
  • Safeguard your organisation’s online reputation

Keeping your social media accounts safe

1. Use strong passwords (a minimum of 12 characters made up of a random mix of numbers, upper case and lowercase letters and special characters. Find out more about setting up a strong password

2. Where possible, use two-factor authentication. This is an extra level of security to double check whether the person accessing the account has authorisation

3.  Make sure that more than one person has access. You don’t want too many people having access, but you need a minimum of three people who have log in details or admin permissions to make sure that you don’t get locked out while someone is on annual leave or during a crisis that develops out of hours. Social media platforms are hard to get in touch with and don’t easily hand over access to accounts.  You should have at least three admins for your Facebook Page and LinkedIn Company Page in case one of them loses access to their personal account or leaves your organisation. Only admins can add other admins to the page.  To reset passwords or regain access if there are any security issues you’ll need to be able to log in to the platforms directly rather than through social media management tools. 

4. Check which email address and phone number are linked to the log ins for your social media accounts particularly Twitter and Instagram, are they still current? if you need to reset the password or have problems with access, it’s much easier to resolve if you know which contact details are linked to each account.

5. Keep a record of who has access to which channels and have a clear process for removing access when someone leaves their role. Check who has access to your accounts via social media tools such as Hootsuite and what level of permission they have. Review this monthly. 

6. Use a password manager like Last Pass to make sure that you don’t forget log in details. A password manager also allows you to share access to accounts without sharing the password.

7. Have a clear process for anyone who wants to set up new social media accounts within your organisation and how the access and passwords are organised

8. Schedule a regular check-up, this could be more or less frequent depending on the size of your team and organisation.  Look at who has access to your accounts, where the accounts are logged in (Twitter and Instagram), and which tools have access to each of your accounts. Be alert to any suspicious activity and unusual log ins. 

9. Don’t forget about the inactive and inaccessible accounts, keep an inventory that includes all of your social media account information such as:  

  • How many different accounts there are, and on which channels.
  • Who has access to each of these channels.
  • Which channels are connected to each other.
  • Which social media management tools you use.
  • Accounts that no one is using.
  • Accounts that you cannot access. 

10. Understand the help process for each of the social media channels in case you have any issues with your accounts. Make sure you are clear what they consider to be problem content such as spam, misinformation or impersonation and what is considered parody or another acceptable content under the channel’s Terms of Use.  Large companies, big public sector organisations, and high budget advertisers will often get a named representative they can call on for help. Smaller organisations will have to rely on the generic help process which isn’t always the fastest.  Look out for three dots in the top right hand corner of Facebook and Instagram posts and the small arrow in the top right hand corner of Twitter and LinkedIn posts to find the reporting options on each channel.

If you have any questions about keeping your social media accounts safe please get in touch. 


Helpful Links

How to report a Facebook Page

Report a Twitter account for impersonation (note there is a separate link within this page to report trademark misuse).

How to report Instagram content

Reporting LinkedIn content and their categories for reporting. 


Helpful Links: August

Recently we have:

  • Delivered hours of online communications training and virtual crisis simulations including one for a transport client with participants taking part in French and English, across multiple locations. We have  several more planned for next month – we’ve also put together 12 Helpful Tips based on our experiences
  • Written a detailed guide to Facebook Live
  • Put together a visual guide to mapping online audiences.

Inforgraphic detailing how to find online audiences

  • Had some lovely feedback:

Just wanted to say again how amazing it’s been having the support from you and your team – don’t know how we’d have got through the last few months without it.


We’ve been busy reading too, here are a selection of some of the articles we’ve enjoyed and wanted to share with you all.

Starting with some practical icebreakers, a useful read for anyone running online meetings and training sessions.


Social Media Landscape

The social media landscape is constantly evolving with a new milestone last month – for the first time more than half of the world’s total population now uses social media. We are social and Hootsuite regularly round up the latest global social media stats and it’s really interesting reading. 

For UK specific statistics, Ofcom’s online nation report is a treasure trove of insight into behaviour online and how it is changing. The latest includes this headline: smartphones are driving UK internet use to an all-time high,  over four-fifths of time online is on mobile devices as take-up of connected devices grows – make sure you factor this into your online content and social media updates. 

In the US Pew Research publish a range of fascinating data on social media usage and trends, this report focuses on social media use by politicians

Social Media Today recently published this overview of the most popular social media platforms worldwide – again does this fit with your social media strategy? 


Channels, functions and audience

It’s really important to match your social media activity to your target audience.  Emmanuel Macron recently launched his TikTok account on Bac results day, TikTok’s biggest user group is teenagers so this was a perfect time to try out the platform. 

Tweet from HelpfulDigital about Emmanuel Macaron joining TiK Tok

When there’s breaking news, Twitter is likely to be where it is talked about first. They are testing ways to simplify finding information during disasters.

To showcase their own functionality, Twitter also put their entire investor report as a thread and it’s quite long. 

BCW have published their Twiplomacy 2020 report into how world leaders have tweeted about coronavirus. 

But beware of trolls, this is essential reading for social media managers. It’s easier than you think to be lured into trolls’ games. 

A big shoutout to everyone who has been managing social media channels over the last few months. We recognise how difficult it has been. For anyone having a tough time as a social media manager at the moment, this post will resonate.   We’ve got some practical tips about managing an extended crisis which might also help. 


Social Media News

Facebook has introduced new accessibility options

They have also done more work to combat myths around Covid-19.

Donald Trump Jr had his account suspended by Twitter as part of their efforts to fight coronavirus misinformation. 

Adobe has released more details on its Content Authenticity Initiative

This piece about the implications of different types of fake content shows just how dangerous it can be. Earlier this year we worked on a project in Canada in February about the market-moving implications of fake or malicious financial analysis information, and we think we’ll see more of this – beyond just deepfake videos.


Good Digital Communications 

RAF Lossiemouth change their Twitter logo depending on the alert level:

Tweet from RAFLossiemouth about the start of Op Noah

We loved this from Qantas

Tweet from Qantas about the last 747 flight

The Welsh Government uses Facebook Live to broadcast their Covid-10 press releases and updates from the First Minister. To ensure accessibility they have a sign language interpreter and also make use of Faebook’s ability to auto subtitle Live video. 

There’s more tips on using Facebook Live in our recent blog


Helpful news and updates

Some of our team are now back working in the office, socially distanced of course. We’ve researched all the local establishments who are taking part the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. There’s a handy postcode search on the site.  We’re busy planning and delivering training and crisis simulations, but do have capacity for helping more organisations to review their crisis response and plan ahead for future issues


Get early access to our briefings, updates and product news when you sign up to our emails via this link. You’ll receive a copy of our guide to Twitter’s new reply functionality when you register. We’ll only send emails when we have something useful to send you.