Social Media Soup: Why it’s best to keep some flavors separate

My screen time is ridiculous–I’m not ashamed of it. If I can scroll, I’m there baby, and I’m disciplined with it, I have my routine: 40+ minute YouTube videos when I’m eating or doing other tasks; Instagram when I want to click through Stories and see what acquaintances are up to; Twitter to hear what’s new in the world; Snapchat to see and talk to close friends daily; TikTok when I want to throw caution to the wind and let an algorithm decide what I see. 


Lately, though, this routine has been getting harder and harder because every update chips away at the separation between these platforms. At first it was little changes, everyone under the sun added Stories, and I liked these, and am quite sad that Twitter removed its Fleets (#bringbackFleets!). Now though, TikTok wants YouTube’s long-form content, YouTube is force-feeding Shorts to its creators, Snapchat tries to deliver ‘news’ like Twitter, and Instagram is going full identity-crisis and adding Reels, overhauling their algorithm, and pivoting to full-screen feeds a-la-TikTok. It’s harder and harder to know which platform will give me the experience I want in that moment because everyone’s in an arms race to add the ‘newest’ feature that some other platform just debuted.


I can’t help feeling like an angsty teen whose parents just don’t get them. Every platform is so focused on emulating other platforms in an attempt to lure users to their site that they neglect the wants of their existing users. Instagram’s newest changes to its algorithm and layout are a blatantly transparent mimicry of TikTok–so blatant that I feel the need to match that vibe: Instagram, if I want to use TikTok, I’m going to use TikTok. You can’t outdo the doer, so why not focus on being the most Instagram-est version of Instagram? People love(d) Instagram for the photos, so why not lean in and optimize photo sharing? 


While this platform-merging bothers me as a consumer, it has broader implications for the creators on each platform. As a YouTube creator myself, I have been frustrated by the push for YouTube Shorts. One of the greatest benefits of the platform is its limitless video length. On my own channel, I make video essays and my most popular video is 2-hours long! I have built my channel around long videos that I enjoy making and that my audience enjoys watching, but the push for Shorts puts me in a tough spot. Do I keep me and my audience happy by continuing with longer videos, videos that the current algorithm pushes less, meaning that my video will be shown to fewer people; or, do I sell-out and pivot to posting (what are essentially) TikToks in order to please the platform, videos that betray my own interests and that of my audience? How can creators stay honest to themselves and their audiences when algorithms heavily favor new features that are the opposite of what they’re accustomed to making?


Social media executives seem to be breaking the cardinal rule to sustainable social media success: be authentic to yourself. I’m aware that Instagram isn’t a person, but in the past I used to “know” them, and I used to feel like they made changes for both their users and their investors. Now, I have no idea what Instagram is supposed to be, and I can’t help but think that these changes were made solely because of investors. To someone who doesn’t breathe social media, it can be easy to assume that features that are successful for TikTok will be successful for them, but the success of these features is endemic to the social ecosystem that they live in; garlic tastes delicious in a pasta dish, but put it in a cake and you’ll have a not-so-happy camper.


Companies and organizations who use social media should keep this in mind when posting: just because platforms have increasingly similar features does not mean that they have similar audiences, and the same piece of content shouldn’t go on every platform. Platforms themselves need to do a better job of serving what their creators and users want, and I promise that no user wants an amalgamous blob of short-form-video-plus-whatever-format-was-originally-on-the-platform. They want distinction that they can taste.

Accessibility for social media – Everything you need to know

Accessible social media means simple changes to the way you post to social media. These simple changes can make a huge difference for anyone with a disability.

Nearly 60% of the world’s population uses social media on a regular basis. Within that number there are millions of people with a disability. Many of them will be using screen readers or other types of assistive technology. 

It’s essential that we communicate clearly to everyone online. If not, we could be losing customers and sales, missing an opportunity to engage with a percentage of our audience, and risk complaints, or even legal action. Both day-to-day and in crisis situations, everyone deserves the opportunity to access our information. 

Here are some top tips on how to make your social media posts accessible. Click the links to be taken to each section:

Digital and social media accessibility training

We can deliver training and advice on improving your social media and digital accessibility. Talk to us informally about how we approach this kind of work, ballpark budgets and timescale:

Email us


Image descriptions (alt text)

Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. However, those using screen reading software (which can’t describe images automatically) or even users with a slow internet connection may have trouble understanding your post without a description. To help, add a description as alt-text (alternative text) which screen readers will then read out.

 >> Top tip: Use software to schedule and publish content that doesn’t let you add alt-text? Add the description to the caption instead as RNIB does 

Tweet showing how their alt-text displaysLuckily, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are making image descriptions the norm. Facebook and Instagram add automated image descriptions on posts using AI.

Twitter’s alternative text functionality has recently been given more prominence and you can now see which posts have alt-text included. Look for the alt-text button on images and click to read the accompanying image description.

How to set image descriptions on Twitter

How to set image descriptions on Instagram

How to set image descriptions on Facebook

How to set image descriptions on Linkedin

How do I write clear image descriptions? 

Image descriptions shouldn’t be too long but should clearly describe what is in the picture. It also doesn’t need to explain that it is an image or photo. For example: 

Eight people sat in a circle eating and drinking next to a swimming pool, another man is slightly away from the group, standing on the edge of the pool looking at the group.

Bad description: A photo of people outside

Good description: Eight people sat in a circle eating and drinking next to a swimming pool, another man is slightly away from the group, standing on the edge of the pool looking at the group.

Images with text

If you post an image with text on it, like an infographic, screenreaders will be unable to read any of the text on the images. In these cases, add the text alongside the image. This should also be the case for GIFs. 

This can be done in a few ways: 

  • In the alt-text box available on all major social media platforms. The character limit should allow for plenty of room to paste in all the information you need to communicate as well as any descriptions. 
  • Within the caption, if there is a high enough character limit (Instagram and Facebook for example.) 
  • On Twitter where the character limit is lower, you can publish the text as a thread underneath the original tweet. 
  • Link to a webpage with all the information on it in the caption.

Designing graphics

When designing any kind of graphic, whether it’s a statement, infographic or advert, it should be designed with accessibility in mind. Here are some quick tips:

  • There should be high colour contrast between the background and the text (i.e a dark background and bright text). Why not use this contrast checker to check your design. 
  • Choose a simple typeface, nothing that looks too stylised or handwritten. Sans serif is better. 
  • Avoid any distracting patterns or other complicated elements underneath text
  • Don’t use colour or symbols alone to communicate information (i.e red to mean stop and green to mean go) Only use colour in this way alongside corresponding text for colourblind people. 


Video captions

Screenshot from TikTok, woman is talking to the camera with subtitles appearing over the top of herVideo captions don’t just benefit users who are deaf or hard of hearing. Have you ever tried to watch a video in public but don’t have your headphones to hand? 

When creating captions/subtitles they should be word-for-word accurate. You could even include other sounds heard on the video as well as any 

Facebook, YouTube and TikTok auto-generate subtitles when you upload a video, but you still need to edit them to make sure they are accurate. Currently, Twitter has some auto-generation functionality (though it can’t be edited) and it isn’t possible on LinkedIn. In these situations, you can download a subtitle file (known as a .srt file) generated by YouTube to upload to other channels with your video.

Don’t forget about Instagram stories! You can add captions to stories via the stickers section, using the blue captions button. You can also create captions quickly with tools like Clipomatic.

How to add captions to YouTube

How to add subtitles on Twitter

How to add subtitles on LinkedIn

How to add subtitles on Facebook

How to add subtitles on TikTok

Audio descriptions

Audio description explains what is happening visually in a video as it happens. Unfortunately, audio description tools aren’t as widely available as captioning tools and adding additional audio to a video isn’t always possible. You could provide a second video, identical to the first with audio description or provide a link to it for easy access. 

For talking heads or where the video is text-only descriptions aren’t needed.

Text description

Another simple option, particularly for short videos, is to add a description of what happens in the video in the body of the post or as a comment underneath it. This works particularly well on Instagram or TikTok. 

Flashing videos 

Flashing videos can cause distress to users and can even be harmful to people with epilepsy. 20,000 people in the UK suffer from epilepsy and The Epilepsy Society has asked for social media companies to put warnings on flashing content (like sensitive content) or avoid using them at all.


Text and Copy

Writing hashtags

If you are using multiple words in a hashtag, they can be very difficult for some users to read and even harder for screenreaders. Use camelcase (capitalising each word) in the hashtag to keep it clear.

#isthiseasiertoread or #IsThisEasierToRead?

Using emojis

Screen-reading software does read out emojis so using them is fine but it will read out every emoji individually so keep them to a minimum. Here’s an example:

I love my dog ❤️” would be read as “I love my dog heart


I love my dog ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️” would be read as “I love my dog heart heart heart heart heart heart

Calls to action

‘Click here’ is a common sight on social media posts, but it’s not particularly helpful to everyone. It’s just a little too ambiguous for screenreaders. More and more people now access all social media from a smartphone or tablet where we tap instead of click.

Instead, choose a more descriptive call to action and tell people what the link is. 

For example:

Click here: ….. vs Visit our sign up form to subscribe here: ….

Keeping things simple

Always consider people with dyslexia or anyone who struggles with complicated language when writing copy for your social media post. Avoid longer or more complex words, keep sentences and paragraphs short and avoid acronyms and technical jargon not widely known. Lots of hashtags and user handles can make social media posts harder to read too so only use them when necessary.  

Ableist language

It’s easy for the language we use to be insensitive or not particularly inclusive if we don’t stop to think about exactly what we are saying. Avoid describing something as crazy or dumb or asking people to ‘stand up’ for a issue. To help, here is a useful list of terms not to use plus some useful alternatives.


To summarise

When you’re posting to social media just think about how users with disabilities will be viewing the post. Will they be getting the same experience as someone without a disability? Get into the habit now and it will soon become second nature. This tweet from @NyleDiMarco sums it up perfectly:

Tweet from NyleDiMarco to United Airlines highlighting problems with no captions on video

Blog first published by Katie Humphries 10/19

Five steps to freshen up your comms

You get one chance to make a first impression. Typically your prospective clients first impression of your organisation’s website or social media presence happens in a matter of seconds. So it’s vital to regularly review your digital assets.

What better time to start than the beginning of a New Year and what better place to start than your…


Think Brand, Product, Information:

  • Review and update content and design.
  • Ensure it is mobile friendly. Essential post pandemic!
  • Focus on the user experience (UX) – People will exit a website if an image takes too long or won’t load.
  • Learn more about making your site more accessible with this guide from our Helpful team.

Social Media

Social media is where your audience is. Globally, over 3.6 billion people use social media and the number is projected to increase to 4.41 billion in 2025.

Think about this as you build a relationship with your users…

Engage, Enlighten, Encourage:


Visuals grab your audience’s attention. We process visual content faster than text so reviewing your graphics library is essential.

  • Refresh your graphics library. Set up a new folder for 2022.
  • Showcase your organisation’s culture with new images and videos from as wide a range of staff as you can.
  • Try creating a few GIFs related to your brand and industry, and add them to GIPHY’s library.
  • Invest in training for staff to learn about communicating with visuals and read our handy guide.


Even if you are highly trained and educated, industries will keep changing and require constant adaptation. Proactively upskilling is non negotiable.

  • Know your goals.
  • Identify your knowledge gaps.
  • Set your strategy.
  • Look into virtual courses and online learning. Google, Meta, and LinkedIn all have their own excellent free training courses.


  • Check who has access to passwords for social media accounts.
  • Ensure your passwords are secure enough. Consider implementing two-factor authentication.
  • Review how your passwords are stored and if there’s a central document make sure it is up-to-date.
  • LastPass is handy for securing your passwords and setting-up two-factor authentication.
  • Here’s a full guide to keeping your social media accounts safe.

Remember that how much you care about everything is a reflection of how much you’ll care about anything so create your messaging and content with care. Set your key messages for 2022 and make this your best year yet.

Helpful Links: November

Recently we have:

  • Helped a high profile health and beauty brand to validate and rehearse their crisis response plans, with teams in the Ukraine and Romania.
  • Contributed to a large-scale emergency drill in the Netherlands.
  • Supported a military client to take a different approach to managing complaints and criticism on social media.
  • Begun a deep dive analysis of a client’s most engaged social media followers. 

Our latest round up of Helpful Links follows:

Crisis and dealing with misinformation

Excellent beginners’ guide to social media verification from Bellingcat, with useful examples too.

Derby Council sack workers over cemetery TikTok videos,  this story is an important reminder for organisations to monitor a range of digital sources, not just Twitter. 

Our politics is awash in ampliganda, the propaganda of the modern age.” writes Renée DiResta in this Atlantic article about coordinated amplification of messages on social media. 

Good Digital Comms

Polly Neate of Shelter is definitely a social CEO. This recent set of Instagram stories shows how her updates reflect both her work and her interests.

It’s really important to adapt content for different channels and audiences. Ryanair recently announced a new route from Derry to Manchetser and there was a noticeable difference between their press release and their Instagram post



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ryanair_European_Airline (@ryanair)


Social Media and Digital News

Need to catch up on all the Facebook coverage? Vice have you covered.

This article in particular is useful for understanding why Facebook moderation feels very different depending on where you are in the world.

In China, LinkedIn has changed its strategy. It will look and feel very different from next year. We’ll be keeping an eye on what’s planned, to keep our global clients up to date. 

Two very popular updates from Instagram this month. They’ve added the ability to post from a desktop and anyone can now add a link to an Instagram story.

Instagram have also rolled out collabs after a small scale trial.


This is a nice example of a bus company working with a local instagram community on a competition. 


Good news for accessibility and monitoring as Youtube improves caption options and the ability to search captions. 

One of the major issues with Clubhouse and other audio channels is a lack of recording and replay options, especially for organisations who want to communicate with people in different time zones or simply have busy lives. Twitter Spaces is making a recording and replay option available to some users which will help to combat this. 


If you have any questions about any of these links or anything else digital please get in touch, we love to help. 


Helpful Links: October

Recently we have:

  • Delivered some of our biggest ever crisis simulations, including one for over 30,000 people and another involving more than 30 different organisations on the US Pacific coast
  • Worked on a 24 hour exercise that followed the sun, starting with communications teams in Asia Pacific, then handed over to Europe and Africa, and finally teams in North America
  • Welcomed writer and blogger Emma Tye and crisis specialist Jess Evans to our team 
  • Gathered all of the UK team to a Helpful day in our London office


Our latest round up of Helpful Links follows:

Crisis and dealing with misinformation

‘Interesting if true’ motivates people to share  – an interesting look at how misinformation spreads.

YouTube has said it will remove content that spreads misinformation about all approved vaccines, expanding a ban on false claims about Covid-19 jabs.

Facebook has announced new initiatives to raise awareness of climate change, and tackle climate misinformation

This news story highlights importance of quickly correcting misinformation.

Good Digital Comms

Really engaging post from Bernard Looney of BP, one of very few Chief Execs to use Instagram in a work capacity really well


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Bernard Looney (@bernardlooney_bp)


Fabulous visual from National Highways SE on Facebook to explain delays to road repairs 

Social Media and Digital News

The latest Pew Research on news consumption via social media found that a little under half (48%) of U.S. adults say they get news from social media “often” or “sometimes,” a 5 percentage point decline compared with 2020. 

TikTok has reached 1 billion users

Social media channels are already starting to publish tips and guides to the Holiday season.

Here’s TikTok’s Holiday Guide Part 1

This is Snapchat’s Holiday guide

Twitter’s #Holiday2021 Guide is also now published.


Twitter is testing communities, but it’s currently only available to some iOS users. 

Video on Instagram is changing, there’s no more IGTV. 

Tik Tok is being used to share information about US Congress Members’ trading activity


We’re always keen to learn and a couple of us are currently reading Tik Tok Boom which has some really useful context and algorithm guidance


If you have any questions about any of these links or anything else digital please get in touch, we love to help. 


Helpful Links: September

Recently we have:

  • Published a digital communications planner template
  • Rolled out the Spanish language version of our digital training programme for a major Chinese multinational. We’re helping more than 40,000 of their staff take basic and advanced levels of training in social media awareness
  • Delivered remote social media training for clients in Greece, Papua New Guinea and Nigeria
  • Prepared crisis simulations on topics ranging from terror attacks and cyber incidents to environmental protests and industrial accidents: ready for a very busy September!

Our latest round up of Helpful Links follows:

Crisis and dealing with misinformation

City and State organisations in the US are recruiting social media influencers to reach vaccine skeptics and dispel myths. 

Meanwhile on Reddit moderators are protesting against the forum’s approach to Covid misinformation. 

This is a good example of an academic using TikTok effectively to debunk mis/disinformation. 

Twitter tests ‘misleading’ post report button for first time.

Good Digital Comms

The Royal Air Force have managed to deliver some incredible social media content while evacuating British nationals and refugees from Afghanistan: 


Say it with a Spotify playlist


Patrick Poyanne, CEO of Total, delivered his first Q&A video on LinkedIn. Want to learn more about the best energy CEOs on social media? Download our report

This response from a bar accused of homophobia includes all the right care, action, and perspective elements to it.

Social Media News

There’s a round-up here of how social media channels dealt with the Taliban taking power in Afghanistan 

Snapchat has launched Trends – explore what topics perform well on Snapchat and better engage with your audience.

Twitter is looking at developing Spaces further. Replays will be a really useful feature, particularly for accounts with followers who can’t all be online at a particular time and date.   If you are thinking about using new channels or functionality here are some key questions to ask first.

LinkedIn Stories are changing

Instagram reveals how their search works, with one key question answered – hashtags should go in your post, not the first comment for maximum visibility. They say: “For a post to be found in Search, put keywords and hashtags in the caption, not the comments.” 

Swipe up links are being replaced by stickers in Instagram stories, but will still only be available to accounts that already have the ability to add swipe up links ​. 

Any questions?

If you have any questions about any of these links or anything else digital please get in touch, we love to help. 

Email us

5 super easy ways to improve your social media listening

Listening is an important skill to have, not just in face-to-face conversations but on social media too. 

Listening is often how you’ll first hear about potential crisis situations that need addressing. It’s also how you know you’re reaching the right audiences and provides opportunities for positive conversations and engagement. 

You might be using a tool such as Hootsuite or SproutSocial to provide advanced social listening and that’s a great place to start, but here are some simple tips on how to listen well and turn listening into action. 

Listen beyond notifications

Good digital search skills are vital. It isn’t enough to rely on notifications for comments made directly to your social media accounts. You need to be proactively searching for posts that mention your organisation but don’t tag your handle. If you don’t, you might miss key conversations and lose the opportunity to reply, correct, or take conversations offline to be resolved.

Listen to more than Twitter

Twitter is often the main focus of social listening thanks to it being easy to search and monitor conversations. However, not all of your audience or the people talking about you are going to be on Twitter. Are you looking out for mentions on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube or LinkedIn? Don’t forget about Facebook groups or forums such as Reddit and Mumsnet. Trouble can be stirred up and spread quickly on these channels if not spotted and addressed. They can also be places where positive content is often missed. 

We love Tabasco and Red’s Hot sauce for capitalising on this TikTok user’s hot sauce story and creating a fun social media campaign, thanks to some monitoring and a creative idea

@bswift13Reply to @bswift13 THE RECAP ##hotsaucejourney ##teamtabasco ##teamfranksredhot ##bridgetsfavoritehotsauce♬ Theme from “Twilight (Bella’s Lullaby)” – Movie Sounds Unlimited

Listen for every keyword, including the misspelt ones

Good listening means having an extensive list of keywords to be searching for. As we said above, people aren’t always going to be tagging your account in posts. They might not even mention your organisation at all but might be talking about topics related to you. Compile a list of all keywords and hashtags you think will be useful to keep an eye on. This is a great team activity. Don’t forget to also include misspellings of these words as well as common/slang names and acronyms, not just formal names. When Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions were announced in the UK in December 2020, both Tier 4 and Teir 4 were trending. Only monitoring the correct spelling would have missed a large section of conversations happening online. 

Listen to what’s not being said

Sometimes what’s not being talked about is just as important as what is. Maybe the lack of discussion means more work needs to be done to promote that topic or maybe you’re listening to the wrong channel and your audience is somewhere else. 

Every channel also has bias and quirks that you need to be aware of. Campaign groups and top commenters might have agendas that need to be taken into account. Different demographics will have different priorities and ‘influencers’ might be getting a lot of attention, but just because their voice might be louder, doesn’t mean they should be given more consideration than your target audience.

Listen then action it

Listening is only half of the equation. Once you’ve gathered information from monitoring conversations and keywords you then need to do something with it. The actions you take will depend on the content you’re monitoring but here are just a few avenues you might take:

Escalate it
Serious conversations might need to be escalated up the chain for a response to be decided or you may need advice from someone with specific knowledge of the topic in order to handle the situation correctly.

Report it
Interesting conversations should be collected to be included in social media reports. You can use them as justification for social campaigns, paid advertising or changing your social media strategy.

Communicate it
Internal communication is just as important as external communication. Keeping staff and stakeholders informed of what is happening online helps to avoid miscommunication. Issues often escalate when those stakeholders step into the conversation without the right knowledge to hand.


Not sure where to start with your social listening? 

Download our social listening planner to get you started. 

Looking for support with your social listening?

We help organisations understand where their audiences are, how to listen to them and how to put that listening into action. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help by clicking the link below.

Email us

Helpful Links: August

Recently we have:

Our latest round up of Helpful Links follows:

Crisis and dealing with misinformation

Accurate location information is incredibly important in a crisis. Mapping tools can be  really important to help understand the situation, warn and inform the public, and respond appropriately.  #Firemappers is an example of skilled volunteers collating and verifying information about US wildfires to help response efforts. This is their story.  

Detailed Covid case mapping is helping officials to target vaccination campaigns. 

Reddit has an incredibly active daily discussion on where to get a Covid vaccine in UK.

YouTube is going to start labelling health videos with information on how authoritative the source is. They also barred Sky News Australia for a week over Covid misinformation.

Completely agree with JoeSpinsTheGlobe drilling for emergencies is really important and makes everyone feel safer. Whether you are at the South Pole or anywhere else in the world, trying to make them as realistic as possible is another good tip.

@joespinstheglobe#SouthPole #Antarctica #Emergency♬ original sound – JoeSpinsTheGlobe

Good Digital Comms

This was a nice Twitter thread from the new NHS Chief Executive and hopefully there are more updates to follow. 

A clear, direct, and honest apology video from Merseyside Police shared on Facebook. Good to see it subtitled too. 

Another good apology, albeit with a different tone, from Innocent. Impressive to see the interaction in the comments too, and a clear commitment to acting on suggestions made. 

To help them to reach a wider audience, the National Crime Agency have worked with a Youtuber

Adam Mosseri of Instagram doesn’t always hit the right tone for everyone, but does do some great explanatory videos about the platform and his work. They’re professional, yet filmed by him clearly in his home which adds to the authentic feel. 

This is a nice use of data and tie in to key topic of conversation from WPD on LinkedIn. 

Social Media News

Twitter has rolled out some new tweaks for its audio Spaces tool, including easier Spaces sharing to help boost awareness and engagement, and new search tools to find the most relevant Spaces at any given time.

Reels can now be up to 60 seconds long. Instagram’s algorithm tends to favour Reels so they are a great way to reach a larger audience. 

TikTok has launched new live features and become the first non-Facebook owned app to reach 3 billion installs

Video now accounts for almost half the time spent on Facebook.
Clubhouse is now open to everyone. But should it be part of your digital strategy? Here’s a guide to the questions you need to ask before your organisation signs up.

57% of the largest US news outlets have an official presence on TikTok – just one of the interesting stats in Pew Research’s look at digital news consumption and digital advertising trends in the US. 

And finally, we enjoyed this story of how an Olympic gold medalist met her coach through Facebook

If you have any questions about any of these links or anything else digital please get in touch, we love to help. 


Helpful Links: July

Recently we have:

  • Submitted a skills mapping report to one of our clients: a large global energy company with almost 400 communicators worldwide.  The purpose of this project has been to assess digital skills and confidence, understand the support people need and map out the next 3 years of learning and development. We’re really proud of this work. It’s allowed us to deliver a layer of strategic direction following 6 years of hands-on training with teams all over the world.
  • Launched an online consultation platform for a major transportation company. The work will allow thousands of people to have their say and engage online, something we strongly believe in and encourage the organisations we work with to do. 
  • Published a social media response flowchart



  • Delivered a webinar on adapting social media content to audiences in different countries. We’ve worked with clients on all seven continents so have developed a really good understanding of digital around the world.  Just this month we’ve worked with clients in Brazil, Qatar, and Russia to test their crisis responses. Two key resources for understanding the global digital landscape are Hootsuite/We Are Social’s Digital 2021 and the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2021


Our latest round up of Helpful Links follows:

Crisis and dealing with misinformation

What’s the value of a good crisis response? Fastly’s stock price went up recently as they were dealing with a major incident. The rise is attributed to an increase in awareness of the company and the way they handled the issue

Good monitoring is a vital part of responding to a crisis. The sooner you know about something, the better you can deal with it. TikTok is one of the places you need to keep an eye on.

Google Search will display a warning if the topic searched for is yet to have a decent amount of verified information on the matter available.

The Mayor of Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava, has been very visible in the response and recovery to the Surfside Building collapse recently. She’s done an excellent job at press conferences and online.

She’s used Twitter threads to share statements

Retweeted links to other official sources of information, including daily press conferences by Miami-Dade Police, which were also broadcast on Facebook Live with a sign language interpreter present to maximise reach and accessibility.

She’s also shared community responses such as this one with an authentic message of her own.


Good Digital Comms

Nice gif and use of a twitter thread from the Red Cross. 

This guide to adapting your social media assets for different channels is useful. 

Excellent Twitter account explaining both the work of West Midlands Police and what life is like working with a stoma bag fitted 

Looking for feedback from your audience? Make it easy for them and take your questions to where they are spending their time online. Here’s a governor of a hospital trust using a local facebook group to encourage feedback on hospital services. 

It’s not ideal if your website isn’t working properly, but unless it poses real issues for your audience, don’t chicken out of a light-hearted response. Egg-cellent work here from the Museum of English Rural Life. 


Social Media News

Tips from YouTube on how to build your audience on their channel.

LinkedIn advertising can be a very effective way to reach your target audience. They’ve just published a new guide to help you to get started.

Facebook have been testing live Audio Rooms. For anyone thinking about using audio or setting up a new channel, we have a handy guide of things to consider. 

Twitter is rolling out a subscription service, Twitter Blue, with added features for paying users.

If you have any questions about any of these links or anything else digital please get in touch, we love to help. 


Helpful Links: June

Recently we have:

  • Worked in partnership with 10-8 Comms and PIO Toolkit to run a two day table top exercise for New York State Homeland Security and their partners. 
  • Delivered a series of Crisis 90 training workshops for MBA students at a UK university. We had some excellent feedback but our favourite was

    “There were parts that were so realistic I was freaked out..

  • Published a guide to deciding whether your organisation needs to be on the latest digital channel

Our latest round up of Helpful Links follows:

Crisis and dealing with misinformation

Pinterest has outlined its latest content removal efforts. The third highest category of content removed is conspiracy theories, civic misinformation is another listed category. 

#FactCheckYourFeed is TikTok’s campaign to encourage critical thinking from its users.  

Over on Facebook, individuals are taking on the role of tackling misinformation via decoy groups

Following the Colonial pipeline cyber attack in the US, pipeline operators will be required to designate a cybersecurity coordinator to be available 24/7

The UK Government’s emergency alert system has now reached testing stage, ahead of launch in the summer.

We’re very much in favour of testing to mitigate the impact of potential crises, but it needs to be done carefully. West Midlands Trains recent phishing test generated lots of negative press and social media interest. 

Setting up good search parameters is useful day to day, and in a crisis. This is a pretty good post on search techniques and going beyond just looking at mentions or a hashtag. 

Edelman have published their latest Trust barometer report. It confirms business as the most trusted institution, widening its lead over government. Nearly 8 in 10 employees also now expect their organisation to act on societal issues.

Good Digital Comms

When large organisations allow staff to represent them on social media, it can have huge benefits. This is excellent content from a local Marks and Spencer account, really creative and engaging.

Kathy Morten, an RAF Storytellers did this really nice thread on Twitter about why she joined the RAF and why she’s still there. 

Over on Instagram, the RAF did this great time lapse video



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by RAF Logistics (@raf_logistics)

Super bit of engagement from Volvo on Reddit here


Social Media News

Twitter Spaces are now available on desktop.

Clubhouse is offering funding to top creators. The list of finalists also shows the range of topics talked about on the platform.

Twitter is testing monetization tools.

Insights are now available for Instagram Reels and Live.

LinkedIn has increased advertising options on its platform making posts easier to boost

If you have any questions about any of these links or anything else digital please get in touch, we love to help. 


Do we need to be on the latest digital channel?

New social media and digital channels are launched all the time, but does your organisation need to be on all of them? How do you decide whether to sign up or steer clear? Here are some key questions to help you:

What is your objective?

Whether you are a business looking for leads or sales, a government agency tasked with  communicating with the public, or a charity fundraising and engaging supporters – your social media activity should support your work and aims. Will this new channel help you to do that? How?

How are your current channels performing?

A quick audit of what is working, or not, at the moment is a good place to start. This can help you to decide whether to add new accounts, replace one or more of your existing accounts, or stick with what you’ve got. We’ve got a handy template here to help you to analyse your current accounts.

Who is your target audience and where do they spend their time?

You need to go to where your audience are and communicate with them there, rather than expect them to come and find you. If it’s a new social media channel that is just getting started, are your target audience likely to use it now or in the future? Instagram wasn’t originally considered to be somewhere businesses or organisations could or should spend their time, but that has changed hugely. The same conversations happened when TikTok first started. Again it has moved far beyond a platform for friends and family. Many organisations, public figures, charities, museums and more are now using it to good effect. It may be that now isn’t the time to start a new account, but review your decision in a few months if you need to.

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

There’s nothing worse than a social media channel that looks like it has been abandoned. How will you make sure you have enough content for your new channel? Will it be at the expense of your existing efforts? One or two well managed, frequently updated social media channels are better than a multitude of badly managed accounts, that drain your time and energy thinking about what you can post.

To reach your target audience and achieve your objectives you need the right content for your new social media channel. How are you going to create it? What skills do you have within your team and what might you need to outsource? If you are going to do it, do it properly. Think of businesses or organisations who have a similar audience to your own, are they using the channel you are thinking of joining? What seems to work well for them? Could you do something similar?

Do you need an account to be able to monitor effectively?

On some platforms content can only be accessed if you log in. This might make it more difficult to accurately assess if your organisation could or should be using that channel. Having an account to see how the channel works, who uses it, and what kind of content performs best is useful research if you are thinking of using it in the future. It also means you are ready to monitor activity if you suspect there are conversations of interest or of concern to your organisation.

Is it here to stay?

New social media apps are launched all the time. The majority of them don’t last. Take your time before putting too much effort into something brand new.  With Clubhouse much of the conversation was generated by the scarcity of invites and fear of missing out. However, with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all looking at audio-only features, an analysis of whether this kind of content and channel would suit your organisation and your audience would be worth looking into at this point.

Listen to Tim Lloyd discussing audio channels in this post

There have been a few channels talked about as the next big thing, who remembers Vero?  Google search traffic for Clubhouse shows a huge spike but then low levels of ongoing traffic

Google search traffic for Vero Clubhouse Cabana House Party


TikTok in comparison, shows a continual rise in Google search trends data.

google search traffic TikTok

There are so many opportunities to engage online, but it is incredibly important to make sure you are targeting your efforts and that your digital activity supports your overall objectives.

We work with organisations of all shapes and sizes to build a digital strategy that’s right for them. If we can help you to do the same, please get in touch.

Helpful Links: May

Recently we have:

  • Finished work with Western Power Distribution to help them to plan, iterate and promote their 5 year business plan consultation. We’re now evaluating the project
  • Undertaken another round of training for RAF storytellers
  • Launched the next phase of our social media training for non-communications staff at one of the world’s largest tech companies
  • Been hard at work planning for a series of crisis simulations in May

Our latest round up of Helpful Links follows with a theme this month of testing and evaluating. 

Testing and Evaluating

We’ll start with this short but productive format for a post-project review from Emily Webber. Useful whatever you have been working on lately. 

Plans for a new European football Super League lasted less than 48 hours (although many expect it will be reintroduced at a later date). Which English club handled their about-turn best? We liked Arsenal’s open letter to fans, a nice contrast to other clubs who simply issued a one sentence club statement. 

Testing, testing … headlines, subject lines, copy and graphics are all worth A/B testing. This is a look at real-world A/B testing of New York Times headlines

Hootsuite has shared this useful summary of the Instagram algorithm.  They’ve also done an interesting experiment about whether using ‘Link In Bio’ affects the reach of your posts. 

Does Twitter’s algorithm penalise external links? This study suggests it may be smarter to keep more of the content within a post if you want to benefit from the algorithmic timeline for greater exposure. 

Studies like these are really useful to help plan campaigns and content, but it is always really important to test performance from your own accounts and see if it matches the research. 

Audience Behaviour

Another useful planning aid is knowing where your audience spend their time.  In the US, Pew Research have just published their latest update on social media usage.  Ofcom have updated their detailed analysis of Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes in the UK

For a global perspective and a wide range of country by country analysis, Hootsuite and We Are Social’s insights are fascinating. 

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report is a detailed analysis of the changing ways people around the world consume news.  

Channels, their audiences, and the content shared changes over time. This post by Toni Cowan-Brown shows how TikTok has evolved and highlights some seriously good examples of educational TikTok accounts. 

Finally if you want to quickly find where something is mentioned in a video, You-TLDR automatically pulls out the transcript from any YouTube video. 

News from Helpful HQ

We have our own news here at Helpful HQ. Two of our longest serving team members have become the new owners of Helpful.  Tim Lloyd steps up to Managing Director, supported by Chris Malpass as co-owner and Executive Director. If we already work for you, it won’t feel like much of a change. We’re not rebranding or stopping anything that we already do.  Our ambitious plans for growth mean we can help more and more people, from organisations based all around the world, build their confidence in a digital world. 

We have also welcomed Sonja Sponholz to our New York team, and are in the final stages of appointing a new Platform Manager.  

If you have any questions about any of these links or anything else digital please get in touch, we love to help.