Saturday, 13 February 2016

Change is natural in social media: be a winner and embrace it

apu don't ever change

 If you're a social media user (let's face it, if you're reading this, you are), you may have noticed #RIPtwitter trending last weekend, and picked up on some of the news coverage. To a certain extent, some of the coverage was correct - Twitter has changed its approach to the timeline, but not as much as people thought.

In fact, this change could actually be beneficial, once we start to see how the algorithm works. But in the meantime, here's what's actually changed:

1. When you log in, the first thing that you may see is a selection of the best/most popular tweets from people you follow that will appear in reverse chronological order, but from the time since you last logged in (so for example, if Stephen Fry tweeted something really cool at 2am, and you log on at 2pm, you'll get to see it at the top of your timeline).

2. After you've scrolled through these, all you need to do is swipe down on your timeline to refresh (on mobile devices), or simply refresh on your desktop, and you will be presented with the same timeline you've always seen as a Twitter user: everything in real-time, in chronological order.

3. You can opt-out of this new setting any time you like - visit their support page to find out more.

Here's what Twitter had to say about the changes:

Here's how it works. You flip on the feature in your settings; then when you open Twitter after being away for a while, the Tweets you're most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline - still recent and in reverse chronological order. The rest of the Tweets will be displayed right underneath, also in reverse chronological order, as always. At any point, just pull-to-refresh to see all new Tweets at the top in the live, up-to-the-second experience you already know and love.

We've already seen that people who use this new feature tend to Retweet and Tweet more, creating more live commentary and conversations, which is great for everyone. To check it out now, just go into the timeline section of your settings and choose ' Show me the best Tweets first'. We'll be listening to your feedback and making it even better over time. Then we'll be turning on the feature for you in coming weeks - look out for a notification in your timeline. We love it and think you will too. If you don't, send your thoughts our way, and you can easily turn it off in settings.

Scared yet? You shouldn't be.

As a social media manager, one of my key roles is to manage the businesses I've worked with through any of my changes. I've been doing that since 2004. If you're new to this game, and you're wondering how to do it, here are three little tips to help you get through these changes:

1. Don't panic: whilst everybody about you may be losing your head, don't lose yours. Change is the most natural thing you'll ever encounter in nature, and it's no different in social media. Platforms evolve, change, grow, grow some more, and sometimes die. It might be upsetting to some people within your business who have worked hard to build up a following or engagement on that platform, only to have that following rendered totally useless by changing tastes - but that's life. It really is. If nothing changed, we'd still be using cave-paintings or tapestries to launch our products or reach our audience. As a social media pro, you have to manage people through this change, and get them to...

2. Follow the flow of your audience: you can't keep your audience in a glass jar - it just doesn't work. Audiences on social media are like water on the surface of the earth: if the landscape changes, the water pools there. Soon it becomes a puddle. Shit, it might even become a lake one day (Twitter). One day, it might become an ocean (Facebook), or an underground network (Whatsapp, email, text) of interconnected lakes. If you try to keep water in one place, it stagnates, and you lose the benefit of it. Your audience on a social platform are not there forever - they're just passing through. They'll pool somewhere else. The smart businesses will follow them. The less smart ones will stay on Myspace.

3. Keep telling your story, and keep the conversation open: this is vital. The platform isn't important to your users - it's intuitive for them, it's built for them to communicate with their friends, family and other things they like (in that order). You have to master it and find out how to fit into their feed, stand out, and tell your story.

The most important thing to remember when you're doing this is that change needs to flow through you as a social media manager, and as a person. If that sounds new age-ey and naff, well tough. Change is a fact of life, and we all have to deal with it. You can't control other people's behavior, you can only give it a nudge here and there. So get cosy with change - embrace it. It'll be one of the smartest things you ever do in social media.