15 excellent articles I read in April

Yik Yak for good-a real case study (1)

How about that, we’re A THIRD of the way through 2016 already – that’s a bit bonkers, isn’t it? Particularly when, despite the fact that it should definitely be Spring by now, it snowed last week. This year is a bit crazy.

Anyway, I digress…it’s time for my monthly roundup of great articles that I’ve enjoyed reading. I found so many this month that I’ve had to increase my list to 15, as I simply couldn’t get it down to 10. In fact, I’ve actually cheated and referenced a few extras in this list, so you’re actually getting 20. You’re welcome.

Oh and before we get into the list, I should probably give you another guinea pig update; our last piggie standing Lizzie is now very happy as we went and got her a new cage mate. His name is Angus and he’s settling in really well. There’s a photo of him over on my Instagram.

Right, on with the list – as always, do click through and read the full things, they’re all awesome.

1. Yikkety-Yak, do talk back (by Marcus Elliott Edeu Blog)

When it comes to Yik Yak, there’s an increasingly used, shoot-from-the-hip reaction that a lot of institutions are turning to – banning the platform. Now, aside from the fact that this simply doesn’t work, this feels like a somewhat pointless exercise. Just have a look at my recent case study from Warwick for an example of the lesser-reported positive side of the Yak. Anyway, Lincoln University recently tried to ban the Yak on University wireless networks and it was all a bit flawed. This post from Lincoln’s Marcus Elliott does a really good job of explaining why banning isn’t the good option.

Key quote:

Yik Yak is just a tool. A tool that allows society to play out its activities in a slightly different way, but a tool nonetheless. It is a mirror or facsimile of our society, but the use of that technology does not define us.

Read the full article

For another example of what happens when an institution tires to band Yik Yak, check out this piece on the Chronicle of Higher Education.

2. Facebook and Twitter leaving millions of Britons depressed, study finds (by Jonathan Owen, The Independent)

With the rise of smartphones, we’re now essentially never offline – so it’s more important than ever to know how and when to switch off. This is underlined by this article on the Independent, whichs stats that seven million Britons are left depressed after using social media, thanks to the pressure of keeping up appearances and comparing their lives with others. Scary stuff.

Key quote:

More than one in three people say they are under pressure to like content posted by their friends, while 22 per cent feel they have to accept friend requests from people they work with. And more than one in five (23 per cent) of younger users, aged 18-34, have argued with others while online.

Read the full article

3. Why Engaging Alumni is Harder Than Ever Before (by Dan Klamm on LinkedIn Pulse)

Perhaps more than any area of higher education marketing and communications, social media has vastly changed the rules of the game for alumni engagement. Having spent the last year becoming more and more with the alumni team at Warwick, I’ve seen this first hand so this Pulse post from Dan Klamm really struck some chords with me. Whoever you work for, your alumni are an incredible audience that offer so much potential – the challenge is how best you connect with them.

Key quote:

Alumni offices need to be aware that their alumni have more access to specialized networks than ever before, so the programs and events that schools offer need to be sophisticated and full of value. Of course everyone loves to root for their alma mater’s sports teams at a tailgate (Go Orange!)—or occasionally get together for a happy hour reunion—but what else is there? What would compel busy, well-networked alumni to spare their time? What’s in it for them? What does your alumni network offer that they can’t get anywhere else?

Read the full article

4. Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram Takeovers (by Eric Stoller, Inside Higher Ed)

Making a welcome return to my monthly ‘best of’ roundups is my friend Eric Stoller, with an incredibly useful and pretty darned inspiring roundup of institutions that have taken the plunge and allowed takeovers of their official social media accounts. Why do takeovers work so well? Because they put real people in charge instead of a faceless organisation. And social media is all about connecting people with people. Simple really!

Key quote:

There are countless examples of universities who are giving students, staff, and faculty the chance to share their photographic abilities. One of my favorites has long been the Instagram account from St. Lawrence University. The account has always had a terrific diversity of images and energy. In a marketing environment that likes to showcase blue skies regardless of actual climate, it’s refreshing to see the “real” that comes from Instagram takeovers.

Read the full article

5. What Aston Villa’s demise teaches comms and PR people (by Dan Slee on LinkedIn Pulse)

After five years of steady decline, my football team finally broke my heart this season. Yep, Aston Villa capped off an awful season by having their relegation confirmed earlier this month. I’ve tried not to read too many pieces about my club’s demise if I’m being honest, but when this one from Dan Slee – someone I respect an awful lot (even if he is a Stoke fan!) – I took the time to read it, and you should too. Dan’s objective post picks through what has been not only a season of own goals on the pitch but, when it comes to the club’s PR department, off it too. It’s a totally fair write up, and covers being humble, having common sense and spelling your new manager’s name correctly – all of which Villa have failed to do this season.

Key quote:

Eyebrows were raised when Frenchman Remi Garde was plucked from the French league to become the man who was going to save Aston Villa from a spiral of despair. In fine tradition the club took to the internet to orchestrate a welcome campaign.#welcomeremy the image on the club website read. Perfect. But his name was spelt wrong. It was Remi.

Read the full article

While I’m on the subject of Aston Villa, this piece from Creative Review about the club’s terribly timed rebranding is also a great read – having gone through a rebrand at Warwick last year I know what a tough experience this can be.

One final football-related piece before we move on – the Guardian reported that footballers are now having their social media vetted before transfers – I wonder how long before an industry of consultants training footballers on how not to be idiots on social media crops up?

6. Official Engagement Stops Viral Rumors from Spreading on Social Media, Study Says (by Eyragon Eidam, GovTech)

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I quite like a bit of crisis communications every now and then. With that in mind, this piece about a University of Washington study was really rather enjoyable, and underlined that, in a crisis, being an ostrich is not an option. Even a simple statement from an your organisation can make a massive difference in quashing rumours.

Key quote:

When faced with an information gap, the public will move to fill it.

In the age of social media and constant access to information, the once complacent populace — who in years prior might have waited for the nightly news for the latest on an major crisis event — is becoming more proactive in sorting through and distributing information. The trouble is that sometimes that information is wrong.

Read the full article

7. Retweeting is the Gold Standard for Social Media Engagement (by Joel Windels, Brandwatch)

I don’t know about you, but I really like retweets. They’re such a simple way of sharing something you find interesting, giving credit to the person who has sent that interesting nugget your way and still giving you distance from the original post. All that from a single click – not bad. Also, I think they carry far more significance that a throwaway like.

Key quote:

Retweets are expensive. They are hard to come by. What’s critical though, is that they mean so much more than a like. By broadcasting another entity’s message to your own followers, you’re effectively publicly championing that content.

Read the full article

8. Ignoring LinkedIn Is Hurting Your Career (by Joanna Stern, Wall Street Journal)

This year I’ve gone from hating to almost starting to like LinkedIn – I’ve certainly realised that, more than any other social network, the more you put into LinkedIn the more you get back from it. This piece from the WSJ gives real weight to getting people taking LinkedIn seriously, and not just using it to hunt for a job. Have you given LinkedIn more thought recently? I’ve been finding it increasingly hard to ignore.

Key quote:

I was the same, avoiding LinkedIn’s baffling design and incessant nagging. But a few weeks ago, when I decided to give it a real varsity tryout, I realized LinkedIn deserves a place on my phone’s home screen. I now check it a couple of times a week to find out what’s happening in my industry. Use it right and you’ll get ideas on how to improve your business, find new leads—and maybe land a job you didn’t even know you wanted.

Read the full article

9. LINKEDIN 3D CONFERENCE: 7 KEY THEMES AND A FEW TAKEAWAYS (By Joe Field, Social Media @ Hallam blog)

Keeping with LinkedIn for a moment, in April I was asked by LinkedIn to help facilitate the #LinkedIn3D non-conference for higher ed folk – you can read my write up here. It was a great day and has really helped shift how I think about the network. One of my other facilitators was the excellent Joe Field, who also put together a cracking write up of the day.

Key quote:

A lot of people still use discussion groups to broadcast. At Sheffield Hallam we haven’t cracked that nut either.

The best advice came from Charles Hardy, who said that “groups need watering”. Online conversations take place between a number of people, so if you’re relying on one person opening the door to a group once a week and shouting into an empty room, you’re doing it wrong.

Read the full article

10. The dark side of Guardian comments (by Becky Gardiner, Mahana Mansfield, Ian Anderson, Josh Holder, Daan Louter and Monica Ulmanu, the Guardian)

While there is so much about social media and the modern web that I love, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that it also brings with it a much darker side. The comments section at the bottom of an article can be a potential hotspot for abuse and general horrible behaviour that you simply wouldn’t experience in real life, and this lengthy but excellent piece from the Guardian digs deeper into the matter. Spoiler alert, it’s not pretty!

Key quote:

The Guardian was not the only news site to turn comments on, nor has it been the only one to find that some of what is written “below the line” is crude, bigoted or just vile. On all news sites where comments appear, too often things are said to journalists and other readers that would be unimaginable face to face – the Guardian is no exception.

New research into our own comment threads provides the first quantitative evidence for what female journalists have long suspected: that articles written by women attract more abuse and dismissive trolling than those written by men, regardless of what the article is about.

Read the full article

11. Using social media in education: lessons & hints (part I) (by Andra Groza on LinkedIn Pulse)

We all love a good bit of knowledge sharing and learning, and there’s plenty of excellent insights from Aston University’s Andra Groza in this generous and brilliant write-up. Whether it’s coming up with shareable content, harnessing your advocates or just staying on top of new channels, this article covers plenty and is peppered with some great, real-life examples. If you’re involved in social media for HE you should definitely give this a read!

Key quote:

The fast-moving evolution of social media has changed the way we look for information and make decisions in all areas of life and this new digital landscape has had a significant impact on the way students assess and compare educational options.

Looking at the huge number of active social media accounts and the importance of social media in the decision making process, it is only normal that schools and universities invest resources and time in building a strong online presence.

Read the full article

Enjoy that? Part II is also excellent!

12. 24/7 Library: please use responsibly! (by the study blog, University of Warwick Library)

The social media offering from Warwick’s Library is brilliant – it is always the go-to example I pull out of how an individual bit of campus can totally nail using this technology to build community. Not only is their twitter feed excellent, their study blog is also brilliant too, as this post shows. We’re now in exam term at Warwick, so the Library is open 24/7. The caring and thoughtful piece not only has some good study tips for our students but also looks out for their health and wellbeing too. It’s all part of a fabulous social media offering from the Library that our students really love. I’ve included this as a great piece of content that really shows an understanding of its audience and the needs of that audience.

Key quote:

24/7 opening can help you be more flexible in where and when you revise, just be careful not to push yourself too hard! Good luck with your exams!

Read the full article

13. How Instagram made me a better photographer, and person (by Verity Milligan, The Drum)

Verity Milligan is a completely brilliant photographer from Birmingham and, I’m very pleased to say, a friend of mine who I’ve got to know through being part of the second city’s awesome Instagram community. In this piece for The Drum, Verity perfectly articulates the power of Instagram in giving you inspiration and giving your new friends too. Yes, I’m biased because I know Verity and I love Instagram, but it’s still a brilliant article.

Key quote:

Instagram has designs beyond the mere collaboration of individuals, and as a platform it of course has a commercial edge, both from a business and individual perspective. However, the by-product of this is the ability to find other likeminded creatives, and the impact of such a collective reaches far beyond the initial participants. A few years ago I struggled to find contemporaries and now I’m lucky to have numerous. It’s made me a better photographer, contributor and, most importantly, a better person.

Read the full article

If you’re interested, I also put together a feature about Instagram and Instameets for Olympus Magazine this month – do check it out!

14. Colleges turn to Snapchat geofilters to lure new students (by Tanya Dua, Digiday)

Snapchat seems to be getting more influential by the week, and writers are falling over themselves to pull together useful articles. This piece about how colleges are not just using Snapchat for recruitment, but creating specific geofilters to hook potential students was really great. Snapchat really is becoming very difficult to ignore.

Key quote:

Universities are pretty much like any marketer, albeit one peddling a product with a very high price point. Snapchat’s popularity among youngsters is no secret. The app has a nearly 70 percent reach among the 18-24 demographic, according to comScore, and colleges are increasingly beginning to take note.

Read the full article

While we’re on the topic of Snapchat, this piece about how Boston University uses the platform to engage with prospective students is also very much worth a look

15. Facebook’s News Feed is changing again to prioritize sites you actually read (by Haje Jan Kamps and Josh Constine, Tech Crunch)

Oh look, another month and another tweak from Facebook – make sure you keep up! The latest is that the social media giant is updating its news feed to highlight links to sites it thinks you’ll spend the most time looking at, and this piece from Tech Crunch gives a decent overview.

Key quote:

So now when you click on a mobile link to an Instant Article or open a page in its internal browser window, Facebook will calculate how much time you spend there after the content stops loading, controlled for content length. Sites and articles where people spend more time will be shown higher and more frequently in the News Feed, while those they quickly ditch will be demoted.

Read the full article

There you go, hope they were of use – what did you enjoy reading in April? Leave me some links in the comments!

*Image sourced via Flickr’s Commons

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