10 stonking articles I read in October


How on earth is it November already? 10 months of the year gone and now Christmas is a very real and imminent threat. With that in mind, it’s time for my tenth roundup of good reads of the year.

As always, there’s plenty of good stuff to be found in the articles listed below – ideas on strategy, stats galore and a handy list of places where you can safely and legally get access to free images. Please do click through and read the full pieces.

Before I jump in, I’ve obviously got to give you a guinea pig update; we’ve recently made Lizzie and Angus a long tunnel out of cardboard that they positively love stomping through – oh for such a simple life!

Right, here we go – ten or so articles worthy of your time. Grab a brew, get comfortable and have a read…

1. Your University Thrives on Distributed Digital Engagement (by Eric Stoller, Inside Higher Ed)

I think my friend Eric Stoller must be the most-featured author in my monthly roundups. Not because of favouritism though – oh no – purely because he writes great stuff. And this article is one of the best he’s done all year and really struck a chord with me. It talks about the importance of not simply ring-fencing social media for the marketing department – a devolved approach is far, far better. This piece is short but perfectly to the point. Bravo.

Key quote

University communications and engagement are distributed. There are countless email addresses and phone numbers that students can use to make connections that matter. Social media shouldn’t be viewed like it’s only a venue for marketing.

Read the full article

2. The Ultimate User-Generated Content Guide (by Alex York, Sprout Social)

The power of user-generated content, when done well, is quite something – even a simple hashtag like #warwickautumn can produce amazing results from your community. In fact, UGC is rapidly becoming a social media buzzword. With that in mind, this comprehensive and damned useful guide from Sprout Social is incredibly welcome and timely.

Key quote

According to SEMrush, 86% of businesses have tried user-generated content, but GoodVid discovered only 27% have a strategy for this content in place. User-generated content sometimes sparks conversations, increases engagement and builds trust. But if used the wrong way, this content will have your followers packing up and leaving.

Read the full article

3. A Long List of Facebook Statistics—And What They Mean For Your Business (by Sarah Dawley, Hootsuite blog)

Call me a nerd, but I LOVE stats, so this very thorough list of facts and figures about Facebook pleased me greatly. Did you know, for example, that every one of Facebook’s 1.71 billion monthly active users are connected to each other by an average of just 3.57 degrees of separation? Mind-boggling. Not only does this list come full of useful stats, it also explains what they mean for your business – an added sprinkling of helpfulness on top.

Key quote

Opinions are one thing, but when you’re evaluating the usefulness of Facebook for your business what you really need is data. We’re talking cold, hard stats—and there’s A LOT out there. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. This list covers everything from Facebook user statistics to demographics, usage trends, and advertising insights. Enjoy!

Read the full article

On a similar theme, Sprout Social also put out this piece covering 5 insightful stats you need to know about Instagram, which is an equally great read.

4. I’m angry at Facebook (by Ericka Andersen, Arc Mag)

Hands up who loves a good rant? You all do. Of course you do – this is the Internet after all. This piece from Ericka Andersen perfectly captures what it’s like to have spent so long honing your craft on Facebook, only for the dreaded algorithm to pull the rug out from under your feet. I imagine that if this article was as cathartic to write as it is to read, Ericka must now be some sort of ocean of calm, probably sat meditating in a mountain retreat.

Key quote

As our posts are shown to fewer and fewer readers, the cycle continues. Less people see them, like them, share them and Facebook reads this as, no one is interested. It’s not true — and it’s wrong for Facebook to suppress our content this way. I don’t believe it’s a liberal/conservative thing — although who knows what the hell they are really doing behind the scenes.

Read the full article

While we’re talking Facebook, this list of 10 ways to increase your engagement on the platform might just give you some useful weapons in the battle against the algorithm – good luck, soldier!

5. Best Practices for Social Media Engagement, Support in Higher Ed (by Ryan Maguire, LinkedIn Pulse)

This article is a long read, but a really great one, detailing the journey so far of Princeton’s social media strategist Ryan Maguire, and the work he’s undertaken since joining the University in 2014. Covering strategy, UGC, Snapchat and more it is both interesting and useful.

Key quote

While much of the higher education social media professional’s audience is made up of digital natives, most of their colleagues and supervisors are not. Terms such as ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘screen grabs’ and ‘snap backs’ may be important to the social media communicator. However, to those not well versed in social media, it is very possible that such terms do not mean much.

At Princeton, we have found that regularly and clearly communicating the results of our social media efforts in the form of metrics in addition to anecdotal explanations is a successful way to achieve buy-in from leadership on social media’s importance to and at the University.

Read the full article

6. What would it take to lose an audience? (by Chris Nee, Chris’ blog)

Something a bit different for you here from my friend, fellow Aston Villa sufferer and record label co-owner Chris Nee. You see, Chris has an ambition – losing all of his followers – and this post is an interesting pondering on how he might go about doing that. I’ve already told him that I’ll NEVER unfollow him, so he’s chasing an impossible dream, but this blog is still a great read.

Key quote

And it’s in wondering about my followers that one of the oddest of my oddities emerges. I’m more fascinated by the idea of deliberately losing my existing followers than interested in acquiring new ones.

Not some of them. All of them. Every last one. Destination Zero. Twitter oblivion.

Read the full article

7. The Binge Breaker (by Bianca Bosker, the Atlantic)

How long can you go without checking your phone? How often do you actually switch off? If you’re anything like me, probably not much – heck, I checked my phone midway through writing that sentence. This lengthy but brilliant read from the Atlantic focuses on Tristan Harris, a former Google worker, who is trying to help cut our phone addiction. Out of all of this month’s articles, this one really deserves your full attention.

Key quote

While some blame our collective tech addiction on personal failings, like weak willpower, Harris points a finger at the software itself. That itch to glance at our phone is a natural reaction to apps and websites engineered to get us scrolling as frequently as possible. The attention economy, which showers profits on companies that seize our focus, has kicked off what Harris calls a “race to the bottom of the brain stem.” “You could say that it’s my responsibility” to exert self-control when it comes to digital usage, he explains, “but that’s not acknowledging that there’s a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job is to break down whatever responsibility I can maintain.” In short, we’ve lost control of our relationship with technology because technology has become better at controlling us.

Read the full article

8. Strong Facebook presence boosts trust and loyalty in universities (by John Elmes, Times higher Education)

An actual, official academic paper confirming that effective social media does help to attract and retain students? Excellent!

Key quote

In a study of more than 200 users of a Northern Cyprus university’s Facebook page, researchers from Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) found that the strength of the institution’s social media community was related to the “identification with the university community and the university brand which in turn are related to trust and loyalty”.

Read the full article

9. The Digital Transition: How the Presidential Transition Works in the Social Media Age (by Kori Schulman, the White House)

By the time I write my next monthly round up, we’ll know the identity of the 45th President of the United States of America. The 44th President, Mr Obama, has been the first to embrace digital and has done an awful lot of stuff across social media and the web. This piece on the White House website is a fascinating look at how all of Obama’s digital efforts will be archived and how all of POTUS digital assets will be handed over to number 45, whomever that might be. As well as being a great read, this is really great government comms too.

Key quote

On Twitter, for example, the handle @POTUS will be made available to the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. The account will retain its more than 11 million followers, but start with no tweets on the timeline. @POTUS44, a newly created handle maintained by NARA, will contain all of President Obama’s tweets and will be accessible to the public on Twitter as an archive of President Obama’s use of the account. In addition, President Obama’s tweets will also be archived at NARA, where they will be preserved and accessible in the same manner as all other Presidential records.

Read the full article

10. 20 of the Best Free Stock Photo Sites (by Carly Stec, HubSpot)

A gift for you to finish – an early Christmas present if you will. This list is a cracking selection of places online where you can legally get free stock images. Perfect for your website, social media and, depending on what license they use, a lot more on top. Awesome!

Key quote

But the truth is, high-quality stock photos don’t have to come hand-in-hand with a hassle or high price tag. To prove it, we’ve compiled a list of 20 awesome resources for free, high-quality stock images. From enviable office spaces to stunning scenery, we’re certain you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for with the help of this roundup.

Read the full article

That’s it for this month! Did you read something great in October that didn’t make my list? Let me know in the comments!

**Don’t forget, I’d love you to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and connect with me on LinkedIn too.


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