SUMMER TIME: And here is your deckchair reading and listening

Summer is almost here and the time is right for relaxing in deckchairs. If you can.

This week, I’ve crowdsourced some ideas for books and podcasts to dive into while you’re catching the rays.

So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is Jon Ronson’s book that traces back to early incidents where the internet shamed an individual. What makes one person curl up in shame? Or makes another person be shameless. It’s a fascinating book.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Ever wondered why people are more likely to believe things in bold? Or we assume good looking people are more competent. Recommended by Kirstie McDonald Buckley.

British Scandal is a history podcast with Alice Levine and Matt Ford that retraces over incidents from the past from Lord Lucan to Litvinenko. Recommended by Ghazala Begum.

Humour, Seriously: Why Humour is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (and how anyone can harness it. Even you). Easy to read and with practical pointers about creating opportunity for joy and levity at work. Recommended by Lisa Potter.

Tremors in the Blood: Murder, Obsession and the Birth of the Lie Detector is an audiobook of crime being solved by San Fransisco police. Lovely escapism. Recommended by Ben Whitehouse.

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier tells the story of the rise of the photo platform based on a forensic study and dozens of interviews. Recommended by Carolyne Mitchell.

Museum social media, TikTok and Engaging Gen Z. A thoroughly engaging one-off podcast with Abby Bird the marketing manager of the Black Country Living Museum on how she built the museum’s TikTok world-famous reputation.

How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee. Sustainability a good place to start. Recommended by Claire-Melia-Tomkins.

Panic as Man Burns Crumpets: The Vanishing World of the Local Journalist by Roger Lytollis. If you’ve ever, ever spent time working for or reading the local rag you will love this more than crisps. Recommended by Sharon Dunbar.

The Joy of Small Things by Hannah Jane Parkinson. It’s a place to go for light hearted relief. Recommended by David Grindlay.

Don’t Tell Me The Score podcast. What sport can teach you about life. Lovely escapism. Recommended by Kirsty Groundwater.

The Coming Storm podcast. The story of QAnon on the face of it is primed to be a chance to laugh at gullible people. At some point your smile will fall as you realise they’re not joking and the story isn’t over.

Enjoy. Thanks to everyone who chipped in with an idea.

NEWS NOW: News deserts and what it means for communicators

Sometime in 2006, a fed-up former Financial Times journalist egged on by a bottle of red wine wrote a seminal blog post about how things were stuffed up.

The post ‘Die Press Release! Die! Die! Die!’ by journalist Tom Foremski bitterly complained about being sent words from press officers when links, pictures and video were what he needed.

Reading it, articulated a powerful sense that the the old model was broken. The mudslide of the internet was here and was about to bury everything in its path and there has to be a better way.

The newspaper I used to work for, the Express & Star was once the largest regional paper in the UK. An executive told the paper’s first website manager that the internet was ‘a fad, like CB radio’ and would soon be over. Today, that newspaper employs half a dozen journalists where once it employed 50 and both its printing presses are closed. Printing now takes place 30 miles away.

So, to the research piece Local News Deserts in the UK: What Effect is the Decline in the Provision of Local News and information having on community carried out by the Charitable Journalism Project is welcome.

This 40-page document drills into seven areas of England and Wales where a once dominant title has declined in influence. It ran focus groups and interviews to gauge directly what people think. It’s findings are fascinating reading for those interested in journalism but also for communications people, too.     

Here are 5 of the findings

Local news is social media and Facebook groups

People don’t head to the news stand the next day when something happens. They head to social media that minute and in particular Facebook groups.

I’ve spent the last five years researching Facebook groups and this finding is strongly echoed in my research. This may well chime with your own experience, too. Local to me, the planning application to build homes in the nearby nature reserve led to a Facebook group with 10,000 members in six weeks. It ended with the application being thrown out and the offending parcel of land being bought back.

Even when the click is through to a local news site the eyeballs that makes the click are in local Facebook groups.

But local social media can be divisive

Different opinions can play out harshly online in local groups, the report found. Disinformation is present online leaving less trust in the Facebook groups that exist. Interestingly, new contender Nextdoor emerges as being a more trusted platform as there is a higher bar for people have to verify their identity.

This is certainly the case in my own experience. Some Facebook groups are well run and don’t tolerate abuse and others aren’t. That’s even before the debate starts.

A lack of local news is damaging to the community and democracy

Without the third party oversight of a journalist, the cut and pasted corporate message is reprinted without examination. The feedback of the report is that this can be identified. In two of the seven areas there was an imminent re-organisation in local government boundaries that hadn’t reached several people who took part in the study. But this lack of scrutiny of all parts of the public sector doesn’t leave people with an untarnished view. Their starting point is that if they think the council is crap, one respondent said, and they hear nothing to the contrary their opinion won’t change.   

The report found evidence of democratic disenchantment where there is no reporting on what the council is doing.

What local news there is is often obscured by clickbait

The local issue is often not covered and what is, the report says, is often sensational with clickbait headlines. That’s certainly my experience. A title often will post at least 20 times a day online but a minority will be news stories from that area.  

What people want is to be local

Newspapers have closed, newsrooms have either closed or moved out of town. What’s wanted, the report says, is a locally-based trusted professional news service. This is a thorny subject. Without the local newspaper there will be a note of scepticism at what gets sent out.

This underlines the importance of something like a Facebook Live with a guest being provided for a broadcast by a newspaper.

Conclusion

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. The statement misapplied to George Bernard Shaw defines the issue of every age. It’s especially relevant today.

If the local news landscape is a thinly stretched journalist scouring Facebook groups for stories to write before reposting the finished work into Facebook groups then that’s the landscape we have to work with.

In Stafford in the 1990s, a reporter from each of the Stafford Newsletter, Stafford Post, Express & Star and Sentinel would gather in the police station for the daily briefing before sloping off to a nearby café for an off-diary cup of coffee. Three of the four don’t have a presence in the town now.

As communicators we have to respond to the reality rather than the past.  

Having your own channels is essential as is knowing where people are congregating online. The arrows and the data point to creating content and sharing it in those groups. But you’ve heard me say this before.

Local News Deserts in the UK: What Effect is the Decline in the Provision of Local News and information having on community carried out by the Charitable Journalism Project.

APP STATS: UK social media statistics for 2022

Here you go, I’ve crunched the UK social media numbers for 2022 so you don’t have to.

Ofcom have published their online nation report and there’s a stack of use full stuff in there. The data that I use most often is around UK social media use.

I’ve created this image that summarises the UK data for 2022 as well as the minutes per day spent on each platform.

UK social media stats 2022

Leading numbers

Leading the pack is Facebook & Messenger. The ever-resilient platform is the most popular in the UK with 46.8 million users which is the equivalent of 68 per cent of the population. Periodically, there are campaigns against Facebook and often with good reason. Data would say they’ve not had much impact.

Frustratingly, the numbers in the Ofcom survey don’t differentiate between the main Facebook platform and the messenging service Messenger.

In second place is YouTube, used by 65 per cent of the UK population. It’s worth noting that some surveys such as YouGov put this platform far lower.

WhatsApp comes in fourth place used by a robust 59.8 per cent of the population and Instagram on 52.9 per cent of the population. Twitter comes in 5th with just over 40 per cent of the UK population using it. LinkedIn is next in line with 27.4 per cent use just ahead of Pinterest.

TikTok is maintaining its growth with 15.3 million users and a fifth of the population using it beating Snapchat used by 17 per cent and Nextdoor are consolidating growth doubling in size to 9.2 million users (13.4 per cent of the population.)

Time spent

Users is one thing but time spent on the channel is fascinating. Facebook leads the way with users spending 29.7 minutes a day but only just. TikTok is breathing down its neck with 25.3 minutes per user per day.

In third place, Snapchat are 20.9 minutes while Twitter attracts users at just over 10 minutes a day. Instagram are at around nine minutes with Pinterest, Nextdoor and LinkedIn are all around a minute a day.

The data comes from Ofcom’s Online Nations 2022 data.

CAKE COMMS: Reflecting on where the magic is at an unconference

At some point as a kid I called round for my childhood friends and we played out for the last time although we didn’t know it.

At some point I won’t be involved in commscamp anymore and it’ll all be a fond memory. Until then I value every time I’m involved in one.

I’m glad to say that there is still a demand for the event which puts people in a room and just lets them get on with it.

At the first round of #commscampnorth ticket release for Bradford on October 13 the 40 tickets went in two minutes. Like a big online frenzy they were gone before they were properly even here. There were people both praising their fast broadband and others cursing being stuck on a coach.

The second ticket release on June 14 at 4pm will be twice as big with 80 tickets up for grabs.

That’s the mecahnics of it.

If you want to be in a room with real people who also do your job and know what you’re up against then do try and come. You’ll be very welcome. If you’re not sure what happens at an unconference I’ve added an explanation ‘How does it work?’ here.

What an unconference does

In really simple terms, an unconference puts people into a big room and lets them get on with it.

Everybody in the room is on the same level because job titles are left at the door. So, a junior marketing assistant has just as much right to put their hand up as a veteran comms director.

I’m not overstating it to say that going to my first unconference blew the top of my head off and made me change how I think and do things.

We are not attendees at an unconference, we are all participants and that’s where the magic is.

I’ll be happy when I see someone I’ve not met before talking about something I’d never considered in a way that makes those around them think differently.

#commscampnorth in Bradford on October 13 is organised by a team of volunteers including David Grindlay, Emma Rodgers, Bridget Aherne, Josephine Graham, Kate Bentham, Kate Vogelsang, Leanne Hughes, Lucy Salvage and Sweyn Hunter.

GOOD IDEAS: TikTok’s own advice for shooting effective content

TikTok have published some useful advice for making content that’s worth paying attention to.

May’s ‘Creativity on TikTok: A Marketer’s Guide to Creating TikTok Ad Creative’ gives some good pointers to help you get your head around the platform.

Of course, the time-honoured advice is to spend at least a month getting to know the platform yourself. That’s hard to beat. Do that and you’ll work out what works and what doesn’t.

Once you’ve done that TikTok’s guidance will make even more sense.

What are the eight things that TikTok suggest?

Timings

Analysis I carried out a couple of years point to 16 seconds being optimum. The TikTok guide points for it to be even shorter. They now suggest for ads between nine and 12-seconds which calls for briefer narrative arcs.

Brief?

Be briefer!

Narrative

Have a clear user friendly narrative through your video, TikTok suggest.

So, @poppycooks ‘What is the fuss about this chip shop?’ sets it out clearly. So does historian @jdraperlondon ‘When was a monarch last assassinated.’ As does Isle of Man Police ‘Why white helmets?’ is in response to a comment that poses the very question.

By doing so you set out exactly what your viewer will get.

Stimulate senses

Grab attention with editing techniques, they suggest. TikTok’s own camera has a range of editing tricks you can use with 40 per cent of the most watched content being made directly on the app itself.

Sound

They suggest to think about the role sound will play from the start. This makes sense as trending music can be a way of reaching a wider audience. Watch one clip with an attention-grabbing sound clip and people will often scroll through more for compare or contrast. You are, therefore, rewarded for remixing existing content. This is a big difference from Facebook’s Reels which aim to beat TikTok on its own game.

Use captions and overlays, please set out the world. You can do this through picking out key messages and highlighting them as a piece of text.

Space

Fill the screen, they say. That’s easier said than done. My old colleagues Express & Star photographers would be excellent at making each part of the picture visual and busy. Dead space was the enemy. That’s a good approach to take.

Go native

TikTok is a hugely democratic app. A lack of polish is encouraged and authenticity is at a premium. A glossy film just makes people suspicious n TikTok. So, your mobile phone is actually more powerful that a Ridley Scott commercial.  Use your device to edit using TikTok’s app.

BRAND NEWS: What innovation in newspapers is looking like

A few weeks ago I was lucky to take part in a re-union of former colleagues from the Sandwell office of the regional daily paper I worked for.

We met, we laughed and we shouted over the loud music and it struck me – again – that the newspaper industry I loved doesn’t exist anymore.

Once, the Express & Star based in Wolverhampton was the largest regional newspaper outside of London. In 2010, it was still selling 120,000 copies a day. In 2022, it was 17,000. When I joined there weas 50 reporters and today there are seven with five photographers.  

This is all just the fond memories of a former hack really isn’t it?

It’s true the good memories are fond. As a team we would go the extra mile for each other in a way that my time since never got close to.

Newspapers today

Well, firstly they’re not newspapers they’re news brands. In the early years of my time in local government saw the press release and photo call king. From 2008, my battle was to lead the council towards a more digital future.

Everywhere I’ve taken a close look at the content newspapers produce has centred on Facebook being a  huge driver for local journalism.

The classic loop has been for a reporter to spot a story in a Facebook group, write it up then re-post it into the Facebook group. Even the smallest newspaper posts 20 times a day to their Facebook page.

One review I did carried out this year in the south of England showed just 55 per cent of Facebook content was local news and 20 per cent national stories. Around five per cent were traffic generating memes. ‘It’s Friday, what’s your favourite place to get fish and chips?’ is one example.

Now, all of this would have appalled the news editors and chief reporters I had at the Express & Star. Yes, this re-balance is building an income based on a digital future. But I’m not convinced battling through pop-ups to reach a story that’s actually from 200 miles away builds trust in journalism.

Newspapers tomorrow

What’s heartening is the level of innovation in news.

I took at a look this week at The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University’s        Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2022.

As an industry, they’re looking at podcasts with 80 per cent saying they’d invest more with 70 per cent saying they’d do more with email newsletters.

Interestingly, as an industry they’re looking to do less with Facebook and Twitter and more with Instagram (54 per cent said they’d do more), 44 per cent more with TikTok and 43 per cent YouTube.

For TikTok, this isn’t just news brands like BBC News here in Ukraine, Vice News and the Daily Telegraph’s Ukraine bulletin compiled in London from user generated content but also reporters like Matthew Cassell shooting unpolished footage from a war zone.

In Instagram, its things like the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo’s nostalgia content on Instagram or the Glasgow Herald’s editorials as Instagram stories.

PR and comms tomorrow

The relationship between comms and journalism has often been at arms length. They’re two bickering cousins who often rely on each other more than the’d like to say. Of course, the public sector should think of ways to talk to its audience directly. That’s important. But so is keeping an eye on where journalism is going.

Burnt out by a decade of austerity and two years of pandemic I’m not sure that public sector comms is chomping at the bit for change. But I’ve never met a comms person yet who doesn’t want to reach an audience.

TALK ABOUT: Messaging changes that all Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp for Business admins need to know

There’s been a big announcement on messaging from Meta that smart comms people need to be aware of.

If you’re a Facebook or Instagram page admin or have been using WhatsApp this is going to be something for you.

If you work in leisure, a political campaign or customer services then there’s also things for you here, too.

So what’s the skinny?

In short, Meta at their Conversations business messaging event have unveiled tools to make it easier for Facebook and the closely linked Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp into customer service channels. All of this opens up a range of new options for the organisation.

The Meta argument goes that people are happy to talk to family and friends on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram DMs why shouldn’t we make it easier for them to speak to organisations that way, too?

The changes map a direction of travel that show people move away from the big public market place to small intimate spaces, Mark Zuckerburg said at the event.

“In recent years the way we connect online has seen some meaningful shifts. You might remember in the early days of Facebook we used to share everything to our wall. Then our feed out in public for all to see and react to.

Today, most of us use our feed to discover interesting content and stay up to date. For deeper levels of interaction messaging has become the centre of our digital life. It’s more intimate and private and with encryption more secure too.”

– Mark Zuckerburg, May 2022.

People would rather speak to people where they are without having to call a hotline or send an email that often gets ignored, the Meta argument runs.

Does that mean Facebook will make it easier to be contacted?

As one wag put in the comments, does this mean that emails to Facebook that simply disappear will be replaced by customer services that work? Well, don’t hold your breath.

More places to be told you’re an idiot?

Now, the first reaction of many public sector comms people is to shrink from having an extra place to be told that you and your employer are idiots. That’s absolutely fair enough. But before you  reach for the reverse gear hold on. This can change things for comms people on a few fronts.

Social media as a proper social media channel

The first shift this makes is with customer services. If Facebook, sorry Meta, are keen to do away with calls centres and contact emails then this means they’ll make it easier for customer services to answer questions. Listening to the chat, they think savings can be made through setting up FAQs so some of the answers can be automated.

Of course, customer services for small business with a small product line isn’t the same as customer services for local government’s 1,200 services.

But this is more ammunition for the discussion that yes, customer services should take ownership of incoming routine queries that ask for an answer. That’s as opposed to incoming snark, for example.

Social media as a transactional channel

The second shift is with catalogues. Setting up catalogues means you can make it easier to monetise a channel and introduce e-commerce. You may have a legacy route of selling tickets through the box office’s legacy systems. This does offer a new route that seems worth experimenting with.

If you’re a Facebook page admin for events, theatre, museums and leisure this is an important door that’s opened up for you.   

WhatsApp integrated into the Meta Business Suite

I’ve been advising people for several years to use the Facebook Business Manager platform to admin not just a page but to keep oversight on dozens of other pages. It’s a brilliant – and free – tool for the person with overall responsibility for social media management to be using.

Of course, the name of the platform has now changed to Meta Business Manager and there’s a strong hint that WhatsApp will be added to the platform in the near future.

What it could mean for WhatsApp for Business broadcast lists       

In training, I talk about WhatsApp for Business being the best way for comms to tap into the UK’s 45 million WhatsApp users. Go down this route, you’re able to message up to 256 people who have agreed to be sent messages on a particular topic. Importantly, subscribers won’t see each other’s names or phone numbers. In other words, its GDPR compliant.   

There’s nothing in the announcement that undermines this or makes it harder.

Meta are making the WhatsApp API available for free

Previously, you had to be a company to use the API and the company declined to make it available to the public sector. Now, the API is being made available to any business. Working with an API is above my skill set but I’m sure there will be people in the public sector who may come up with good ideas they can make real.

This would, on the face of it, also throw WhatsApp into the mix for future political campaigns.

WhatsApp has been growing like topsy without an obvious way for comms and marketing people to plug into it. This looks like the beginnings of that plugging in.  

CHAIN LINK: What a decent Twitter thread looks like

“Don’t hate the player,” I tell people “hate the game.”

I tend to do this during training when I’m running through the Twitter algorithm.

You see, Twitter has been run by an algorithm for several years and it’s an algorithm that wants you to stick around as long as possible. So, as a result it hates links. It’ll mark you down for using them.

This is the point when I deliver the line.

The next question after a 10-second pause is what the hell are we supposed to do then?

This is the point when I talk about a thread.

Tell the story you want to tell on Twitter using a thread and tyou’ll be rewarded.

Why?

Simple.

You’ll spend more time reading and scrolling through the thread so you’ll spend more time on Twitter. The more time you spend on Twitter the more attractive your audience is. That’s why you’ll be rewarded.

Here are some example of what threads look like and what they can achieve.

A thread of threads

Thread: Digby the amazing lifesaving dog

Digby the dog helped stop a woman from jumping to her death.

So, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue told the story with a thread.

The results were off the scale.

Thread: What the council did in the floods

When flooding hit Doncaster the council built a thread of realtime coverage to spell out what it was doing in response.

The pictures were shaky, the staff looked sodden. Good.

Thread: What a reporter saw on a tour of a recycling plant

“What are you thinking, St Paul?” remarked reporter Frederick Melo as he walked around the recycling centre looking at the crap some people tried to recycle.

Live chickens? Check.

Propane tanks? Ditto.

Thread: Stop dumping sofas, Glasgow

Exasperated, Glasgow City Council built a thread of a dumped sofa and linked places where it could be recycled or donated.

Thread: Why do pirates wear stripey shirts?

This thread I love because it tells a story any age can relate to.

Pirates, it seems, have been pigeonholed in history as stripey shirt wearers.

Historian and knitter draws upon pictures, text and historical resource to show how all this came about. It’s lovely.

Museum staff, are ye watching?

Thread: Traffic chaos around Edinburgh

As much as we can tell stories we can also be informative.

In this thread, Traffic Scotland show the disruption in a thread of pictures and traffic warnings like an eye-in-the-sky traffic helicopter.

Thread: A court story with a successful conviction

Northants Police tell the story of a night that turned dark for a domestic violence victim.

The woman jumped out of a window rather than face her tormenter.

The content comes from a court story and it’s powerful.

Thread: The view from an NHS chief executive

In this thread Chris sets out the hardships and problems the NHS faces.

There’s multiple audiences for this from government to staff and the public.

Things are hard and here’s exactly how he spells out.

If you want to know more the ESSENTIAL COMMS SKILLS BOOSTER workshop is delivered in public sessions and in-house for teams.

NEWS LIST: Here’s how big local news brands in the UK now are online

This is useful, a list of online audiences for news organisations.

Press Gazette published this list for March 2022 online here.

Why its useful is that it looks at national titles and local titles equally.

They’re not newspapers anymore, either. They are news brands That embraces the fact that they’re often in print (declining) but also online (increasing).

Here it is:

And also…

What the numbers say

Leading the pack on 38.7 million is the BBC.

But what’s striking is the number of local titles and very often Reach titles led by Manchester Evening News 17.5 million in 10th, and Birmingham Live 11.1 million on 19th and Liverpool Echo 10.8 million 20th.

Examiner Live is 29th on 6.2 million, My London 6 million in 31st, Newcastle’s Chronicle Live 5.4 million (32nd), Hull Live 3.9 million (38th), Lancashire Live 3.3 million (45th), Bristol Live 3.3 million (46th),Nottinghamshire Live 3.2 million (48th) and Leeds Live 3.2 million (49th).

All this points to the importance of local titles in the media landscape.

There are those, of course, who will point out that the content mix of Reach titles in the mix is low on news and high on culture war memes like this one.

TIKTOK: Six top tips from a public sector comms team who are smashing it

TikTok is no longer a fringe platform. It’s becoming mainstream. Amongst the vanguard of the public sector are South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue who now have 100,000 followers. In this post he shares some of the secrets of their success.

by Jack Grasby

Eight months ago me and my colleague Zander decided to take a leap of faith – we set up a TikTok account for our organisation.

We made the jump after weeks of planning, discussing and lurking on the channel in a desperate attempt to understand how it worked.

Having done a ‘quick and dirty’ social media audit at the start of the year, we knew that setting up an account on the platform was essential, not desirable, as it had become clear that we weren’t hitting enough 16-24-year-olds through our existing channels.

But what had become apparent is that TikTok is like nothing we’ve ever used before – and it would take more than some South Yorkshire overconfidence to make it a success.

Videos we didn’t find funny at all were blowing up, whereas what looked to us like good content was flopping. And then there were the trends. And sub-cultures. How did all that work? Oh, and what’s ASMR when it’s at home?

Eventually we decided that, having had some brilliant training to get us warmed up, the only way we would fully understand the channel is by diving in head first.

So, armed with our one page strategy and social media audit results, that’s what we did.

Here’s six top tips for anyone else considering doing the same…

Have a purpose

Whilst we eventually decided to take a gamble and dive in head first, we did set a clear purpose and strategy for our work on TikTok.

By clearly outlining why we needed to use it, and how the channel would help meet certain organisational objectives, we put ourselves in a strong position to deal with the inevitable questions we would get from curious members of staff.

Given TikTok has built up a (largely false) reputation for being a place that teenagers go to mess around and do ‘silly’ dances, this proved extremely useful.

Understand the audience

It’s no secret that being human, rather than corporate, on social media is generally the way to go when it comes to getting good engagement.

However, when it comes to TikTok, this rule applies more than ever. People use the channel to be entertained and educated, not hit over the head with dull public messaging. 

There really is absolutely no place for anything that isn’t, in one way or another, entertaining. So yes, feed in your core messages, but find a way to make it fun.

Assemble your squad

One question we keep getting asked is around how we’ve got our staff on board. It’s a good question, given what’s already been covered above regarding TikTok’s reputation.

The answer, in a word, is persistence. Since launching the channel we have asked everyone we know across the service if they’ll be involved.

We knew from the off that not everyone would be game, and a key lesson we learned early on is that if people are only ‘lukewarm’ then there’s probably no point using them – their lack of energy will only kill your Tok vibe.

So our mission has been to assemble a squad of people who are up for it – and who will give us extra when we come calling.

Keep it snappy

When I close my eyes at night, I can still hear Zander’s voice telling me to mercilessly cut, cut and cut my edits down until there is hardly anything left.

And he’s right. Our figures suggest that the shorter the video, the better. After all – TikTok is a platform designed for short form video, and who are we to argue?

Embrace the chaos

With over 100,000 followers in the can, and the numbers continuing to grow, TikTok has now become our biggest social media channel by a country mile.

But that won’t stop me holding my hands up and saying, in the name of complete honesty, that this platform is completely bonkers.

Unfortunately for the more organised amongst us, it’s not a place where you can have and stick to a clear content plan. Trends will appear, and disappear, right before your eyes. 

For us to be successful on the channel, we had to throw ourselves into it and accept the fact that it’s all a bit crazy. 

Roll with the punches

Whilst we wouldn’t change anything about our TikTok journey, it’s certainly not been easy. In fact, it’s been a complete rollercoaster.

We’ve had days where we couldn’t sleep for excitement. Our videos have been ‘blowing up’ and, simultaneously, our follower numbers have been increasing at rates we’ve never seen before in our careers.

But then we’ve had days, weeks and even months where nothing has stuck. Videos we thought would do well have flopped, and we’ve felt like giving up.

The algorithm is a cruel beast that will chew you up and spit you out. But, as long as you have a purpose and a strategy, stick with it – your time will come.

Jack Grasby is campaigns manager at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue.

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