“Blogs engross me,” says Steph Ledigo, from Ledigo PR. “If I feel engrossed I feel like I know the person.”
It's the last day of November and I'm in a conference room in Manchester's stunning Radisson Hotel for the first Manchester Bloggers Meet.
The very personable Ryan Thompson, Commercial Manager of the hotel's Manchester Branch, oversees the discussion, which features a panel of social media experts: Jo Booth, from Social Media Gurus, Steph, Keeley, who looks after the Manchester Bloggers social media accounts, Charlie Houston-Sykes (Lady Sybil) who writes for I Love Manchester and Jo, AKA Dr Pond. Sorry that I couldn't pin down everyone's names!
The event is sponsored by local brand Thomas Deakin Gin (free samples are appreciated and taken full advantage of throughout the evening). There's also a delicious supply of pies, cakes, bread rolls, jam and pork sandwiches.
There are quite a few bloggers who I recognised from their online personas- mostly Twitter and I think from chats like #lbloggers - but I'm not sure exactly who they are. It seems others have the same problem!
@matthewtuckey so I sat next to you all evening & almost said 'oh are you Matt Tuckey" so many times but decided against it 😂— Missy 🖤 (@ContourAllure) November 30, 2017
A polite suggestion: I reckon name badges with Twitter @ handles underneath would be a huge help for the next bloggers meet.
The discussion and Q&A session unveils a range of advice for those wanting to take full advantage of social media platforms. As Baz Luhrmann once said, 'I will dispense this advice now.'
- You may be a writer, but remember to use multimedia. Social media has seen a 148% increase in use of video. Pictures, however, can still tell more of a story than video.
- Stick to stills on Twitter and Instagram, but use video on Facebook. (I'm not sure about this, though: if you're looking for particular content in video form, Youtube is the easiest to search but I find Facebook to be the hardest. People also tend to keep their Facebook video content private, whereas their Youtube / Twitter content is usually public.)
- Be individual at events. Stand out. People will find you on Twitter, one way or another. Grab every opportunity to get known.
- If you're taking pictures for your blog, explain to people who you are and what you're doing.
- If you become popular, various businesses will approach you to ask you to write about them. In these circumstances, learn to say no once in a while. Don't burn yourself out.
- When gauging who to collaborate with, don't just go off their Twitter followers. Look a the engagement stats on their recent tweets, which will tell you more than their follower count will. Jo mentioned she had to explain this to Clothes site ASOS, who approached her because of, she says, her Twitter followers.
- Tag people in blog post tweets. Pick people who you think would particularly like it, to get more engagement.
- You may get free stuff for your blogging, but donors will still want words. It's still hard work!
- Suggestion from the audience: if you get free stuff, go back and buy from them afterwards. Show them you've invested, and they'll probably offer you more.
- Let places know if you're planning to go and write about them. It could lead to further deals or opportunities.
- Guest post for other blogs. Get your name around.
- Ryan asks, what's next for social media? Jo suggests it depends on the platform: Stories on Instagram are growing in popularity (I personally think this will lead to the demise of Snapchat); Facebook is being left to the older generations as the younger ones move on.
- Be an 'early adopter'- get onto social media sites before others.
- On social media posts, stick to 2 or 3 hashtags. Any more will lose engagement.
- Emojis give 30% more engagement. Imagine tweeting the phrase, 'What a day!' This could mean many things. Stick an emoji with a facial expression on, and It will indicate so much more.
- Put your country of residence in your SM biography. No everyone will assume you're British!
- If you're invited to an event, let organisers know if you can't go. You might get another invite for another night if you engage.
- Be polite, and you may get other opportunities from companies.
- If you're planning to go to a place or event, drop them a tweet telling them you're excited for it. 'Can't wait for @whateverbar to open!' for example.
A very beneficial evening for bloggers like me, and I can't complain about being one of only two men in a full room. I'm looking forward to another meet in the new year!