The Family Relation Dynamics of Traditional and Social Media

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Everyday we watch, read, and listen…and have the option to speak. When comparing traditional to social media marketing, there is nary a soul alive that doesn’t see how social media marketing is completely trumping the reach of traditional media venues, much the same way a computer dominated a typewriter.  Not only has fast-paced technology completely altered the marketing landscape, the traditional communication nuclear family has been shaken to its core.

Before you think I’ve completely thrown out the “old uncle” with the bath water in lieu of the “teenage niece gulping downing energy drinks,” let’s hold on a second. Direct mailings, print, radio and television traditional marketing has efficiently served the business world in the timeframe it solely dominated the scene and as the saying does, “for every season–there is a purpose.”

I’m all about seeing the Internet through the eyes of Captain Kirk, Even though William Shatner tickled my fancy in elementary school—let’s go with that deliciously brazen Chris Pine version and the quest to “boldly go where no smartphone has gone before!”  But like a fine wine, I prefer nightly sipping on television, and breathing in standard talk radio while hustling out and about in the DC metro area.  I also don the well-worn comfy classic media bathrobe on Sundays while drinking coffee with that sweet feel of leisurely turning those nostalgic Washington Post newspaper pages in my happy-overworked hands.

Direction of Communication Marketing

It all boils down to traditional and social media being family.  Despite the generation gap, family takes care of each other.  Grandpa started the business, dad took over and now junior is at the helm.  As generational marketing naturally evolved, many challenges were overcome such as the one-directional classic media format transforming into finely tuned multi-directional interactivity media.

Holmes (2017) comments that the strongest proponents of the importance of interactivity are the ‘second media age’ theorists (Gilder, Poster, Rheingold) who bestow it with emancipator meanings in contrast to the one-way architecture of first media age. Traditional media of newspapers, radio, television and cinema are viewed as repressive, controlling, subordinating and an attack on individuality itself. New media, in contrast, are seen to place the control of meaning-making back into the hands of the individual.”

There’s little argument that the continued direction of sophistication in marketing communication is on the rise creating unprecedented opportunities to connect with customers and constituencies.  As McGoldrick (n.d.) aptly mentions, “What once was a low-cost channel seeking simple results such as Facebook “likes” now is a more polished discipline: one that builds by word-of-mouth through complex interactions and enables a better understanding of who influences whom and how tipping points are reached.”

Scope of Marketing

Classic media was limited to zeroing in on specific target audiences and markets as best they could to optimize results.  Social Media is available to just about everybody.  Even though social media marketing is still like shooting fish in a barrel, at least the ammo is cheaper and the range potential is more far reaching. With the mass amount of consumer big data available, the scope of marketing appears endless to exploit the richness of targeting based on data.

(Young, 2014) “As traditional media has digitized, so has the availability of data and the ability for media planners to capture and respond with increased granularity.  Outcast Media, a digital media company that sells video advertising atop fuel pumps across gas stations throughout the United States, is now working with advertisers to run video ads based on a profile of the user’s credit card.

A good example of the integration of traditional to digitized media is when apparel manufacturer Patagonia shocked the system in 2011 by running a full-page ad in The New York Times with the provocative headline: “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” In the ad, readers were prompted to go online and sign a two-part pledge to reduce consumption and waste by buying items only when needed, repairing them when they break and recycling products at the end of their useful life. The buzz online was fortified by coverage in top outlets like The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and The Guardian. The campaign aim was to reinforce Patagonia as a high-quality brand that offers durable, long-lasting products.

The kinship of media integration

In his book “Twitter is Not a Strategy,” J. Walter Thompson Asia CEO Tom Doctoroff explains how integrating the traditional and digital branding is the best strategy for brands. Digital age, he contends, is enabling consumers to be much more empowered in terms of how they engage with manufacturers and brand messages and how they provide feedback, so there’s a more dynamic interrelationship between consumer and brand than there was in the past. (Abulashivili, 2015).

Within the old and new media family integration, for the first time our consumer cousins came to the reunion and responded by triggering a mass dialogue — adding the speaking element to what we all do well as a family, gather on the sofa and watch, read and listen.

 

Search Engine Optimization Keywords Case Study

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m a real foodie so the company I used as a case study (because it owns my favorite food product—Orville Redenbacher popcorn) –is ConAgra® Foods.  ConAgra was formed in 1861 by pork ‘n’ beans king Gilbert C. Van Camp and officially became  Nebraska Consolidated Mills in 1919 during its first overseas expansion in 1957. NCM became ConAgra in 1971.

Here are the keywords listed in order as they came up in the results for the ConAgrafoods website with the top listing coming up first. I also noted which websites were listed above ConAgrafoods.com:

  • Banquet (1st)
  • Orville Redenbacher (2nd listing behind orvilleredenbacher.com)
  • Chef Boyardee (3rd listing behind chefboyardee.com and Wikipedia.com)
  • Parkay (3rd listing behind parkay.com and Wikipedia.com)
  • La Choy (3rd listing after com and Wikipedia.com)
  • Hunt’s (4th listing behind hunts.com, huntsphotoandvideo.com, Wikipedia.org)
  • Wesson (5th listing behind smith-wesson.com, wessonoil.com, Wikipedia.org, blogs.loc.gov)
  • Hebrew National (5th listing behind hebrewnational.com, coupongreat.com, Wikipedia.com, facebook.com)
  • Marie Callendars (6th listing behind mariecallendars.com, mariecallendarsmeals.com, mariecallendars.com, com and Wikipedia.com)
  • Peter Pan *(I originally searched the term “Peter Pan” and ConAgrafoods came up 16th primarily being superseded by the fictional character. After changing to “peter pan peanut butter” Conagrafoods.com came up 4th behind peterpanpb.com, Amazon.com and Wikipedia.com)

Just to set the record straight, ConAgra Foods also owns Reddiwhip, Swiss Miss, PAM, Healthy Choice, David’s Sunflower seeds, Dennison, Egg Beaters, Fiddle Faddle, Fleischman’s, Guldens, Anderson, P.F. Changs, Pen Rose, Rosarito, Ranch Style beans, Andy Capps, Bertolli, Act II Popcorn, Alexia, Wolf Brand Chili, Blue Bonnet, Crunch ‘n’ Munch, Kangaroo, Kid Cuisine, Libby’s, Rotel, Spicetec and Slim Jim. The companies/products I chose above happen to be their oldest holdings.

All keywords appear on ConAgra’s homepage with codes embedded in each of the brand logos. I believe this is primarily because of the volume of companies they own.

Because of the high volume of products, I was actually surprised to see “ConAgra” listed high in the rankings on Google. I expected to see each of the actual brand websites, but not the more obscure affiliation to ConAgra foods.

 

Successful Foundations of an Effective Social Media Strategy

12-steps-to-social-media-marketing-success-infographicA good-simple starting point to building a fruitful social media plan is to use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound) outline as a guide. However, to populate the SMART outline you must first have all the data and information at your fingertips to make intelligent strategy determinations.

The underlying foundations of the strategy

Primarily based on researching and knowing our audiences, this back information avails to us topics and interests our buyer personas are most social about, as well as what problems we can possibly solve for them based on their complaints or pain points.

This segues us into a solid path in selecting the right social media channels for our brand mainly based on which social networks our customers are using.  Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are naturally good brand ambassador platforms for most key audiences. Pinterest and YouTube can be a good medium to use for graphically enhanced posts. Instagram, snapchat and periscope/meerkat would probably be the least effective for most customers in creating awareness and engagement because capturing fun to share images is generally more social in nature.

Measurability is an extremely important goal

It’s imperative to identify key performance indicators (KPI) to measure progress towards accomplish in quantifiable terms. A social media marketing playbook is a good thing to write centering on selected social media channels while detailing KPIs, audience profiles, brand personas, campaign concepts, promotional events, contests, content themes, and even a crisis management plan. Metrics reporting should also be designated as weekly, monthly, or bimonthly, depending on your goals and desired outcomes.

To increase followers and engagement

Have tactical timelines in place that note each element along with the responsible blog/social media channel engagement person/customer service rep, milestones and timelines. The editorial calendar goes hand-in-hand by noting scheduled tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, Pinterest pins, and other social media content relevant to newsworthy topics and events. One thing that many miss the mark is treating all social channels differently and not posting the same message to each. Reanalyze your plan on a regular basis. If something in your plan isn’t working, switch it up or do some testing to determine what your audience responds to better. Another strategy is to create and join groups/forums to expand reach relevant to your industry. This allows you to provide helpful and informative advice or to start relevant discussions that can help generate interest in your brand.

As far as what to post

I am a big fan of the more visuals the better because we are a visually attracted and stimulated society. The Social Media Examiner addresses how to engage better with visual content because it’s easier to understand, can tell a story and evoke emotions more easily than written posts. 11 ways to increase social sharing and fan engagement with images. (Links to an external site.)

Just as a reminder, the primary reason to be on a forum is to participate in other people’s discussions. Answer, chime in and let the community guide the discussion and don’t just shamelessly promote your content. Q&A sessions are also a great way to inform the public about new products, services, and promotions.

Community Content a Hotbed for Attracting Millennials

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Some social media networks are held together by the desire of millennials to communicate with already established interpersonal relationships. Community content is a an important byproduct of social media by fostering a large, overarching group of millennials that generally share common interests by maintaining, updating and populating content in a shared environment. Community content can be as simple as posting a picture, small snippets of information or just by commenting or replying to content which adds to discussion or continued dialogue. However, with the ever-growing ability and practice of adding video and audio,–community content is much more robust, entertaining and informative for millennials and beyond.

“By 2017 40% of the population will use video and social networking on the mobile devices. Visual engagement on a mobile platform can help brand content in a pleasing way; with audio adding another dimension. This makes it more appealing and interactive than just print or static websites. People love video and it’s a way of capturing attention and beating boredom, especially to 18-34 year-olds.” (Rhoads, 2015)

To further enforce this trend, PR Daily reports, “Five billion videos are viewed every day by millennials on YouTube, making it among the hottest places around to tell your story visually. The videos are embedded, enabling a fan of an airline or carmaker to drop a URL into a blog, spreading its reach.”  Needless to say, this works well in millennial social networks as well as community sites.

 Transition from social to content? Is it both?

The blurred line in delineating social media to community content is becoming even harder to see where one ends and one begins. As Dr. Michael Wu puts it, “Communities can overlap and are often nested.”  The crux that is catapulting the two together is the advancement of technology, thus easing the option for anyone to add audio and visual content to just about any social media channel.

It is both? Strangers initially in a community based forum input content in pursuit of individual, yet similar goals.  However, through consistent interaction and getting to know each other, even virtually, you make connections and actual friendships which is an integral part of millennial social network dynamics. Through this incidental union, this content community channel gives even more access to branch out a step further.

How does Instagram measure up to being a content community?

Instagram is a great example of how a community channel can skyrocket based on its intriguing content appeal.  Numbers don’t lie—especially for this powerhouse that began in 2010 and boasts the largest increase of users and now reaches 400 million.

In exploring Instagram’s inclusion as a community content card-carrying member, according to Search Engine Journal, “Three factors that make Instagram very attractive to businesses targeting millennials: visual appeal, engagement, and mobility. This last factor sums up the very nature of the network. Once an Instagram account gains a substantial number of followers, it starts to feel and behave like a community. The beauty of Instagram is that its content can be found across many social media platforms; with the motivation to see what others are doing successfully.”

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New Hyperlapse app

Instagram also features the ability to customize photos and videos with several custom-built filter effects. Moz Blogs Julienne Staino sums it up nicely, “Video content is like the new sliced bread.”

TechCrunch has to this to say about Hyperlapse, “Generally speaking, image stabilization tech is processing-intensive to the point where it really isn’t feasible on mobile but it’s progressing. However, by using the gyroscopes in the phone itself, the Instagram team used algorithms to calculate the movements of the phone and correct it in the shot. They’re able to get away with this by using a cropped portion of the massive resolution available in your phone’s camera, leveraging the extra pixels of the sensor to stabilize the view. The end result is an app that creates beautiful, souped-up videos that look and feel as though they were shot by professionals using expensive equipment.”

Adding the new standalone app, Hyperlapse, is a progressive smart move to keep the spike of millennial mobile users rising, however, Instagram’s success is really built on simplicity. Pre-set filters and easy streamlined process replace tedious editing and commenting. From start to finish, the process is centered around simplicity, something even this old gal managed in minutes.

Social media baseline audits are well worth the effort in successful brand management

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The intent of a social media audit is to establish a full baseline measurement of your brand management media performance and landscape to determine which areas are strong, mediocre or need attention. Here are some tips to keep your social media program from falling into disrepair:

  • First develop an active and relevant strategic audit plan and be diligent in tracking recommendations and actions to completion.
  • Get your team involved in determining objectives that should have clear measurements and specific success goals for tracking progress.
  • Make sure you are comparing social media efforts with priority focused messaging.
  • Analyze and audit all routine and special social media campaigns and be constantly vigilant to identify and report successful and unsuccessful engagement.
  • When problems or unsuccessful social media trends are identified during routine and scheduled audits, prepare suggestions for short and long-term remedies and solutions.
  • Conduct occasional focus groups and ad hoc groups within your primary and secondary target audiences to better serve effective two-way conversation methods.
  • Don’t forget to evaluate social media data to assess compliance with your existing policy.
  • Determine how you can consistently exceed the standards and customer expectations by keeping all website material updated, especially if there are gaps in role responsibilities.
  • Include in the audit leadership and key internal feedback on the current social media climate, especially in providing good insight where more efforts need emphasized identifying improvements.
  • Back all audit reports with quantitative and qualitative data whenever possible to the most viable extent possible and ensure transparency to those in your  organization who would benefit from receiving the periodic data.

Audits are a starting point that need to be constantly assessed and monitored to implement evolving changes. Even though thorough audits are oftentimes tough to complete in an ever-increasing work load, delving into results will increase knowledge in the ultimate quest to build viable strategies that will benefit your entire organization.

 

Woo-woo! Consumer engagement for Medical Professions to climb aboard the technology train

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Even though medical professions are very proactive on social media, it’s often challenging to come up with great content to post.  Why not try more tactile consumer engaging tactics such a monthly Kids’ poster contest, preventive health webinars, and a fun pharmacy/or ER wait time app to give your social media channels a much needed “shot in the arm.”

Initial impression is extremely important to acquiring new users, especially when rolling out a new initiative. These same principals are effective when trying to establish or keep loyal patrons.  It’s also just as important that the campaign be kept simple to include the ease of downloading the app, registering for webinar, or entering the contest.

Social media will continue to be the primary focus in promoting each of the new offerings with Twitter and Facebook being the primary drivers of your new app and poster contests based on its universal usage and appeal.  This will also give you that opportunity to use some new channels such as adding LinkedIn to your channel portfolio with the promotion of the preventive health webinars. This may also be a good time to consider establishing a Pinterest account to additionally announce monthly poster contest theme winner. The only apprehension is being able to consistently add content after the contest but just think periodic quality-visual preventive health measures and you will succeed.

Most medical organizations have some type of preventive health initiative and this can serve as the impetus for your kid’s poster contest.  Before I progress, direct emails can also be used to announce each of the initiatives to maximize building  awareness.

Each social media post during pre-launch, launch and post launch will have a call to action whether it’s entering the contest, downloading the new app, registering for the panel of subject-expert led webinars, asking questions, sharing, leaving comments or getting more information.

Don’t forget to send your free-helpful messages to your local news sources that are always looking for posts on their websites that positively impact their audiences.

Kid’s Poster Contest special tactics

  • Using the “drip” conversion tactic, the rationale behind the monthly theme is to send a steady stream of messages to encourage entering the contests
  • During the first pre-launch give an overview of each monthly theme (January – Fitness, February-Heart Health, March – Nutrition, etc.) and some of the prizes they can look forward to during the year
  • During the pre-launch, also make a splash on news and partnering organizations and some of the prizes that they can look forward to during the year. As far as determining prizes, this is a great opportunity to get your full organizations involvement, ideas and motivation for the campaign
  • Have pictures of kids painting and drawing posters in home and school environments to add visuals  which is intended to encourage parents and teachers.

During the entire application and engagement of your plan, the social media and marketing teams and management will listen carefully to consumers and adjust engagement as feedback trends occur. This not only also includes listening to what the metrics are reporting with drop off rates and similar measurements, but being poised to answer any and all questions that are raised on all social media forums as soon as possible–but never to exceed 24 hours.  Response comments should be encouraging, light-hearted, and/or humorous when possible.   This will foster even more Indirect Customer Testimonials.

Most of the promotion is designed to run continuously, especially in the case of the monthly poster contests and health webinars as noted above. For the Pharmacy/ER mobile app the promotion will also be continuous for a six-month period to build maximum awareness for the new app.  Don’t forget to make small posters for all your initiatives and display throughout your facility.  The major opportunity for all three new initiatives during post launch is you can cherry pick positive comments in promotional efforts.  You can also begin showing visuals of the poster winners and those viewing webinars to encourage new entries.

More post-launch strategies are to ensure each webinar recordings is posted within 24 hours of the live version to afford quick access to all those who missed webinar.  Include a few positive comments from those who initially attended to include some of your staff watching in a group in a conference room to encourage other medical professionals of the value.

Don’t forget to ask viewers what webinars they would like to see in future as well as any changes to the mobile app or content to make it even better.

 

Gaming technology ripe for the picking for government branding

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It took 10 years for $1 billion in sales of consumer smartphones for the years leading up to 2016. During 2017, $1 billion in mobile phone purchases is one of the major reason to get into gaming technology, especially when more than half of Americans play mobile games.  What hasn’t caught up with this growing brand enlightenment trend is the  phenomenon that many brands are missing the boat in their own business marketing strategies.

Most non-profit brands understand the importance of mobile marketing but have been overlooking the value and possibilities of all the various uses of gamification on mobile devices when planning media strategies because they may feel it’s a strategy  more for the profit business world.  Winds have been shifting and all brands need to rethink how they can align their marketing with consumers’ favorite mobile pastime.

Part of the reason for marketers’ changing attitudes that’s becoming widely realized is  those who enjoy engaging with various types of games are not isolated to a niche of teenagers. As more data becomes available about how mobile technology is booming, it has become clear that all ages are engaging in mobile games, especially in the growing senior demographics (ages 50+).

Classic marketing is becoming irrelevant

We are now in a world of connections and that social media train is now being powered by the exciting gaming technology locomotive.  Here are some examples of how some non-profit’s are successfully using gamification to not only to lend justification for trying this fairly new trend, but to give a better vision as to what types of success they are experiencing using games to increase customer and employee engagement for their organizations.

iRecycle – The Department of Energy has an app that tells you where you can find local recycling locations. It also explains through creative visuals what you should recycle and where you can recycle certain materials. Features include providing connections on social media to get in touch with other recycling enthusiasts. The iRecycle app adds a connection dimension between the DoE to consumers while making it easier for people to get involved with the recycling message they’re trying to spread.

Access Earth – Access Earth has been recently adopted by Disability.gov which connects people with disabilities, their families and caregivers to helpful resources. Access Earth is essentially Google Maps for people with disabilities. One of it’s best features is locating hotels worldwide that are handicapped accessible, as well as giving specific travel details that might impact different disabilities.

Tax Evaders – Tax Evaders is a national project involving artists, game designers, researchers, protest groups, grassroots organizations and concerned citizens that advocate against powerful corporations paying less tax than ordinary citizens.  Tax Evaders is a game where you can take out your frustrations by playing a game where you blast companies by name “stealing nearly $100 Billion each year out of our national economy.”

What’s really important in measuring success of a new augmented reality campaign?

augmented realityBefore embarking for the first time on an augmented reality (AR) social media campaign, I found the best place place to start is first determining how you will measure the return on investment.  The good news is that even though everyone usually has a difference of opinion when it comes to looking at a brand’s marketing endeavors and what does or doesn’t make it successful, most experts are in agreement to ascertain identifiable facts that would point to solidifying success or non-success based on these fundamental variables.  Here are the general differentials I utilize as a thermometer in determining a brand’s campaign success:

  • Innovativeness – I’m a serious advocate to trying new approaches to boost any marketing campaign, especially for a product or service that has a history of stagnant sales or consumer interaction. Putting a focus on a “yet to be tried”  innovative marketing campaign can also be the needed driver to push your product/service to the forefront of a competitive landscape.
  • Purposeful direction and planning – Planning a purposeful direction rather than just casting blindly for the sake of jumping on the innovation bandwagon is integral. I’m a big proponent in trying anything once but it must be remembered that the best marketing campaign is the one that gets the results we anticipate and that takes planning as a coordinated effort and not just a complete shot in the dark.
  • Resources – How much resources and manpower you have to devote on your campaign will greatly affect the marketing strategies chosen. Because AR is much more affordable and more mainstream in many circumstances than Virtual Reality (VR), first take advantage of what resources are already at your disposal and how you can shift emphasis.  Your past overall track record is key in establishing trust with your executives before embarking on a new campaign that’s more inline with progressive marketing.
  • Revenues/ROI – Before planning a marketing campaign, we have to ensure it aligns with the company’s business plan. You can always expect that you will have to give interim progress reports as well as end of campaign results and how they relate to revenues. Most savvy marketers measure a campaign in direct correlation to revenues. In most cases, when businesses are in the black during the time frame of a campaign, this is generally the pulse executives take when examining the effectiveness of expenditures versus revenues. Most good business leaders are also aware that it often requires a reporting cycle or two to see the ripple effect of a campaign’s impact. It’s always easier to equate campaign ROI when a company is having a successful quarter.  However, many companies are also more poised to try new endeavors when backed in a corner.
  • Consumer Impact – How will/did the campaign strategy and objectives actually interest your target market in your products and/or services? What channels did you use? We all know that some communications channels are better suited that others to brand primary and secondary markets. If the innovativeness of a campaign isn’t really going to reach you’re your audience, or they don’t care, it defeats the purpose. I think there is too much tunnel vision that social media is the affordable end all-be all. Many questions about the target audience has to be asked such as where do you really reach them and what are some collective habits? Where do they spend their time? Where are they most likely to see or hear and pay attention to information about your products and/or services?
  • Measuring overall campaign effectiveness: Before, during and after a campaign it’s imperative to constantly monitor and rate the campaign based on all the aforementioned factors–but most importantly–gut reaction. Needless to say this is why building realistic goals and objectives is paramount.  Really zero in to create goal parameters and objectives beyond “I want the campaign to increase more sales.”
  • What do you really do with Key Performance Indicators? – It’s very rare that most don’t put a heavy emphasis on KPIs, but what’s disturbing is that most organizations aren’t quite sure how to modify and maximize KPIs as a campaign rolls.  I’ve seen too many account managers slowly stop annotating KPIs because they lack time which unfortunately leaves us with no real fact-based metric baseline moving forward.

The key to success in any augmented realty campaign boils down to trying different things and not always taking the safe status quo easy road.

Ethical Challenges for Public Affairs Professionals in Striking a Balance  of Loyalty and Timely Dissemination of Truthful Information 

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Retrieving newsworthy information from various sources is one of the key elements in researching and preparing a compelling news article by all media professionals.  The challenge of obtaining any or all information pertinent to the newsworthy event is generally dependent on how the source perceives the ultimate benefit to the individual, business, non-profit organization or government agency.  This trend taxes both the media and sources and is due to growing in lockstep with the current increasing high visibility and accessibility of the global media landscape. To keep up with this possible volatile news climate, more press liaisons and spokespersons are being hired and in place to run interference.

The first knee-jerk reaction is that these spin doctors are being untruthful and only giving information that is false, to save reputations, revenues and ultimate perceptions to the media.  Although there are accepted codes of ethics that guide the practice of public relations, the pressure on many practitioners to give unequivocal support to their employer, even when those actions may be unethical and possibly illegal, remains a critical challenge for the profession.

Behind the scenes, PR professionals attempt to do their best without sacrificing or compromising accurate, truthful and timely information.  There is much at stake for many of these organizations, especially when certain information is withheld to keep advertising revenues intact.

In an effort to ensure that information is properly vetted before hitting the public foray, more media liaison professionals have been hired over the past 20 years to keep up with the ever burgeoning and demanding electronic media landscape. Even though the process of available information is being handled by more trained professionals, the end product is usually more sanitized and prepackaged.  As a matter of survival, many of in the communications industry have to protect their livelihood, coworkers and mission as much as possible–but are also committed to striking the best balance in ensuring the viability and truthfulness of the news imparted.

Love-Hate Between Social Media & Journalists

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Dubai Newsroom image by Broadcast Design International

“Journalists are a cynical bunch — we don’t like crap content and social media is full of it. Add the shameless self-promotionists, and the sheer mundanity of so much of the content, and it’s a pretty unattractive mix,” said 2015 John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University Cordelia Hebblethwaite who most recently helped launch BBC Trending. Journalism and Social Media: It’s a Love-Hate Affair

“I hate social media,” David Clinch, Global News editor for Storyful admitted. “It’s painstaking, it’s hard to learn, and hard to work with. But it’s like wild horses — once you tame it, you can have huge success.”

Finally, those who share my sentiments to a tee. So why do people in the news profession use social media? Just for starters social media can assist any news person in getting story tipoffs, research on experts, obtaining crowdsourced images, listening for trends and problem areas, following a specific beat, and finding interviewees. Among news people, Twitter is known as the biggest news social source followed by Facebook interest groups.

There is no secret to social media. It’s just about using some of the common basics mentioned above and combining with good old-fashioned journalism as well as some handy tools.

Let’s take a more in-depth look into how several specific news professions can add additional value to their reporting efforts through some helpful tips and tools.

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(Courtesy of The American Journalist In the Digital Age: Key Findings)

Foreign news correspondent

With more than 2 billion people actively using social media each month, its value to a foreign correspondent is a no-brainer.

When they want to know what’s trending on Twitter around the world or in a specific country or city, they can use Trendsmap. TwXplorer or Tame can help manage the constant stream of tweets on any correspondent’s timeline. When the stream of tweets is unmanageably fast, Tweetdeck’s filter button and advanced options can exclude words, filter out retweets, only view tweets with images, or see just the most popular tweets.

Verification can take a lot of time where Storyful holds its own. Correspondents can source news-related content from social media using a number of proprietary tools and then do the legwork of verification and clearance for use. Storyful specializes in international news and have recently moved into licensing viral videos and identifying trends on social media. They have a couple of free services – Facebook Newswire– which highlights newsworthy content on Facebook, and the Open Newsroom where journalists and researchers are invited to help verify content, and share information. They also have a free Chrome extension, called Storyful Multisearch, which scans across Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and other sites.

According to How journalists used social media to cover the biggest news events of 2014, here are some of the unique ways foreign correspondents used social media last year:

  • The World Cup – Correspondents covering the biggest social media event to date were active on Twitter, using it to report on both sports and stats as well as the surrounding social commentary in Brazil. As part of their coverage, AP photojournalists throughout Brazil used Instagram to highlight “offbeat, behind the scenes views of soccer’s premier event.” Fusion, a news and entertainment cable network focused on millennials, using live-blogging as well as the “honeycomb,” a social aggregator built on Fusion’s soccer site that allowed them to surface social media content based on location and influence. For this coverage, two to three Fusion editors at a time mined and tracked all 12 stadiums where the tournament took place based on certain key elements like hashtags and the influence of people in the stadium.
  • Ebola – Covering the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history was challenging because of a slow and minimal social media presence in locations where the outbreak is strongest. However, public health sites like WHO and BBC Africa were strong Twitter influencers. BBC Africa also launched an ebola public health information service on WhatsApp that provided audio, text message alerts and images to help correspondents and citizens get the latest public health information. The Guardian’s News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson made news after his Vines showed snapshots of the situation, which packed an emotional punch despite their short length.
  • Ferguson Protests – Fusion’s Director of Media Innovation Tim Pool is one of the first to use drones and wearables to live-stream breaking news events from Occupy Wall Street and demonstrations in the Middle East. He routinely broadcasts his stories via TwitterInstagramLiveStreamVine and YouTube to his tens of thousands of followers.

While he was covering the protests, Pool even coordinated a Reddit AMA (“Ask me Anything”) which garnered almost 600 comments.

  • Conflict in Gaza – New York Times’ Jerusalem correspondent Jodi Rudoren used her Facebook page to spur discussion and debate throughout the Gaza conflict.
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(Photo by Hyosub Shin / AJC Staff Photographer)

Local beat editor

Many large newsrooms are investing in a digital specialist to train traditional beat reporters and editors to use social media in a higher capacity. Most of this training involves knowing what tools are available and how to use them such as Adobe SiteCatalyst for analytics.

At the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the most innovative is the “Hot Topics” team, which constantly keeps track of what’s happening and identifies stories that will linger for a few days or weeks. For example, during the Department of Veteran Affairs scandal, the Hot Topics team devoted reporting resources to covering it from a local angle and looking into any need for investigation. The size of the staff doesn’t allow AJC to have a full-time VA reporter, but the flexible team allows AJC to match daily assignments with what readership is expecting to see. It’s a different way to think about beats and a lot more teamwork involved, especially while smartly managing shrinking newsroom resources. AJC editor: ‘I can’t have people stuck on beats’ without audiences

Twitter lists are a great way of following a specific beat such as Tweetlogix. One of the good things about lists is they allow you to keep an eye on accounts, without actually following them. Topsy allows you to quickly trace the origin of how a hashtag started.

Here are some other valuable tools local beat editors use to maximize their resources and time (15 Tips and Tools for Using Social Media as a Reporting Tool)

  • One of the most important things to remember with social media is that nothing is verified. The Verification Handbook is a fantastic guide for all things to do with social media verification.
  • CrowdTangle focuses on monitoring and navigating through Facebook including every news organization in the US and lists arranged by news category and highlights the posts that are doing substantially better than expected.
  • Gramfeed is an easy way to search Instagram by location, keyword, or hashtag. One of the great things about Instagram is that so many of the posts are geo-located, making it one way to find people posting from the scene of a news event (e.g. an earthquake or demonstration). One of the most useful tools for finding social media from a specific location is Geofeedia.
  • As a journalist you can get a free upgrade to a premium LinkedIn account after taking a short web tutorial. This gives access to send “InMail” to people you are not connected when trying to get in touch with a potential contributor but can’t find their contact info listed anywhere. An advanced search allows looking for an expert on a certain topic which can be refined by location, field, or company.
  • Dataminr is a breaking news alert system based on Twitter, specifically designed for journalists. The algorithm detects tweets which are gathering momentum fast – at a very early stage giving early tip-off on stories. Dataminr has been working with news organizations around the world to refine the service, and there are many examples of their alerts “beating” standard news agencies. Some beat editors rave about Dataminr while others complain about the number of false positives.
  • SAM is useful for news teams working on social media content, as you can share your work, and add notes.

TV Cameraman

On Sept. 11, NBC News staff cameraman Jim Long, based in Washington, D.C., sent a tweet asking his followers a simple question: “Where Were You?” He received hundreds of responses from people all over the world on Twitter. Long retweeted many of them, noting that everyone has something to say and a story to share, aided now by social media. Where Were You?’ A Simple Question Leads to Social Healing on 9/11

There are many freelance TV cameramen, and one of the best ways to get good assignments is to market yourself via social media. Philip Bloom started a blog writing camera reviews, tutorials, latest shooting gigs and what he learned every day. He used the platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr among others. His efforts have made him so well known that today his site drives more than a million visitors a month. He even worked on a high budget Hollywood movie (Red Tails) after Lucasfilm hired him for his expertise with DSLRs. Go Freelance, Make A Life, Write A Blog

Okay, so maybe we don’t hate social media so much after all seeing as it gives news people an added dimension to morph traditional storytelling into an innovative and creative form. Social media also gives news people the unique opportunity to work collaboratively together or individually to distribute news content in a way that creates a special experience for social media audiences.

References

Cook, K. (Nov. 14, 2014) Working as a freelance camera operator

Gebauer, J. (Nov. 25, 2015) Go Freelance, Make A Life, Write A Blog

Hebblethwaite, C. (March 16, 2015) Journalism and Social Media: It’s a Love-Hate Affair

Hebblethwaite, C. (Nov. 4, 2014) 15 Tips and Tools for Using Social Media as a Reporting Tool

Kirkland, S. (June 20, 2014) AJC editor: ‘I can’t have people stuck on beats’ without audiences

Turnbull, M. (Aug. 13, 2014) Foreign Correspondents, their importance and their future.

Weiss, J. (Dec. 19, 2014) How journalists used social media to cover the biggest news events of 2014