Social Media Audits Keep Your Content From Falling Into Disrepair

week 2 SMAEven though I had a basic idea as to what a social media audit entails, my knowledge profited from the expanded descriptions provided in the lectures and readings because the extent of my professional social media experience was only doing short assessments, nothing detailed.  When evaluating the purpose of an audit, as Schaffer (2013) points out, “An audit based on your brand’s current presence is essential to creating baseline metrics for your own strategy and to determine how you (or client) compare with your competitors.”

Social media audit key components

It appears that an audit’s primary purpose focuses on gaining knowledge in an effort to learn how to improve.  A key component would be retrieving data that’s rich in statistical information in the ultimate quest to find out as much as possible to position and enable you to build a strategy for improvement. Another main component is to remember that even though the initial audit is intended to be a collective analysis, it’s actuality a starting point that needs to be constantly assessed and monitored to implement evolving changes or your social media can quickly fall into disrepair.  I’ve heard many excuses that there isn’t enough time, but our instructor mentioned that it usually doesn’t require him more than 10 minutes to check out the competition every morning. I liken a social media audit to an athletic training regime. Putting in the required daily efforts will keep the program in peak condition while sporadic, decreased practices will soon diminish performance.

Some of the other components include:

  • Measuring, analyzing and benchmarking all data growth in comparison to past goals and metrics including:
    • followers
    • engagement/responses, initiating proactive conversations
    • posting frequency
  • ensuring all profiles are complete
  • Search for unofficial accounts or profiles
  • imagery and messaging continuity
  • presence, purpose and performance on each social media channel
    • check customize settings and review for optimization
    • backgrounds and other images follow theme/branding, descriptions/URLs uniform
    • tone of the profile right for the network
  • matching goals to performance milestones

Utilizing a video is a much more engaging way to present findings and much easier than having to put it on paper.  Who wouldn’t be more apt to really listen to a video than reading a run-of-the-mill report?

Competitive analysis process

What I’ve found to be most helpful is really identifying several sources as to who’s doing it right and building on your strategy from there.  Naturally this includes all social media account activity. In the future I will use Traacker to find sites with similar audience/messages.  I can even learn from some corporations or perhaps other countries that have a robust social media presence.  Again, my main fixation is what another group may be doing right and learning specific success lessons from their program to invigorate my own.  As far as how much digging you should do, most of us truly have workloads that are insane.  Getting the general gist of popularity, engagement and overall content offerings that are appealing to their audiences should be acceptable for most of our needs.

 

More Than Meets the Eye to Social Media Management

week 1

What is social media management? Having a point person for all matters relating to social media–especially coordination and oversight on content development, strategies, execution and analysis.  At my last job I was the only communications professional and by default the social media manager (SMM).  Unfortunately, we did very little in the way of social media, mainly because of the nature of our business as a government contractor where selection is based solely on past experience coupled with best price. Once a contract is awarded by the government, there are stringent restrictions in place to publicize this information which almost boils down to being more trouble than it’s worth.  As far as the readings, videos, lecture, I was fairly familiar with the makeup of SMM.

What skills should they have? In my current job, we do have a SMM amidst 40+ communicators.  Being in this uniquely, heavily-populated communicator environment, she primarily interfaces with us, while the team serves as client and customer liaisons. However, she still has to be extremely knowledgeable of the wide-array of clients we represent to ensure each message is tailored for that particular, unique customer’s mission, objectives and goals. All in all, these clients collectively service almost 10 million military health care customers around the world so our manager also has to have a global perspective of social media.  In this circumstance, a deep experience and diverse skill set (writing, editing, etc.) is critical because of the high volume and visibility of our social media program that relies on congressional funding. As Bullas (2015) reminds us, the manager also has to have attention to detail and be technically, analytically and creatively skilled. One of my personal favorites is more a trait than a skill and that is “enthusiasm.” If you’re just going through the motions or doing what you’ve always done before—I suggest a new line of work!

How can social media managers find clients? By seeking interface among those whom you and your team/organization already know and building and extending your network from this point; and advertising and promotion within the core market, demographics and personas you are seeking. What I learned from the lecture that I never really considered before is that after you meet a client and set up your initial meeting, arriving prepared with a draft scope of work by outlining the deliverables within a realistic deadline. I also agree that it’s a wise move to have the sample contract and pricing available to expedite the work for a number of reasons.  Among them are showing your resolve and capabilities to swiftly begin work. Most people are also very busy and the easier the process, the better for all involved.  This proactive approach also decreases the chance for a client to change their mind. I also see how a client contact report is very important, especially if you work for an organization so that others can be aware of contact status to ensure no overlap in efforts, as well as a good system being in place when eventually moving on.  There is nothing worse than having no record of prior customer calls from your predecessors when assuming a new position. I also agree with Cisnero (2014), “The first thing you need to do before venturing onto social networks is to make sure you have a solid website and content marketing strategy.” I believe that in this highly-competitive business you have to have a website that will knock your potential client’s socks off that will distinguish you from the pack.

What are the key components to a social media plan? Needless to say no two social media plans are alike, but the common elements include determining budget and manpower available to strategize and execute the plan, background, goals and objectives, determining key messages and statements, target audiences, channels, frequency of messages, analysis, and timeframe duration. I’m also a big advocate on delivering a good presentation as being the keystone in securing new work or potential expansion. One of our readings mentioned (Wilson, 2014) “In order to create a plan you need to have a clear understanding of your market and the general social media trends.” This cannot be stressed enough.  Even though you may know social media, if your potential client sells Buffalo wings or car tires, you need to immerse yourself in those markets and culture beforehand to really create a successful plan. Too often I see ineffective “machine-gun” scattered social media based on surface knowledge of the industry. Sure, you will have some trial and error but having current, deep insights can really be the difference in achieving superior algorithm results. The social media plan really is the nucleus to your efforts and should not miss a beat in giving the entire prospective of your client’s social media landscape. In addition, Bese (2015) suggests including what your competitors are doing right and wrong, customer service, and SEO tactics. In conclusion, there are many variables to be considered and included in a plan.  In my observation one of the most critical is realistic deliverables, and clearly defined calls-to-action—all of which should be achievable and measurable.

 

News Industry ‘Ho-hum’ to Facebook’s Vision

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Mark Zuckerberg’s rare Facebook Q&A session June 30 garnered 241,000+ likes and 7,000+ shares.  The general consensus among news organizations and citizen chatter on social media during the event and several days afterwards  was fairly lukewarm addressing his responses directed towards a couple of questions on the future of news.  Among the very few individuals that actually had a more opinionated response to his perspective, most questioned his professional motives and continued meddling in the news industry. Surprisingly, responses from news organizations were extremely benign, mostly tagging the story and quickly sending it out the door.

During the event which resembled Reddit’s Ask Me Anything, Huffington Post mastermind Arianna Huffington wrote with the following response:

Mark-Zuckerberg-Arianna-Huffington-Facebook

The other news-related question Zuckerberg answered was from media pundit, professor and BuzzMachine journalist Jeff Jarvis:

zuckerberg-facebook-qa-jeff-jarvis-063015

Reactionary excerpts from the low number of Facebook and Twitter respondents (mainly news/communications professionals):

Here are snippets from just a few PR/news industry insiders that responded…

kiser

(Matt Kiser, product manager at Business Insider)

gillmore

(Dan Gillmor, Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University‘s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication)

boardman

(David Boardman, Dean of Temple University School of Media and Communications)

News Organization Reactions

As previously mentioned, few news organizations followed through by responding to Zuckerberg’s thoughts on the future of news.  Most posted the NeimanLab short recap of what was said, but didn’t lend any robust dialogue to his news industry vision.

Fortune was a little more responsive, “Facebook has always had a somewhat fraught relationship with the news: Many users seem to think of the social network as just a place where they can see a friend’s baby or dog photos, but research shows a growing number of people also get their news there. And CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that he wants news to play a much larger role in Facebook, with features like Instant Articles—the mobile-news partnership where outlets like the New York Times publish entire articles directly to the platform.”

The most detailed response came from SubcriptionInsider:

“Jarvis and Huffington both compliment Zuckerberg for Facebook’s innovation and contribution to publishing platforms for news, and we’ve got to agree that Facebook has changed how we consume and share news. With 1.44 billion active monthly users, Facebook has more eyeballs than virtually every other platform or site. Zuckerberg uses Facebook’s popularity to leverage his company’s impact on news consumption, much like Google has done with its new array of journalism tools.

This cold hard fact will also make it hard for media companies to pass up the opportunity to publish select stories using Instant Articles. So far, media outlets who have been invited by Facebook to participate have been slow to adopt the platform. Once publishers embrace the necessity of strong partnerships with companies like Facebook, we expect more stories to be posted using Instant Articles.

As we noted in a previous post, for publishers to use the Facebook tool successfully, they need to be clear what types of content their Facebook audience wants. Do folks who read Facebook on a mobile app really want in-depth, long-form journalism, or would they prefer shorter stories that are interactive and easy to share?

Hopefully, publishers are taking the time to test the Instant Articles platform and compare it to the other platforms they use (e.g., own website, news app, etc.) to see what content works where before they give the Facebook partnership a hearty thumbs up.”

This “ho-hum” response from news professionals on the surface may seem negative for the Facebook camp, but it’s actually the opposite.  What billionaire business mogul do you know that doesn’t get raked over the social media coals for pretty much anything they do or say that even slightly might rub us the wrong way?  Some might consider Zuckerberg as crazy as “The Donald” to open himself up to an hour-long town hall and the potential-unmerciful scrutiny of us green-eyed town folk wielding our pitchforks and torches.  Sure, what he posted wasn’t earthshattering or nothing to write home, Where the guy who issues himself a $1 a year paycheck “shoots and scores” by walking away unscathed, is having his ducks lined up with good, plausible answers that seemed downright genuine and well-thought out.

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.

American-Journalist-Chart-1

(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.
ajcsign

(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

‘Nerd Tears’ Entertainment Reporter Maximizes Social Media

KM

News reporters have really had to kick-it-into high gear the past several years to make that heavy social media transition or risk being left adrift. Especially expecting better engagement are the nimble-fingered smartphone millennials casting news people to sink or swim into the burgeoning “lead, follow or get the heck out of the way” daunting-digital tidal wave.

The great news is more and more journalists are surpassing the challenge by instituting innovative practices and taking full-advantage of Web information dissemination. It’s worth taking a moment to pay homage and learn some lessons from one of these trailblazers who’s pioneer spirit centers him in the bull’s-eye of the social media success circle.

Kevin McCarthy has been a local Washington, DC, entertainment reporter/film critic for Fox5 News since 2007 who gets tremendous extra social media mileage from his broadcast reports. His heightened digital popularity has even expanded his reports to FOX 29 (Philly) as well as nationally for Fox & Friends (below).

His first proactive social media venture was while attending George Mason University majoring in communications while taking film classes on the side. “I was doing movie reviews on my AOL Instant Messenger while working an internship at 106.7 WJFK-FM, in the promotions department.” After graduation he then began reviewing movies at the station on “The Junkies” morning show in 2005 where he continues every Friday.

nerd tears

Primary Website

Once he because a professional, he quickly established a website bdkreviews.com. However, ever since he coined the popular phrase “nerd tears” several years ago that continues to circulate and gain ground within the movie industry and Fox viewership (Watch Kevin introduce Nerd Tears to top actors), he has aptly rebranded the site http://nerdtears.com/. The website features his conversational writing style and unique rating system and sectioned cleanly into Fox5 Reviews, Favorite Movies, Interviews, Kevin’s Blog and Kevin&Josh Movie Show. On his blog he has a fun way of breaking down some of his favorite movies in more interesting genre’s such as Top Patriotic Films, Best Valentine’s Day Movies, Favorite Movie Dads, annual best and worst films as well as detailed Golden Globe and Oscar predictions.

terminator

Fox News Website

http://www.myfoxdc.com/category/237562/movie-reviews

The Fox News website explains a little more about who he is and also features his latest movie reviews and extensive collection of celebrity interviews. He makes sure that all of his websites are updated several times a day including snapshots of his Facebook and Twitter activity.

 youtube

YouTube

Kevin takes full use of Youtube where he has posted an astonishing 7,120 celebrity interviews (Check out this one with Robert Downey Jr with more than 800,000 views) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zq7Er_jNNvM

He also had the forward-thinking to establish his own youtube channel back in 2007 https://www.youtube.com/user/bdkreviewsdotcom/about which now has 3,000 subscribers and 6.5 million views.

kmtwitter

Twitter @KevinMcCarthyTV

Where Kevin really shines and engages his 25,100 followers is through his use of Twitter where he has managed to post 42,200 Tweets and counting. https://twitter.com/KevinMcCarthyTV/with_replies.  One of his latest offerings in creating a more interactive exchange with his followers is to have them Tweet questions in advance of celebrity interviews which he generously gives responders credit during the taped interviews.

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Facebook

Making full use of his Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/NerdTearsTV Kevin posts many personal and touching moments surrounding his celebrity interviews such as when he met the Terminator’s bad guy Robert Patrick. He made sure he shared with Robert and the social media community that the Terminator movie was the catalyst and inspiration for him seeking a career within the movie industry. He keeps his banter very conversational and is very adept at quickly responding to visitors.

Other social media

Kevin also has a social media presence on:

https://instagram.com/kevinmccarthytv/

On Instagram Kevin sports 813 Posts, 4,548 followers as well as following 395 account members.

http://www.criticschoice.com/members/kmccarthy/

http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/kevin-mccarthy/

http://geeknation.com/podcasts/the-nerd-tears-podcast-ep-69-lions-of-new-york/

(Great use of Nerd Tears Podcasts)

Thanks Kevin for taking your contagious enthusiasm not only to the airwaves, but also to current and countless future fans who will share in your “geeking out” and nerd tears cinematic adventures on social media.

Best Secret Sauce for News on Facebook and Twitter

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Facebook formula dominators

The Biggest Facebook Publishers of January 2015 is a great glimpse into which news organizations are making the most out of story distribution in the top media platform in the world. According to News Whip (Corcoran, January 2015), huge names like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed were grappling with newcomer of the year for 2014 PlayBuzz. Rounding out the top 10 include Fox News, NBC News, The Guardian, The New York Times, Mail Online, BBC and Yahoo. The results are based on Spike tracking stories, videos, and other content that people are sharing and engaging with in real time.

So what exactly is once again list dominator PlayBuzz doing to clean up in terms of overall shares and top stories? Providing nine of the 10 most-engaging stories on Facebook like What Was Your Past Life According To Your Memories? which received more than 1.9 million interactions to bring their monthly total shares to 10 million.  The News Whip report also attributes the leader of the pack’s belief in ‘playful content.’ “It might seem difficult to believe that quizzes could have such enduring appeal to readers, but many can’t resist the fun personality-revealing results. The thousands of Facebook comments endorses the phenomenon. Month after month, these quizzes are mopping up engagement on News Feeds.” Some of the most popular quizzes include ‘What Crime Did You Commit In Your Past Life?’ (2.67 million interactions); ‘What Is Your True Personality?’ (1.84 million); and ‘What Holiday Matches Your Personality?’ (1.67 million).

Overall Facebook Leaders

In terms of current overall interactions, the Huffington Post dominated with more than 52 million with BuzzFeed also in the top three of the leader boards. The Mirror Online is the biggest steady climber which Mirror Head of Social Media Heather Bowen attributes to targeted Facebook posts. Mail Online with over 13.8 million interactions recently acquired former top 10 member Elite Daily (20th overall). Let’s keep our eye on what unfolds with their joint ownership content strategy that could prove to be interesting.

Similarities in Popular Stories

In terms of what Facebook readers are actually reading, the most-engaged pieces are a departure from the usual ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ A sample of The Huffington Post’s heavily-shared story headlines are ‘10 Things Your Mom Never Told You’  and ‘10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World.’ One of BuzzFeed’s biggest stories is ‘26 Pictures Will Make You Reevaluate Your Entire Existence.’ Stories about the UK election on BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post got as many social shares, and often more, than content published by traditional UK newspapers. (Rayson, May 2015) 7 lessons from the Most Shared Content on the UK Elections

Out of the top 150 articles, many fit into the “wacky and intriguing” category with the other popular pieces focusing on self-help, overcoming family challenges, better mental and physical health and listicles. The Huffington Post is not resting on their laurels and has already enacted the next step to their dedication of providing the human-side of news for Facebookers. They are on the verge of launching section covering stories “of people and communities doing amazing things, overcoming great odds and coming up with solutions to the very real challenges they face.”

Leaders in Shares, Comments and Likes

Which news medium is receiving the most likes share and comments based on percent of total interactions (Oct. 2014):

Most Likes: Bleacher Report (85%); The Huffington Post (65%); Fox News (61%)

Most Shares: PlayBuzz (35%); BBC (29%) and Mail Online ((23%)

Most Comments:   PlayBuzz (35%); Mail Online (25%) and BuzzFeed (21%)

With Facebook looking as though it may be directing more attention to breaking and ‘hard’ news in the near future with the reported expansion of its trending feature, news publishers will be battling even more for attention and space. In times of major breaking news, traditional outlets are likely to find themselves jostling for space on news feeds alongside digital newcomers, with high traffic and engagement potentially at stake.

Twitter Audiences Share Some Similarities and Differences

In April, Twitter sharers were most interested in NYTimes articles: “South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder of Walter Scott,” with 39,400 shares; Earthquake Devastates Nepal, Killing More Than 1,900,” was second and “A Rapid Rise by Shawn Mendes, in Tune With Social Media.” (Moeller, May 2015) Sex, Money and Chipotle: Most shared Stories from US News Sites April 2015.  In the BuzzSumo report, these same articles had proportionately high shares on Facebook as well. One story that had a successful share rate on Facebook but extremely low on Twitter was “Obama Calls for End to Conversion Therapies for Gay and Transgender Youth.”  In further comparison, LinkedIn generally favors Business News, Google+ leans towards entertainment news and Pinterest readers covet recipes from newspapers.

There is also a lot of credit for loyal reader’s part in driving shares. “Research indicates nearly three-fifths of Twitter’s 15 million UK users follow at least one national newspaper brand or journalist²,” said Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics. “Twitter is an ideal tool for driving additional traffic to news content and our research indicates that many leading newspaper sites are succeeding in this area.

Learning Lessons from the ‘Bigs’

Across the board, both Facebook and Twitter users share many of the same type of articles with Twitter sharing more breaking news. Some valuable measures we can all take away and put into practice from these social media engagement gurus is simple. Give readers what they want peppered with continuously trying something new until you find your own desirable recipe.  The posts that are the most shared have a uniqueness–whether it be any combo of a super headline, exclusive news, humorous video, great topic, engaging photo, or intriguing subject. You’ll always be able to determine what they like by keeping a continuous pulse on social media analytics and statistics. Even with these numbers you can never replace really listening to your readers. Facilitate dialogues, be genuinely interested in what they have to say by building a long-lasting loyal readership.

References

(Corcoran, November 2014) Meet the Newcomers: The Biggest Facebook Publishers of November 2014

(Corcoran, January 2015) The Biggest Facebook Publishers of January 2015

(N.A., January 2015) Top Newspaper Sites on Twitter: Guardian Stories Most Shared

(Moeller, May 2015) Sex, Money and Chipotle: Most shared Stories from US News Sites April 2015

(Rayson, May 2015) 7 lessons from the Most Shared Content on the UK Elections

 

Tradeshows: Maximizing Awareness in a Tidal Wave of Brands

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How can a brand really stand out at a tradeshow?  It’s not as hard as you may think. Using the the 62nd PGA Merchandise Show that featured more than 40,000 industry professionals from more than 70 countries, let’s first establish branding consistency, goals and target priorities for the event. For instructional purposes and to better establish goals, I will assume promotingCallaway (Links to an external site.) that manufactures and sells golf clubs, balls, apparel, footwear and accessories in more than 110 countries worldwide.

Branding consistency: Displaying consist branding through our black and white color schemes, combined with our data-driven targeting and social media strategy will ensure all our promotions are easily identifiable.

Goals: To make the Callaway booth the #1 destination for attendees amidst the 1,000 competitors at the PGA Merchandise show and 1) Showcase the new Callaway Chrome Soft golf balls and secure at least 1 million balls in sale orders; 2) Feature the advanced Big Bertha Alpha 815 driver and secure $30 million in sales during event. The booth sales person who writes up the most orders will get a $10,000 bonus.

Target:  Reach out and secure onsite appointments with all top industryexecutives. Maximize attendance at opening night Callaway hospitality suite. Maximize attendance at Outdoor Demo Day, the world’s largest professional golf testing event where we will be showcasing our new drivers, clubs and 65 compression soft golf balls.

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Top Three mainstream communication channels

Proximity! Proximity! Proximity – Having been to many trade shows where there are an endless sea of booths—proximity marketing is perfect for the PGA show. We will be using Qualcomm’sGimbal Bluetooth Low Emitting (BLE) beacons (Links to an external site.)because it not only provides a way to communicate with bluetooth capable devices forproximity awareness (Links to an external site.),but the system and customer experience can be customized. The PGA tradeshow floor is so extensive with 1,000 vendors, instead of getting an alert when someone is quite far from the Callaway booth and can be easily distracted, microfencing is much more granular and accurate and will send alerts when attendees are within a stone’s throw of the booth. Afterwards, to ensure that someone who has already visited the booth isn’t alerted again, the registered API key recognizes when a person has been in the booth space.

To sweeten the pot for users to grant permission to enable communications, we will offer a free four pack of our new “soft” golf balls in choice of four colors. Here is a good video that explains the microfencing processhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR8txVtT_Ao (Links to an external site.)

PGA Show Mobile App – The PGA show mobile app will give quick access to an optimum 41,000 attendees, buyers and industry leaders from 79 countries. The app highlights exhibitor map, presentation schedule, show specials, discounts, featured areas and events, demo day info, agenda planning, appointment requests and callbacks.  Because Callaway is a major sponsor for the event, this is a new channel we want to take advantage of to get our maximum reach. As part of the package the most important feature will encourage current and prospective retailers to set up appointments with Callaway during the show.  Other ways we will utilize the app is with the following:

    • Callaway logo branded on all pre-show and onsite show marketing which includes all digital and printed material
    • Callaway logo branded on PGA Show Mobile App registration pages and confirmation email
    • PGA Show Mobile App postcards will be handed out to all at onsite registration
    • Callaway sponsorship mention in first text message opening the show
    • Callaway logo on intro splash page and home page banner ad
    • Feature Big Bertha and new soft golf ball photos & descriptions
    • Feature our latestCalloway video (Links to an external site.)
    • Link directly to Callaway’s featured Showroom

Twitter – Callaway needs to step up their game with Twitter (only 938 followers) and very rarely do they issue a tweet let alone answer a tweet. The show will be a good chance to use this channel with a sample of the following:

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Other Best Fit IMC

The other top two forms of multimedia communication that would be the best fit to support Callaway marketing communications plan for the tradeshow are email and postcards.

Email: We will target top people specifically by sending a visually attractive email encouraging to set up appointment with Callaway during the show. This will include a special invitation to the best hospitality suite at the event for several reasons.  1) They know all the big execs in industry will all be in one room in a relaxed atmosphere to do some heavy-duty networking; 2) The reception will be peppered with golf pros and celebrities; 3) The complementary food and drink will be topnotch; 4) there will be special giveaways at this invitation only event.

Postcards: Postcards may seem like a very outdated and outmoded marketing tool—but these can be effectively used and why they are a really good fit for the PGA merchandise show. Postcards would be used two different ways for the show.  They are really good for pre-event promotion because nowadays most businesses are inundated with promotional emails. About one-month prior to the show we will use our best mailing list and send a really nice, glossy postcard that features the booth number and a message that says to call/email to set up an appointment during the show and bring the card for a one-on-one tour and demonstration of all of Calloway’s newest featured golf equipment and clothing. Afterwards, you will receive your choice of a selection of our any latest top products.

The other use for the postcards, is each day at the entrance of the tradeshow we will have a couple of employees passing them out: Stop by the Callaway booth this morning for a complimentary cappuccino/latte in a souvenir cup. The next day we can pass out another with the message to stop by Callaway’s in the afternoon for a beer in a souvenir porcelain mug.

Using Customer and Employee Testimonials, Especially in Government Contracting Industry

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There is a very unique business in America that doesn’t fit into the standard business model when it comes to social media marketing. For those unfamiliar with government contracting and how it works, a government contractor is a private company that produces goods or services requested by the government.  To be awarded the contract, a company must compete with others by submitting a proposal based on the government’s Request for Proposal (RFP) which specifies the work requested and timeframe the contract covers. Most of the time a contract is set for a year, with several option years if the contractor continues to do a superb job under budget. Government contracting websites and social media channels are among the least customer viewed for a reason. Current and prospective clients aren’t interested because there is no cause for them to research a company in this fashion due to the stringent award process.

The recession continues in government contracting, prompting more federal companies to explore options to service offerings in some adjacent private markets and generally the best ROI is face-to-face marketing. Most government contractors are in niche markets, so the good news is many of these contractors are considered top in their industry with subject matter experts on staff that can author rich company blog postings.

Customer, Partner Testimonials and SME interviews for Content Resources

The most coveted external sources are satisfied customer testimonials. There are many restrictions using current government customers to endorse private industry, so it’s best to place emphasis on former customers who are no longer in a restrictive position that you can use as modified case studies. .

To ensure the best use of customer/partner testimonials in building an IMC content strategy, I first researched several external communication sources that could offer advice.  These included (Kittaneh, 2014)5 Social Media Sources of Testimonials for Your Business (Links to an external site.); (Ash, 2014)Using Customer Stories to Build Trust and Increase Conversions (Links to an external site.); and (Burdett, n.d.)Defense Contractors: Pros and Cons of Social Media Platforms (Links to an external site.).

Legalities of Using Customer Testimonials in Advertising Resource

The power of referrals, endorsements and quotes from customers can really bolster a brand but it’s best to be entirely familiar with truth-in-advertising and endorsement laws as set forth by the Federal Trade Commission.  Here is a good source to ensure proper compliance:FTC’s Endorsements guide for businesses (Links to an external site.). Some of the highlights include:

    • All Endorsements Must Be Truthful and Not Misleading
    • Endorsements Must Reflect Typical Experiences
    • Disclose Any Connections or Affiliations to Your Endorser
    • User-generated reviews from other websites are the property of the person who wrote the review. There are other ways, however, to incorporate customer reviews into your website:
      • Add links or plug-ins to your website that take people directly to your page on crowdsourcing review sites like Yelp.
      • Use third-party rating and review tools, such as Shopzilla or BazaarVoice, on your site so that consumers can review products post-sale. Don’t forget to add a disclaimer notifying your customers that the review may be posted online and used for marketing purposes.
      • Many companies receive awards from various government or media sources. Even though the government cannot endorse a company in an advertisement, posting some of the content in the citation is acceptable in various social media forums.
      • Put the following on Twitter with ceremony photo: #___ receives _____ award for ________ from___________. Use the embed tweet option with complimentary tweets which  provides fully formatted piece of text to embed on company site. An embedded tweet makes for a perfectly credible testimonial as it can be traced to a real person.

Use Social Media to Promote Stockholders meeting or other key meetings

      • At annual stockholders meeting, conduct several short video interviews of board members, CEO, and or pre-approved executives that can be tweeted out, used on company Facebook page, website, etc.
      • Prior to meeting, post photos with short bios on featured speakers on Facebook and LinkedIn company pages to promote stockholder attendance at meeting. Link the post to email that will be going to all stockholders prior to meeting.
      • After annual stockholder’s meeting, post the two interview videos on company website, Youtube and company Facebook page with short description on company services and capabilities.
      • Send out Tweet with each of the Board Member’s photo with link to interview.
      • Cross promote the interviews on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Embed Instagram image with caption.

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Using Subject Matters Experts for robust social media video content

      • Video interview several staff subject matter experts (SME) together on latest and future trends in their industry (approx. 4-5 minutes) and post on website, YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and cross promote to Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Encourage comments and oversee comments by quick turnover of comments by SME.
      • Video interview several staff subject matter experts together on latest and future trends in company capability fields (approx. 4-5 minutes) and post on website, YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and cross promote to Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Encourage comments and ensure quick responses to all comments from one of the subject matter experts (SME).
      • Video interview a variety of SMEs on “why they like working for your company” (approx. 1 minute) and piece together on website for recruiting and then post , YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and cross promote to Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Encourage feedback and coordinate responses to all comments by SME.

References

Ash, T. (June 24, 2014).Using Customer Stories to Build Trust and Increase Conversions (Links to an external site.).Burdett, D. (n.d.)Defense Contractors: Pros and Cons of Social Media Platforms (Links to an external site.).

Kittaneh, F. (Dec. 9, 2014).5 Social Media Sources of Testimonials for Your Business (Links to an external site.)

Beasley, C. (June 5, 2013).Using Testimonials, Endorsements and Online reviews in Your Marketing – How to Ensure You aren’t Breaking the Law (Links to an external site.).

Proximity, Location-based or Hyper-local Advertising is ‘Where it’s at!’

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Proximity, location-based or hyper-local advertising is a method a business uses to get the attention of a mobile or tablet user (and those on laptops) that are in close range using WIFI, GPS or Bluetooth enabled.  Usually an alert will be in the form of a discount or special freebie to try and get them to come in to your establishment. Consumer privacy is completely protected since a person can  choose whether or not to receive the message. More companies are also using this measure as a reward for loyal shoppers who are currently in their store. (See for good example)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMPP-TmYqAg (Links to an external site.)

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Benefits to marketers using proximity channels

As our lecture (Rhoads, 2015) states, “Proximity marketing offers marketers the opportunity to promote brands to highly targeted, on-location audiences to access what’s nearby and are good for any size business.” The lecture also mentions other positive mobile proximity variables such as providing deeper engagement with your audience and delivering relevant timely ads for the unique needs of mobile users

“Proximity marketing merges the physical and digital domains by using mobile devices to reach consumers at the greatest point of influence, providing bargains for shoppers and increased sales and consumer insights for retailers.  (Romanov,2012).Proximity Marketing: When Worlds Collide. (Links to an external site.)

In addition to its new Mobile Audience Network, in October Facebooklaunched (Links to an external site.)local awareness ads (Links to an external site.)that are more cost-effective than traditional advertising channels like newspapers and flyers, plus they offer “more precise targeting, greater reach and a great way to discover new places of interest.” (Protalinski, 2014).Facebook Launches Local Awareness Ads to let Businesses Target Users Nearby. (Links to an external site.)

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Why incorporate into an overall communications plan?

Statistics point to a good return on investment to include53% of consumers willing to share current locations specifically to receive offers of which 63% feel a coupon is the most valuable form of mobile marketing. Data has also shown that 57% of people are more likely to engage with location-based advertising along with 62% sharing local deals with friends.

Macy’s, an early adopter of Proximity Marketing, announced in 2014 that it will be rolling out the technology to all of its stores after a successful pilot last holiday season. Macy’s will send personalized department-level deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards to customers who opt-in. In addition, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Levi’s and Kraft have reported that interactions with advertised products increased 19 times and in-store app usage was 16.5 times higher for users who received a beacon message. A large Las Vegas casino tailors messages to customers such as the benefits of joining their player’s club, or welcome offers to VIP customers including greeting them with their favorite drinks.  (Petro,2014).How Proximity Marketing is Driving Retail Sales. (Links to an external site.)

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Research also shows what common sense suggests: Consumers are most likely to buy when they’re in sight of products and services in which they’ve shown an interest giving merchants an edge. Retailers who have targeted merchandising strategies to move specific products can benefit greatly from proximity marketing because it allows them to quickly change messaging as inventory levels fluctuate. The real time engagement will also yield valuable data on your consumer buying habits and message effectiveness. A recent installation at a leading North American convenience store chain didn’t garner even one complaint, and the messages did help to drive sales increases. The consumer who is most receptive is also in a highly desirable demographic: tech-savvy customers with disposable income. (Romanov,2012).

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How will wearables influence proximity marketing strategies?

The modularity of the NEX Band is its biggest advantage because the product will be able to grow with its user. Although younger testers are much more interested in gaming features, young adults are much more interested in the proximity features, in the fashion component, and in customizing notifications that go directly to the bands. (Yury,2014).Betting on teens on Wearable Tech. (Links to an external site.)

“NFC and RFID chips could be easily embedded and thus turn any daily item into a wearable,” Donovan noted, “and that means a lot of consumer data to be generated”. As Clarke pointed out, however, many companies are still “trying to figure out what to do with the data that proximity and wearable tech generated”. In order to realize the aforementioned contextualization in consumer marketing, we will need figure out how to leverage data into consumer insights.Called by some “The Holy Grail of Content Delivery” – wearable tech offers marketers the opportunity to speak to their audience based on their location, in real time. Wearables will be able to measure so much: movement, stress levels, the sound in your environment, how frequently you go outside, whether you take the elevator or the stairs, whether you usually go to noisy bars or quiet cafes. Nike could offer a 15% rebate on a pair of shoes after the consumer runs 50 miles in them. (McDonald, 2015)4 Ways Wearables Will Change Marketing. (Links to an external site.)

When have I taken advantage of a proximity marketing offer?

I am very disappointed to say that I’ve never received a proximity offer.  Even though I haven’t really signed up to receive many offers from some of the restaurants in my area, I have remitted my mobile data to all the grocery stores I frequent (Safeway, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Target) and am perplexed why these major chains aren’t taking advantage of this effortless and useful technology. I also have the McDonald and Dunkin Donut app and have never received a proximity alert for either. The odd thing is that I’m bombarded with constant messaging but not when I’m near a point of sale and would gladly veer to another store with a decent offer!

References

McDonald, M. (Jan. 26, 2015)4 Ways Wearables Will Change Marketing. (Links to an external site.)

Petro, G. (Oct. 8, 2014).How Proximity Marketing is Driving Retail Sales. (Links to an external site.)

Protalinski, E. (Oct, 7, 2014).Facebook Launches Local Awareness Ads to let Businesses Target Users Nearby. (Links to an external site.)

Rhoads, J. (February 2015). MMC 5006 Lecture Week 8: Proximity Marketing.

Romanov, A. (Dec. 11, 2012).Proximity Marketing: When Worlds Collide. (Links to an external site.)

Yury, C. (July 31, 2014).Betting on teens on Wearable Tech. (Links to an external site.)

New Journalism Social Media Goal: More Engagement for Readers

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Editor’s note: This is a review of a random social media news article focusing on story engagement to attract readers.

News article:  Facebook Begins Testing Instant Articles from News Publishers (NY Times.com)

Engaging features? The topic is the primary draw for me as both a student and corporate communications professional. The second lure is the relevance and timeliness of the article that captures the cutting-edge social media value. The articles was also written with good attribution, background/history/, organization/sequencing, and fundamental and specific process features to inform me about something I had no prior knowledge. The lead photo (see above) of a person looking at their mobile device of the first featured test article, which happens to be on a National Geographic Bee study, test article was a good addition. Two other photos were also posted, one of Facebook’s Chief Product Officer and the other of the National Geographic’s Chief Media officer. Even though I find very little value by including these executive photos, they were at least of good quality. Photos of the team that actually developed the program and the scientists or farmers benefitting from the bee study would have been better choices.

How has the story been told? This particular article was written in the standard journalistic inverted-pyramid style with all the 5 W’s mentioned in the lead/bridge with the most informative facts upfront and progressing with less and less critical info towards the end of the article. The headline delivered exactly what I was expecting and did not build any undue expectation. Unlike the classic storytelling-style arc of beginning/set-up, problem, climax, and concluding with the solution/resolution, this news topic fits the inverted-style more effectively because it is more appropriate at an info launch to stakeholders and other interested parties. For initial announcement-type news stories, the biggest commodity is timeliness and hopefully being the first to bring a new piece of information to the public so it can reap the benefits of being cited in all follow-up stories to extend mileage.

Improvements? As previously mentions, I don’t expect a lot of bells and whistles with initial information reports but there are several reasons why this particular news article should have been more engaging. The biggest disappointment was the lack of any formidable multi-media content, especially because the NY Times is a partner in the Facebook venture and has easy access to the technology, program and a host of project originators.  This would have been the perfect opportunity to make the reader’s experience more fulfilling by (at the very least) posting several video sound bites from the creators/scirntists describing how the new cutting-edge program will benefit future journalists/news organizations as well as science social media audience members.  The article is of substance and a good example of constructive journalism which deemphasizes negative, destructive/crisis news (such as the recent Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia).  This article is also constructive because the NY Times it’s an originator and as close to the facts as possible. The article had a clear purpose of providing an announcement on a new partnership technology. Because this is such an interesting technology process, it would behoove the NY Times to have posted a visually-rich video to show the process first-hand of the actual National Geographic featured Bee report to add to the news relevance and significance of being the first to use the new publishing program. A program like this is best to be seen and experienced instead of being told how it works.