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Periscope and Meerkat : The New ‘Twitter’ for Reporters

Periscope, Meerkat - New Twiter for ReportingBelieve it or not, Twitter has been around for nine years now. Shortly after Twitter launched in March of 2006, The American Journalism Review (AJR) published an article that referred to Twitter as “…the latest in an ever-lengthening list of overhyped technologies and cultural techno-fads stretching back to CB radio.” The industry largely doubted the viability of Twitter as a news platform. They will not repeat this mistake with Periscope and Meerkat, two new live-video apps that enable anyone with a smartphone to broadcast a live-video feed to their Twitter followers. Just as Twitter has become the first broadcast breaking news in text and photo formats, so too will it now bring us live-video coverage of news as it unfolds.

Back to the AJR article for a second – because it provides a great illustration for how news organizations have evolved their approach to new platforms and consumption patterns across their audiences – the author posed the question of whether Twitter was a fad, or if it could actually end up being useful for news distribution, reporting or source-building. It was a wait and see attitude that dominated an industry rooted in traditions and paralyzed by a lack of innovation and willingness to change.

In one of my first blog posts on Journalistics, nearly two years after the launch of Twitter, I shared the results of a survey I conducted with more than 100 professional journalists at the time. I interviewed reporters and producers about the biggest challenges facing them in preparing the news in a rapidly-changing media environment. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a single mention of “learning how to use Twitter in my reporting.” I’ll say it again, that was two years after the launch of Twitter.

Fast-forward to 2015 and we’re witnessing the next transformation in social media-based reporting with the launch of Meerkat and Periscope. These services launched over the course of the past couple of weeks. Every minute, news organizations, reporters and a bunch of other early adopters are starting to leverage these new platforms to broadcast their live-video feeds to anyone that will watch. If you aren’t yet familiar with how this works, once you click a button to begin the stream, your Twitter followers are notified that you’re broadcasting. They just have to click the link and their preferred device becomes the new window into the world of breaking news (or anything else publishers choose to broadcast). [Read more…]

How To Develop Your Digital Content Strategy

digital content strategyWhat’s a digital content strategy? This is a hard question to answer in 2015. Is a digital content strategy something you need for social media? Content marketing? Influence marketing? Your blog? All of the above? Yes, all of the above and then some. Your digital content strategy should be an all-encompassing strategy that defines how you approach communications across all your digital channels.

Why do you need a digital content strategy? You need a digital content strategy because your audiences want you to engage and interact with them in different ways, with relevant content that aligns to the ways they choose to consume and share the content you provide.

If you’ve never created a digital content strategy for your organization, the following steps will walk you through creating one. This is no small task, but I’ve tried to approach the assignment to make it easier for you to produce a digital content strategy that will be useful for your organization. First up, who do you communicate with? [Read more…]

Top Trends, Campaigns and Platforms of SXSW 2015

sxsw 2015Despite the drone-free skies at SXSW 2015, there is still plenty flying around Austin this weekend. While this isn’t a statistically valid analysis of what’s trending at SXSW 2015, here’s my rundown of the trends, activations and platforms that made the most noise in Austin this year. It’s an exciting time to work at the intersection of marketing, technology and communications.

Trends

Big Data – well, “big data” is here to stay in our marketing vocabulary. By far, the most common buzzword I have heard at SXSW so far has been “big data”. The longest lines for sessions have been for topics revolving around big data. Every vendor seems to now be in the big data business, and it’s clear everyone wants a piece of the “making sense out of data” pie. By and large, I think this is a great thing. For too long, we’ve made business decisions with limited and dated research – or hunches. The better we get at using accurate (and if possible, real-time data), the better informed and productive these decisions will be. The challenge for most organizations will be selling the value of big data internally, as it’s costly to fund the tools and people required to be successful.

ibeacon sxswProximity – while there have been a few failed attempts at leveraging proximity-based mobile applications at past SXSW events (Highlight or Banjo come to mind), practical applications of proximity-based messaging technology – most-notably through the use of iBeacons – have utility. SXSW is using iBeacons at the conference this year to alert users of its app to interesting things going on at the conference. When you carry your mobile device around with you, you’re essentially telling people where you are. Privacy concerns aside, this is the future of location-based marketing – pushing content to users in the moment is one step closer to realizing those scenes out of Minority Report. I’m most-excited about seeing the adaptation of iBeacons for driving proximity-based engagement in retail and event applications.

egg minder internet of thingsInternet of Things – EVERYTHING is going to be connected to the Internet in the next couple of years. That’s the general theme of the dozens of Internet of Things sessions at SXSW. There are too many products out there in the Internet of Things – or IoT – sector to mention in this post. Just know that every for every product you own that plugs into the wall (or recharges), somebody is working on one that connects to the Internet. Honestly, there are a lot of products that you don’t currently need that will connect to the Internet too – like a device you can put your eggs in that will tell you if they’re still fresh. Don’t put all your IoT eggs in one basket, I guess?

There are surely some follow-up trends of note to be on the lookout for when it comes to the IoT. First, there are some considerable privacy and security issues that will emerge (opportunities for smart entrepreneurs to capitalize on). When everything is connected to the Internet, it brings with it the same risks and vulnerabilities of any other device on your network. Than there is the issue of overwhelming your home network with too many devices competing for a connection – there are limits here that will need to be addressed. Finally, it makes sense that we’ll see common aggregators emerge that enable you to manage all of your Internet things from a single interface. My guess is Google will emerge as a leader here, as it’s in line with indexing all of the world’s information – and yeah, back to that big data thing… there’s a lot of data behind all of our things being connected. Anybody making a product today needs to consider how that product will connect to the Internet – that’s a mega-trend if I’ve ever seen one.

uber sxswGetting From Point A to B – personal transportation is an interesting trend I’ve noticed at SXSW. From the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, to tap-and-go Smart Cars you can see all over Austin, to similar applications for hailing taxis and pedicabs, it’s clear that smartphones with their GPS and mobile payments capabilities have made it easier than ever to find a ride than ever. Look for developments in ride-sharing to be a trend in coming months, as Uber recently announced its plans to enable you to team up with other users to get where you’re going.

Read more about the brand activations and platforms making a splash at SXSW 2015. [Read more…]

8 Tips for Getting The Most Out of SXSW

SXSW 2015I shared my perspective on why I attend SXSW earlier, as a response to those people in my network that decided not to make the trek out to Austin this year (for reasons other than more important work or personal commitments, which are always acceptable excuses).

If you did decide to make the trek out to Austin for SXSW this year, and provided you’re not an eight-time veteran like some people I know, here are some tried and true tips for maximizing your experience at SXSW this weekend (and beyond into Monday and Tuesday should you last that long): [Read more…]

Why Do I Attend SXSW?

why attend sxsw 2015When I tell people I’m headed to Austin for SXSW, I tend to hear the same responses. I either hear, “cool, let’s connect there” – which is less common – or I hear one of the following responses:

  • We were thinking about launching our [insert thing] there, but decided not to because there’s too much noise
  • I hear SXSW has gotten too big and it’s not what it used to be
  • I knew this guy or girl that went and didn’t get a lot of value
  • I went back in [insert year], and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be
  • Or some other excuse why SXSW isn’t worth the time or money

For me, SXSW is just like everything else in life. You get what out what you put into it. You can either be one of the people above making excuses, or you can take the approach of most people attending this week and make opportunities. Sure, you can come to SXSW and party the entire time, but you’ll just wake up in strange places, have a killer headache and have nothing to show for it but some digits and a bigger-than-expected expense report.

If on the other hand you invest some time and energy into planning out the content you want to experience, and the people you want to connect with, you can get far more value out of the conference than the investment of time and money you put into it. [Read more…]

How to Create a Communications Strategy

how to create communications strategyA lot of organizations have separate documented communication strategies for each communications discipline. Your organization may have a public relations strategy, marketing communications strategy, social media strategy and sales strategy, all operating in parallel to accomplish often similar (or exact) goals. I suggest having one, clear and cohesive communications strategy that covers all communications activities within your organization. If there are different people responsible for each strategy, get them all in the same room to create a single one (this goes for any organizational-wide plans as far as I’m concerned).

With communication plans, you’re ultimately developing and delivering messages to target audiences for a desired outcome – that is the fundamental formula. If you’re new to creating communications strategies, or want to match your approach up to an alternative approach, I’ve provided some suggestions below for creating your comprehensive communications strategy. [Read more…]

Taking a Newsroom Approach to Content Marketing

content marketing trendsBrands have never cared more about content marketing. It is the hot topic for 2013, as brands look to leverage great content to expand their reach, drive more engagement or improve their search engine rankings – to name a few. Don’t believe me? Search any content marketing related keyword in Google Trends and you’ll find a spike in conversation this year around the topic (the graph to the right is for “content marketing” news headlines). [Read more…]

Are You Listening?

The physical presence of ears does not make you a good listener. Listening makes you good listener. If you’ve created a Twitter, Facebook or [insert your favorite social media] account for your brand, congratulations, you now have ears. Are you listening?

I think we’ve reached a point where most brands realize they need to be present in social media, and I think most that create a presence actually are listening, but you wouldn’t know it. You wouldn’t know it, because they’re not engaging their audiences. They’re not part of the conversation. If somebody says something nice or not-so-nice about their brands, there’s no response. Are they responding behind the scenes? It doesn’t matter, perception is reality with social media. We need to see you in social media to know you care.

This post is motivated by my personal experience trying to engage with brands online lately. In most cases, I’ve been raving about how awesome I think some person, place or thing is. You know, an unsolicited endorsement or recommendation to my friends and followers. In most cases, I’ve used their Twitter handle (or Facebook page, URL, etc.). I know somebody has seen it on the other end, but no love. What gives?

I suspect the unresponsiveness stems from one (or more) of the following:

  • Lack of experience using the tools of the trade – brands don’t know how to listen
  • Lack of resources dedicated to social media – the brand only has one person reviewing social media one hour a day (or less)
  • Gag orders – organizations that don’t allow employees to engage – or have had a bad experience in the past which has everyone gun shy now
  • They don’t care – it’s not even on their radar. They’re above it.
  • Too much to handle – it is possible to reach a level where you can’t possibly listen to it all, or engage with everyone. Justin Bieber comes to mind. Then again, Lady Gaga is notorious for engaging with her fans… it’s worked pretty well so far.

Here are some suggestions for starting out listening and engaging with your audiences:

  • Create a basic social media policy – here’s a list of 57 social media policies you can draw inspiration from. Don’t make it too “employee handbook”, but rather “guidelines for engaging.” Things won’t always go smoothly, but make a concerted effort to get better over time.
  • Monitor your Twitter and Facebook accounts more closely. Set up alerts so you know the second somebody says something about you. If it’s nice, say thank you. If it’s a problem, help solve it. Do it publicly at first. If it needs to be taken offline, do so. Once solved, encourage them to share their experience.
  • Use the search feature of Twitter to create some searches for your brand name. You might want to create some searches for common terms in your business, followed by a question mark. As an example, I monitor “journalism”? to see what questions people are asking about journalism. It’s a great way to discover new people and conversations related to what you do.

  • Act online like you would offline. It’s funny, but sometimes I picture the person I’m going to engage with – would I say what I’m about to send them in a message? It makes things more interpersonal for me. It’s also a good idea to use your manners here. Say please and thank you.
  • Pay it forward. Plenty of brands reply and say “thanks for the RT” or “thanks for following”. It can seem a little robot-like after a while. I can name a dozen or so high-profile Twitter users who have RT’d something I said about them. For me, this is a big one. It shows me they were listening – and, they thought enough to share with their network.

It’s not an all or nothing type thing. Start slowly. For me, I think a basic requirement should be to at least engage with a couple of people per day. If somebody takes the time to mention you, retweet you, comment on your wall, or like your page, the least you can do is thank them or ask for their opinion on something. Right?

Great, thanks for listening!

What do you think? How can brands new to social media do a better job listening to, and engaging with, their most important audiences?

Social Media Has Changed Brand Management Forever

When it comes to online brand management, most businesses are already familiar with the more common techniques such as using SEO to gain top search engine positions or content and keyword control. However, many are failing to recognize the importance of social media and customer reviews sites to online brand management.

According to the 2010 Pew Internet & American Life study, a staggering 78 percent of U.S. Internet users have researched a company or product before making a purchase. These customers are not only going to the prospective business’ site, but are searching neutral sites for reviews like Viewpoints.com or Angieslist.com, or mainstream social media like Facebook or Twitter.

In order to protect your brand over a long-term period, you need to construct a brand management plan in addition to plotting appropriate SEO work. Brand managers should prepare to monitor the following two areas on a regular basis: [Read more…]

It’s July 4th… Are You Ready for a Hot Dog Eating Contest?

There are influencers on the web for just about every subject under the sun. Pick a topic of your choice – we can assure you that someone is writing about it. If you write about something – on Twitter or Facebook, in a blog or even in a “traditional” publication, wouldn’t you like to see what kind of influence you have on the community and find the leading voices to engage and interact with?

But how do you get there? A Google search probably won’t do it – it certainly won’t give you a score or rank the other top Influencers. That’s why we designed My mPACT… so you can search for any subject (you pick the keywords, we do the math) for both your score and a list of top influencers. [Read more…]