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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…]

Networking Online and Offline

Networking is a topic near and dear to my heart. Every single opportunity I’ve had in my lifetime to date has been born out of a relationship initiated by me or someone else. You can probably say the same. In my case, maybe it was a connector who introduced me to my former employer. Maybe it was me extending my hand for the first time and finding the next person I would decide to work on a project with. Maybe the relationship was born out of small talk waiting in line somewhere. Those of you that read this blog, and know me in real life, probably have an interesting story about how we met.

I found myself thinking about the topic of how networking has changed in my recent trip to SXSW Interactive. Think about the startups generating the most buzz coming out of SXSW the past couple of years. There’s Highrise, GroupMe, Twitter, Forecast, Plancast and Foursquare (this list could easily be 50 companies long, but you get the point). What do they all have in common? In one way or another, they help us to connect easier with one another. Isn’t that what social media is all about?

For the social media-savvy group, which I consider myself a member of, it’s helped us to develop hundreds (if not thousands) of new connections that wouldn’t have been possible using traditional networking. By traditional networking, I mean getting out there and meeting people in real life. It would take a lifetime of traditional networking to make the connections we can make in a few months using social media. Would you have known that the woman you work with went to school with your best friend’s fraternity brother? Nope, not without LinkedIn. How about the dozen or so people in your city you know through Twitter now? How long would it have taken to meet them the old fashioned way? You probably would never have met them. [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…]

5 Ways Journalists Can Use Twitter

Social media and journalism are becoming more and more intertwined, and while the debate rages on if social media is a part of the journalism industry, Twitter, Facebook and the like shouldn’t just be reserved for the marketers and brand community managers out there. There’s an even greater potential for journalists to leverage the power of networking with Twitter, but before you sail into unchartered territories, you first need to know how to navigate the waters.

[Read more…]

Monitor Check-In and Review Sites to Boost Business

When something doesn’t smell or taste right to you, what do you do? You tell your friends around you to smell or taste it to see if they agree. They hesitantly comply and either confirm or deny your position. A similar scenario unfolds with social media all the time, but with an adverse effect. Peer reviews are being posted and instead of readers jumping on board to share the displeasure, they’re simply accepting their peers’ opinions as their own.

Location-based services (LBS) like Foursqure, Gowalla and Facebook Places – the apps consumers use to ‘check-in’ at your business, or review sites like Yelp!, Google Local / Google Places, OpenTable and Citysearch, the services consumers use to rate and review your business, can make or break your business. Consumers will opt not to visit your business if they read a bad review. Likewise, positive reviews can send swarms of customers your way. The problem is customers usually only post reviews when they’re upset. [Read more…]

A Sure Sign News Teases Don’t Work in Social Media

If you’re a Virgo, like me, you are probably still reeling from the identity crisis you experienced upon hearing you may in fact not be a Virgo after all. The news that the zodiac calendar has shifted spread faster than the speed of light through social media and has simultaneously proven that news teases in social media are about as useful as that Libra tattoo you got in college. Here’s why: [Read more…]

Top 10 Journalistics Posts of 2010

The last Journalistics post of 2009 was the “Top 9 Posts of 2009.” It seems fitting that the last post of 2010 should be the Top 10 Posts of 2010, you know, keeping with tradition and all.

Before I get to the list, I’d like to thank all of you who read Journalistics on a regular basis. It’s been your ongoing support that has continued to motivate me to keep on blogging. Journalistics is here for you, the readers. If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover, or ways we can improve the blog, please let me know.

Without further delay, here’s the list of Top 10 blog posts from 2010: [Read more…]

NEW Facebook Groups: Pros and Cons

Somewhere between the (estimated) 10th and 20th Facebook redesigns, I stopped using Facebook Groups. Well, let me clarify: I stopped caring about Groups. I very well could still be a member of the Groups I joined when I first registered for Facebook, which was back in 2005 when it wasn’t even available to all colleges yet (“Praise Urban Meyer and Eat Cake” was one of said groups, a wise decision on my part.)

So when Facebook came out last month announcing it was improving its Group features, it came as a shock. Facebook still has Groups? I thought Pages did away with that? I don’t even see which Groups I’m in on my profile page (I know it’s there somewhere).

I was flabbergasted. There are Pages about interests and Groups about businesses. So what is it about Groups that set them apart from being lumped in with Pages? In theory, Groups and Pages do the same thing: connect people with similar, dare I pun, likes. So, hoping to gain a little more insight, I did what any red-blooded journalist would do: I Googled. Well, in this instance, I Facebooked… [Read more…]

Has Social Media Made You More Casual?

I can’t pinpoint an exact date or time when I started noticing more and more casual offices popping up, but I do credit it to the emergence of social media. Facebook and Twitter gave companies a more off-the-cusp way to communicate with consumers.

Instead having customer service representatives or official press release announcements, they have social media managers that get right to the audience. Communication is animated, casual, even enjoyable. That style has taken over how we do business online, and now, it’s moving into how we do the behind the scenes the work.

[Read more…]