Combining Social Media and PR Efforts

ImageMany companies approach social media in different ways. Different departments are responsible for handling social media and it all depends on the company’s objectives. Scott Elser raised a question in his article Is Social Media Advertising or PR? asking if social media is more PR or advertising.  Elser stressed that there’s no clear answer and that it really depends on what a company wants to get out of social media. If a brand focuses on engagement and communication with its customers, then it is more like PR. When a brand is offering discounts, running sweepstakes to drive sales, etc. then their strategy aligns more with advertising.

The elements of social media that I like the most lend itself more towards PR. If social media and PR work together, they can strengthen each other. The article Bridging the Gap Between Social Media and PR gave great examples like reaching out to reporters or listening to journalists tweets to find the right audience for your company. Social media gives PR an avenue to talk to consumers. More customer service is moving towards social media and PR can be utilized to help form the company’s voice.

According to the article Social Media Matters: PR pros have the perfect partner in social media, social media can also aid PR with pitching stories, staging events, crisis messaging and arranging speaking engagements. Press release should always be pushed out on social media. When an event is being created, social media is a great way to get the word out for attendees and additional press. These few examples go to show that combining social media and PR efforts is a win win situation.

Journalists have a real opportunity to amplify their stories by utilizing social media according to Alyssa Kritsch in Four Ways Social Media is Changing Journalism. They also need to be great listeners when it comes to social media, to be the first one on the scene. Citizen journalists are becoming more of a resource since it is so easy to capture photos and videos from newsworthy events. I can say first hand that journalists in the golf industry like to be the first ones to tweet a piece of breaking news. Their strategy has formed into one where they tweet the news first and then develop a full story on their company’s website that is pushed out via social media after the fact.

Have you ever been a citizen journalist?

What trend do you see journalists using in social media?

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Focus on Connecting not Making Money

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More and more companies are starting to see the value in social media. These same companies though are trying to assign a dollar value to its social media impact and that isn’t easy. They are thinking in the same terms as buying advertising and that doesn’t apply to social media. Chris Heuer said in Measuring—and Capturing—the Value of Social Media that most companies have focused on the financial aspect of investment and return and have “failed to recognize that the very nature of the market has changed, expanding the concept of “returns” and their significance to the company.”

A great way to look at social media ROI is to know what you’re looking for. The article Social Media ROI: It’s Not One Size Fits All talks about how measuring ROI isn’t the same for everyone and a lot of people don’t know what they want from social media. A brand needs to set a goal for its social media efforts before it can measure anything. If you are diving into data blindly, you won’t know what you’re looking at or looking for.

Each goal will have different metrics and it all isn’t applicable to how many likes or comments something gets. For instance, if brand exposure is the goal then one should look at mentions and sentiment. The metrics will be different if your goal is to drive people back to your website. Having a goal will only clear the path to ROI that a brand should take. What works for one company is probably not going to work for the next because they have different goals.

Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman gave a great speech in the video Harness the True Power of Social Media. Ulman’s main focus was social media isn’t about money but instead connecting with others, touching lives and sharing stories. It’s not a one way tool of communication but some companies still put this into practice when it only pushes sales messages. Until a company sees the true value of social media, it won’t start creating the right kind of content for its audience.

Mashable.com ran an article titled 5 Social Media Tactics to Increase ROI. It listed engage, be authentic, keep content at a premium, integrate real-time apps and experiment as its tips.  While these tactics are helpful best practices for brands to follow on social media, I don’t immediately see how they lead to ROI. A brand utilizing all of these tips will create a better community for its brand, which will hopefully lead it to achieve the brand’s goal for social media.

 

Do you know of brands that focus too much on the sale instead of forming a community?

What social media goal do you think most companies set?

Search Engine Optimization Isn’t Scary

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Search engine optimization or SEO for short sounds like a scary subject. The thought behind SEO is simple. A company wants to be easily found when someone searching the internet types a keyword into a search engine. The goal is to claim a high spot on the search results page because you will get more traffic to your link. The article What’s the Value of Being the Top Google Search Result states that the link at the top of a search results page gets 33% of the clicks.

The goal is to get that top spot but the question becomes, is that spot attainable for that specific keyword. Competition in the space and how well a company’s website is optimized for search all plays a part. Someone approaching SEO for the first time probably isn’t going to understand how to make their website work best for SEO.

It’s best to start out using Google’s webmaster tools to make sure your website is in working order and can easily be indexed by Google. The article 7 Ways to Use Google Webmaster Tools to Increase Traffic to Your Website gave tips that included creating a sitemap, resolving HTML errors and server errors and removing bad links. The easier it is for the site to be indexed, the better it’ll do in search. The key to using Google’s webmaster tools is to continually monitor your website. It isn’t a set it and forget it kind of area.

Once your site is in good working order, you can focus on making some changes for SEO. The article 10 SEO Tips for 2013 reinforced how important it is to keep good content on your site and update it regularly. It’s extremely important to reference Google Analytics to know the keywords people are using to get to your website. The next step is to utilize those same keywords in content and put them towards the beginning of the article.

An area that most people don’t pay a lot of attention to is images on a website. It’s extremely important to use appropriate file names and alt tags on images so they also can easily be found in search. That will drive extra traffic back to your website. The blog How to Move Your Blog Post Up in Search Results also said it was important to put the image size and a caption on the image.

I have a great example of how keywords and content tags get content into search. I wrote a blog for my Intro to Multimedia Class on how well they three different brands faired with integrated marketing communications. The blog was full of keywords and I made sure to apply tags to the blog. My blog ended up being quoted on SmallBizTrends.com. How did they find my content I first wondered? Then it all made sense. It had to be related to the search the writer did and my blog applied to the search terms. There was no other way for this person to wind find my blog. I hadn’t posted the link anywhere for people to see. That just goes to show how important SEO needs to be if you want to drive traffic to your website and be relevant with important keyword searches.

Do you think about SEO when you create your title for a blog post?

There are lots of tips for improving SEO. Which tip will you be taking the most seriously?

Look past Likes with Social Media Analytics

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There are so many metrics to measure and many other tools you can use for social analytics. It’s no wonder a lot of companies still rely on charting likes and follows and don’t dive further in to track engagement. It all can be very confusing and overwhelming but with the right social media tracking tool, some of the pain can go away.

The blog 13 Social Media Software Tools for Marketing Your Company or Clients does a great job of listing out a large amount of tools, giving the pros and cons of each. One of the tools on the list is Sprout Social and I am a user of this tool. I mostly use it for social analytics reporting but it has so many other features. Multiple profiles on most of the major social platforms can be tracked in this one tool. You can schedule posts. One of their highlights is the ability to find new customers and grow a brand’s social presence.

A lot of the tools listed I’d never heard of but many were free and sounded intriguing. EdgeRank is a tool I’d like to check out to see where the brand page I work on falls in edgerank on Facebook. I like that it can help a brand increase their exposure and fan engagement. Social Crawlytics is another interesting tool that will look at a brand’s competitors and see which users are engaging with competitors.

The blog Best social media analytics tools: 8 of the best to use also stressed the fact that most companies are only tracking the number of followers they have. There are so many other important metrics. I like to know which posts fair the best so I can adjust the social strategy. If there’s a type of content that isn’t performing well, then I want to know . Why keep going down a path that isn’t successful. Tweriod was also mentioned in this blog and it is a tool I’ve utilized. It takes all the guess work out of when the best time is to post to Twitter for a brand.

What a company may not realize if they aren’t tracking social media analytics is that “Social media is a window into the mind of their target market and a through that, it’s a window into the health of the brand,” said Niles Mork Ulnes in Beyond Social Media Analytics — Getting to Consumer Insights. It’s a way to understand what motivates a customer and track trends. You may think one thing of your brand and the consumer may think another. If you aren’t tracking that conversation on social media, you’ll be left in the dark.

I’m a big fan of Google Analytics and like that they incorporate social media into their free tool. The blog Using Google Analytics to track social media marketing does a great job of defining each of the areas and what the purpose is. I do want to clarify that Google Analytics doesn’t measure anything happening on your social media channels. The data they report ties back in to a brand’s website and what social channels are driving visitors back. It isn’t going to tell you how many likes a post got. You will see what social channels works best for driving web traffic and the type of content on your site that people share.

I encourage anyone who is just starting to dip their toes into social media analytics to check out this infographic. It gives actionable steps to start looking at social analytics. You shouldn’t just start looking at the data. First determine your goals for each social media platform. You won’t know what metric is the most important if there aren’t actionable goals to meet. The next step is to configure your analytics for those specific goals and get a tool that can help you accomplish what you are trying to measure.  A large part is educating yourself with the meaning of the metrics, as they are different for each social platform. The final step is to analyze the data and see if you’re meeting your goals. If you aren’t then how can you make changes to move in the right direction?

What metrics do you measure the most when it comes to social media?

Do you have a favorite social media analytics tool?

We all want Viral Content

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Every company dreams of creating viral content. Viral content creates attention, gets people talking about a brand and drives traffic back to a website. What companies probably don’t realize is how hard it is to create viral content.

When thinking about viral content, I have a hard time thinking outside videos that have been viewed millions of times. Images, stories and infographics can all be viral as well. The strategy behind each type of content going viral remains the same.

There’s a lot of competition when it comes to online content. Companies may not realize it but when you want something to go viral, you aren’t just competing within one industry but with everyone says Kelsey Libert in The Secret Recipe for Viral Content Marketing Success. The average US adult consumed more than 11 hours of media content in the average day in 2011 says eMarketer. That’s a lot of competition.

ImageIt seems a lot of blogs want to provide the winning strategy to viral content but they all pretty much make the same points. The article  Why Content Goes Viral talks about evoking emotion and making the content be about a practical use. Positive emotions get shared more than negative emotions. The only reason I might share a sad story is to make others cry like the story made me. I find it much easier to share something when it’s positive,  uplifting or hilariously funny. The article Creating Viral Content? The Secret is Get Contagious gave a great tip to help make content practical and that was to finish the content with next steps the consumer should take. This gives the reader something to remember and another reason to share.

With so much being consumed, content has to grab attention and draw people in quickly. That is why visuals and especially infographics are so popular and go viral quickly. One of Visual.ly’s most popular infographics a year ago was a strange one called What are the odds. It pulls on people’s emotions and touches on a question that people think about our existence.

I learned the most this week from How to Create Viral Content. I work for a company that probably doesn’t have a viral product unless we were to come up with something really funny. What I’ve learned from this article is that I need to understand why people talk and share. Once I’ve figured that out, I can then apply that strategy to all of the content I generate. The content might not go viral but it will help me get more exposure than I was previously getting for content.

In May 2013, Mashable wrote Here’s Why These 6 Videos Went Viral. The first video on the list was Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” video. A month after the video was released it had “nearly 54 million views on YouTube and about 68 million views across the web, according to data from Visible Measures.” I remember when the video came out all of my friends were sharing it on Facebook. I didn’t watch the video at the time. I just watched it now and I get why it went so viral. It has to do with emotion and touching a nerve that affects a lot of people. It was said in The Secret Recipe for Viral Content Marketing Success that a brand needs to understand their audience and the emotional drivers that motivates them. Dove did this and because of that they had a huge viral hit.

What emotion gets you to share a piece of content the most?

What is your favorite piece of viral content?

Popularity of Visual Content

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Visuals are extremely engaging content. There are social media platforms dedicated just to them and some of those platforms allow for both photos and videos.  The main channels centered on visuals are YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine.

If your brand has any type of video content, it is imperative that you utilize YouTube. According to How To Make YouTube Part Of Your Social Media Marketing, YouTube is second most popular search engine and it only serves up videos. The reason to be on YouTube is because it allows you to be found when users are doing a search. It also will pull your videos up into the related video area. YouTube can be accessed from almost all mobile devices. The one point that stuck with my from this article was to not hide your videos on your website. I’m guilty of this. I get greedy for website traffic and forget that YouTube is just another way to distribute video content and serve it up to those users who are searching for something on that platform.

I have a hard time agreeing with the article Research: YouTube beats Facebook with consumers. They said users reported use of YouTube ahead of all other social sites. I find this hard to believe because I’m not a big user of YouTube. What I can agree with them on is that brands are planning to increase their video budgets. I know at my job we’ve put a big emphasis on video content and are making it a priority. That means increasing the budget and possibly taking away from other things we’ve done in the past. Video content is too popular to ignore it at this point and it has to be a priority if you want users to find you in certain places on the web.

While I may not spend much time on YouTube, I spend way too much time on Pinterest. I can believe it when the article Why You Should Not Ignore Pinterest in Your Social Media Strategy says that users spend more time on Pinterest than on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. I love PInterest because it allows me to look through fun categories of content and store the ideas I like in a very organized way. The reason it has so much success for inbound traffic generation is because the content isn’t stored on Pinterest. The link to the content is represented by a photo and to consume the content you are taken back to where it was posted originally. No matter how many times a “pin” is shared, the link back to your website will remain.

The article Move Over, Facebook: Why Your Business Needs to Be on Pinterest says that businesses need to take a look at Pinterest. I’m not sure all businesses fit with Pinterest. The important thing is to find out if Pinterest is a place where your consumers spend time and if it isn’t then don’t waste your time. I work for a company that doesn’t sell anything. We promote our events and athletes and I have a hard time finding uses for our content on Pinterest.

Pinterest requires a special strategy. Your content needs to fit into the popular categories on the platform and with food and drink, DIY crafts and home décor being the most popular ones. A good way to incorporate Pinterest into your website would be to add “pin it” buttons on content. This allows users to easily share your content on Pinterest.

Vine and Instagram are two of the latest social platforms to become popular. When Instagram launched their video function, I think it put an end to Vine’s popularity. I only dabbled a little in videos on Vine but decided I didn’t need two apps where I could post short videos. Instagram won out. I’m sure there are people that agree and disagree with that same choice.

Do you find yourself using YouTube as a search engine?

When it comes down to posting short videos, do you prefer Vine or Instagram?

How to be LinkedIn correctly

ImageI haven’t been on LinkedIn for that long. I not sure what kept me away all these years but it wasn’t until about six months ago that I joined the platform. I use to think that because I had a stable job and wasn’t looking for a new job there wasn’t a reason for me to be connected on LinkedIn. I’m learning how wrong that thinking was and the benefits that LinkedIn can provide to everyone.

I wasn’t aware of how LinkedIn made money until reading LinkedIn: The Ugly Duckling of Social Media. Their three main revenue streams are ad sales, talent solution listings and premium subscriptions with corporate customers making up for more than half of that revenue. I can certainly see the lure of LinkedIn to recruiters and companies looking for new hires. They have a huge database of potential employees at their fingerprints. The important thing to learn and remember is how to stand out on LinkedIn and keep from making mistakes that will keep you from being recruited.

There are many ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile and the article Preparing for the New LinkedIn Design: How to Optimize Your Page and Profile does a great job of breaking down the main points. The headline is the most important part with the summary being next in line. These are two things that will help you stand out from a crowd. I’m not sure I have either on my profile. These two things must be really important because the article 7 Quick Ways to Turn Your LinkedIn Profile into a Social Media Marketing Workhorse also listed them as points one and two.  

You want to be sure to have important keywords in your headlines and write about who you are in your summary. Things I would include are website management and social media. I’d also call to attention that while working a full work week managing a website and mobile platforms, I also spend my time getting my Master’s Degree in social media. Another area to make sure is up to date is the contact info where social media links should be provided.

The next time you visit your LinkedIn profile think about if you’re making any mistakes on your profile. The article 8 Mistakes You Should Never Make On LinkedIn says that not having a picture is the worst mistake. Your profile is seven times more likely to get viewed when you have a picture. The second mistake is to not have a professional looking picture. This isn’t the social network where a photo of your dog or baby is appropriate. I remember when first setting up my profile I contemplated using a photo of my baby and I. I’m glad that I changed my mind. You want to pick something that shows your professional side and potential connections aren’t drawn in by a baby, even if it is a cute one.

Other mistakes include not updating your status, skipping the summary, or not posting all job or volunteer experience. I don’t know that I’ve ever made a status update on LinkedIn. Updates aren’t needed every day but it is important to post something new every few days to keep your profile fresh and make your profile top of mind for your connections. My tactic will be to share articles I find interesting and helpful to those I’ve connected with.

What mistakes have you been making on LinkedIn that you will start to correct?

Do you make status updates on LinkedIn and if so what are usually?