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My clients ask this question frequently. Up until recently, I usually answered this question with a resounding “NO.” I love Instagram and use it myself, but it posed significant challenges to my clients, for two reasons. First, many struggle with creating images that are aspirational or that include a soft brand message. Second, Instagram has been very clunky to manage, making it difficult for brands to incorporate conveniently into their social media practice.
In the last six months, Instagram has added significant features and functionality which have made me change my mind. Here’s why I’m changing my advice to my clients and counseling them to invest in Instagram.
Explore and Search Is Better
As Fast Company reported last year, the enhanced explore and search features on Instagram give brands a chance to target by topics in a way that wasn’t possible before. What does this mean for a brand? You can start following and listening to relevant Instagrammers while building your channel.
Geotagging Means Even Better Targeting
If you’re a business with customers who post, then geotagging means you can see and track Instagrammers who visit your business and talk about you. This means you can also engage with them. In the example below, I’ve posted about a dish I liked at a local restaurant and was able to tag them before pushing it live on Instagram.
Visual Content is the Key
Sounds obvious, right? But it’s surprising to see so many brands struggle with creating content where the visual element is front and center, and the text supporting it is secondary. This is what I want my clients to focus their social media practice on this year. It’s what is driving new social media users to Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope.
Manage Multiple Accounts
The biggest change of all for Instagram was just announced last week. And that is, the ability to switch between accounts. Instagram users can now manage up to 5 accounts from one app. Previously, you had to log out of your personal Instagram to log in to your brand channel. This new feature alone should drive additional brands to jump in to Instagram this spring.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, which is increasing integration for advertisers on both platforms. And while Instagram is easier than ever to use, it should still be part of a multi-channel strategy with goals, objectives, strategy and tactics to make it work for you.
If you want to dig deeper, here is a collection of stories about Instagram.
Add the word “live” to your event and there’s automatic excitement. Every host who opens the show on Saturday Night Live, says “LIVE from New York…” and we pay attention. Television stations use “live”and “breaking news” to make us sit up and see what’s going on. In the radio years, a sure sign of something different was the voice of a very stern announcer saying “we interrupt this program to bring you…..” followed by whatever life-changing news was happening.
The same can be said for live reporting on social media. Instead of the terms “live” and “breaking news” we often see a post on social media proceeded by all caps and HAPPENING NOW, especially on FB. On Twitter, we often see the term “BREAKING” on Tweets from reporters. The early premise of Instagram was that everything was “live” unless you tagged your photo with #latergram, but many users treat the Instagram as a look book rather than a breaking news platform.
You don’t have to be mainstream media or a big personality to generate excitement during a live event. There are numerous ways to use social media to cover your clients’ events live. Here are a few ideas and the pros and cons of each.
- Brand-Only Posts: This is where you curate posts for the brand channels before, during and after the event.
- Pro: It allows maximum control of the message.
- Con: Only one point of view is represented. During large or multi-venue events, it’s easy to miss part of the action.
- Anonymous Contributors: Similar to traditional media, a variety of volunteers or reporters are given “assignments” and one person curates what they’re contributing into the brand channels.
- Pro: Coverage includes many elements of the event.
- Con: Someone needs to be at the controls, sorting through and posting photos, videos and other assets as you go along. There is a high margin for error.
- Personality Posts: In this scenario, you are still gathering assets but they may be brand ambassadors or guest reporters with their own following.
- Pro: The personalities give weight to your event.
- Con: They can become the story.
- Community Sourced Posts: Certainly you’re watching one or more hashtags, visitor posts and the @mentions column to sense the general excitement that is unfolding during the event. In this case, you can share, retweet or repost with a hat tip or thank you.
- Pro: This shows the community you are watching and open to their point-of-view during an event.
- Con: Like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.
- Channel Take-overs: Some brands create excitement around an event with a directed channel takeover by a brand ambassador or celebrity. These are heavily promoted and often part of a larger campaign.
- Pro: The intersection of the brand point of view and the celebrity’s point of view often leads to amazing results for both parties.
- Con: Same as community sourced posts, you might be surprised in a different way or do damage to your brand.
- Combination: When we assist a client with covering live events on social media, we often use a combination approach.
- The Cardboard Kids Campaign for ChildSafe included brandposts, community sourced posts and a curated stream by key area bloggers into a Flipboard magazine.
- The San Antonio Cocktail Conference also featured a combination of brand posts, anonymous contributors and directed contributions using social media influencers to cover the 5 day event.
- When assisting a health care client during a one day women’s conference, brand-only posts were the focus due to the nature of the subject matter and the brand’s guidelines.
No matter how you cover your next live event, you need a plan and a moderator to make it all happen.
How do you help your clients cover live events in social media? Leave a comment.
Don’t you wish it was easier to compare social media networks side-by-side? You know, a really cool chart to summarize what’s going on in the network, so you can answer client questions more easily or find that key statistic to drop into your presentation.
Keeping up with the news of each network is tough, even for communicators working in this area. So I created this side-by-side chart to compare the top 8 social media networks so I can answer the questions my clients ask more quickly and without duplicating my research string over and over again.
I compared Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Periscope and Instagram and looked at 6 factors: network size, activity, devices and habits, cool facts, latest move and ownership.
Each network is so different. Sometimes it’s really hard to compare them. Size is important when you are counseling clients on using social media resources, but some networks may not report their size. The way social networks report their Activity can also be confusing, but it’s my hope that the activity metric gives an indication of what’s going on there. For the Devices and Habits category, I had been watching the switch to mobile use for my clients, but now that some of our biggest networks are on mobile only — like Snapchat and Periscope– the category had to change slightly. The Latest Move section allows me to look at the business side of the network and how these networks are changing to meet the needs of their users. Ownership is an ongoing concern for me as a media watcher. Who owns what is important and as you can see from the chart, the ownership strings are complicated. Who doesn’t love a Cool Fact to share with their clients?
Using 36 different sources, I gathered the information into this chart, which isn’t very readable here. So I’ve provided a download link below, so you can look at it more closely. Use it for your business or nonprofit, or maybe to win a trivia contest, but PLEASE, if and when you share it, please note and credit the sources of information in the accompanying citation sheet.
Social networks are growing and changing so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Having a comparison chart helps me talk to clients about their mix of social channels. Maybe it will help you too.
What would you like to see on this chart the next time I update it?
Download the Social Media State of the Networks Comparison Chart.
Guest post by Jennifer Hatton
Time has flown by and we are already at Part 4 of our channel management series.
Our topic today is one of my favorite things to talk about in social media – Scheduling and Finding Content. There are so many assets you can use and questions you can ask to help fill your content calendar, regardless of the type of page you manage. Let’s discuss how to balance the type of messages you are sending to create a versatile schedule.
Scheduling –Use An Editorial Calendar
Great social media managers need to work to find content – it’s not magic. Scheduling content should be intentional and part of your overall process. The first step in effective scheduling is creating and using an editorial calendar. It does not have to be extremely detailed or on a fancy spreadsheet — although those are nice. An editorial calendar is a map where you plan out what you want to say, when you want to say it and mix your content so you can reach your goals and metrics but also stay relevant and interesting to your audience. Audience identification should be part of your onboarding, which we discussed in Part 2: The Warm Handoff.
Information you need to create an editorial calendar:
- Social media platforms you will be using.
- Audiences – customers, employees, stakeholders, partners, etc.
- Best days of the week to post
- Best time of each day to post
- Metrics that you will be reporting
|12/01/16||8:45pm||Please join us for our upcoming seminar on “How to Find Social Media Content” <NOTE: Link to FB event>||X||X|
Using an editorial calendar will save you time by allowing you to schedule content ahead of time (do you use Sprout, Hootsuite, Facebook or another content scheduler?) in batches. You can create placeholders for when you are waiting on content from your client, such as an event or news piece. The rest can be done weekly or bi-weekly by doing it at all at once. Most social media managers, especially those who are external, have to be efficient with their hours, so they can’t post multiple times a day, every day manually. Plan ahead, save time and have a better variety of content – yes please!
Making sure your content is focused on helping you reach your metrics is important for us and for our clients. If you fill your page with self-serving sales pitches or constant talk about services or products, you will soon have a very small and inattentive audience.
This is where scheduling comes in!
Lay out the “must have” marketing messages, then see how you can organically find and schedule other messages with a share, or by asking a question or posting an infographic – make it interesting! Next you should layer in other types of content, that can be staff focused, client appreciation, educational or even funny. People learn and absorb information differently, so look at the way you are delivering your content to make sure you aren’t doing the same thing repeatedly and missing part of your audience. Have a mix of text posts, photos, videos, links to your website, links to other (trusted) sources, shares from partner pages and memes or infographics. Variety in your content and delivery method will make your page more interesting and effective.
Now that you have a fabulous editorial calendar and you know what content you have and what content you need, you can go to work collecting it.
First take inventory of what internal assets you have. Look at:
- Annual Events
- Presentations by company leaders
Often there is content all around you, but it’s easy to overlook. Remember that your audience doesn’t see what you see every day, so linking them to helpful or informative pages on your website is good. Share photos of employees to show the human side of the business and especially any recognition they receive. A few of my clients have the most views and shares when an employee award is posted in social networks. They have an enormous internal audience on their social channels — it boosts morale to see their co-workers honored and promoted on the company page.
Next, look at external assets including websites, social media accounts and newsletters from among your partners, topic authorities, sponsors, industry experts.
Interest lists are a good way to mine for content. Twitter lists take time to set up, but save a whole lot of time when you need content for your channels. Facebook lists are a little more challenging, simply because they are connected to your personal account and not your business page, but they are still helpful to flag channels to review later. There are other tools you can use including Mention and Post Planner that will search by topic and key words to help you find relevant articles or posts online.
Taking the time to schedule out your posts will not only save you time but takes your social media networks to the next level. Using a diverse content gathering strategy creates efficiencies for an outside channel manager, and increases the interest in your posts.
Jennifer Hatton manages social media channels –from the outside–for clients in healthcare, tourism, retail and the hospitality industry.
Want to learn more?
You’ve just taken over managing social media channels for a client and they, of course, want you to immediately answer the question: “how are we doing?” Before you can answer that question, you should look over each social media network with a critical eye.
Look at Channel Activity
Activity on each channel is easy to see and, in most cases, relatively easy to analyze. How frequent are the posts? In the last week? In the last month? Clients who have turned to outside channel managers often have erratic posting behavior – 3 posts this week, no posts the next. That’s why they hired you—they don’t have time to manage it successfully themselves. With your critical eye, and some quick addition, you can tally up the posts for the month and see immediate gaps that can be filled.
Next, analyze your audiences’ age, gender and other key demographic information. Each network offers varying amounts of this information on their channels. For Facebook pages, look at the insights to see the breakdown of ages and genders for your page. Use Twitter analytics to see age, education, income and occupation.
Finally, you should look at your channel growth. New followers/fans versus lost followers/fans. Are you growing or shrinking? If you want to look at that for Instagram, you can try Iconosquare to see a breakdown of new and lost followers. These stats are available on Facebook and Twitter too.
For small channels, you can do a review of postings for the current or previous month and figure out the “best” and “worst” posts. Usually the best post has the most amount of activity – shares, likes and comments – or some combination of the three. The worst post is one with little or no activity. Compare one of each of those for each network you are managing and look at why. Is it the content itself? Is it the tone of voice? Is it the time of day it was posted?
You won’t have all the answers on this immediately, but if you do this regularly, you will start to see a trend of what’s working and what’s not. And will see differences emerge between channels. Then you can move your client toward better content over time.
There are numerous tools that will evaluate content against these factors. If you’re using Sprout Social (one of my favorite tools), you can scan the Sent Messages report to easily see which posts have the most activity and then click through to see why. True Social Metrics, a deeper analytics program, has numerous tools for evaluating best and worst posts against your own content and against competitors.
What to Tell Your Client
You can use these ideas to look critically at your client’s social media channels. Repeat the process until you see trends emerge and you are able to get better results from your content tests. Sometimes it takes months to see what works on a new channel; other times, you have one great post that opens the door to a successful content stream. So when your client asks “how are we doing” you will be able to summarize past trends and growth which helps frame the future practice.
Coming next: Part 4, Scheduling and Finding Content When You’re an Outside Channel Manager
In case you missed it:
Guest post by Jennifer Hatton
It is rare these days to begin working with a new client who doesn’t have at least one live social media channel. Many clients have two or more channels that are “live” and because of that we have a process to make sure we get the information we need and get off to a good start. It’s called the warm handoff.
The warm handoff is a term used in tech to categorize a service or support issue for which everyone on the team knows what’s going on. A cold handoff is one in which information is missing or a ball gets dropped along the chain. We of course prefer a warm handoff when we onboard as channel managers, which means you have everything you need to get started.
Onboarding Existing Channels
Getting a verbal or written download from the previous channel manager is the first step. Learn all you can by asking them questions such as:
- What is your process for posting and reviewing content?
- Where do you get content that is not directly from the client? Other organizations’ Facebook pages/Twitter accounts, websites, etc.
- What gets the most response from followers?
- What is the least popular (but maybe necessary) content?
- In your opinion, what is the tone and voice?
- Is there an approved strategy?
- Anything else that is important or noteworthy?
There are times when the person you are relieving is not available. When this happens, you can use the same questions, but you’ll be answering them by observing the channels directly.
State of the Channels
Now is the time to start digging into the channels and do a mid level “state of the channels” review. Go through the pages. Look at everything. A good place to start are the bios – are they complete, still relevant, using the correct hashtags, do the links work. For Facebook, take a long look at the “About” page to make sure hours, links, long and short descriptions, and the custom URL are all filled out. Double check the type of page while you are there. One surprise is often the organization forgot to claim their page name and URL. Check that too.
Secure the Channels
Security is important but we frequently see clients who get busy and forget about their channel security. Who has access to the channels? Do you need all those page managers? What email addresses are linked to Twitter and Instagram? Use a password keeper application or a document to list all the channels and log-in details.
Passwords should be different for each channel and changed whenever you change channel managers. A yearly security and password update is also recommended to keep you and your client safe. There are easy to use password applications that not only save your passwords but help you create new ones, too. One example is Last Pass (link to site) but there are several to choose from.
Check All the Images
The last step in reviewing the state of the channels is to look at images. Check for current logos, make sure sizing is correct on profile photos and that images are credited properly. Facebook cover photos should be refreshed periodically. As a new channel manager, you have the opportunity to plan ahead to switch them out at least quarterly to keep the page looking fresh and visually interesting.
To sum it up, ask lots of questions! The more you know the easier it will be to onboard as a new channel manager. What tips do you have to make sure you have a warm handoff?
In Part 3, we’ll look at how to review your channels with a critical eye.
Jennifer Hatton manages social media channels –from the outside–for clients in healthcare, tourism, retail and the hospitality industry.
Sometimes an organization needs help managing social media channels. Someone to plan and post content to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other channels as well monitor conversations and lead the way when customers ask questions or need help.
In these situations, organizations might turn to outside channel managers. They might lack that skillset in their internal team. Perhaps the organization has shifted their marketing communications’ team priorities. Or they might want an outside organization to help in coaching to a new level of proficiency. An outside channel manager can look objectively at the current practice and help develop stronger social relationships, better content flow and engage audiences with a set of fresh eyes.
It doesn’t matter why the organization needs an outside channel manager. What’s really important is that you can step in and accomplish your clients’ goals as an outside counselor. So how do you do that successfully from OUTSIDE the organization? With a sound strategy, smart processes and good communication, you can manage social media channels from the outside.
Sound Strategy Is the Key
You may be taking over channel management in the “muddy middle” of a transition or after the channels have started to slip. It’s time to ask lots of questions. What were the goals and objectives for the networks? What’s working? What doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark? If there is a planning document or strategy that framed their previous practice (assuming it will be shared with you), use it to frame next steps. Set some interim goals and objectives. We had one client who had lots of great opportunities for storytelling and great content too, but their output was inconsistent and infrequent. By creating interim objectives for the level of output on each channel, we could see an immediate lift in the conversations on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Right Tool for the Right Job
Finding the right tool to monitor, schedule and comment is necessary for efficient management from the outside. It’s important to match the size of the clients’ network needs and budget with a tool that will help you create efficiencies for them. And the tools change all the time! What you used for a project one year ago may not be the right choice. Make a decision on tools early, when your client has social media top of mind because in 2-3 months, they won’t be as eager to make the expenditure.
Communicating From the Outside
You have to be creative when communicating from the outside. Creating simple client touchpoints is important. One way to do that is to share wins as they happen– maybe that Twitter post got a huge number of retweets or you’ve never seen so many comments on a Facebook post or Instagram photo. Just as important is creating regular communication to report metrics and analyze the program. Depending on the size of the project and the clients’ needs, this could be weekly or monthly. A regular group email to the entire team goes a long way to keep everyone informed.
We’re Just Getting Started
There’s so much more to share about successfully managing social media channels from the outside. We’re going to break down the outside channel manager best practices over the next three weeks and look at how to onboard successfully, how to source and schedule content and how to look at the social channels with an objective eye.
We’ll start next week with “The Warm Handoff.”
What strategies do you use to manage client channels from the outside? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
If your social media team is working with influencers locally, regionally or nationally, it’s likely that the topic of compensation has come up. As more and more brands work with influencers, the discussions are becoming more tangled. Some of the questions I’ve heard from PR practitioners at recent conferences go something like this. Should they be paid? Should you treat them like journalists? Can you offer unique or custom experiences in exchange for their social output? What can you require them to do? What should you be required to do? How do I explain this to my boss? Here are some typical blogger/brand models that we’ve seen and how they might work for brands and bloggers.
The Advertising Model
In this model, bloggers get revenue through paid ad words campaigns or affiliate marketing. Amazon is the best example of this model but there are many popular to bloggers including BlogHer, AdThrive,The Blogger Network and Ad Sense. This story from Elayna Fernandez, The Positive Mom, talks to bloggers specifically about making money from blogs. Below is an example of affiliate marketing from Tori Foster Johnson of The SToriBook.
In this type, bloggers (or other influencers) are approached by a brand with a request to create content for a blog post or other social network. The brand offers a fee based on the request and the exchange is not unlike a freelance writing agreement. It may include deadlines, word count, hashtags or links and may be on the brands’ networks or the individuals or both. Examples of this type are easy to find and are most popular with consumer products, particularly those appealing to families. Below is a sample of a sponsored post from Colleen Pence at San Antonio Mom Blogs.
In this model, bloggers are approaching brands that they are interested in and offering or negotiating a contract or consultation which could include identifying and approaching other influencers and working as a go-between for the brand and the bloggers to a mutual end. Similar to hiring a subject matter expert or celebrity and usually involves a specific timeline or project. Many in this model have media or communications backgrounds so they can be quite sophisticated but others bring only enthusiasm for the project or the brand.
Fam Tour Model
This capitalizes on the brand’s need or requirement to NOT pay for coverage and the bloggers need to develop great content for their networks. It also plays into the bloggers desire to develop content for growing audiences to build their network. It is dependent on the individual passions of the bloggers and the reputation of the individual brands. There is also a certain amount of prestige to working with a specific brand. For this model to work, the value proposition needs to be high for the blogger – the brand must offer something great! This model is often used in the hospitality industry and by destination management organizations as it aligns with how they work with travel writers.
The brand in this model creates a competition to create alignment with bloggers and to build attendance. The brand identifies and approaches bloggers but creates a competitive environment to draw in the best candidates. And the brand often charges a nominal rate to recoup the expenses incurred from hosting them on the trip or experience. These usually have large WOW factors! The SeaWorld of Texas AdventureCon program is in this category and so is the Disney Moms program.
The Passion Model
In this model, the brand or cause reaches out to bloggers based on their personal convictions –bloggers participate because of their personal beliefs. Local causes leverage the fact that bloggers want to contribute in their communities and are vocal when doing so. The project that Step In Communication managed for Cardboard Kids falls in this category.
Using bloggers and other social influencers as part of overall marketing goals is evolving. And there is no ONE way for bloggers and brands to work together. With so many models out there, it’s no wonder that some marketing and PR teams are confused. What models have you seen? How are they working? Share your examples here.
Writing is part of my job. Every day. But I am always looking for ways to improve my writing skills, my writing habits and my writing product. So imagine my surprise when I attended the Adventure Con conference at SeaWorld and got the best writing advice I’ve had in awhile. From two pre-teens.
Elisha and Elyssa are the co-authors of the book I Love ME! Self Esteem in Seven Easy Steps which was inspired by what they’ve learned from their mom: love yourself and make wise choices. The girls wrote the book for kids and tweens as a guide for a positive life.
The conference, sponsored by SeaWorld of Texas, combines a successful blogger outreach program with a conference to help those same bloggers elevate their craft. I was there as a speaker and was grateful for the invitation to attend all the sessions with some of my favorite lifestyle bloggers from around the state.
At a lunchtime roundtable discussion called “Turn Your Blog Into a Book” led by Elayna Fernandez – and the mom to the two young authors – the group discussed the many ways to become a published author. Fernandez is also known as The Positive Mom. She focuses on the topics of motivation, particularly for mom-preneurs; the discussion overflowed with her genuine style and positive outlook on life. Plus she has self-published and traditionally published books.
But it was the tips which her two author-daughters shared which stuck in my mind. Both girls had prepared for this roundtable, and each shared their three tips to become successfully published.
Writing Tips from Elisha, 12, co-author “I Love Me!”
- It’s Your Book. Do it on Your Terms – they had an idea and they found a publisher that they wanted to work with. The girls even got an advance for their book.
- Jot down all your ideas – this is a nod to your own creativity. It’s easy to reject the germ of an idea too soon. Don’t do that!
- Do lots of research – The girls shared that they looked at more than 100 books on self-esteem in the process of creating their book.
Writing Tips from Elyssa, 11, co-author “I Love Me!”
- Set a deadline-Many writers benefit from the looming deadline. It’s what has fueled thousands of journalists and can be equally as powerful for longer works. The girls set a strict deadline for themselves. To finish writing their book in 60 days. If they finished on time, they could take a trip and attend a special conference. They did just that and landed a publisher for the book at that conference.
- Make an outline –It turns out that when our teachers encouraged us to create an outline before striking out on our written works, they were right!
- Set aside a specific time each day to write –We often correlate the discipline associated with professional writers as an adult skill. To hear an eleven year old talk about discipline and repetition is refreshing.
These six ideas perfectly distill what every writer needs to do to produce good work and be successful. If they can motivate two young girls to write and publish a book, they can certainly help anyone incorporate writing into their professional practice.
At a recent conference on crisis communications, a participant stopped me and asked this question: What do you do when your leadership is not communicating? WHAT? Her real question was this: during a recent crisis in her town, the city leaders were not communicating to the tourism pros in town, yet the reputation of that destination was at stake due to national media coverage and social media chatter.
Most of the conference participants were horrified to hear her story, but it is not uncommon. There are many organizations that, when faced with a crisis, go somewhere inside their heads and forget key stakeholders. They are so focused on what’s happening externally, that they don’t stop to consider key internal stakeholders.
She wanted a quick answer, but I honestly don’t think there is one. The answer is to improve those internal relationships before you need them the next time. Here are three things you can do to improve those relationships.
First, reach out to those who you will need in your next crisis. What does this mean? This could be the fire chief, the police chief, the city manager, the head of a particular city department or it could be the hotel across the street or your competitor down the road. Each one of those organizations or departments may be able to help you –either in front of the camera — or behind the scenes — in your next crisis. Buy them a coffee and find out how you can better work together.
Second, find out what kinds of internal communications systems might increase the speed and clarity of your internal communication. Can you launch a private channel like Yammer or a group text program to keep internal stakeholders posted during that time? Think about ways of working and test them out when things are quiet.
Finally, is it time for a drill? Once you’ve opened the lines of communication, maybe the only way to find out how you might work better together is to test it with a tabletop drill. Think of a likely scenario that would affect your destination’s reputation, but one that might not be managed by you. A weather crises is a likely scenario. You will no doubt learn about each other’s “ways of working” and know what you will need to do next time.
Internal miscommunication is a common problem for destination managers, especially because they may only be involved on the periphery of an actual crisis. Yet, the best way to communicate that a destination is open for business and ready to greet visitors is for all agencies to work together to improve their crisis response. It can be done. All good relationships take time, and better internal relationships are certainly worth it.