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Social Media Strategy: How to Manage Multiple Pages

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For small to medium sized businesses, launching and managing a social media campaign can be challenging. The budget often doesn’t allow for outside support or hiring an extra team member to help the marketing team (if the business even has a marketing team). Executing great social media strategy also takes a lot of time, effort, and a long-term investment – a lot to add to someone’s already very full plate! Still, social media can be a boon for smaller businesses; making the effort should be a priority in any marketing strategy.

When businesses have more than one location, or specific products that may warrant their own separate social media pages, things can get even more complicated. Not only are there multiple social media platforms to contend with, there are multiple pages that need specific content fine-tuned for individual audiences. However, it is a beast that can be managed. Here are four tips for keeping your multi-channel, multi-account social media campaigns on track.

Utilize a content calendar

social media strategyTo excel at social media, a business will need to have a long-term idea of their goals and strategy. Scrambling to come up with a post at 3 PM every afternoon is not only stressful, it’s not a great use of your time. Sure, you’ll have content up, but it might not be targeted or well thought out. Your social media campaigns should tie into your overall marketing strategy.  One of the easiest ways to streamline your social media process is by using a content calendar. Using Google Docs, DropBox, or good ol’ fashioned Excel, create a monthly social media calendar. At the end of each month, spend some time going over your marketing plans for the next month, and create social media content that ties in to those goals. Depending on current events and business happenings, the calendar may need to change – so keep things flexible.

Use a scheduling tool

Once you have your carefully drafted and thought out social media calendar in hand, starting your week each Monday will be a lot easier. To make it even better: utilize a social media scheduling tool to schedule post in bulk for the week ahead.

There are several paid and (mostly) free options for that business can take advantage of. On the most basic end, some platforms like Facebook offer built in schedulers. There are some outside platforms like Hootsuite that offer a free option. There also several platforms available for monthly subscriptions that offer a wealth of analytics and info that may be difficult to access otherwise. Spend some time at the beginning of the week getting everything scheduled across all your pages and channels. This doesn’t get you off the hook the rest of the week, however; you’ll need to check in daily to make sure things are posting and check in on audience feedback.

Tweak content for each platform

For each platform, and each page within that platform (such as pages for different business locations), you’ll want to finetune the content. It’s totally acceptable to use the same content across your channels – your newest blog post, for example – but the actual post will need tweaked for each audience. Also, consider that some of your Facebook audience may follow you on other channels too – they probably won’t want to see the same exact post three times in a row.

When planning your content for the month, consider posting the same piece to different channels on different days and times. Be sure to use analytics tools to get to know your audience on each channel, and understand what will fit them best.

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Use free, built-in analytics

While there are platforms that offer in-depth analytics tools for social media, a good portion of small businesses won’t have the budget available for it. Thankfully, you can glean a wealth of information from several channels built in analytics tools.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram all offer at least basic insights tools. We have a more in-depth POV on this topic, which you can check out here. When you’re managing multiple profiles, analytics become even more important – your audience will be able to tell if you’re just posting the same thing across the board. Multiple business pages offer the opportunity to get personal and make authentic connections with smaller, more targeted audiences.

 

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a strategy for one page or 10 is that social media is about the long game. There will be trial and error, experiments, and a few risks needed when you first start out. As your audience builds organically over time, you’ll gain their trust and approval – something that can’t and won’t happen overnight.

Dark Social: Digital Word of Mouth

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“Dark social” isn’t as malicious as it sounds. The term was coined by Alexis Madrigal in an article for The Atlantic in 2012 to describe the sharing of information in emails and instant messengers – sharing that existed long before social media platforms were popular. Social media ROI is getting easier to measure, but dark social is more difficult. And it accounts for a huge portion of the referrals your website is probably getting.

When looking through your Google Analytics, you probably notice a large chunk of the referrals are listed in the “direct traffic” category. These hits can come from a variety of behind-the-scenes sources; a link shared through text, email, native mobile apps (like Facebook’s), messengers, Slack messages, Snapchat, and someone using a secure HTTPS browser all fall in this bucket. It’s word of mouth on the internet, but not the kind you can track easily through Facebook Insights.

The Struggle for Social Media Strategists

While it’s great to have so many avenues for your content to be shared, dark social adds to the struggle for social media teams in proving the value of what they do. If you can’t specifically show that these direct traffic hits are from people copying and sharing a link you put on Facebook, it’s tough to show true ROI. Social media marketers are under a lot of pressure to show concrete metrics, which is sometimes next to impossible. There’s no real way to say “yes, all of these direct traffic hits were from text messages sent in this market.”

texting

Dark social can also make optimizing content tough. Without knowing how the content is being shared specifically, marketers can’t design it for those platforms. These shares are likely hitting demographics that may not be on other social channels, like the 55 and older age group. When you can’t pin down the audience and the channel, it’s difficult to be strategic.

Shining the Light on Dark Social

So, what can PR pros and marketers do about dark social? Here’s a few things to focus on to get a better handle on this type of sharing:

  • Use Google Analytics’ customer URL builder. This can help with proving that your social sharing is driving dark social communication, and which posts are bringing in the most referrals. No matter where the link is clicked from, you’ll be able to see that it was that specific link you created for your latest Facebook post that brought visitors to the website.

 

google analytics

  • Invest in a tool made for dark social tracking, like st by Radium One.
  • Make shareable content a priority. Even when it’s hard to track, dark social is still sharing of your content. Make sure your social posts are shareable – find the emotional connection, keep text short, and include visuals whenever possible. You might not be able to optimize it for a Snapchat message, but you can still focus on creating content that resonates with your audience, no matter where they are.

Download our Social Analytics POV

free social analytics

“Today, knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.” – Peter Drucker

More than ever, public relations professionals are working to quantify PR’s value for their clients. This can be difficult for a number of public relations tactics, but social media is notoriously hard to pin down in terms of ROI. Executives and business owners have been told their business needs to be on social media, but without the hard numbers to back the “why,” many still aren’t on board with investing time and manpower into social. Social analytics tools exist that provide in-depth data for social channels, but these are often pricey, prohibiting smaller PR agencies and small businesses from using them.

Thankfully, there’s still hope for those who have tight budgets or are overwhelmed by the idea of tackling Google Analytics. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all provide free, built-in analytics that offer a wealth of information. For businesses on these platforms, these free tools can tell you what’s working, who your audience is, and help you build stronger content for social. The key is knowing which numbers are important.

We’ve created a new, downloadable white paper covering our perspective on free social analytics to help you better understand how to use these tools strategically. Meaningful Measurement: The Social Media Data You’re Underutilizing— and How to Put it to Work for Free includes guides through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest’s free analytics. Key stats on each channel are highlighted, are well as which numbers aren’t important.

 A few highlights:

  • Discover why page “likes” on Facebook don’t really matter
  • Learn how to understand the impressions stats on Twitter
  • Explore your Pinterest audience demographics in-depth

 

Download the full POV here, and start turning your social media stats into knowledge: http://awordsmithcomm.com/about-us/thought-leadership/

#ThisHappened – 2016 in Twitter & YouTube

twitter

Major social media platforms are truly a global community. If the Twitter Year in Review and YouTube’s 2016 Rewind video are any indication, this community connects on big issues like social change, elections, and human rights – but also undeniably fun carpool karaoke videos. 2016 has also shown just how powerful brands can be on social media, and that there’s right and wrong ways to create or jump on digital trends.

Twitter’s top hashtag this year was #Rio2016. Even in digital form, humans enjoy coming together for a common cause, and the friendly, global competition is always a time for us to consider how much we have in common with our neighbors around the world. #BlackLivesMatter was also among the top ten hashtags this year, along with #Election2016 and #Brexit. While all of these hashtags certainly had positive and negative tweets, their popularity shows that Twitter isn’t just a time-waster. The third most re-tweeted post this year came from Hilary Clinton’s account during her election concession speech. Social media channels continue to be a place where important discussions happen, and information on major events is distributed.

The top hashtags highlight other topics social users like to connect on, including a big focus on entertainment. Number ten was #GameofThrones, where multitudes of the show’s avid fans theorized and commiserated together (often accompanied with #HoldtheDoor and a crying emoji). #RIP was a trending hashtag several times this year as the world mourned the loss of several beloved celebrities including Prince, David Bowie, and Muhammad Ali. The #Oscars was a popular event on social, and an example of brands falling over themselves to jump on a trending hashtag to boost impressions without putting enough thought into their content. Total Beauty, a fashion site, was one of the worst offenders when they misidentified Whoopi Goldberg as Oprah in a tweet during the red carpet pre-show.

Despite slip ups, brands in 2016 saw the value of reaching out to the social media community and connecting with them where they “live.” Brands are the most dominant “community” on YouTube according to The Verge, and produced most of the platform’s top videos this year. Some of the most viewed videos mirror the Twitter trends – there’s Donald Trump’s interview on John Oliver tonight and a pre-Olympics video by Nike featuring some of soccer’s biggest stars. But the entertainment category wins out on YouTube, with Adele’s carpool karaoke version of “Hello” racking up an amazing 135 million views. The YouTube Rewind video references many of the similarly goofy viral videos that were popular this year.

So, what can brands learn from this? First and foremost, companies need to be very careful about using trending hashtags. Plenty of brands could have a good tie in to #Rio2016, but few if any would have an even remotely appropriate reason to use the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Social media is often a place for silliness, but serious conversations are happening on these platforms that most brands should shy away from.

Second, “virality” isn’t a strategy. Some of this year’s trends make sense, and some don’t. There’s not one type of content that rules on YouTube. Although none of his videos were the top ten most viewed, PewDiePie was the highest paid YouTuber this year, bringing in $15 million from his video gameplay channel. His content wasn’t always the most viral, but it brings in money. Brands shooting to be a viral sensation will likely be disappointed.

Lastly, social media users love cat videos, but they also highly value authenticity. We’re facing what might be called a “post-truth” world, and the digital community wants to be engaged with in an authentic, personalized manner more than ever. Every trend isn’t right for every brand, but there are ways companies can join the conversations in a realistic an appropriate manner. It takes a bit of research and understanding that social media is a powerful tool, but the rewards can be much longer lasting than those from a one-time viral video.

3 Tips to Create an Effective Media List

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The creation of an effective media list is an essential component to any PR plan. A media list is a compilation of media outlets including specific reporter contact information. As someone who is just beginning my career in PR, I find myself looking to the below tips when creating media lists from scratch. They have helped to direct my process and break down the task of creating a media list into manageable parts. Here’s hoping it can do the same for you.

Understand Your Audience and Scope

This is a crucial starting point for beginning your media list. Who is your client and who are they trying to reach? What industry are they in and what industries are do they want to engage? What kind of publicity are they looking for? The more specific you can be with these answers, the better. This gathered information should guide the media outlets you target, whether it’s print, online, broadcast, or some other form of media.

Similar to understanding your audience is determining the scope of the publicity you want for your client. Where do they want to be seen? Do they want highly localized media coverage? Regional or national? This will help broaden or narrow your focus on media outlets.

mobile social media

 

Check Twice and Use Twitter

Finding the perfect media outlet for your client will only be helpful if you pitch to the right reporter. Media databases like MyMediaInfo will have information about reporters and their beats, but they could be out of date. It’s important to cross check this information with other sources. This can be done with media outlet staff directories, such as The Oregonian. However, while some media outlets have detailed staff directories, others do not. You can also look up past articles written by a reporter to ensure they align with the content you hope to pitch.

Social media can also provide additional insight on a reporter. Check out their Twitter or other social media platforms to see the kind of content they consistently post. This can be a helpful indicator of what content interests them. Additionally, interacting with reporters via social media can help them get to know you which is beneficial when pitching.

Have a Little Patience

Sometimes finding the right reporter at the optimal news outlet can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Some clients may be highly specific and have less outlets that are applicable, while others may be broader. Be persistent with your research. Crafting a great media list can take time and that’s okay. Happy hunting!

Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm Updates – 3 Things to Know

facebook algorithm

For a company not even two decades old, Facebook has done a fantastic job integrating itself into the daily lives of people around the globe. It quickly became a hot spot for brands looking to connect to a wide variety of audiences, and public relations professionals have been including the platform in their communications plans ever since. However, Facebook hasn’t made their job easy. After successfully positioning themselves as a requirement of nearly any brand’s PR, the social media giant has continuously made it harder for companies to reach their Facebook followers.

Despite keeping up the appearance of a brand friendly platform in recent years, Facebook’s frequent newsfeed algorithm changes have cut back on the reach that companies are able to achieve. Their most recent changes, announced June 29, 2016, will redirect social media users back to what Facebook says was its original intention – connecting with family and friends. Content on users’ newsfeeds will highlight posts from their friends and family, rather than posts from brands and pages. This is a stricter version of a change that has been happening since Facebook did away with its completely chronological newsfeed a few years ago.

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Here’s 3 things for communications pros to keep in mind with the new changes:

Shareable content is more important than total follower count

When users were guaranteed to see most of your page’s posts in their newsfeed, a simple “like” was enough to boost your reach. Now, more than ever, engaging content is the key to reaching your desired audience. Though your page’s posts will take more of a backseat on the newsfeed, there’s still ways to reach your targets through their friends and family. The content now given priority isn’t just posts from friends, it includes highlights of what they’ve commented on and shared. Engaging content is content that gets shared and discussed, and shared content reaches beyond your page followers. Focus on creating content that adds value for your followers and isn’t just marketing. No matter how many followers and likes a brand currently has, there’s potential to reach hundreds if not thousands more through commenting and sharing.

Advertising reach is not affected

The reach of paid ads on Facebook will not be affected by the algorithm changes. Keep in mind, though, that social media users don’t have a high opinion of advertising on these platforms. Have specific goals in mind for your ads, and line up the content with what’s being posted on your page. Think like your consumer – what value can you add for them through a social media advertisement? How can you create the ad to be less intrusive and more engaging?

Don’t put all your eggs in the Facebook basket

While Facebook is still an important tool despite these changes, there are numerous other platforms to take advantage of. Twitter is a fantastic option for direct conversations with your audience, and makes sharing content easy for followers. Snapchat can be a great way for brands to show some behind the scenes footage and try new ideas that might not work well on other platforms. If your company is primarily interested in driving sales through social media, Pinterest is a land of golden opportunity. Facebook will likely continue to be a part of most organizations’ communications plans, but the rapidly changing social media landscape offers new alternatives that can boost a brand’s reach.

3 Tools for Staying on Top of News & Trends

Working in public communications means you’ll likely spend a decent amount of time each week perusing news newspaperheadlines, industry publications, and social media hashtags. In order to best represent your clients and find prime opportunities for coverage, you need to be aware of the top trends and breaking news. This includes public relations news, industry talk pertaining to your clients, and worldwide stories. However, in a public relations specialist’s busy schedule, how can you get the most out of the time you have to browse media? I have three PR tools I check in with each day that help keep me informed without draining too much of my work time.

 

  • PR Daily & PR Week
    • It’s not all about the clients – PR pros have their own trends and news to watch, too. These two sites offer comprehensive daily coverage of what’s new and exciting in the world of public relations. From major agency announcements to news about updated social media analytics tools, anyone in PR can stay in the loop with a quick browse each day. Both sites also offer articles and webinars to improve your skills, and more humorous, fun articles – like this one about PR lessons from the Star Wars

 

  • Industry Specific News
    • Many of us work with clients in industries that we aren’t initially experts in. However, in order to pitch media successfully and write engaging content for these clients, we need to spend time increasing our knowledge. An easy way to do this is research the top publications in the client’s industry, and sign up for daily or weekly newsletters. Google alerts set for client-related phrases are also a great option, as is following industry thought leaders on Twitter. You can use Twitter lists to organize by client or field, and then browse your list each week to see what’s being discussed in that particular arena. You can also subscribe to top blogs related to your client, and set up an RSS feed.

 

  • The Skimm
    • the skimmThe Skimm is a free, curated morning email covering news in the USA and worldwide. It’s sent out in time for you to read with your morning coffee, and head into work more informed. Stories are shared in short blurbs, so you can get the most important information quickly. Most stories have hyperlinks for more information if you have some extra time. The overall tone is more lighthearted and fun, so it never
      reads like dull, typical morning headlines. Recently, The Skimm has featured quick interviews with current presidential candidates, to help readers get to know them prior to next year’s elections. The email also frequently features fun giveaways and trivia to add a little more for readers.

5 Reasons PR Pros Can Be Thankful For Social Media

As public relations professionals better understand social media metrics and analytics, we get better at proving these platforms’ worth to clients. Everyone knows social media is an integral part of a communications campaign now; even though the platforms shift and change, the need to have our clients on them remains. But necessity doesn’t mean social media is always easy to deal with. A brand crisis is born on Facebook weekly, internet trolls test our

Edward Bernays

Edward Bernays, the father of public relations

patience, and doing social media well requires a decent time investment.

However, PR pros still have plenty to be thankful for in the social realm. As we head into Thanksgiving, here’s a reminder of why social is good, and what blessings we can count.

1. More Opportunities for Organic Media Coverage

Broadcast outlets now routinely include a live Twitter feed onscreen, and often parse social media for up-to-the-minute stories and trends. If we are carefully monitoring hashtags and participating in conversations appropriately, the brands we represent have the opportunity to garner organic coverage in the media – no pitching required. The key is to participate in discussions where the brand logically fits and can add value. We can’t just add a rainbow flag to the profile picture and call it a day, either; the brand must be able to further the discussion already happening. No client has a place in every popular hashtag.

2. A Chance to Fix a Crisis Before It Starts

Though social media outlets have proven to be a dangerous mine field for clients’ image, the platforms can also be a place to monitor negative attitudes and attempt to correct the course before a full-blown crisis happens. Many brands use Twitter as a quick response customer service tool. Businesses can also directly connect with upset consumers before they take to Yelp, Trip Advisor, and the 5 o’clock news with their complaints if the company monitors social media comments and responds immediately.

3. The Ability to Really Explore Consumer Engagement

“Engagement” is difficult to quantify on social. Is it likes, comments, and shares? Or is it tied to conversion rate? However a business defines engagement, PR pros have the chance to really dive into connecting with their audience. PR is a field centered around relationships, and social media has redefined how these are built and nurtured. The PR industry has entered a new era with social media, and has access to tools that Edward Bernays only dreamed of.

4. New Avenues for Pitching

Social media has changed the face of pitching. While some journalists still prefer to be pitched via email, many are open to a direct message on Twitter. Most Twitter users have the app on their phone and get notifications of direct messages instantly. It’s also a quick way to show that you’ve researched them beyond their email address and found their Twitter handle. Even if you’re not ready to pitch an idea right away, you can connect with journalists by retweeting them and tweeting comments about their recent pieces.

5. “Soft-Sell” Posts

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An example of “soft-selling” – cute!

Social users aren’t very receptive to hard-selling on Facebook and Twitter. Sales posts and links do have their place, but brands’ followers are looking for posts that add more value to them. As a PR pro, this type of content can be a break from press releases, pitching, and campaign writing. One of the A.wordsmith clients I do social media work for is a pet supply store. I get to spend a little bit of time each week looking for adorable animal videos and news to share on their pages. It’s a fun way to start Monday, and one I’m definitely thankful for.

Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

Social media platforms have solidified their place in any business’ public relations and marketing strategy. You know you have to include social media as part of your brand’s image no matter what business sector you fall in, but it can be overwhelming when you look at all the options available. How are you supposed to find the time to manage five orsocial media more different accounts on social media? Add in the fact that copying and pasting the same posts across all your platforms is not a best practice, and panic about how to not only do something with all these accounts but do it well sets in. Where do you begin?

Particularly with smaller business, the answer is to start by recognizing that you don’t have utilize everything that’s out there. Large corporations may have more time, man power, and funds to take advantage of everything on the social media buffet, but this isn’t always the best choice. Not every platform plays into a specific business’ needs and strengths. Choosing what will work for your business should be based on where your audience is and what benefits each platform is capable of. Here’s a brief guide to knowing if four of the most popular social networks are right for your business:

 

  • Facebook – If you use only one social media platform, this should be it. Facebook boasts over 1 billion users, meaning the majority of your audience probably has one. Many consumers see an active Facebook account as a sign that a company is legitimate and trustworthy. With over 900 million daily users, the majority of people on Facebook are checking in daily, which provides a ton of opportunities to get your brand in front of them.
  • Twitter – If you have the ability to dedicate a staff member to monitoring social media, Twitter may be a good choice for a customer service outlet. Users on Twitter tend to expect very quick responses, and conversations change fast. This is also a good medium to participate in professional discussions by following hashtags related to your business and engaging in scheduled Twitter chats on regular topics.
  • Pinterest – Does your brand fall in the lifestyle, food, fashion, or craft categories? You should be on Pinterest. The platform relies heavily on visuals, so anything you post featuring your business or products needs to be well-shot, edited, and eye catching. The key to gaining followers on Pinterest is to post and share photos and links from other related organizations in addition to your own, to build boards that users want to keep up with. Pinterest can also work well as a private “file cabinet” to store resources, photos and more in an easy to access location.
  • LinkedIn – The network for professionals, LinkedIn can work well to legitimize your business in the eyes of the public. A business page is relatively easy to set up, and users don’t expect frequent updates on LinkedIn. LinkedIn requires less maintenance, and comes in handy during hiring periods, and functions as a way to connect your employees and grow your own professional contact list.

 

The most important thing for any business on social media to remember is that these platforms require time and dedication. They need to be monitored and maintained. Don’t overload yourself by giving in to the urge to try everything; choose what makes sense, give it the TLC it needs, and you will see a great return on investment in time.

15 Hidden Features of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Google+

I have a few surprises for those social media junkies out there! PRNews tweeted out an awesome infographic today about the 15 hidden features, tips and tricks for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Most of these came as a surprise to me – who knew you could “mute” a Twitter account without unfollowing it? Or that you could message someone on LinkedIn without actually being connected with them? For those folks who can’t seem to get enough of social media networks and learning more about better ways to use them, check out the infographic below provided by Salesforce.

Why should you care about social media?

For those who are less than interested in social networks, there is much to learn about why these platforms are great for both personal and business online presence. Facebook, for example continues to build its platform for business pages and allows users to manage their own or their businesses’ reputation, allow engagement, promote events, and to network and build relationships, whether personal or professional.

Twitter on the other hand is great at providing an opportunity for you or your business to report on news, build brand loyalty, provide a place for customer feedback and connect with potential or current customers. While LinkedIn is dubbed as the “professional” form of Facebook, it is important that every working student, graduate, professional has a page to promote themselves and connect with other professionals online.

Whether you love it or hate it, social media is here to stay and those who want to explore the many benefits of the platforms will love these hidden features.

Hidden Social Media Features You Should Know

Salesforce.com