Tag Archives | social media

What the Perfect Editorial Calendar Should Include

editorial systemI have a problem with editorial calendars for content marketing. Maybe it’s just that I’m spoiled by my years as an editor in the newsroom, but spreadsheets and Word docs just aren’t cutting it for me. And yet, today, as I download yet another “how to plan your content marketing strategy” ebook from a marketing agency, here’s what they recommend: a spreadsheet.

Yep.

Editorial calendars are the nervous system of your content marketing strategy. Heck, they’re the nervous system of your whole marketing strategy. But they really need to WORK for you. And spreadsheets are just clunky. They aren’t easy to edit, to insert images into, to capture links, or use for collaboration in teams. You can’t hold a discussion or leap nimbly from Web to spreadsheet to social network.

What’s more, there’s no easy way to create a bird’s eye view or effectively manage dozens of social accounts. It makes both strategic and tactical planning cumbersome and inefficient.

But if I’m really honest with myself, what I really want is an editorial system. I want something that allows me to plan several months out, manage the process and all the specifics easily, allow for agility and flexibility when situations change or opportunities arrive, and distribute across my marketing channels effortlessly.

Dear journalist friends, does this sound familiar? That’s right. Media outlets do this every day. They have publishing systems, style guides, and processes that make it possible.

Here are my requirements for the perfect content marketing editorial system (and this is just a start):

  • Ease of planning
  • Short term view
  • Long term horizon
  • Ease of sharing (with clients and teams)
  • Ease of collaboration (for clients and teams)
  • Integrated real-time monitoring of topics (to easily curate)
  • Ability to distribute and share to multiple channels
  • Ability to customize messages for each channel
  • Ability to repeat posts easily (copy / paste)
  • Copyright compliance detector
  • Plagarism detector
  • Analytics (graphics, customizable data points, ability to download to a spreadsheet)
  • Mobile enabled
  • Fully integrated with all platforms from CMS to social network

How about you? What are your requirements? Tell me in the comments below. I’d love to hear them. And I promise to consolidate them into the ideal wishlist and publish it here for reference.

I’ll even go a step further: Over the next few months, I’m going to test, evaluate and review tools for managing editorial calendars and social media. I’ll use our ideal list to do that. So, comment away!

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

 

What a Jersey Girl Thinks About Sandy

Photo: Nick Harris

Simply Talk Media is a New Jersey company, so of course we were affected by Hurricane Sandy. We were rather lucky that we lost power for just a few days. Actually, it was a good excuse to clean our refrigerators, though I’m convinced that my wine fridge is now not working properly.

Thus, I’ve been able to focus on the coverage of the storm and its lasting impact. I grew up on the Jersey shore, so the devastation is very personal. I’ve been impressed with what people are doing to help out those who’ve lost their homes. There have been numerous food and clothing drives, and many have volunteered time to help clean up. In fact, I’m proud to say that my own son is giving up his Thanksgiving break from college to help with Hurricane relief.

Here are a few of my observations of the storm coverage and conversation:

The role of the public library. I wrote a guest post for the New Jersey State Library (also a client) about how social media was critical for staying informed during the storm and how public libraries became refuges.

Best digital and social practices. Over at Biznology, where I’m a regular contributor, I looked at how digital media marketing was used during the storm by governments and the utilities.

Regional dialect differences, even within the state: One internet meme included a photo with this statement overlaid: “We don’t ‘go to the beach,’ we ‘go down the shore.’ Like if you understand what we mean.” For a shore girl, this is the difference between feeding the seagulls and shooing them away. I lived at the beach, so I never went ‘down the shore.’ As a native, though, this meme spoke volumes about how much the Jersey shore means to anyone who has spent time there: Tourists love the shore and are willing to support and restore it. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your help.

Misplaced blame. Now that immediate danger is past, as well as the presidential election, it has been fascinating to watch the rhetoric. The New Jersey governor is being vilified by his own party for excessively praising the president. While the hurricane was bad luck for Romney, effectively neutering his campaign just days before the election, the Christie-Obama lovefest didn’t cause a loss at the polls. It’s pretty simple: Romney’s campaign strategy was off throughout the entire campaign. He failed to attract large demographic groups that turned out to be pivotal to a win. That’s a messaging problem, not a NJ governor problem.

I’ve been lukewarm about Christie since he campaigned for governor. While I’ve always appreciated his passion for defending our oft-maligned state, I disagree with many of his positions, and initially I resented his attitude. I’m not sure if he’s learning how to direct that attitude more appropriately, or if I’ve simply become used to him. Either way, he doesn’t have that “bull in a china shop” appearance anymore, although where Obama is concerned, I’m sure the GOP would disagree.

What our nation needs now is bipartisanship. I get the feeling that Christie has recognized that earlier than the rest of the party.

By the way, if you haven’t seen Christie’s drive-by at SNL, it’s well worth the watch.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Big, Fast Info Means Clever, Fast PR & Marketing

How much information is created every day? Zettabytes. At least. I’m not sure when we’ll reach yottabytes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened in my lifetime.

If it hasn’t happened already.

Every minute, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. So in some ways, it’s not surprising that YouTube is becoming a major platform for viewing news. A new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that citizens are responsible for posting original videos of news events – more than one-third of the most-watched videos. Remember that YouTube is the #2 search engine. Talk about an opportunity for real-time PR.

But being fast isn’t enough. You need to be clever as well. Otherwise, how will you stand out among all this data?

If you just can’t visualize what that amount of data might look like, this infographic can help. Paris, here I come.

A Day in the Internet
Created by: MBAOnline.com

Social Media is Not the Jazz Age: It’s the 60s

In June, my family and I took the ferry to Governor’s Island. We’d never visited this small island in the New York bay, and we wanted to take advantage of nice weather and bike rentals to explore it.

On the ferry, we suddenly felt transported into another decade. Dapper men with handlebar mustaches, straw hats and bow ties were escorting pearled ladies with hats and gloves. Parasols abounded. Flappers with bobbed hair and short fringed dresses pursed their darkened lips while surveying the modern-day crowd with disapproval.

And we deserved it, I think. I looked around at the rest of us, those not aware that the Jazz Age Lawn Party started at noon on the island. We looked god awful. Faded T-shirts, gym shorts, women make-up free.

It made me feel sad, and it made me miss a time that I’d never really experienced, when people actually dressed up for a weekend outing.

My grandmother was a child of the 1920s era, and she never lost a bit of decorum, insisting on dressing in her Sunday best even at casual weekend gatherings. Unfortunately, I was a child of the 70s. So as a teenager, I rebelled against the formal dress code. Dismissed it. Donned the ripped jeans and the concert T-shirt. I also thought fashion was shallow and below me. I believed in deeper things, stuff that no matter how you dressed it, it demanded respect and thoughtful consideration.

I eschewed the dress code, but I never let down my guard on good writing. Over the years, I did come to appreciate both the art of fashion and the value (and the return) of dressing well. But slipping my writing into a pair of blue jeans never held much appeal to me.

Social media is the 60s counterculture of our era. There is, I think, a deliberate disregard for the finer points of good writing, good spelling, and good grammar.

We’re all too familiar with SMS lingo: “R U @ home?” I understand that all of our text messages can’t be written with perfect grammar (although if you text me, I will reply in full sentences, with words spelled correctly and commas in all the right places). I get it, I do.

But, in all other communications, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for perfection. We need more decorum in our emails, our blog posts, even our Facebook status updates.

Because even if we think the bar is set lower and our colleagues expect imperfection in electronic communications,  a status update riddled with spelling errors (using their for there, for example) creates an insidious impression on your reader.

Whether you’re a business or an individual, people form prejudicial attitudes about you with every word you write. If you want to create a positive reputation, remember that words count. So dress them up – every day of the week.

How to Set Up Your Social Media Marketing Channels

A few days ago, I started writing a post about how to set up your social media channels. Alas, I never finished, and today I was scooped by Chris Brogan, who wrote about Starting your social media channels. On the bright side, it’s reaffirming when you find your head is in the same place as Chris’s.

Chris provides a great overview of the ecosystem and some strategies, so I’ll let you read his post first. Then, come back here and find out what I have to say about how to determine the best channels by knowing your objectives and your audiences.

So, go on and read Chris’s post. I’ll wait.

First Step: Defining Your Objective

Welcome back! Many of my clients want to jump in to social media right away, but beyond a belief that they “must” do social media, they haven’t yet worked out what they want social media to do for them.

Like any communications strategy, the first step to being successful is understanding your objectives. For some, it might be increasing awareness of the brand, while for others it’s to generate sales. And yet for some businesses, being there is most important. Social media is deceptively simple. We all see teenagers using it, so it must be easy to do. The truth is that there is a learning curve, and sometimes, your objective might just be to get up and over that curve.

Whatever your objective, it will determine the strategy you start with. That, in turn, will determine the channels you launch, the tools you use, the content you create and the resources you apply. It also gives you a measuring yardstick.

For example, let’s say I have a goal to improve customer service for my pet store business. My in-store sales staff has been spending 30% of their time answering phone calls. Many of the questions ultimately come to me and my partner, because we have more experience. I’d like to cut the time my staff spends handling calls in half.

So, my objective for my social media channel is to become the go-to resource for pet care questions, and the measure is reducing the time my sales team spends on customer service by 50% by the end of the year.

Now I know something about the content I need (expert advice), who needs to provide it (my partner and I) and how I will measure success. I don’t know yet what social media channels I’ll need. That’s step two.

Second Step: Choosing Channels Based on Audience

This is probably the most critical step, because if you don’t define your target audience, you may as well not spend the time or resources on any communications strategy.

So who are the customers calling in for pet advice? Look through your customer call logs and evaluate the data. Are they young? Married? With children? Baby boomers? How many pets do they own? What kind? What is their income level?

Likely, what will happen is that several pictures will emerge. For the sake of the example, let’s say that retired baby boomers with one dog tend to call  your store most frequently. Mothers with elementary age children and several household pets make up the second demographic.

Now do a bit more research. Call a few customers back and ask: How do you find out information about your pet? Do you search online? Are you active on social networks? Which ones? Do you read blogs?

Another dimension is likely to emerge. The baby boomers say they spend a lot of time on Facebook, sharing photos of their grandchildren and their dog. The moms enjoy reading blog posts as they sit through dance class and baseball practice.

This creates two very specific places for you to start building your social media channels: Facebook and your own blog.

Suddenly, social media is a little less daunting. You don’t need to engage in every channel, just the ones that matter for your objectives and your audiences.

Feel free to share your tips and experiences for beginning your social media strategy below. I’d love to hear them.

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Thursday Reads: Annenberg, Content Marketing, Cinemagram

Here are some of the things worth reading, viewing, and checking out this week.

  • USC Annenberg released their GAP VII survey of the PR industry a couple of weeks ago, but PR Squared posted a nice summary of the research by Burghardt Tenderich, associate director of the center. Bottom line: PR has a seat at the table, social media and internal comms are on the rise, marketing/product PR is on the decline.
  • If you haven’t had enough of the iconic Steve Jobs after reading Walter Isaacson’s biography, Fast Company has the legacy tapes, which cover the years between Apple stints. Be sure to check out the quotes.
  • On the importance of headline writing: there’s just too much out there to read, so a headline has got to speak to you. Another reason for hiring a trained journalist for your marketing newsroom.
  • On storytelling: how characters move the brand story forward, from Spin Sucks.
  • Can traditional marketers transition to digital marketing? Personally, I think many will not. Here’s Mike Moran’s view.
  • McKinsey Quarterly discusses how companies can harness social media to shape consumer decision making. My favorite line: “Knowing that something works and understanding how it works are very different things.”

Launch of the Week:

MaryLee Sachs, author of The Changing MO of the CMO, launches her new consultancy to help CMOs deal with the rapidly shifting sands of marketing.

Product of the Week:

Enterprise customer intelligence company, FirstRain, launches FirstTweets, which filters out the junk tweets and delivers companies high-quality, business-relevant tweets. Reviews are promising so far, and I’m testing it out. Look for a future blog post.

Video of the Week:

2.5 million views and more than 30K likes. In 10 days. I think that qualifies as viral.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIFNkdq96U&w=560&h=315]

Design of the Week:

The folks at The Mechanism, who have lots of cool things on their blog (and do cool design work of their own), shared this Aussie site. It meets my (very high) standards for quality and creativity.

App of the Week:

Credit again to the Mechanism blog, but I too am having fun with Cinemagram. My cats, not so much.

Created with cinemagr.am

Why Marketing Will Soon Look Like a Newsroom

Newsroom panorama

Credit: victoriapeckham

Social media is changing marketing, reshifting priorities. That’s clear in the spending trends: AdAge reports that 59% of survey respondents say they’ll spend more money on social media ads in the next 12 months, with social media advertising jumping to 27% from 22%. (The survey was conducted by Advertiser Perceptions.)

And it’s not just advertising: CMOs say they plan to increase their social media budgets to 10.8% in the next 12 months from current levels of 7.4%, according to the latest CMO Survey from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

But social media marketing is different from traditional marketing, and a key reason is that it requires content – good, quality content that helps readers solve problems or understand issues. This is vastly different than traditional marketing, which relies on pithy and memorable campaign slogans.

This is why content marketing is the hot, new buzz word for marketers. There’s a lot of information available about how to create content that grabs the attention of your audience. (The Content Marketing Institute is an excellent resource.) But what does it mean for the structure of the marketing department as we know it?

Content marketing is going to require marketing heads to rethink the composition of their staff, the skill sets that are required, and the tools that they use. What’s a better place to look for a model than the newsroom, which has a strong track record of producing informative content? And by newsroom, I envision a hybrid of TV, print, magazine and online, with a dash of customer service thrown in.

▪   Hire an Editor in Chief. Eventually, CMOs will take on this role. But as the marketing newsroom evolves – along with the skill set of the CMO – the most important hire may be a former journalist or editor who understands editorial calendars, assignments, and most importantly, determining the editorial focus based on what’s important to the readers.

▪   Producers. Content is not one-dimensional. It can’t be merely words on a screen. It needs animation, images, video, audio, and graphics. Like TV producers, they have full creative responsibilities, making decisions about everything that appears in the final version, from script to spokesman.

▪   Writers. Tasked with researching and writing stories, posts, scripts, and status updates, in line with the editorial focus.

Community managers already do some of this, in addition to managing the company’s responses to questions from fans and followers. Perhaps this role will morph into the modern day equivalent of the editorial page editor.

I’ll be writing more about the marketing department of the future – the tools it will need and the skillsets of its employees – over the next few days. Stop back and let me know what you think – and how you are thinking about reorganizing your marketing staff to meet social media marketing challenges.

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Turning Social Media Metrics into Business Metrics

How do you measure your social media program? In the number of likes or  followers? ROI? Clicks to your website?

All of these metrics have their place – just not in the C-suite. Executives and small business owners need an understanding of how their investment in social media is going to increase their bottom line. Full stop.

Most do not understand – or care to understand – that their organization has a lot of followers. The only time this does matter is when a crisis occurs and their Facebook page explodes with criticism. Reputation, they get.

In some ways, the challenges of social media measurement are the same as those of public relations measurement. You need to evaluate your programs using business metrics, and you need to communicate your results in the language of business.

I wrote an ebook about this several years ago, based on my graduate school work. I thought I’d share it here, so that you can download it (note that I wrote it while at Dow Jones, so they are the sponsor). I’ve also included a few updated tips for social media below the ebook.

Tips for Sharing Social Media Metrics with Executives

  1. Track sales. Nothing says success faster than revenue. Unlike PR, which has an indirect impact on sales, you can establish a direct connection between social media and sales. One way to do this is to use a call to action linked to a form on a landing page.
  2. Track opinion. Mine your conversations for opinions and suggestions about your products and services. This is a form of market research, and sometimes it’s even better than that, especially if customers uncover an unknown problem.
  3. Tie social media objectives to business objectives. This one is the most important. Don’t start any social media program without understanding how it supports the broader organizational objectives. Yes, everyone must be in social media today, but there are many ways to do it. Just make sure it makes sense for your business.
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Looking for Social Media Statistics?

I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly misplacing my social media statistics. This is frustrating, because they’re so useful. Nothing underscores the importance of a social media recommendation more powerfully than being able to support it with facts.

There are still many people who are skeptical about the impact that social media can have on their marketing campaigns and – more importantly – their bottom line results. That’s why I always provide a “State of the Union” on social media at the start of my strategy recommendations.

I’m a master searcher, having spent most of my career building online business information services for corporate librarians and knowledge workers (Boolean search language, anyone?). Yet, even I have a hard time keeping track of the latest social media statistics.

I’m not a particularly good bookmarker, and like many people, I appreciate visually represented material. This is why I’ve started to use Pinterest to keep track of the latest and greatest social media statistics. Feel free to follow my board.

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Social Media as the Court of Public Opinion

Source: Causes.com

“Wow. Just wow.” Those were the leading words of Cecile Richards‘ letter to Planned Parenthood supporters about the impact of social media on her organization. This was the second example in just two weeks in which advocates using social media caused big organizations to reverse their positions.

Let’s run the numbers, shall we?

Susan G. Komen vs. Planned Parenthood:

The Entertainment Industry vs the Internet Industry (SOPA/PIPA debate):

Wow, indeed.

So what went wrong for these chastened organizations? Poor decision-making, sure. Total disregard for two-way communications? Uh-huh. Completely underestimating the wisdom of the crowd? Oh yeah.

For all people might scoff and criticize Mark Zuckerberg, this is exactly the type of open discourse that he imagines Facebook can help create. In his letter to investors, he says:

We believe building tools to help people share can bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.

Amazing, actually, that these three events (Komen, SOPA, Facebook IPO) happened within days of each other. I’m not sure if there is some greater god trying to tell us something or if it’s mere coincidence. Whatever it is, there are some important communications lessons here:

  • Behind-closed-doors decisions are gone forever. Transparency is essential for success in today’s marketplace. Every decision you make will be tried in the court of public opinion – and that court is much larger, and its voices much more amplified, than ever before.
  • Your stakeholders expect dialogue – before a decision is made. Communications theorists have called this two-way communications. In the days of mass media (yes, they are long gone), it was one (organization) to many (stakeholders). Now, it’s many stakeholders talking to one organization, and you’d better…
  • Listen, and I mean really listen – and don’t deny. It’s one thing to stand your ground. It’s another to be blind to reality. Komen apparently scrubbed negative comments from their Facebook wall (only in rare cases should you ever do this, and then only when it violates someone’s privacy). Organizations must take what their stakeholders say to heart and incorporate these views into the organization’s decision-making. Today, it’s the only path to success.

What leaders today need to realize: We no longer have a top-down command structure. It’s bottom up. The court of public opinion rules.

Diane Thieke is trying to reinforce her control over her kitchen. But, the dialogue isn’t going well. The three kittens are not budging from the kitchen counter. Follow her on Twitter.