These days, just about every organization has realized that connecting with their key audiences via social media presence is a necessity. It is where a brand and the important constituencies of the brand can engage directly and create deeper relationships. A good social strategy can retain existing customers, lead to new customers and ultimately increase brand equity. But not every business or brand is accustomed to the social space or knows what strong performance in social even looks like.
Many brands have been active in social for years now, but without a true understanding if their social efforts are providing returns on that effort for the brand. The saying, “you cannot manage what you cannot measure,” is never truer than in social media marketing.
As far as analytics tools go, here at Share Rocket, we’re pretty partial to the platform we built originally for the broadcast industry. Our software is a powerful tool to measure, manage, and grow your social media presence. What we have discovered along the way is that broadcasters make a great role model for all brands. The sheer scale of their audiences and published content, coupled with the fast pace of a today’s news cycles, makes for an environment where important strategic and tactical decisions have to be made quickly.
Below is a list of top 10 strategies and tactics in social that broadcasters excel at that we think every brand could learn from:
A big factor in success on social media is striking while the iron is hot. Naturally, newsrooms have their fingers on the pulse of the news cycle all day, so they’re among the first to post about breaking news when it crosses the Associated Press wires or is publicly announced. But social teams at news organizations cannot just rely on the AP or wait for a trending hashtag to jump on a topic. They have to constantly be on the lookout for timely events and news that is relevant to their audience. They have to see trends both before and as they develop. They do that by using tools like Share Rocket to analyze the trending content in their market and around the country. Other organizations can do the same, using the social tools available to them to watch trending topics, to set up alerts when relevant items hit Google, and to get a feel for the ways that competitors are approaching their posts. It’s a game of speed, but being fast and knowing what works is better than speed alone.
One thing you can be assured of on social media: sometimes even a well-hatched plan can fail, and you need to be ready with a work around if and when it happens. Mark Zuckerberg directs his team to “move fast and break things.” Taking well thought-out risks is necessary to set yourself apart on social media. A great example is the snarkiness of Wendy’s Twitter account. When they first began taking that tone, some people thought they had been hacked – until it continued for days and their tweets started going viral. Not every brand is going to get away with that approach, but testing your audience’s limits and preferences is okay (so long as it has been discussed and the rest of the organization knows the tone is going to change). Sometimes, the very nature of social means you may miss the mark. When you do, own it and move on. In time and with experience, you’ll find what works for you.
Newsrooms are large and often complicated beasts, with numerous people in varied roles coming together to produce the content they show the public. Often on their social accounts, you’ll see examples of the strengths of those component parts highlighted. For example, you may see a well-shot photo or video from photographers or a live update from a reporter in the field. You could see a producer’s creative wit in the text of a post or links to the digital team’s work on the organization’s website. Likewise, organizations outside of news should incorporate talents outside of the social manager or staff. Get co-workers in other departments invested in your social brand by letting them contribute or have access to post directly. Ask for help from people in different departments to bring some variety to your social posts and provide a new voice that may connect with a different subset of your audience. One additional thing to note is that TV stations are great at getting their employees (reporters and anchors) to amplify their main station brand’s content. Getting your employees to fully vest in your social strategy means each and every employee can be a point of amplification for your brand.
You can typically depend on news sources to remind you what day it is. Sometimes that means a .gif post of a sleepy cat on a Monday morning. Sometimes it’s a solemn reminder of sacrifice on Memorial Day. Sometimes it’s a not-so-solemn reminder of pancakes on National Pancake Day. The point is, content is thought out to accompany those days, and you should do the same. Look at the calendar of important events coming up for your organization and think of creative posts ahead of time instead of scrambling to slap something together the day of. But also look beyond the walls of your organization – what is going on in the world around you and how can you find a tie to what it is you do? Be aware of upcoming opportunities and plan ahead to reduce stress later.
There’s a risk to living exclusively by the calendar, however. Ninety percent or more of the content in a news organization is not planned. That’s the nature of news, but spontaneity is a key component for social success for any organization. Brands should take a note from news and be flexible when the unexpected happens. In the worst of times, that will mean moving into crisis-management mode and deputizing more people within an organization to respond to public outcry on social media. In the best of times, it will mean dropping what the plan was for the day to take advantage of a social influencer name-dropping your brand or organization. On any given morning, you can wake up to find you’re the talk of the town – for better or for worse – and you don’t want your social presence to be business-as-usual on that day.
News organizations have a steady stream of content moving through them at all hours of the day. While most brands or organizations outside of news don’t have that natural flow of items to post, they should aspire to keep a regular cadence on their social feeds and try to keep that cadence as fast as possible while still providing engaging content. When you’re not trying to hit on hot topics or what’s currently in the news, maintain a list of saved, “evergreen” content that can be posted whenever and add to it often. Sometimes, it can be as simple as posting one of your organization’s value propositions or guiding principles in a post along with a link to your website. No one needs to be online 24 hours a day, but if your social manager or social team can schedule and space out posts, you’ll likely reach different portions of your audience than if you post at the same time every day. Likewise, weekends may have less engagement than weekdays on social media, but scheduling some posts on days when you’re not in the office will keep your feeds fresh so you don’t feel the need to play catch-up Monday morning. News organizations understand that limited organic reach means that not all of the fans and followers of their brands see all of their posts. More quality content posted generally means more effective reach.
User-generated content (UGC) is a news outlet’s best friend. In the old days, outlets had to race all across town in the hopes of getting a great photo or video of a breaking news event as it happened. Today, if something newsworthy happens, 99% of the time there will be visual evidence shot on a smartphone and often the race for news orgs these days is to get in touch with the person with the best video first. A more common way you’ll see UGC publicly is when news outlets ask their views to submit weather photos or video, or pictures of their pets or kids, or ask the audience to respond with a .gif. Those types of posts are easy for any organization to replicate and help increase engagement and keep your brand popping up on the social feeds of friends of your commenters who may see they interacted with a post. You can use the content that fans provide to score more than one social win, as well. It can be used for many purposes, like contests and giveaways, slideshows and videos, or to use in future posts to inspire UGC. It’s a great way for a small staff to get new content and raise engagement rates without devoting more resources to social.
The days of “drive-by” posts have passed. To maximize engagement on social media, an organization needs to look at its old posts (and the public’s reaction to them), and respond accordingly. You’ll frequently find news outlets in the comments of their own posts, clarifying information, interacting with fans, and shutting down trolls. Sometimes if there is nothing to add, it’s a simple as going through and liking or posting a Facebook “reaction” to other people’s friendly or constructive comments. Every organization should get involved in the discussion after the post, as long as it’s constructive. That’s where engagement happens and relationships with the audience deepen.
There’s no question Facebook has an unquenchable thirst for original video – both live and uploaded – and its algorithms reward those who publish it accordingly with more reach than any other type of post. That has led to some major shifts in social strategy for content creators over the last couple of years as they have tried to put more of their effort into video. While TV news organizations certainly have a built-in advantage of having some of the best equipment available and photographers and editors already on staff, the social teams for other organizations can jump on the trend by creating their own video content. All you really need to go Live on Facebook these days is a smartphone, a microphone, and a little bit of practice. Come up with some ideas to try for your organization and you’ll likely see a bump in your social numbers that you may not have received from another type of post.
While all of the above concepts are good practices to follow, in order to see which are most effective for your organization’s audience, you’ll need to do some trial and error testing. The easiest way to see the impact of a change in approach is to use a social media analytics tool, whether it’s Share Rocket or one of the other products on the market. One of the most powerful benefits of a tool like Share Rocket is that it allows social managers to get a feel for an organization’s performance in a high-level summary view. This provides a valuable overview for managers and executives, but also provides very granular details that allow an organization’s social manager or social team to judge what is working in real time and adapt or change their tactics accordingly. Social media is a field that is constantly changing, whether it is changing audience preferences, changing algorithms on social platforms, or just trends in content types. An analytics tool helps to make sense of those trends and keep an organization on the cutting edge of social media.