The Social Newsroom: Pieces of the Puzzle

newsroom puzzleIt is impossible right now to discuss brands and social media without hearing about the Social Newsroom and real-time content marketing. Oreo brought it to the world’s attention and made it big with their Super Bowl ads, but the concept continues to gain attention from companies and is attracting even more questions about how brands can integrate it into their current social media strategy.

As a concept, the purpose of the Social Newsroom is to deliver real-time, viral content that is relevant and highly engaging with a brand’s online audience – putting news, trends, online buzz and culture at the center of the content. Given many names, the social newsroom, the creative newsroom, real-time marketing, content marketing, native advertising, and others – it is about uniting the ideas of real-time, relevant, and viral content and sharing it with a brand’s online audience.

There are greater uncertainties though when trying to identify and define the pieces that contribute to making up the Social Newsroom – as a social media strategy, tool, and content development process. The purpose here is to identify the pieces we see as integral parts in developing the Social Newsroom and incorporating it into a brand’s social media strategy.

Profiling

Knowing and understanding your fans and followers increases a brand’s ability and opportunities for delivering the right content at the right time. Not only do people want to know what is happening five minutes from now, they also want to zero in on the information that is important and relevant to them – as music lovers, sports enthusiasts, parents, consumers and political activists.

Knowing fan demographics, interests, and characteristics is crucial to the creation of relevant content, giving fans the topics they are interested in, care about, and want to share within their own social networks. Looking at the brand, not only from the brand’s perspective, but also through the eyes of fans can uncover how the brand fits within their every day lives, enhancing content creation that connects and engages.

News and Social Monitoring

 

More and more, news travels to people through social platforms and their online networks. In the desire to be constantly aware, social media has gained yet another purpose in people’s lives. People are looking to friends, fans and followers in their social networks to keep up-to-date on the latest and greatest news and online buzz.

Monitoring social platforms and online conversations reveals what is being talked about right now, enabling a brand to spot hot topics and issues as they happen. Focusing on real-time conversations across social platforms also give a brand the opportunity to spot trends before they become viral.  Social monitoring helps a brand get closer to its fans and understand topics and issues that are important to them.

The Organization

The evolution from traditional marketing campaigns to a newsroom mentality is not only about finding and creating great content, but also about the processes and methods through which the content is created. The Social Newsroom relies less on planning and the creation of original campaign content, and more on content discovery, curation and sharing. This shift requires additional capabilities from Community Managers, Editors and Content Creators to adapt current processes and systems. A major challenge can be the speed at which newsroom processes should function and changing the current ways of thinking and developing content.

Tools

Profiling, monitoring, content discovery and performance analysis are only a few of the ways that tools and technology can help support the Social Newsroom. There are many tools out there right now with the goal of helping brands in their efforts to build a better Social Newsroom. Some tools are helpful for profiling and getting to know your fans better, others focus on finding the most relevant stories and publishing the content in one seamless system. It is a big task to research and find the right tools, so first understand what the specific needs are for building your Social Newsroom.

Getting it Right

While there are many challenges in bringing all the pieces together, ultimately the Social Newsroom is about real-time and relevancy. It has to be happening now to break through all the other content and it has to be relevant to attract meaningful attention and recognition in the fast-paced online environment. News that has no connection to the brand or its fans will only succeed in damaging what the brand stands for, confusing fans and their relationship to the brand. Brands that get it right create relevant content because they know their online audience and because the best content not only connects with fans, but also connects fans to the brand – building better engagement and better brand relationships.

 

Clickbait: Information overload! How can brands cut-through all the noise?

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 10.11.34You won’t believe the hidden message in this blog post! Or rather – there isn’t one, I just wanted you to click through and read this. But bear with me – I’m about to suggest something incredibly controversial – a never-heard-before admission by a social agency!*

As much as clickbait is the emotional catnip of our online experience and can drive consistent traffic for publishers like The Daily Mail and Huff Post who churn out multiple stories each day, it’s still hugely annoying to discover you’ve been duped by an over-excited headline promising to give you all the feels. For brands, adopting the same practice can negatively affect perception and ultimately – sales. So how can brands cut through all the sensational copy and deliver successful results without falling prey to creating clickbait themselves? How do they beat them rather than join them?

 

Platform crackdown

In the early days of social, Facebook optimised content based on engagement, meaning that if users clicked on a piece of content, it received a higher ranking in newsfeeds. In 2014 Facebook took steps to try and crack down on those gaming this ranking using clickbait, and in February this year it introduced an update based not just on what users engaged with in their feed, but what they wanted to see. Facebook’s advice is that Pages should avoid encouraging people to take action (such as encouraging lots of clicks), because this will likely only cause temporary spikes in metrics that might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time – meaning the latest ranking favours content that users naturally engage with rather than content that users click on through coercion.

 

Last month Instagram followed suit and announced it would alter user’s feeds to optimise the content users “care about the most”, and Twitter has also adopted a similar change (although users can opt-out and revert back to the chronological feed). The changes will hopefully make it harder for clickbaiters to game feeds with meaningless content, but the real aim for the platforms hosting is to surface more engaging content more frequently so users return often and stay longer.

 

The same goes for brands on social. If the content they produce is consistently engaging, then users will interact more frequently, leading others to discover it through preferred ranking. Ultimately, these new newsfeed algorithms exist to generate more meaningful engagement, driving not just clicks, but conversations via comments, and shares.

 

Learn and adapt

Meaningful engagement begins with relevant content that creates value for the user and the brand. While an insight-driven content strategy is key to delivering this, brands should also adapt stories and messages based on the emotional needs and behavior of their audience. This is more than just a case of ‘test and learn’ or refining what has already been done. Brands must also evolve their approach in line with new behaviors, platforms, competitors and rankings or risk being left behind by those who do.

 

A good example of a brand that does this well is Buzzfeed, who’s CEO recently shared their new strategic thinking, revealing how their objective has changed from getting users to click through to their main site to view stories, to allowing content to be consumed directly on other platforms. The new direction was prompted by analysing which content generated clicks and discovering that users prefer to consume some types of content within the platform they are already on. The company also found a discernable difference between user interactions with the same content on different platforms, demonstrating how content demand and consumption vary across sites. What spreads like wildfire on Facebook might fail miserably elsewhere.

 

Relevance is key

For brands looking to use social content to drive click-through to their site, it’s important to balance the goal of the company (clicks to eyeballs, or conversions to sales, for example) with the desire and behavior of users on different sites, and monitor response over time. Relevance is key to interaction, and brands that think like publishers will know that relevance is an ever-changing chameleon. While users are bombarded with meaningless clickbait, there is ample opportunity for brands to channel the social zeitgeist by delivering valuable content that meets audience needs in the format, time and platform that suits them. If they get this right, they won’t need clickbait.

 

At Mindjumpers we help companies and brands to think as publishers and provide end-to-end social media management across multiple markets, encompassing full social strategy, planned and reactive content creation, analysis and reporting.

 

If you’d like to find out more please get in touch.

 

*Don’t be naughty and scroll to the last paragraph – I’ve hidden the controversial part somewhere to optimize your dwell time in finding it!