Social Media Lessons From Today’s Multi-Channel Content Producers
Last night, the New England Publicity Club held a "Meet the Technology Editors" event on the 14th Floor at One Broadway in Cambridge, Mass. A room full of agency, corporate and individual PR and communications professionals were treated to a panel presentation by Wade Roush, chief correspondent for Xconomy, Laurianne McLaughlin, senior news editor for CIO, Jackie Noblett, Clean Tech/Defense Tech reporter at Boston Business Journal/Mass High Tech, and Jim Kerstetter, executive editor at c|net. The panel was moderated by AMR Research Chief Strategy Officer Kevin O'Marah. Discussion focused on ways each editor/publication measures success of their social media initiatives, how each use social media for their own purposes both personally and professionally, what the word "relationship" means, story sourcing and leveraging social media for ID'ing trends, issues, story ideas and resident/subject matter experts, among other topics. A few interesting observations:
There are no hard and fast rules. We're all learning how best to leverage social media tools, who to follow, who to unfollow, who is a good source for information, what makes a good story and where to find it. It was interesting to hear the reaction when some social media savvy writers/editors might solicit leads/sources for stories via Twitter, Facebook, etc. That brought a curious response how some in the media community might look to "poach" the request and chase the breaking story on their own. And, I thought "breaking news" had almost lost its meaning of late.
Nothing beats 1:1 in-person interaction. No matter how we leverage new tools, channels of communications, social media sites, as each panelist reiterated, they appreciate personal communications. In fact, it was great to hear each panelist talk about how all these additional channels are just ways they keep tabs on their trusted sources, friends, colleagues and professional networks. Also, and no real surprise, everyone is buried in email. Personally, I loved Wade Roush's cure for this. He mentioned how he has taken a new approach by declaring email bankruptcy to keep his inbox manageable. In a nutshell, he periodically deletes all his email, apologizing in advance to those that he keeps in touch with and starts from scratch with a clean, email-free inbox. That might make an interesting alternative to archive. I know our own IT department might appreciate my taking that approach more often. Also, I heard a familiar refrain, "don't email, then call."
Keep it simple. It was great to hear Laurianne McLaughlin say she appreciates plain English, short, concise emails with a purpose, i.e. would you like a new virtualization source? She also mentioned how if Twitter has taught us anything, it's to be concise. As many of us can attest, making a point in 140 characters can be a challenge.
Know your audience, do your homework, and make your interaction meaningful. As Jim Kerstetter mentioned, he appreciates those that can deliver on what they promise. Nothing is more frustrating than someone who says they can put a company CEO on the phone but fail to make it happen. Each panelist reiterated how much they appreciate those that have done their homework, read their articles, understand what types of stories each publication tends to write and what they look for in a story.
Twitter #1. Most use Twitter predominantly, besting Facebook (primarily a personal tool but some panelists acknowledged they're likely to respond to a personal email via Facebook) and LinkedIn was losing its luster. Perhaps, as one panelist mentioned, it was great to LinkIn but then what? It's become more of an archive for resumes. Some use Twitter to promote stories they've written. Others may use Twitter as a way to keep tabs on trends and subject matter experts. Twitter lists are still emerging and it was interesting to hear discussion around balancing the desire to show how many lists you have and who's on it with the need to keep sources confidential. From my perspective, just because a list exists doesn't necessarily mean there's value to being on it. What makes it meaningful is those making the lists and those who know how to use them.
Exclusives are appreciated. Although, as many panelists noted, as long as the "exclusive" is just that, exclusive information not made available to everyone else. Also, and something that is coming up more and more, just because something is "exclusive" does not necessarily mean it's going to be a story. A good exclusive story still needs to be just that: a good story.
Measuring success is evolving. We've gone from Web hits to page views to unique visitors to time spent on each page on the site and percentage of traffic generated from organic search. It was good to hear panelists discuss interest in community building and working to measure quality engagements and quality discussions that each publications' site might create. Although, this was still in its early stages.