Monday, January 4, 2010

Avoid the Clash with Social Media Content

The historically contentious relationship that exists between journalists and public relations professionals results from a clash of agendas.

PR executives, representing their client or company, measure success by the quality of the editorial coverage they generate, as well as its positive tone. In comparison, editors and reporters are evaluated on the accurate and balanced presentation of news and trends, and the resulting readership and reputation.

The media relations practitioner understands that to be truly effective their interests must be subservient to the journalist’s needs and (ultimately) the media outlet’s readers or viewers. Rather than a “here is why we are so great” pitch, an outreach focused on timely and critical issues tends to resonate.

It’s well understood that this same prioritization applies to social media. Promotional content in the form of blog posts, tweets, podcasts or video that is perceived by the audience as spam is quickly discarded.

However, content that engages, educates and entertains often scores significant readership and attention because of its thought leadership.

Do these editorial principles also apply to how content is organized in a social media portal?

Predictably, the answer is “yes.” In fact, Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) has refined its thinking in this area based on the continued maturation and lessons learned from the social media marketing programs we’re implementing for clients.

Take our ongoing effort for Monster Government Solutions. This campaign met its initial benchmarks due to the publishing of a portfolio of exceptional and timely content, and the close integration with the client’s sales organization.

The program serves as a dynamic sales tool that helps Monster’s representatives cultivate relationships with key prospects and customers.

An area of only modest accomplishment though has been readership. It’s OK…not great. So, we asked why and make it a priority to improve based on reader feedback and a close evaluation of traffic analytics.

What we’ve concluded is that the content hierarchy and structure of the portal needs updating. Our original effort organized content in a way consistent with Monster’s sales team – by vertical market.

We assumed readers would self-identify accordingly and gravitate to posts that covered trends in their specific industry. As it turned out, visitors to the portal were more inclined to seek out information that addressed a specific need or challenge they faced on the job.

Our experience serves as a good lesson in how to best organize content in a social media portal for reader consumption. It’s critical to constantly evaluate how your readers desire to engage and then prioritize their agenda.

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