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Posts tagged ‘Twitter’

Today’s Twitter Headline: How Local News Organizations Use Twitter

In the ten years since I’ve moved to Wichita, I’ve always been impressed with the local media. Most local television stations have a clear idea of their audience, what interests them, and what’s most relevant to them. As a result, every night we get a variety of local news that mixes events, crimes, politics, and soft news.

There are a handful of news organizations in Wichita, including television and radio outlets. Admittedly, I don’t listen or watch most of them. To be honest, I get most of my local news through Twitter. I know, I feel like such a millennial writing that, but it’s the truth. I hardly have time to actually sit down and read the news, especially local news, so I look to Twitter for breaking news. And between the traffic reports and latest events, I think most of the organizations are doing a great job.

I began following many local news organizations on Twitter. Like many, I turn to Wichita news organizations for local news coverage, not national or international news. Most seemed to update regularly, and there are definite differences between each social media strategy.

First, I think it’s important to know what makes a news organization successful on social media. Do we expect these organizations to interact with its readers online? Are social networks an addition to on-air news reports? Or should organizations just report the headlines?

From what I see on Twitter, Wichita news organizations are taking all of these approaches. For example, KNSS (@knssradio) solely tweets headlines. This is great for their followers, who tend to listen to their station for news headlines. KNSS concentrates more on news in Kansas and surrounding areas such as Kansas City. They tweet regularly about every couple of hours, so it’s consistent with how people check the news, which is every once in a while. KNSS doesn’t seem to interact with its followers or anyone else.

Kake News (@kakenews) seems to use Twitter more as an addition to their on-air reports. While Kake does tweet the day’s headlines, they also refer to their newscast or website for more information about a story. Kake also retweets the messages or reports from their reporters, as well as responds to questions from followers. What Kake doesn’t do however, is start interaction or conversations. It might benefit them, since their audience is generally loyal to their channel, to interact and field questions on Twitter to gauge what the audience wants to see, or their opinions and thoughts about certain segments.

The Wichita Eagle (@kansasdotcom) also tweets headlines, and retweets their reporters just like Kake does. The Eagle, however provides a much more interactive communication between them and their followers. Just reading the timeline for the Eagle, one can see how the interaction is much deeper because their followers talk conversationally with the account. It seems more like a community that provides two-way conversations, as opposed to just pushing headlines. They also add plenty of photos and cover all sorts of news from breaking  to weather. The eagle also does an interesting thing by letting reporters cover special court cases for minute-to-minute coverage. For example, @StanFinger covers crimes so he is often the one live tweeting from court cases that are interesting and important to readers.

From what I’ve studied this semester, I think the core of social media is interaction. Interaction with audience members, and followers, can truly cultivate a community. And this is especially important for local news organizations that are competing with national and international news organizations. People turn to local news organizations for just that, local news. So these organizations should focus on that, and cater to what their audience is interested in.

Like I stated earlier, most of the organizations on Twitter are great at reporting the local news, but they’re different from each other based on the interaction. For example, KNSS listeners are not like Wichita Eagle readers. They would rather prefer to just get the headlines without opinion, so the KNSS Twitter stream works great for them. Wichita Eagle readers like to interact more, so they prefer to talk and add to the Wichita Eagle Twitter stream.

I would say that the Wichita Eagle is doing the best job on Twitter because I prefer their community interaction. I think social media networks, especially Twitter, are built for community interaction so it’s a great place for news organizations to get readers’ opinions and ideas about their local news report. Overall though, the local news organizations that are on Twitter are probably aware of what their audience is looking for by now, so catering to your audience, no matter how different, is the key to a successful social media account.

Building a Social Strategy: a Better Way to Market

One of the first lessons I learned about Twitter is that what you get out of it wholly depends on whom you follow. Sure following @britneyspears and @charliesheen is entertaining, but are you really getting the most out of Twitter? As a consumer, wouldn’t you want to be able to follow businesses that you use, whether for news or deals? Twitter offers many opportunities for businesses to use social media as a strategic tool in customer service and retention.

Last week, we had two speakers talk to our class about using Twitter as a strategic business tool. Mike Beauchamp of the Golf Warehouse (@TWG_Mike) and Will Stoggin of Cox Communications (@Cox_Will) talked to us about how they use Twitter as a way to connect with consumers for the companies that they worked for.

Whether it is to promote sales, or to respond to customers, Twitter is a great way for the Golf Warehouse and Cox Communications to connect. And they seem to be having plenty of success with this more social business model.

According to Mike and Will, there are seven steps to developing a social strategy. A social strategy aims to harness the momentum in Twitter and other social media networks to reach out to potential clients and current customers. In other words, it is one of many ways to create communication between the brand and consumers.

The first step is to define the key target market. The answer might be as broad reaching to include everyone on Twitter, but social media enthusiasts know that this does not work well. After all, who wants to read about promos all day? Businesses should focus on key groups that might include influencers, employees, and other businesses. It’s important to know these markets’ social trends including when, how and where they most actively engage.

Secondly, examine your businesses existing efforts. Understanding how customers respond now can increase opportunities within that system, or create new ones for social media. That way, you have all your bases covered. Figuring out how social media fits into your current strategic plans is also important because giving a unified message is key to retention in any business.

The third step takes a more in-depth look. Defining the strategy and implications of social media throughout your organization lets you determine and keep your goals in mind. Mike and Will gave examples of questions that one might ask during this stage including the purpose of using social media? What departments will be involved? What’s the budget? How often will you post? How do you establish a voice for the company?

Brian Solis mentions this in Chapter 12 of his book Engage! He mentions that the challenge is really to define and reinforce “the brand personality as it either existed prior to social media and/or how it should display and present to those across the Social Web.”

In other words, understanding the reasoning behind using social media is so much more important than actually being on it. If you’re key clients do not use Twitter, then there’s no need for a business to be on Twitter. Solis also mentions how the personalities who are on display should embody and personify the brand so as not to dilute the messages.

Of course, Mike and Will advocated for having human voices and real people behind Twitter accounts. And this has worked well for the companies that they represent. For example, Will has used his account (@Cox_Will) to communicate and address customers’ questions and comments about Cox Communications. He uses Twitter for a customer service and support role.

The fourth step is to gather resources for the social strategy. Mike gave us a clever handout of his ABC’s to Social Media Strategy. This includes having a crisis plan, justification for every post, and support from the organization (especially those at the top). While reading through this list I found that nearly all of the ABC’s requires some thought or strategy to implement. This makes sense because while social media may be a low-resource marketing strategy, the impact and implications of it are just as relevant as television ads, or print campaigns. A complete list of these strategies can be found here.

The fifth step to developing a social strategy is to prioritize rollout objectives. This helps determine when and how initiatives should be launched.

The sixth step is project management. It’s easy to get things going, but the real task comes in keeping up with the goals and management of everyday posting. Project management programs including Basecamp or Apollo are great resources to use when keeping track of timelines, roles, responsibilities, and initiatives. Mike and Will also discussed how communication between departments is key so there are not several conflicting voices, but a unified social media presence.

The final step is to expand and invest accordingly. Measuring the growth and results of social media outreach is key in the continued progress and advancement of your initiatives. Tracking the results can also help you to determine what types of social media messages work well with audiences.

Perhaps one of the key takeaways that I got from the speakers was that developing a social media strategy is an important way to communicate and learn about your customers. It provides another venue for two-way conversations to happen in an easy, low impact and inexpensive way. More importantly, it has the possibility of turning a brand into a person, and more customers are likely to respond to that.

Social media is an effective, and certainly relevant way to reach customers, and while I agree that social media does have a place in marketing strategy; it certainly should not be the only piece. Social media should simply be an extension of other marketing initiatives because it is current and insightful.

And isn’t that what marketing should be about? Until next time…

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