Social Media Operates on the News Cycle – Do You Understand the News Cycle?
Posted by Talknowledgy
Fresh content is the lifeblood of social media, as it is in the traditional news media. Stories come and go, often in the span of hours. Sometimes new details will emerge in a story, briefly giving it a new life. But by the week’s end, if you’re still talking about the same things you were talking about at the start of the week then you may be missing out on a key part of what makes for successful websites and social media channels. Most organizations – including us here at Talknowledgy – use social media and search engine tools to drive web traffic. To encourage people to click your links and visit your site you must be relevant, current, easy to find, and professional (based on your audience’s standards). In short, you need content.
Whether that content is videos, podcasts, photos and infographics, media releases, blog posts, or any other type of content depends on what you want to achieve (and have budget for). Ultimately the medium matters, but so long as it’s being created it’s not a huge factor. It’s important to remember if you’re sharing ‘old’ content and it’s something like a video, podcast, or infographic you will generally get more leniency since they take a while to produce.
So how do news organizations approach the content cycle? Well, they typically start the morning by reviewing what came in since yesterday and determine what is still relevant and interesting, what could still be relevant and interesting with a new angle, and what is no longer relevant. Then, they examine what stories are coming up that day be it media advisories they had on file, events they previously know about, or other pre-planned coverage. Then the decision makers will sit down with the reporting staff and work out an assignment list. Generally, one person will be the ‘on-call’ person in the event of late breaking stories.
Compare that with how you determine what content goes up on your social media channels. Do you see any relation? Do you know what your company was talking about yesterday, and whether its relevant to today’s audience? Do you know what your company is doing today?
Here’s a few tips to help you consider the news cycle when posting content to social media:
Establish a dayfile: In the newsroom, the dayfile is where story ideas that aren’t ready to be run are filed for a later date. This allows the company to keep a record of their options for coverage, rather than relying on an individual’s memory.
When creating content, it’s important to consider events both internally and externally to plan the day’s content. Sometimes it’s as simple as looking at your calendar and going, “Hey, do we have a tweet scheduled about Thanksgiving?” Keeping a calendar in Outlook or Word or another program while also scheduling tweets and posts will help you remember.
Create content relevant to what people are looking for: In the news world right now, the shift is coming off “back-to-school” stories and is moving towards Thanksgiving/Christmas along with some politics and (of course) the iPhone 5. These are all things people are talking about, so content is being generated on these topics to meet the needs of people looking for information on these topics. Similarly, stories about the sinkhole on Highway 174 in Ottawa are no longer relevant (other than the “whatever happened to” kind of current affairs reporting, which I’ll get to in a moment) because its a resolved issue.
Social media works in similar ways. If you’re making a “Sexy and I Know It” parody, you’re a little behind the times. If you made a hilarious spoof of “Call Me Maybe” now, you’d probably be hitting that trend near the end of its lifecycle. If you’re making spoof iPhone 5 commercials or “Gangnam Style” flashmob dance videos, you’re probably doing pretty well right now. But timing is everything. You need to know what’s coming, but also be flexible enough to react to trends and produce content based on it. And then you need to be using the right tags and keywords so your results come up near the top in Google search results. Check what other companies are posting to determine if you want to use their channels or find your own. If you take nothing else away from this section, please always remember not to use irrelevant hashtags or search terms in your content as that is spammy and a big no-no.
Create content that is relevant long-term: In the news world, this can be known as ‘current affairs’. While it doesn’t always relate to a buzzing topic, current affairs generally encompasses human interest stories and other neat goings-on that don’t really qualify as news because there’s no current changes – or perhaps even interest – in the issue. For instance, CBC’s Marketplace recently re-ran an undercover look into the pool repair business with a focus on water pumps and chlorinators, which is obviously not all that relevant in September in Canada. Still, that information might come in handy later…maybe someone with a pool will remember it next summer? Please note I don’t mean to disparage current affairs, but I’d label the news as being what people are talking about while current affairs is oftentimes trying to create a broader discussion in a topic that isn’t necessarily in the news.
How can you create content for social media that people are still looking at weeks or months later? By offering “How to” guides, information pieces, and walkthroughs. Even if people aren’t looking for web safety information or social media tips or buyer’s guides right now doesn’t mean they won’t be later. Furthermore, you can still claim relevancy by updating it regularly. And don’t forget: the longer it takes to produce, the longer you can share it!
Establish a narrative: Narratives are created in the news when a series of similar stories air around a certain topic or company. Because of all the troubles at failed Canadian telecom company Nortel, the ‘narrative’ around Nortel is one of excess, corruption, mismanagement, and poor planning. The stories that surrounded that company, and still do to this day, paint a legacy of failure.
What does the content that you’re producing say about your company? Does it define your corporate personality? Is it consistent and does it showcase your expertise? Having a focus and set topic for your content helps to showcase where your strengths and interests lie and it also helps attract a certain audience. If your customers come to your site because of one post about politics and find the rest of your site is about recipes and music, they might get the impression your site is all about your interests and (ultimately) all about you. That’s why the blog posts here on Talknowledgy.ca are about technology, social media, and gaming (and incidentally, feedback is always appreciated).
The news isn’t unbiased because people like to be told what to think: While journalists are supposed to be unbiased in their reporting, it’s important to remember that it’s impossible. All journalists have an opinion, and it will play a role in what soundbites they use, what photos or videos they use, and even what events they cover (assuming they call the shots on that – they don’t always). But some journalists, like talk show hosts, get the opportunity to actually express more than just the facts of the story and are allowed to include their opinion. This tends to help fill in some of the gaps of the story…even if the gaps are simply being filled with the host’s opinion. In other cases, organizations may go to a subject matter expert for their opinion, which becomes the new angle of the story.
In the blogosphere, the line between news and opinion is very blurry and people are often looking for both. Depending on what your organization is or does, this can allow you more freedom to add your opinion to the existing content as a subject matter expert, which is great when you have a new ‘breaking’ topic that you’d like to get some content out on in a hurry.
Hope these tips are helpful! If you have your own, leave us a comment.
About TalknowledgyWe talk tech! Talknowledgy is your weekly dose of the latest in technology, gadgets, and social media. Hear viral videos, insightful interviews, and witty banter while getting caught up on the week that was in the Twitterverse and the world of technology. New Talknowledgy episodes are posted Saturday here on talknowledgy.ca or you can subscribe to our podcast RSS feed to be automatically updated when each show is available. To email Phil and Dave, or to find out how to syndicate Talknowledgy on your radio station, email email@example.com Please note, views expressed on the show are those of its participants alone and should not be interpreted as the views of their respective employers. Our website is http://www.talknowledgy.ca.
Posted on 09/24/2012, in Monday Blog, Phil Gaudreau, Talknowledgy News and tagged Blog, Blogging, Community Engagement, Community management, creating content, News, Opinion, Ottawa, Phil Gaudreau, Social Media, Talknowledgy, Technology, The Internet, trending topics, Tweet, Twitter, viral videos. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.