…often applies in the over-saturated world of social media. Our Feature this month offers tips for paring down your editorial planning so you can focus on high-quality, high-impact content. Our Digital Guide offers an introduction to Medium, the stripped-down blogging platform picking up steam among many online influencers. This month’s Case Study takes a look at how Junior Achievement of Georgia used Periscope to grow its audience, and in On Workflow we speak to Luke McDonnell, a Senior Client Executive out of Drury|Porter Novelli in Dublin. Plus we have the latest social media news, curated from PNConnect Weekly Reading.
PNCONNECT — Even though it may not have as much traction in the United States, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is the undisputed international titan of messaging apps. Its 900 million monthly active users easily exceed Facebook Messenger’s 700 million and WeChat’s 600 million. While WhatsApp has yet to determine how to monetize that user base, the first advertising opportunities on the platform — whenever they arrive — could be a huge boon for brands.
PNCONNECT — It’s good that more brand publishers are embracing native Twitter video. But brands don’t have to choose YouTube or native video; they can opt for both. Twitter and Facebook video gets your content in front of people in a very mobile-user-friendly way. But abandoning YouTube means abandoning long-tail search traffic. Upload videos to social networks for initial views and to YouTube for sustained, long-lasting results.
PNCONNECT — Two things that are notable about this: 1) Instagram crossed the 300 million mark just nine months ago. 2) According to the post, more than 75% of the user base is outside the United States. Instagram can and should play a big part of your international content strategy.
Source: Instagram Blog
PNCONNECT — Empowering your employees to advocate and interact on your behalf is one of the most powerful ways of developing communities and even developing leads out of online interactions — if you have the comfort to enable them to act on the company’s behalf, and if their interaction is well-informed and well-managed. LinkedIn, a Porter Novelli client, is rolling out LinkedIn Elevate to businesses of more than 2,000 employees, allowing companies not only to empower employee advocates, but to get better analytics on their results.
PNCONNECT — Essentially, Moments is a simple way to organize the chaos of Twitter around a specific event or story (for example, the #superbloodmoon last month, or the Umpqua shootings, or the MLB playoffs). Moments are curated collections of tweets, images, videos — anything you can find on Twitter — about a specific topic. They’re similar to Snapchat Discover, except you follow stories instead of brands. Moments are an entry point for people who’d otherwise waste time aimlessly browsing their feeds; far more importantly, they’re a way to use Twitter for people who don’t understand or know Twitter at all. This is a big step for Twitter in trying to make the service more friendly to the casual user. For brands, it’s a way to more easily find the context around trending topics and events, and to look for ways to be part of those conversations.
Source: Twitter Blog
PNCONNECT — A dedicated shopping area, separate from the News Feed, has to have retailers licking their chops. And since surveys show that almost half of Facebook users have gone onto Facebook to look for products, we’re guessing that users will find this valuable too. The article claims that “the jury’s still out” on whether people will want to shop on the same networks as they socialize, but two decades ago we would have been saying the same about shopping online. Social network e-commerce is coming, and with these new tools, Facebook is stating its intention to lead.
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Here are some tips for figuring out which content isn’t worth your time:
- For each piece of content, ask yourself “Why?” The answer should be more concrete than “Because someone’s already written it,” “Because we want to publish X number of blog posts every day,” or “Because we want it to get shared on Facebook.” Instead, have a business goal in mind: Not necessarily a purchase, but perhaps a click through to learn more or a whitepaper download. This doesn’t mean all your content should be promotional or read like an advertisement; it should simply have a focused, meaningful purpose.
- Identify your audiences. Ask yourself, what readers do you want to attract and engage? What do you want them to do as a result of your content? Now keep asking yourself those questions, for every post: Who will read this? What do I want them to do? If you don’t have a good answer for either question, or if the answers don’t line up with your overall program goals, skip the post.
- Get your priorities in writing. As you define the who, what, and why of your publishing program, write down your goals and the strategies you’ll pursue to obtain them. Specify what you do and do not publish, and why. Refer back to this document often to stay focused on what’s important.
- Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Ask yourself, “If I were a member of my target audience, would I read this? Would I take any action as a result?” Be honest with yourself about which content is boring, overly promotional, or poorly aligned with audience interests. If you regularly publish content that doesn’t interest your audiences, it won’t take long for them to unfollow or stop paying attention.
- Dig into your metrics. What content formats and topics perform strongly — both in terms of page views and social shares and in terms of engagement and conversions? What formats and topics consistently flop with readers? If you can predict that a piece of content isn’t going to resonate before you even publish it, save yourself and your readers some time.
- Find your optimal publishing frequency. Experiment with how often you update your various channels, and watch how publishing frequency affects your reach and engagement rates. At a certain point, publishing additional posts can be self-sabotaging; all those updates have to compete with each other for readers’ attention, and readers can feel overwhelmed by all the information.
- Focus on quality over quantity. A thoughtful, well-crafted article grounded in thorough research and analysis can do more for your brand than 20 hot-take posts. Quality is what gives your content staying power — it motivates readers to share, it leads other publishers to reference you as a source, and it elevates your position in search. If you dedicate all your energy to quick hits, you’ll miss out on building long-term value.
- Don’t be afraid to make people mad. Being protective of your publishing real estate and your readers’ time sometimes means saying no to colleagues who really, really want their messaging on your social channels, even when it’s not a good fit. When the time comes to fight this kind of request, use your written criteria and your program metrics to back up your decision and demonstrate the reasoning behind it.
Current affairs and business news are our team’s bread and butter, so we listen to the radio throughout the day. It’s important to know the news of the day so we can advise our clients and provide perspectives. When I want to focus, I put the headphones in and listen to the latest playlist on Spotify. I’m listening to a lot of disco and soul at the moment. This is when the magic really happens, the humming and singing too. My colleagues love it… Well, at least I think they do.
My desk setup has everything to hand — laptop, phone, radio, Baloo the bear, picture of me with my hero Conor McGregor, a book of quotations, headphones, and sticky notes — lots and lots of sticky notes! My pen and notebook are always right beside me. Words flow from a pen; it fosters greater creativity in my opinion.
I’m a millennial and live online, but my favorite productivity tool has to be the old school to-do list. Once something’s done, I cross it off in red pen and move onto the next task!
I talk to myself; I will read a statement back to see how it sounds out loud. I haven’t started arguing with myself, so it’s all good!
For me, it would be first thing in the morning, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and then the evening, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. It’s quiet around this time, so you can focus on being productive.
I work in an industry where clients look for advice, ideas and a strategy. They want someone who a) has the skills and ability to meet their needs and b) can confidently provide advice and deliver on what is promised. To that end, one has to look no further than the work style of UFC Champion Conor McGregor. His approach to training, self-promotion, and work is something I admire and something we can all take something from. At the end of the day we are in a battle, with competitors, with the market, with external forces, but if we are prepared, believe in our abilities and have a good team behind us, we will succeed no matter what.
As a wise old man from Mayo once told me: “Just do it, Luke, just bloody do it!” If that doesn’t work, I usually get up, stretch the legs and go for a quick walk and have a chat with a few people as I walk through the office. This leaves me refreshed, revitalised and ready to just bloody do it!
Junior Achievement of Georgia (JA of Georgia), a Porter Novelli pro bono client, inspires and prepares today’s young people to succeed in a global economy. By bridging the business and education communities, JA of Georgia focuses on high-impact experiential programs to teach students about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.
JA of Georgia’s support from corporate, education, and community partners is a hallmark of the organization. However, opportunities to engage directly with JA of Georgia’s vast support group are not easy to create, as stakeholder events and program launches are often confined by limited resources and, therefore, strict guest lists.
As JA of Georgia prepared to launch the JA Discovery Center at Gwinnett, a 45,000-square-foot learning facility, PN was tasked with finding ways to help the organization take the information presented in an exclusive setting and disseminate it to a greater audience.
To address the challenge, the PN team turned to the power of Periscope as a tool to help spread the social good. As a live streaming platform, Periscope would not only allow JA of Georgia to bring the launch event to those who couldn’t attend, it would also provide a way to engage with stakeholders in real time.
The PN team promoted the Periscope account across JA of Georgia’s existing social platforms in the weeks leading up to the event. The team weaved teasers of the broadcast into the existing social content calendar using the #JAGCLaunch hashtag and encouraged followers to follow the Periscope handle. On the day of the launch event, social media users were invited to tune in via Periscope for live streams of the opening ceremony remarks, the ribbon cutting, tours of the facility and interviews with attendees who discussed their thoughts on the importance of the Discovery Center. JA of Georgia worked with PN to coordinate strategic seating and tripod placement for the ceremony to ensure quality live streams were captured. In the 24 hours after the streams ended, post-event social media content encouraged followers who didn’t catch the steam in real time to watch the replays on the JA of Georgia Periscope account.
The live streams garnered 82 live views in total, 10 replays and 14 “hearts,” or likes, which the client deemed a resounding success for its first live stream. Although Periscope is a mobile platform, approximately 60% of live stream traffic stemmed from web users who watched the event from their desktop.
JA of Georgia’s initial foray into Periscope proved to be a success as the metrics showcased amplified engagement with corporate, education, and community partners. With this in mind, JA of Georgia intends to continue leveraging the power of Periscope during future events as a way to inspire a meaningful, inclusive dialogue with all JA of Georgia’s supporters.
The Porter Novelli team recognized the importance of choosing the right social platform for specific needs. While JA of Georgia already has a presence on multiple social media networks — Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram — Periscope helped the organization not only become an early adopter of an emerging social media platform, but also expand its reach by allowing more audiences to be present during important events or happenings.
Like Tumblr, Medium is essentially a blogging platform with a social network baked in. Its core differentiator is a focus on quality, distraction-free writing. On the content creation side, that means providing a minimalist admin, without the complexities of a more robust platform such as WordPress. For the reader, it means understated, simple design and mechanisms that elevate the best content.
- Posts — In keeping with Medium’s minimalist philosophy, creating a post is as simple as setting up an account, writing your text, and clicking publish. The platform includes basic text formatting, linking, options for inline images, and embeds. You can add tags to each post as well, to help surface the post in search results.
- Publications — You can gather posts into a Publication — Medium’s answer to a cohesive blog, focused on a particular topic area or point of view. Anyone can create a new Publication, but to contribute to an existing Publication, the owner or an editor has to add you as a writer. Along with providing a platform for individual authors and companies to publish, Medium manages its own Publications, and contracts notable writers to contribute. For example, Backchannel is a popular Medium publication that covers technology.
- Distribution — Each new post shows up on your author profile page, where your followers can see it and link to it. Writers on Medium can also use a feature called Letters, which automatically distributes new posts via email to everyone who follows a Publication.
- Engagement — You can follow other Medium authors, as well as leave inline notes on a post. Key passages can be highlighted and shared to Twitter as screenshots via the Highlights feature. (Select any text, and a menu with these options appears.) You can also recommend posts, with your recommendations appearing on your user profile.
- Promote individual posts, your profile, and any publications on other networks to raise awareness.
- Engage with other content in a meaningful way in order to expose your profile to other people.
- Take the time to polish your writing and insights, tapping a skilled editor to lend a hand if necessary. Medium is designed to elevate the best writing, both through its algorithm and editor curation, so quality control is critical.
- Think about catchy pull quotes and short, punchy paragraphs. This will help take advantage of features like Highlights.
- Make sure you’re monitoring comments and moderating accordingly.
- Pay attention to who is leaving notes on posts to identify influencers and catch off-topic comments.
- Network distribution — Medium gives you a built-in audience, much like Twitter does, and alerts people when you’ve posted something new.
- Ease of use — Medium is very user-friendly, particularly for those intimidated by blogging tools like WordPress.
- Feature set — Highlights, email distribution, and other attractive features improve reader experience and distribution.
- Rented space — While Medium does explicitly state that the publisher retains all rights to their work, the publishing is still off-domain, meaning the publisher forfeits some amount of control over features and presentation.
- Bare-bones customization — Profile customization is limited, making it tricky to preserve a distinct, consistent brand. The platform now supports custom domains, however.
Reach out to your PNConnect representative, or send us an email.
For more information about our team and approach, or to learn how we can help your organization with digital strategy, development and measurement, please visit the PNConnect site.
Mary Gaulke in Sarasota wrote this month’s Feature about selective content strategy. Chris Thilk in Chicago created our Guide to Medium, and Luke McDonnell in Dublin took the hot seat for On Workflow. Christopher Barger in Detroit and Chris Thilk compiled the PNConnect Weekly Reading stories and insights that appeared in Noteworthy News. Dawn Parker in Atlanta provided our case study on Junior Achievement of Georgia.
The cover and welcome photos were uploaded to Flickr by Brian Richardson, and the social media apps photo was uploaded by Jason Howie, some rights reserved. Some backgrounds courtesy of subtlepatterns.com.
Thanks to Mary Gaulke, Tom Harris, and Chris Thilk for editorial oversight.