Manage Social Media Posts With Hootsuite To Reclaim Wasted Time

Hootsuite Streams

Save Time With HootsuiteHow many social media platforms does your brand use? If you’re using more than one, it might be worth your time to employ a social media management tool. There are several to choose from including HootsuiteTweetDeck and Sprout Social.

What’s so great about a social media management site? The biggest benefit is that you can access, monitor, post, schedule and track all of your posts and platforms from one central location. That’s right; you don’t have to log into a bazillion sites, post to each one and read metrics on a variety of dashboards.

For Matthew Iscoe, the marketing manager for Thriving Firm, a company that helps accountants create a sound practice, Hootsuite is the way to untangle his social media mayhem.

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TIME Social Media Editor Kelly Conniff talks Sandy, election coverage

Time Magazine Twitter

Time Magazine TwitterWhen news breaks, readers turn to social media to read and post updates, presenting opportunities for news outlets to engage with them and challenges in keeping up with multiple platforms and a 24/7 news cycle.

Ebyline recently discussed these challenges and opportunities with Kelly Conniff, who started as social media editor at TIME in September after working as social media manager at the National Geographic Society since 2009. Excerpts from that interview follow.

What social media platforms does TIME focus on?

Really the number one platform we’re on is definitely Twitter. We actually just hit four million followers today, which was amazing. Beyond that we also are on Facebook, and we just actually hit 600,000 [Facebook likes]. We’re one of the biggest news brands on Google +, and we should be in the neighborhood of hitting two million next week, which is just amazing.

We’re also on Pinterest and Instagram. We actually have two Tumblr’s. One is TIME magazine proper, and it’s very much kind of our behind-the-scenes look at how the magazine is made, how we put together our amazing covers, and basically how we do what we do. We also have one for LightBox, which is our photography blog that is very popular in the industry. That one focuses a little bit more on the photo projects that we feature every day as well as kind of promoting what’s happening in the photography community.

Tell us about the social media strategies you used during Sandy.

With Sandy, we had people without power and without heat, and it was an interesting situation in trying to wrangle people together to work out ideas. We realized that what people were looking for in this scenario were stories from people on the ground. People wanted to know what it was like to be in Staten Island, Coney Island, or in the Rockaways, or in Connecticut, or anywhere in New Jersey where they were hit really bad.

We decided to just go with a very low-fi hashtag campaign of asking people to submit their Sandy reports. I was so surprised at what we got, not in terms of the volume but the depth that people went into when it came to telling us about their stories. We aggregated up some of the best, most poignant, funniest, responses on our newsfeed blog. That was also a really great way to say, “Hey look, we asked you guys for something, and we definitely heard what you had to say and here’s what happened.”

Time Magazine CoverWhat about that amazing cover image from Sandy? Tell us about that.


We have a great photography department here. They worked with us to come up with the idea to hire five photographers who were covering different areas of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and areas that were really affected. These people are professional photographers who have shot for TIME in various capacities, including Ben Lowy who is well-known as very much an iPhone photographer.
We actually used one of the photos that was taken by Ben Lowy on the cover of TIME magazine, which is pretty amazing. I was so impressed that we did it because that week was such a huge week for politics and just everything that was happening in the world. We actually closed three issues that week. We had one with a Romney cover, one with an Obama cover, and then easterners in the Northeast got the Sandy cover.

There’s a lot of pressure to be the first on social media, especially around the election. How do you balance that with the need for accuracy?

For us, we were really more interested in what people were feeling and thinking and doing about voting instead of making sure that we were first. We had a hashtag campaign that was just #TIMEVote, and we asked a series of questions that were kind of the day before and the day of. It was a little different from what everybody else was doing, but we’re there for that analysis and thoughtfulness.

The night of the election when Twitter was going crazy and Facebook was going crazy, we focused on having a live blog that pulled in tweets from all of our correspondents. They sat there and looked at the projections and the results and gave their commentary in a way that not many other brands can. I think we really focused on being thoughtful instead of just predicting and trying to be first. I think at the end of the day that’s really what TIME is about.

Does TIME have a social media policy for staffers?

We do. It’s mostly informal and that’s actually something we’re working on kind of updating. One great thing about most people who work at TIME is that they’re very proactive in having their own accounts and being very thoughtful when they tweet.

TIMES has some impressive social media stats, but are there other ways that you measure ROI?

Yes, I think that’s something that all brands are struggling with right now because there is no hard and fast rule of how to do it. For me, I sit solely on the edit side, so I’m always looking for new ways to engage. When you sit there every day and you’re looking at your followers and you’re seeing what they say when they comment on a Facebook post or re-tweet you or comment back, it’s really all about making sure that people are not just pushing our ‘Retweet’ button or the ‘Like’ button and then just moving on to the next post.

 

Why Google is buying content—and Apple and Facebook aren’t

Frommer's Guidebook

Frommers guidebook It’s hard to miss the growing tension between Silicon Valley giants Apple and Google—the latest and most public episode being Google’s sudden absence from the iPhone 5 and the iOS 6 mobile operating system. But while the brouhaha over mapping technology caught all the headlines, there’s another front line in this clash of the  titans, and it’s a territory that tech companies once shied away from fighting over: content production. Among Google’s acquisitions of late—and there are a lot of them—were dining guide Zagat and, recently, travel guidebook publisher Frommer’s.

In the distant past—2006, for example—Google was best known for scooping up operations full of computer scientists and software engineers to get at fancy new algorithms and winning user interfaces. So why is Google quietly going after the green eyeshade crowd whose user interface is ink-on-dead-tree? In fact, a few years ago owning franchises such as Frommer’s and Zagat would have made Google a card-carrying member of the publishing community. Only  the rise of Yelp and TripAdvisor, and the declining relevance (and price tags, if not quality) of legacy operations such as guidebooks, has media watchers shrugging off these recent buys.

“The way you keep attention is through content”

“What I really think Google is going after with all of these acquisitions is to slowly get more and more of our attention on Google and the way that you keep attention is through content,” says social marketing strategist Nate Riggs of the Karcher Group.  “Whether it’s a review on Zagat, whether it’s using Google apps to write a word doc… It’s all about making sure that we’re on site all the time.”

That’s a subtle but radical shift for the search giant, which historically relied on its technological savvy to cement its middleman role as a portal through which users find  content. Gmail was the initial departure from that strategy, followed by Google Finance, Maps, Docs, Google Plus and so on, says Riggs. But those products function as services that rely on data, algorithms and user input—editorial content is something else entirely.

Financial columnist and Forbes contributor Chris Versace says Google’s purchases of Zagat and Frommer’s, while a departure, sync well with the company’s existing services and products.

“The advantage of buying Frommer’s and snapping up other similar content is the ability to overlay that with Google maps,” Versace says. “So instead of just becoming a mapping service, all of a sudden it becomes a contextual information/geographic service. That becomes far more compelling.”

An on-again-off-again affair with content

Though Google made online mapping ubiquitous, it was slower to create local revenue sources, a direction which many analysts agree the online ad market is now headed. Its purchase of Dodgeball, an app that preceded Foursquare, didn’t work out. Likewise, Google’s attempt to buy Yelp for an estimated $500 million in 2009 failed. Established publishing brands look cheap right now, relative to young technology and software companies: the 45-year-old Frommer’s went for $25 million and the ubiquitous maroon covers of Zagat guidebooks (purchase price: $100 million) have been around since 1979.

But Silicon Valley has a tortured relationship with the editorial crowd (see: AOL-Time Warner merger) and even though no one would mistake Zagat or Frommer’s for The New York Times or Vanity Fair, both properties have more in common with the latter than they do with the engineering crowd that is the heart and soul of Google. For now, at least, the old Zagat editorial board will continue to oversee the dining reviews and the company has no plans to stop printing its slender, quote-filled volumes. The same goes for Frommer’s.

Apple’s strategy: First search, then destroy

So if Google, Apple and Facebook—once squarely in different corners of the tech ring—look likely to duke it out, and content is one area of contention, can we expect the latter two to follow in Google’s footsteps. Surprisingly, probably not, say both Riggs and Versace. Instead, with already substantial content offerings of their own, Apple and Facebook are more likely to attack Google’s core business of search, where it currently has a dominating 66% share of the market.

While Apple’s roll-out of it’s own mapping service to replace Google maps drew heated criticism from customers, the overall strategy—if not the execution—made perfect sense, says Versace. He believes Apple will continue to hone, refine, and improve the in-house services planted on its devices to chip away at Google’s dominance in those areas.

Riggs says search is the ultimate target for both Apple and Facebook and that Siri, the iPhone’s voice-activated assistant, is the link. “Facebook search is not very good,” says Riggs. “So it will be interesting to see if Siri merging with Facebook, now integrated with the iPhone, makes a play to change the search market.”

Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOs 6, fully integrates Facebook into the user interface, rather than requiring it be downloaded as a separate app. Siri uses its own proprietary (i.e. non-Google) indexing system to retrieve results from the web and that lets Apple  mine user’s requests to build up its own search algorithms to compete with Google. Integrate it with Facebook’s social data and algorithms and, says Riggs, you might just have a battle on two fronts—content and search.

How The Newseum Uses Facebook to Spark Headline Creativity

Newseum

The week of June 25, I visited Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., with my wife, Joy, and almost 1-year-old daughter, Megan. When we were planning our trip – needless to say – we put The Newseum as a must on our itinerary. We had visited the nation’s capital a couple years ago, pre-child, but didn’t have enough time then to savor all the fabulous exhibits at The Newseum.

I often visit The Newseum’s website, www.newseum.org, and check out its posts on Facebook. When checking out the nonprofit organization’s Facebook Timeline, I noticed it holds a weekly Facebook contest called Free Tickets Tuesday. Every Tuesday at noon EST The Newseum posts a set of facts on its Facebook page, and anybody can submit suggested headlines. The winner receives two free tickets to The Newseum.

We participated on June 19 (my birthday – I thought I’d be lucky). The information provided was: “Write a headline about Microsoft’s new Surface tablet, which was unveiled yesterday and considered a rival to the iPad.” Our suggested headline was: “Microsoft Looking to Get Under Apple’s Skin With New Surface Tablet.” Unfortunately, we didn’t win, but recently I caught up with Sharon Shahid, online managing editor of The Newseum to discuss this Facebook contest and how it fits into their overall social media strategy:

When did you start holding this weekly contest, and how did you come up with the idea? 

Two summer interns initiated the idea, and it launched in July 2010.

What is The Newseum’s overall social media strategy, and how does this contest fit in with it?

The Newseum uses its website, as well as social media, to advance its mission of educating the public about the role of a free press in a free society, and to promote its exhibits, programs and events. The contest is a fun, educational way of including our Facebook friends and fans in the process.

What kind of ROI has The Newseum gotten on the Free Tickets Tuesday campaign since it launched? Have you seen an uptick in Facebook likes or tickets to The Newseum?

We don’t keep any formal metrics on the ROI from Free Tickets Tuesday. The contest is simply an engaging, fun way to say thank you to our Facebook fans and has proven to be very popular with them. We’ve noticed regular visitors to the contest and have gotten a few inquiries about how to get free tickets through word of mouth. The number of “Likes” on Free Tickets Tuesday or any other day varies, depending on the topics we post. Before we started the headline contest, we had about 15,000 or more “Likes.” Now, we’re a little over 45,000 and growing. How much of that growth is attributed to FTT, I couldn’t tell you.

Which week has the Free Tickets Tuesday contest drawn the most headline submissions, what were the facts provided, and what was the winning headline?

As of today (July 19, 2012), the April 24, 2012, topic about Starbucks pening at Disney theme parks has received the most headline submissions – 76. The winning headline was “SIP-A-Dee-Doo-Dah!” The all-time record of submissions to date was the July 12, 2011, contest, where we received 101 submissions. The topic was the telephone hacking scandal at News Corp. The winning headline: “Hackers Caught: The End of the World.”

Who picks the winners of the weekly contest?

It’s a collaborative effort among Web interns and the multimedia staff.

Is there a set of criteria The Newseum follows when picking winning headlines?

Newseum judges look for accuracy and originality. When good headlines are similar, the advantage goes to the earliest submission.

Can anybody on Facebook submit headlines? Do you have to be a journalist?

Yes, anyone can submit a headline. No, you don’t have to be a journalist. Based on some of the past comments on our Facebook page, some of the headline winners have worked at news organizations.

Can contest participants enter multiple headline submissions?

Yes. We’ve also had multiple winners.

Do you think The Newseum is evolving alongside the industry you cover? If so, how?

I do think the Newseum continues to evolve in terms of the quality of exhibits and programs it offers and the new galleries — specifically the HP New Media Gallery that opened in April 2012 — it has produced, as they relate to how news is gathered and disseminated today. I think the Newseum has adapted quite successfully to the rise in social media and has incorporated the new methods of communication in its educational focus. The Newseum’s fortunes don’t rise and fall with those of the news industry, but changes in the industry do affect the way we tell our stories and how often those stories must be updated to reflect the current condition of the industry.

You can also find The Newseum on YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and TripAdvisor.

@NYTimes Social Media Editor Lexi Mainland Talks Pinterest, Reddit and More

NYT Pinterest

The New York Times started using Pinterest in early June, focusing on home and design, fashion and food. Ebyline recently caught up with social media editor Lexi Mainland by phone to discuss how The Times is using Pinterest and other social media platforms such as Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. Here are excerpts from that interview:

What do you do as a social media editor?
I am responsible for helping to define a social media sensibility for The New York Times  for instance, which platforms we want to be using and what we want to do with them. I also work on big news projects that have a social media possibility for them, big things like the Olympics or the election, or things like last night’s Tony Awards, big events that people like to feed into socially.

The Times recently started using Pinterest. Why did The Times decide to launch on the platform?
We, like everyone, have noticed over the past few months that Pinterest has gained so many followers, and it’s such a great visual social platform that for at least a couple of months we’ve been paying close attention to Pinterest and starting to brainstorm what The New York Times‘ presence could be there. We immediately thought that because home and design, fashion and food are the three most popular topics on Pinterest, and we have such great content from The Times in those three areas, that we would focus our efforts on Pinterest around those three content areas to start.

How has it been going so far in terms of followers and engagement?
Well, it is going well. Actually, I tweeted out on Friday that we joined Pinterest the same day that Britney Spears did, and The New York Times was only about 90 followers behind Britney, so we felt like that was a pretty good measure. We have gotten a great response so far, and it has been really fun. [As of June 11], Britney spears has 1,081 followers, and The New York Times has 1,123.

New York Times' Pinterest page
Could you talk a little bit about The Times’ overall social media strategy and how Pinterest fits into that?
We really always try to be doing things that are creative and innovative on social platforms ,.. For Pinterest, we have these boards up now that cross over between these three content areas, so we have a board called Color Riot. That is all about bright colors, and it includes posts from our Food, Home and Fashion departments all together in one place. And there’s really no other place on our website that you sort of get this crossover remixing of three distinct sections.

The other thing that we’re doing on Pinterest is, you’ll see almost all of the pins that we have posted, you can actually see who posted them. They’re not posted by The New York Times. They’re posted by the actual photo editor or story editor, who are experts in that subject area. If you click through on their names, you’ll see it says, you know, dining photographer editor or homes section photography editor. I think that’s a really fun way to personalize the sharing of our journalism on social media.

The Times is obviously on Facebook and Twitter. What other platforms are you on, and which platform do you get the most engagement from?
We get a lot of engagement, probably the most engagement, on Facebook and Twitter. But we are on Tumblr – we have two New York Times Tumblrs. One for our T Magazine, tmagazine.tumblr.com, and one for our archival photography collection, which is called The Lively Morgue, livelymorgue.tumblr.com. Those are really, really fun projects, both of them. They get lots of engagement, they are very visual, and I think they make really good use of Tumblr.

And then we are starting to do more on Reddit. We have a lot of readers, people who like New York Times journalism, who are on Reddit, so we are trying to do more there on that platform that they are most interested in. We have been doing a couple of IAmA interviews there. We did one that was with Paul Krugman, our Nobel Prize-winning columnist. He answered questions for a couple of hours on Reddit, which was really great ...

I think Reddit is pretty amazing. It’s kind of like a utopian community where everybody has interesting things to say.

Talk a little bit more about Facebook and Twitter. For what purposes does The Times use them?
We like to spark conversation on Facebook. We try to get active conversations going with most of the things that we post there. We often find that really, really interesting and vibrant discussions pop up among our readers around our content. For example, over the weekend, we had a front-page story about high school students using prescriptions drugs like Ritalin, and we posted on our Facebook page to ask people if they would share their experiences with us. A really lively discussion generated about whether or not these drugs are appropriate, and people sharing their experiences of taking them or not taking them, and that’s always really interesting to us. Wherever possible, we actually try to take those Facebook comments off of Facebook and post them back on our site in some way.

Do those comments ever make it into the print paper?
Yeah, they do. We have done a few stories where we used our main Facebook page to crowdsource people’s experiences, and we’ve used it back in actual stories.

Does The Times have a social media policy for its staff?
We don’t have a specific social media policy by design, mainly because we don’t want to hinder our journalists from using these platforms to do journalism and to feel comfortable there. So, we basically just tell them that we expect them to conduct themselves on social networks just as they would anywhere else, in real life, in an interviewSo, we have been quoted before as saying our social media policy is: don’t be stupid. I think it’s kind of flip. What we really mean from that is, social media is really no different than any other platform where you’re acting on behalf of The New York Times. We trust our journalists to be smart about it, and so far we’ve really not had many, if any, real problems.

How does The Times measure ROI (return on investment) when it comes to social media, and how much of a factor is that when creating social strategies?
Certainly, we don’t want to be creating content on social media like into a void. It definitely matters to us that we have an audience and that we’re building an audience. But, you know, when people ask me this, I tend to say, which is true, that I work in the newsroom, and I’m focused on the journalism of it and creating the most compelling journalism that I can. We have a business side and a product team that’s more focused than I am on clicks or other sort of direct ROI aspects.

What I’m looking for is a more-engaged reader, someone who wants to come back tomorrow and read another story with us.] I feel like everything we do is helping to create a more engaged reader or to bring somebody into The Times who might not ordinarily read our stuff.

How does The Times quantify the positive results of nytimes.com tweets?
A simple way of quantifying it for us is just to look at the rate of followers increasing on these accounts. The New York Times has almost 5.3 million followers on its main feed, and we just crossed our 5 millionth follower threshold only a few weeks ago. So, we’ve gained almost 300,000 followers in a couple of weeks. When I see our numbers constantly going up like that, I feel safe in assuming that we’re engaging people on these platforms.

What I love the most, obviously, is, we put out questions on our main Twitter feed to people. Months ago, we asked people to tell us their five favorite fiction books on Twitter, and we created a hashtag #fiction5, and we got thousands of tweets back with people listing their five favorite fiction books. And we ended up doing a data analysis and putting up a little graphic showing what our readers enjoyed most in the fiction world. That’s the most gratifying thing, when you can tap directly into this readership of really interesting people with interesting ideas and opinions, and you hear right back from them.

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