How Social Media Continues to Affect Society

Social media is much more than a trend. It’s become an essential part of the fabric of modern society. It’s hard to overestimate how much of an impact social media now has on our world. This is true on many levels, such as the way we socialize, the way we gain access to information and the way we do business. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways that social media profoundly affects many aspects of society.

The Internet and Social Media

It’s interesting to conduct a brief review of the history of social media. It actually began with BBSes or Bulletin Board Systems, followed by popular services such as CompuServ, America Online and Prodigy.

All of these provided ways for people who weren’t necessarily techies a way to connect with each other online. CompuServ, for example, did not invent email but created the first platform where electronic mail was used on a massive scale. America Online, better known as AOL, became the first truly gigantic social networking site. In many ways, AOL in the 1990s was a precursor to MySpace and, later, Facebook.

Connecting to AOL

What all of these services, including early BBSes, CompuServ, AOL and MySpace had in common was the ability to make the internet more accessible to everyday people. They also provided user-friendly interfaces and features, such as groups, mailing lists, instant messaging and the ability to create user profiles. Without these social media sites, the internet was just a vast digital wilderness where it was difficult to find anyone with whom you could talk. Yet these early social media sites were only the tip of the iceberg when it came to having a huge impact on society.

The Contemporary Social Media Era

The new era of social media began with the introduction of MySpace in 2003 and has continued fairly seamlessly as services such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and, more recently Instagram and Snapchat have entered the scene.

The reign of MySpace as the dominant social site was relatively short and only lasted a few years. At one point during its reign between 2005 and 2008, it surpassed Google as the world’s most visited site. Although MySpace quickly faded out of the limelight, this was a pivotal moment in the history of social media.

MySpace

MySpace revealed that people have an urgent need to connect socially online and to have easy access to many social features. Facebook merely improved upon this model, creating a more efficient and user-friendly platform. According to former MySpace CEO Mike Jones, one of the main reasons so many people flocked to Facebook was because the new platform was closer to actual social interactions. For one thing, people used their real names on Facebook while on MySpace, most people used handles.

Changing How People Socialize

The most obvious way that social media has changed the fabric of society is in the way people socialize.

  • Connecting with people from the past. One important function of Facebook is that it’s now easy to reconnect with people from your past. This includes old friends, classmates, co-workers and romantic partners. This isn’t always a positive thing, such as when married people carry on communications with old flames. Another way to look at it is that social media has made if much harder for people to leave their pasts behind.
  • Removes distances. Between social media sites and tools such as Skype and other video chatting platforms, people can now communicate across vast distances. This has been true for a while, between phones and email. However, social media is what makes it possible to communicate in real time with those who may live hundreds of miles away or even across the world.
  • Mobile phones and social media. The growth of social media overlaps with the popularity of mobile phones. As more and more people access the internet via phones, it’s getting even faster to communicate on social networks. Because most people carry their phones everywhere, it’s quickly becoming possible to socialize all the time. This is another feature of social media that has negative as well as positive implications. For example, too much socializing can interfere with studying or work.

Transforming Business

Another major area where social media has had a huge impact is in the world of business. Many of the same factors that make social media so significant in the social sphere also make it transformative for business.

  • Reach customers anytime. Businesses can reach their followers on social media at any time by posting updates on Twitter, Facebook and other sites. As image-based social media sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat grow, brands are finding ways to get their audience’s attention with compelling pictures and memes.
  • More interactivity. Social media makes it possible to get fast feedback from customers and prospects. Businesses can pose questions, hold contests and receive replies moments after posting something. By using a social media reporting tool, it’s easy for a business to gauge the effectiveness of different strategies.
  • Faster purchases. Social media is only starting to incorporate features that make it possible for customers to buy products instantly. The popular shopping cart platform Shopify, for example, can now be integrated with Pinterest so people can see a picture of something they like and buy it quickly. More such integrations are sure to come soon.

Social Media Has Changed the World

There are many important ways that social media is influencing the culture in general. In addition to the areas already discussed, the realms of politics, entertainment and sports have been transformed by social media culture. It’s become commonplace to hear about how a politician, celebrity of athlete has been embroiled in a major controversy after making a thoughtless tweet. This kind of instant reaction to an offhanded comment would never have been possible until very recently. Social media is making the world a smaller and more intimate place. Paradoxically, it’s also a cause of much conflict, confusion and distraction. For all its influence, social media is a fairly recent phenomenon. Only time will tell what its true long-term effects will be.

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Three Different Ways To Use Facebook Paid Promotions

Two weeks ago, we introduced the world to Sysomos Paid Social Analytics, our latest offering that helps you to understand how your paid promotions on Facebook and Instagram are doing across all your markets so you can make smarter decisions about your ad spend. However, not everyone is familiar with all the ways that you can actually promote on Facebook. So, today, we’ll walk you through the three main ways you can promote your business on Facebook; boosting posts, making “dark posts,” and Facebook advertisements.

If you’re looking to drive more results for your business through Facebook, one of these promotion methods is sure to be right for you.

Boosting Your Posts

Out of all the ways that you can promote yourself on Facebook, boosting a post is probably the easiest, but also gives you the least options in how to target the audience you want to see your brand’s post. Boosting your post is a great way to create engagement around a post for not a lot of money. It’s also one of the easiest to start as you’ve likely seen the “Boost Post” button at the bottom of anything you’ve posted on your company page.

The Boost Post Button Found On Every Page Post

The boost button allows you take a post that you’ve already made, so you don’t have to come up with any new creative, and serve it up to a larger audience than you’re already reaching organically. Once you press the “Boost Post” button a pop-up appears over your page and gives you your options for promoting that post. The first options have to do with the audience that you want to put your post in front of. The first two are for “People who like your page,” which will increase the placement of your post in the newsfeed of people who like your page already, and “People who like your page and their friends,” which is self-explanatory.

Options For Boosting Your Post

The third option allows you to boost your post to a specific audience that you’ve already created previously or can create right now. The options that you have when creating this audience include selecting their gender, age range, location, and interests (which can be topics they post about or pages they have liked).

Selecting An Audience To Boost Your Post To

Once you’ve selected your audience you can choose the dollar amount you’d like to apply to spend boosting the post and for how long you’d like the boosting to go on for and you’re done. It’s that easy and will help to boost the engagement (reactions, comments or shares) to any of your posts.

Dark Posts

While actually called “Unpublished Posts,” these types of promoted posts are more commonly referred to as Dark Posts. Dark posts look like regular posts that would appear on your page and in your followers’ newsfeeds organically, except for that they never actually do show up on your business page (hence the term “dark post”) and they can be highly targeted in terms of whose newsfeeds they actually show up in.

To create a dark post you need access to Facebook’s Power Editor for your company page, which is where all ads of all kinds can be created. Once inside, head to the “Page Posts” section and then click the “Create Post” button. A pop-up will then come up allowing you to fill in all of the information needed for your dark post, which can be a link to a website, a video, an image, an offer, and even a carousel of images.

Creating An Unpublished Page Post in Facebook Power Editor

Just remember to select “This post will only be used as an ad” or else the post will show up on your page and will not be a dark post.

Do Not Publish This Post To Your Facebook Page

Creating these unpublished posts directly in Facebook’s Business Manager isn’t the only way to accomplish the task. You can also set up your post in a similar way using Sysomos Expion. Just like in Facebook, you can add your message, image or video, and link.

Create An Unpublished Post in Sysomos Expion

Once you have your post ready in Expion, just be sure to select “Send as Dark Post” from the Content Scheduler options to ensure this post doesn’t get posted to your page, just like we did with Facebook.

Send Post To Facebook From Sysomos Expion As a Dark Post

Once your post is ready, go from either Facebook’s Page Posts or Expion into Facebook Power editor and click “Quick Draft” to start your new campaign. Inside you will be given the option to create an ad or “Use Existing Post.”  By choosing to use an existing post you’ll find the post that you just created as an option to select.

Select Use Existing Post

Select The Unpublished Post You Just Created

Once this is done you can continue on to set up your targeting criteria for you post. This post will then only appear to your target audience in their timeline and never actually show up on your Facebook Page.

Facebook Ads

Your last option is to create a full out advertisement that will live on Facebook. These ads can show up both in a user’s newsfeed, but also in the right-hand column on most pages on Facebook. Facebook advertisements also give you many more options for actions you’d like your ad’s audience to take. These can include promoting your page, sending people to your website, app downloads, promoting a whole catalog of products, lead capturing, and more:

Facebook Ad Objective Options

To create an ad, head to the “Ads Manager” inside of Facebook Business Manager. Once there, Facebook will guide you through creating your ad step-by-step starting with selecting your objective through choosing your audience and budget, and setting up all the creative for your add. It will even show you how your will look across multiple devices. Here are a couple of examples of ads you can create directly from Facebook’s Ad Guide:

A link to your website (or specific page on your site) on a desktop:

Example of a Link To Website Ad

An ad to install an app that can only be delivered on mobile (as it will take the person to the App Store or Play Store):

Example of a App Install Ad

Ads to create sign-ups for lead generation:

Example of Lead Generation Ads

Ads for a promotional offer as they’d appear on mobile or in the right-hand column on a desktop:

Example of a Promotional Offer Ad

Notice how each ad has a very specific call to action button depending on what the objective of your advertisement is. These buttons and the options for where the ads will appear are what make ads different from the other kinds of paid promotions we discussed above.

When Should You Use Each Type Of Promotion

Now that you know the three different types of paid promotion that you can do on Facebook, it’s time to start thinking about when would be the best time to use each of them.

When To Use a Boosted Post

As mentioned above, boosted posts are really great for improving the engagement you’re seeing on a post or on your page. This is also a very cheap and easy way to get your posts in front of more people, so it’s great for those just starting with Facebook promotions or small businesses.

When To Use a Dark Post

Dark posts are great when you want to target different groups of consumers with the same content, but different messages. Because these posts don’t show up on your wall, it’s easy to create different messages for different audiences to see while still getting the same content in front of them.

Also, because you’re able to send out different messages, dark posts are also a great way to test messages and content with smaller targeted audiences to see which messages perform best before using them in front of larger audiences.

When To Use a Facebook Ad

Facebook ads are best used when you want a specific action taken. While boosting posts is a great method for creating engagement, ads are best for when you want something done beyond just interacting with a piece of content.

Now that you know all about your options for doing paid promotions on Facebook you’re going to need a way to track how those promotions are doing so you can get the most ROI for the money you’re spending. To do that, we suggest you take a look at Sysomos Paid Social Analytics.

 

Social Media Marketing Statistics Highlight the Importance of Trustworthy Engagement

The role of social media manager is often relegated to junior staff. If you’re considering hiring one, ask yourself if you want to trust such an important piece of your marketing strategy and a full range of consumer touch points to someone with little experience. If social media is an addendum to your workflow tasks, instead of a valuable component of your work day, your brand may miss out on opportunities to engage your audience. How your brand interacts with your community can not be an afterthought.

On top of that, interactions between consumers and brands happen at all times, not only in the 9-5 work day. They can occur 24/7, especially on social media, according to research by Jay Baer: “…among those respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support, 57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.” In that same study, of those consumers that contact brands on social media, 42% expect a response within 60 minutes. With the current expectation that brand accounts are always “on”—your social media accounts must be listening when your audience is ready to share.

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Beyond your branded social media broadcasts, genuine engagement with your audience begins when they share thoughts, photos, insights, and interests with your branded accounts. Every time your audience engages with you, they’re inviting you into their community and offering you, not only access to dialog, but information about their habits, thoughts, and interests. Being attentive to this info is key to knowing what your audience cares about, where they gather online, and how to craft content that is valuable to them. There is the Oprah quote, “People will show you who they are. Believe them.” Actively engaging with your audience on social media will give you a shortcut to what they want (and expect) from you on social.

Data Supports a Robust Social Media Marketing Strategy

Engagement

According to Statista, Facebook is the most popular social network with over 1,590 million active users. Its 18% market share makes it the most used social channel. TrackMaven analyzed brand engagement for the first half of 2016 for 40,000 brands and found that Instagram has some of the most valuable engagement at 10x over Facebook. Engagement is defined as average interactions per post per 1000 followers. Regarding long-term and evergreen engagement, Youtube has the best numbers for high-quality video consumption. Youtube visitors spend an average of four minutes visiting three pages. In this shuffle for engagement (measured as interactions with posts), LinkedIn and Twitter come in at fourth and fifth respectively (surprisingly after Google+, which has fewer, but more-engaged users).

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It may seem surprising to find Twitter is so far down the engagement list for brands, especially since 95% of brands are on Twitter with 65.8% of brands using it for marketing. While brands complain about the lack of Twitter engagement and brand tools, the default openness means people can engage without having a registered account. Because Twitter’s algorithm doesn’t prioritize posts based on follower/friend engagement as aggressively as other channels, brands and media outlets post more (sometimes repeating posts) to ensure a larger segment of the public comes across their messages. This has lead to criticism that Twitter is an unchecked flood, demanding that users wade through more posts.

Trust

According to DMNews, 90% of consumers expect consistent interactions across social channels. In a Mediapost survey, only 20% of consumers said they trust emails from brands or companies; and 18% trust posts by brands or companies on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Even if they don’t trust emails from brands, 32% of consumers in this survey trust information on company or brand websites; more so than ads in newspapers (only 24% of respondents).

SimplyMeasured found that 95% of brands are on Twitter, and of those, 82% tweet between one and six new posts per day. So, brands are broadcasting online, but consumers don’t entirely trust them, yet. It could be because surveys find that 83% of consumers have previously had a “bad social media marketing experience.” Which means that consumers are hoping brands continue to engage on social channels, but want brands to be trustworthy.

Social media marketing statistics bear out that Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are now more than vehicles for broadcasting information about sales or asking people to purchase from you. More than ever consumers are inviting brands into their communities to exchange information that is relevant to them.

Be a Pro on Social Channels

Brands and consumers are interacting online more than ever, with 55% of customer service interactions beginning online. We’re at the point in utilizing social channels for more than answering and responding to tweets, DMs, PMs, and comments during lunch or after hours. This increased use of social media underscores the need to dedicate resources to create relevant content and authentic engagement.

As you move forward with your social media strategy, and strive to build a full-fledged social marketing program, steer clear of these three common mistakes to avoid negative brand perception.

  1. No or slow engagement. Ignoring direct call-outs on social media is a no-no. At the very least, it’ll reveal your brand as one with shallow engagement. At worse, you’ll gain a reputation for ignoring your community.
  2. Unprofessional engagement. Tasking junior staff with social media engagement can have negative consequences. If your brand style guide doesn’t cover social media etiquette, your brand reputation may be at risk. Brand protection should extend to all communications.
  3. Boring content. Even though you’re a brand with business goals, social posts need to be of value to the consumer. If you continuously post “buy me” messages, it’ll be hard to create a relationship with your audience.

Engage with Experts

As social media marketing matures, getting online and engaging with consumers becomes a marketing imperative. Devoting resources to social media marketing can pay off, as you craft a social media strategy, remember to include listening tools to measure your effectiveness and keep on top of what your community is saying. Authentically engaging with consumers can help build relationships, assist with predicting trends, and extend the reach of your campaigns, it’s time to explore tools that will help you manage and understand your social landscape.

If you’re a social media marketing manager, download our free webinar, Social to Scale: How to Build a Serious Social Media Program.

how to Build a Serious Social Media Program

25+ Conversation Starters with the Speakers of Content Marketing World

Ann Handley’s got the inside scoop from Denmark on LEGOs, Joe Pulizzi wants marketers to get in or get out, Michael Brenner prefers to digest content while sitting down, Chad Pollitt wants everyone to know that marketing will not solve sales problems, find out if you’re in Matt Heinz’s target audience, and more from speakers at #CMWorld.

We presented Content Marketing World speakers with a list of questions—both entertaining and serious—and put together this round-up to help all attendees get to know them. Now, you will be armed with the conversation starters and ice breakers everyone needs while networking at conferences. You’re welcome and enjoy…

25+ Conversation Starters with the Speakers:

Joe PulizziContent Marketing Institute: “I devour audiobooks”


Joe Pulizzi - Content Marketing Institute
Question: Lars Silberbauer from LEGO is a keynote presenter this year…What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever built out of LEGOs…OR [seen] built out of LEGOs?

JP: I built a perfect replica of the CMI logo with my two sons. We still have it in the office today.

Question: Favorite form of expression: hashtag, emoji, or meme? Use it in a sentence.

JP: #hashtag #for #sure

Question: The great debate: portrait or landscape oriented content/PDFs?

JP: For ebooks, landscape forever…everything else, portrait.

Question: Do you have a favorite source of marketing news, trends, and reports? In addition to CMI of course.

JP: Scott Monty. His newsletter is probably the best out there.

Question: What’s the most aggravating thing you see marketers doing (or not doing) today with content?

JP: Not developing a strategy. And then if they do, not writing it down. And if they write it down, not following through with it.

Question: In the land of content marketing relevancy and personalization are key. What does your target audience look like:

JP:

  • Job Function: Touch content in some way for the enterprise
  • Job Level: The do-ers, not the executives
  • Company Size: $1 billion+ annual revenues
  • Industry: All
  • Geo: US for the most part, but about 30% of our audience is overseas

Question: If you could ensure marketers take away one key learning from your talk at CMW, what would it be?

JP: Make a choice. Either commit to the approach of content marketing, or forget about and focus on other things.

Question: If you could only attend one session at CMW, which one would it be? (not your own)

JP: Well, I love Mark Hamill, so there’s that. I’m really interested in Victor Gao’s presentation from Arrow on how they’ve built a content ecosystem through acquisitions.

Michael BrennerMarketing Insider Group: “Answering round-up posts is hard #thestruggleisreal”


Michael Brenner - Marketing Insiders Group
Question: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever built out of LEGOs…OR [seen] built out of LEGOs?

MB: I actually had a motorized LEGO piece when I was a kid that allowed me to build moving things like cars, trucks and I even built a windmill with it.

Question: What’s your favorite way to consume content: Text, Video, Audio?

MB: While sitting down

Question: Where do you most consume content: office, in bed, on the train?

MB: I prefer to read on my laptop which goes with me everywhere but mostly at my desk

Question: Do you have a favorite source of marketing news, trends, and reports?

MB: AdAge is my favorite source of marketing inspiration. And that’s not a compliment.

Question: What’s the most aggravating thing you see marketers doing (or not doing) today with content?

MB: Please stop advertising. It not only gets ignored, it makes people mad. Or at least it makes me mad. If I see one more stupid car commercial with a bunch of millennials going “oh wow. that car is amazing.” It generally means your car sucks.

Question: If you could ensure marketers take away one key learning from your talk at CMW, what would it be?

MB: Stop spending money on marketing that angers your audience and doesn’t deliver results.

Questions: If you could only attend one session at CMW, which one would it be? (not your own)

MB: Crestodina gonna bring ‘da house down

Ann HandleyMarketing Profs: Ann Handley discovered LEGO masterpiece


Ann Handley - Marketing Profs
Question: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever built out of LEGOs…OR [seen] built out of LEGOs?

AH: I met with the marketing team at the LEGO factory/home in Billund, Denmark, in 2013. So much amazing history/structures to call out there… but this was in the foyer. Incredible.


Ann-Handley_at-LEGO

Matt HeinzHeinz Marketing: Matt and Mark Hamill have the same initials…#justsaying


Matt Heinz - Heinz Marketing
Question: Favorite form of expression: hashtag,
emoji, or meme?

MH: I use hashtags a lot, not just to tag things but also as subliminal commentary #kindalikethis #annhandleyisthemasteratthem

Question: The great debate: portrait or landscape oriented content/PDFs?

MH: I prefer portrait for myself, but increasingly I like doing content in landscape as it’s easier to flip through. I’ve found content consumers go deeper in content that’s landscape vs portrait.

Question: Do you have a favorite source of marketing news, trends, and reports?

MH: I subscribe to a ton of blogs, so my Feedly is a huge source for me. I also get a handful of SmartBrief newsletters which are always well curated.

Question: What’s the most aggravating thing you see marketers doing (or not doing) today with content?

MH: Failure to embrace revenue responsibility. Clicks and leads don’t matter unless they lead to a revenue event!

Question: In the land of content marketing relevancy and personalization are key. What does your target audience look like:

MH:

  1. Job Function: Demand Generation, Revenue Marketing, Sales Enablement
  2. Job Level: Director or VP, sometimes CMO
  3. Company Size: mid-market, usually between $10M and $250MM/year
  4. Industry: All types, but increasingly non-tech (including manufacturing, health care and others)
  5. Geo: North America

Question: If you could ensure marketers take away one key learning from your talk at CMW, what would it be?

MH: Don’t do the same boring content everyone else is spitting out. Make your content stand out and have an impact on your target audience!

Question: If you could only attend one session at CMW, which one would it be? (not your own)

MH: Mark Hamill’s keynote. Can’t wait to see Luke Skywalker live!

Zontee HouConvince & Convert: strategist, media consultant founder, professor, speaker, and more – Zontee practices what she preaches.


Zontee Hou - Convince and Convert
Question: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever built out of LEGOs…OR [seen] built out of LEGOs?

ZH: Although I’m from NYC, I was blown away by photos of a model of London–complete with London Eye and Big Ben–all constructed out of LEGOs.

Question: Favorite form of expression: hashtag, emoji, or meme?

ZH: I’m guilty of adding commentary in the form of hashtags for the win #FTW #sorrynotsorry

Question: What’s your favorite way to consume content: Text, Video, Audio?

ZH: Audio.

Question: What’s the most aggravating thing you see marketers doing (or not doing) today with content?

ZH: Only talking about their own content or brand instead of addressing their customers’ needs and motivations.

Question: If you could ensure marketers take away one key learning from your talk at CMW, what would it be?

ZH: Even traditional, regulated industries can find ways to be creative with content marketing and build engagement with their audiences.

Question: If you could only attend one session at CMW, which one would it be? (not your own)

ZH: MOBILE MOMENTS: WHERE CONTENT MEETS PEOPLE, PLACES & THINGS

Chad PollittRelevance: Marketing will not fix sales problems…


Chad Pollitt - Relevance
Question: What’s the most aggravating thing you see marketers doing (or not doing) today with content?

CP: This kills me. . . Marketers’ heads are filled with helium. Ninety-nine percent of them. They believe that marketing will fix sales problems. Their heads constantly float up-funnel. If there’s a massive bottleneck at the bottom of the marketing and sales funnel, top-funnel solutions won’t fix it. The additional visibility and traffic will still hit the bottleneck. Sometimes the best solution for a lower-funnel problem is a Sales solution and not content.

Question: If you could ensure marketers take away one key learning from your talk at CMW, what would it be?

CP: Content marketers need to understand that their budgets and priorities are off. The fact is that our television ad executive counterparts are spending $5 on distribution for every $1 they’re spending on content creation. Content marketers have that flipped, spending $1 on distribution for every $5 they’re spending on creation. This has to stop and marketers need to fight for the proper budget. Nobody blinks an eye or thinks twice about the distribution budget on television commercials – it’s just accepted. Meanwhile, content marketers are expected to gain visibility through organic (free) channels. This was possible six years ago for most industries. However, today’s age of content-abundance makes it nearly impossible.

Ready, Break!

Great to see a little levity and sarcasm to break up the rock solid intel from these thought leaders. Now you are fully prepped with 25+ conversation starters to take on Content Marketing World! We’ll be there to discuss content marketing practices, but will also follow along on @CMIContent and #CMWorld. See you in Cleveland!

 

This article was written by NetLine Corporation’s Amanda Drinker for Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

PR Outreach: Learning from Chipotle’s Crisis

Introduce the Issue

A crisis isn’t the only high-stakes situation in which your pitch simply has to hit the mark. Are you launching a new product? Did you bring aboard a high-profile executive? If a journalist opens an email with a compelling subject, but the first line reads like an infomercial, how likely is it that she’ll keep reading? Know your audience and educate them on why you chose them for your outreach.

Educate, Don’t Sell

Educate journalists and let them do the selling to the public. Get them excited about what you have to share so they end up spreading the word for you. Got data to support your story? Follow up with the right contacts (read on to learn how analytics can fine-tune your follow up). Be sure to specify if any info is exclusive, and if so, what blackout dates you can offer. Give them some time to write the story and put it out there. A few days is usually fine. And always give them the best contact to reach. Identify the person at your organization who can best handle questions on methodologies, loop that person into the email, and welcome the journalist to reach out directly. Minimize the email tennis.

Know Your Journalist

Make the interaction personal by reading a recent piece of theirs, something related to your own pitch. Did they cover food-borne illness last month and you’re pitching them about new CDC regulations? Great, let them know you’ve read their work and aren’t just going through a rolodex to see who will reply back to you.

Use Keywords for Smarter Pitches

Don’t rely on beats! This is the outdated method of looking up writers; you want to be one step ahead of everyone. Beats are traditionally listed in the bio, but if they’re good at their job and always busy, updating this information is the last thing on their mind. Also, Kelly the journalist could have been assigned a “Finance” beat when she started, but quickly moved on, and the only coverage she’s written under this beat could be over a year old. If you know the journalist or the exact topic, use a keyword search.

Say you want to pitch to someone who referenced Chipotle last month in her article. Run a keyword search for “Chipotle” to discover which journalists are mentioning the brand. Set the date range to look within the past 30 days. See the journalists in the content stream below?

Use keyword searching in the Meltwater Influencers tool to find journalists who have referenced Chipotle.These three journalists have referenced Chipotle in the last 30 days.

Those are your new best friends. Click on Relevant Articles to see their works that reference your keyword. Start researching their work and build those relationships with your first email.

Know Your Subject Matter Experts

Annual events might be assigned to the same writer every year. So if you search for “annual restaurant trade show” and see the same group of writers, there’s a high chance they’ll cover the event again. These writers might be more in tune to the restaurant space than someone who wrote one relevant article in the past six months.

Hot Story Seeks Journo

Maybe you have a preference for a publication but don’t know the best person to reach. That’s what an editor’s job is: assigning a topic or story to the journalist. Load up your media database and pitch to the editor of the publication.

Meltwater Influencers database can sort contacts by roles, so you can pitch to editors in your media outreach effort.Influencers lets you search for editors—they’re the ones who assign stories!

And if you’re lucky enough to find the right journalist covering your subject, check her Twitter bio or a recent article for her preferred mode of contact. See how one woman reached out to Arianna Huffington and the lessons she learned in getting noticed.

Mail Servers: The Gatekeepers

Mail servers have gotten over-zealous in detecting spam. If your message looks like spam, it might not reach your journalist. Even using a free email provider, like Gmail, is more likely to flag the spam filter than a verified domain (read more under “Campaign Metadata” in MailChimp’s excellent article). And we all remember what spam emails look like: catchy subject lines and file attachments from unknown senders. You’re starting off as an unknown sender, so avoid looking like a spammer. Put your story in the message body. Don’t send it as a PDF attachment. And either offer to send supplementary information or, better yet, provide a link to it.

Pitch by Media Type

Are you pitching to TV or radio? You’ll want to look for assignment editors, producers, or news directors. What if you’re pitching to print media? Focus on and assignment editors, managing editors, editors-in-chiefs, and bureau chiefs. Your choice will also depend on the outlet’s size. For example, you might want to look for bureau chiefs for the Washington Post.

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Improve Your Follow Up with Analytics

If you do send an email to multiple contacts, you can use an email analytics tool like the one recently introduced to our Influencers media database. This will show you who is reading your mail and who hasn’t yet opened it. Learn to troubleshoot your pitches with open-rate stats, and you won’t get discouraged the next time you see a chart like this:

Sharpen your media outreach follow up with analytics; know your bounce and open rates.Send mail from within Influencers, and we can tell you who is reading your messages and how long they were engaged.

Use the new Meltwater Influencers feature to follow up according to your outreach analytics.

Scenario: Outbreak Crisis

You head Chipotle’s PR team. A new outbreak was documented on the West Coast. You need to get in front of the issue before media speculation becomes a toxic stew that freaks out first the investors and then the day traders. Armed with the details of this outbreak—as much as you can publicly disclose—you fire up your media contacts database to look up journalists by a keyword search for your brand. You notice that “Chipotle” brought up three journalists who referenced your brand in the last 30 days.

Use keyword searching in the Meltwater Influencers tool to find journalists who have referenced Chipotle.Identify your journalists using a keyword search. Keywords beat beats.

 

Segment your contacts with custom mailing lists in Influencers.Segment your media contacts with custom mailing lists.

Note: if you’ve curated your own list of media contacts, import them into the Influencers database and our team of media researchers will keep their contact information updated.

Import your curated contacts and we'll keep their contact information updated.Import your curated contacts and we’ll keep their contact information updated.

You compose a new message from within the Meltwater Influencers database—to take advantage of our engagement analytics—and start typing the name of the mailing list in the Recipients line.

Compose messages from Influencers to take advantage of advanced read statistics.Compose messages from Influencers to take advantage of advanced read statistics.

Type the name of your mailing list and we'll populate the field for you.Type the name of your mailing list and we’ll populate the field for you.

Note: we offer a Send Preview so you know what the message looks like on the receiver’s end. Use your own email as the test recipient.

You remember not to add attachments, because you don’t want your message to get rejected by the writers’ spam filters.
Later that day and for the next couple, you look at your analytics report to see who opened your message. You follow up accordingly and start to build a relationship with the most receptive contacts. And finally, you remember that, throughout a major brand crisis, cultivating and maintaining media relationships is key to turning around brand perception. To see how long it took for Chipotle’s brand perception to bounce back from its outbreak crisis, check out the Chipotle Crisis section of our fast food industry report.

tl;dr

  • Send targeted, personal pitches, avoid a “firehose approach.”
  • Use keyword searching to find your journalists. Pay attention to the time frame to make sure you’re seeing the freshest content. Remember that some journalists cover a recurring event like industry trade shows.
  • Read one of their latest pieces on the topic you searched for. Familiarize yourself with their writing.
  • If you don’t know the best journalist to cover your story, use our handy media pitch guide:
    • TV/Radio: assignment Editor, producers, news directors
    • Print: managing editor, editors in chief, bureau chiefs, assignment editors.
    • This could depend on outlet size, e.g. look for bureau chiefs for the Washington Post.
  • Avoid flagging spam filters.
    • Don’t send attachments. Instead, copy and paste your story into the message body. A PDF might flag a spam filter.
    • If possible, use an email address with a private domain, not one from a free email service provider (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.).
  • Use message analytics to follow up accordingly.

Be sure to check out our latest webinar: Don’t Let Your Brand Be Crisis. We show you how to spot trends and steer the conversation with PR and social media strategies for crafting an effective response.