Week 6: Content – blogging, microblogging, vlogging, etc.

Alright, by this point you’ve figured out who, the exact person, you’re targeting in your social campaign – your ideal customer avatar (ICA).  And you’ve gone through the PEW research to determine which platforms will best reach your audience.  Now it’s time to start thinking about creating content.

As we’ve said before markets are conversations.  The platforms we choose mediate those conversations (oh no! I feel some Marsha Marsha Marshall McLuhan coming on – press play)

Over the next few weeks we are going to work together to construct and execute your social media strategy.  That means putting together a content strategy which outlines the kings of things you will create, share, and post.

Said before – content is what ultimately engages your audience.  Let’s dive into so common types of content and how you can use them from an organization’s perspective.

Blogging: A blog positions you as an expert and industry leader.  Or as we like to say, as a  “thought leader” 🙂  Blogs can differentiate your business because they can showcases your personality and your voice.  Blogs allow you to interact with your customers and create community without having to reach out to people one-on-one. Blogs are excellent for search engine optimization (we’ll talk about this in a few weeks) and help bring new prospects to your site. Blogs help you express not just what you sell, but what you stand for.  For a blog to be successful, you need to establish goals.  We’ll get into goal setting in the coming weeks, but some goals include:  attract new leads, convert prospects to customers, strengthen relationships with existing customers (to make more sales or get more referrals), differentiate from competitors, get media, and increase understanding of the products & services you provide.   Consistently posting is a key to blogging success.  We’ll go through how to generate an editorial calendar in class.  Many of you will want to create blogs as part of your social media strategy, so, as a bonus, I’m including a document with links to some of the best free blog themes. Note – they are all WordPress.  I’ve worked with many blog platforms, and in my opinion, WordPress is the best 🙂

Vlogging:  A video blog 🙂 Pure gold if you’re a natural speaker or if your product or service has great visual appeal.  Vlogging holds the same benefits as a general blog with the added impact visual storytelling can bring.  How to be a vlogger in 9 steps is a cute article that outlines the process.  It’s fairly straightforward.  You’re biggest challenge is coming up with interesting and relevant content for your audience. Ideally your ICA worksheet will help you understand what content your audience is looking for.

Microblogging: microblogging  is a short, limited post.  Probably the most familiar version of a microblog, is the ubiquitous Facebook status update.  It is considered a “microblog” because you are blogging – in very short form – what you want to convey to your Facebook friends. As you microblog, if you do it frequently, then you are “lifestreaming” – sharing your life with your social network followers. This “lifestreaming” is invaluable to marketers. We often call it stream of consciousness research where we can get an instant sense of what is happening in the marketplace.

Twitter is a microblogging site. When you post a “tweet,” you are microblogging. On Twitter, you can only post microblogs of 140 characters or less. This article on the Twitter website explains the basics of Twitter, and this page  provides links to explanations of all of Twitter’s features. Twitter is also a social network; you can “follow” people, and they can follow you.  For the latest on Twitter – because it changes daily – visit the Twitter tag on Mashable

This article  in the well-respected journal First Monday provides an interesting case study on understanding what types of tweets (emotion, information, opinion, etc. ) people post.

While Twitter started as a one-way communication tool, with celebrities and new agencies pushing out information, it has evolved into a two-way communication medium where public conversations are being held between brands and their customers.  As many of you have experienced, it’s a great platform to create dynamic conversations and connections.  Take a look at Coca Cola’s twitter feed for instance, and the amount of conversational/two-way content you see happening there.

It should definitely be noted that Twitter is not the only microblogging site available. Lesser-known sites such as FriendFeed and Tumblr provide these services, as do Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. But, many of these services work with sites such as TweetDeck that provide RSS feeds to other social media sites. For example, you can have tweets post automatically to your Facebook profile; this is a wonderful time-saver for people or organizations who want to reach audiences on multiple platforms.

Twitter is by far the most popular microblogging site and we will spend most of our time discussing this tool.  Twitter, and microblogging in general, has its own nomenclature. For organizations to use the tools effectively they need to understand the nuances of the community and how content is shared within it.

While Twitter’s basic premise is straightforward, many sites exist that allow you to do all kinds of things with Twitter. For example, Twitpic allows you to “share media on Twitter in real-time.” TweetDeck allows you to read combined microblogs from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and others, and it also allows you to work with your Twitter feed in different ways.  Hootsuite is another tool that social media coordinators use to manage their social feeds.

Podcasting: I’ve recorded a short podcast about podcasting microblogging and content creation. (meta!)  Podcasts are a great platform. I don’t host one myself, but I’ve been a guest on many, and have arranged to have my clients interviewed by popular podcasters.  I recorded this podcast to cover this lecture last term while I was away. You may find some additional insights in it.

Podcast Show Notes:

Co-host: Stuart Clark
http://about.me/stuartclark
http://stuartclark.ca/

Recording / Editing software
Garage band Mac only
http://www.apple.com/ca/ilife/garageband/

Audactiy for Mac and PC   (Free!)
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Podcast file is at
http://www.canadiantechpodcast.ca/shows/kward.mp3

How to find podcasts
Itunes
itunes.com
Castroller
http://castroller.com/
Ask your friends!

Adding a podcast to itunes
http://www.apple.com/ca/itunes/podcasts/specs.html
Posting your podcasts.
As simple as posting the mp3 to your website and making a link to it.

Powerpress wordpress plugin steps things up a notch and makes things very easy
http://wordpress.org/plugins/powerpress/

Gear
Great suggestions here.
http://podcastanswerman.com/

What we use in the Unlab Studio:
– Makie Onyx 1220i Firewire Mixer
– [http://www.mackie.com/products/onyx1220i/
– 3 MXLV67 Mics – [http://www.mxlmics.com/microphones/studio/V67g/]
– 1 digital recorder
– Apple imac

You don’t have to be this complicated  if you are doing a podcast on your own, a usb headset with mic and a computer is all you need.

– Unlab Equipment Page
http://www.unlab.ca/w/PodCastStudioEquipment

– Unlab Studio page
http://www.unlab.ca/w/PodCastStudio

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