By Matthew Lee
News platforms today are not just competing with each other, but are now competing with platforms that have burst on to the media scene with unprecedented speed such as social media, blog sites and news wire services. With social media being one of the most obscure new competitors to traditional media organisations, understanding how it works is necessary to the survival of a publication or media company.
What is most interesting about social media as a competitor is that you are competing with the consumers themselves. Your audience is no longer waiting for news to come to them. They are actively seeking it and often sharing stories online before journalists even hear about them. The only way to combat this is to join in, find the stories that are trending and shed professional light on them.
The first thing, obviously, is to make social media profiles for your company. I recommend starting with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. From here you can begin producing content and posting on your website and social media platforms. This will help to drive traffic between your website and platforms, which in turn improves your search engine optimisation and increases your reach.
Content is still king, even on social media. Use the analytics that most social media platforms offer for free, it is a good way to figure out what exactly your target market is interested in. Either way, building up your network is paramount and that won’t happen unless you are producing content that catches people’s interest. Links are a big part of analytics and web traffic so don’t hold back on including links in your articles.
On the topic of reader interest, each social media platform has developed its own culture and it is important for a communications professional to be aware of the content that will be relevant to different platforms.
Sites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest attract a less formal subscriber base who use the platforms to connect with their social circles, share entertaining material and generally express themselves. They are best leveraged by organisations promoting fashion, entertainment, music, art, travel and lifestyle.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site tailored to a subscriber base looking to expand their professional network, search for job opportunities and further educate themselves online. It is best leveraged by promoting jobs, business and investment opportunities, educational courses and products targeted at business professionals.
Another key platform is Twitter, which is arguably in a transitional period. Twitter still appeals to a subscriber base looking to connect with celebrity and high-profile individuals as well as sharing personal updates, but is increasingly leveraged by the media. It is a good way for communications companies to spread news and updates, particularly those who distribute publications.
On social media, it is essential that you try to ‘humanise’ yourself. If people comment on your posts be sure to respond. Regular posts of opinions or news flashes are another way to make your readers feel closer to you. Focus on making your audience feel a connection to your brand, you are in a social network after all.
Social media and the rise of digital communications platforms is not necessarily a threat to your organisation. If you take the time to learn why these platforms are being embraced so rapidly and build strategies into your business that account for digital disruption, this threat can be turned into an opportunity to get infront.