Tally of social media sites

Infographic of the top 20 social media platforms of 2012

Top 20 Social Media Platfroms for 2012

I came across this article by Craig Smith while studying for our final exam. Thought some of you would find the tally of how many people are using some of the top social media updated for December 2012  interesting.

This month’s top mover seems to be Dropbox, who doubled their reported total number of users from 50 million to 100 million!

Read his article: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/

Social Media Monitoring Tools – Week 10

Social Media ROI infographic

Analysis tools, both free and paid help measure ROI

Deciding whether social media is right for your organization is no easy feat. Deciding to participate in social media brings about many obstacles. Firstly, there are billions of conversations happening on-line, all over the world. Since certain tools target specific geographic areas,   conversations are taking place in multiple languages. With the wide array of social media tools available, information is unstructured and dispersed. Lastly, with all the noise from Twitter, Facebook and the like, it’s tough to keep track of what’s meaningful. How does one track all these converstaion, prove that efforts are successful, and target messages and make them stand out are some of the questions organizations ask themselves.

The key to solving some of these challenges and answering some of these questions starts with having appropriate measurement practices in place.

This week we were asked to explore two free tools and one paid tool; and identify the value they provide to a social media program. Thefree tools I chose to explore were Social Mention and HootSuite; and the paid tool was Lithium.

social mention logoSocial Mention

This social media search engine  searches user-generated content such as; blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news and videos, and aggregates content from all over the world in real-time.

Features:

  • Offers multiple search options – Users can search for conversation by topic or narrow it down to a  specific source, like a blog or video.
  • Register for alerts – Much like Google Alerts, you receive daily emails notifying you of any mentions of your brand.
  • Provides useful analytivs – it measures elements such as strength, sentiment, passion and reach, as well as, frequency and top keywords.
  • Generats reports – the tool genersates standard reports and allows users to export the information into an Excel.

Advantages:

  • This is a useful tool if you are new to social media or are considering trying it out and want to get a general sense of  your brands current position in the social media realm.
  • Gives you some insight into customers’ sentiment around your brand or what competitors are up to at literally no cost.
  • Allows you see what sources and tools your audiences is using to engage.

Disadvantages:

  • The metrics provided are very high level and users are provided with limited information.
  • Searche results take a long time to generate due to all the spam and duplication.
  • You can search by source (i.e. blog, video, discussion, but not by tool (i.e. Facebook and WordPress).
  • There is a lot of spam results and duplicates from robots to sift throught in order to get a clear picture of your position.

hootsuite logoHootSuite

I’ve been hearing a lot about this tool, so I thought this exercise would be a great opportunity to see what all the rage is about.

Features:

  • HootSuite Conversations – An internal conversation tool that allows you to collaborate with colleagues, team members and colleagues in real time.
  • 5 Social Profiles – You are limited to 5 owned social profiles. Shared profiles and unlimited.
  • Free Quick Reports – These are custom reports with advanced tools like network stats, Facebook Insights and Google Analytics to help you measure your social media efforts, but aren’t nearly as comprehensive as the paid HootSuite tool version.
  • Message Scheduling – Allows you to draft, schedule and send messages and time them for your audience.
  • Unlimited Apps – These are the additional social networks and content management tools that you add to the dashboard from the App Directory. Sort of like the widgets in WordPress. Example are:  Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Evernote.
  • 2 RSS/Atom Feeds – These are the number of RSS connections that you may use to automatically update your social profiles from an external blog or news feed.

Advantages

  • This is a great multipurpose social media management tool and best of all it’s free
  •  A free trial is offered to see if it’s a good fit for your organization before you buy
  • It’s a onemultipurpose tool for monitoring, measurement and engagement with your audience.
  • Helps with expediting enagement across multiple platforms, which can be time consuming if done manually.
  • Great for a start-up business or small campaigns, because it offers a lot of features lot at no cost.

Disadvantages

  • RSS feed feature has the potenial to be used as a crutch. It’s evident when content is being repurposed across platform. Content is king and should be engaging, meaningful and specifically targeted to the right audience.
  • There have been many incidents of employees accidentally tweeted from their personal accounts to their corporate accounts through Hootsuite.
  • You are only allowed one user per account which makes it difficult if you are a large organization with multiple users. In this case, the paid version is more suitable for your needs.

Lithium logoLithium

This paid tool claims to:

… help companies unlock the passions of their customers to build brand advocacy, drive sales, reduce service costs and accelerate innovation. We help brands build a vibrant community, and then infuse this social conversation across every touch point in the customer experience.

Features:

This tool offers various solutions and products to amplify social media efforts surrounding your community. The tool is designed to build brand advocates, drive sales with peer reviews, deliver a better customer experience. It’s also built for crowd sourcing for innovation to stay ahead of your competitors.

Advantages:

  • The analytics tool makes it easy to spot strengths and weaknesses in your community to improve community performance.
  • Allows you to pinpoint and target your most influential customers and help them work for you.
  • Create detailed reports that specifically pinpoint frequent words analysis, volume of mentions and sentiment composition.
  • Let’s you export data for in Excel for custom analysis, or share it with your team in a graphical PDF.
  • Gives management insight into the team, helps them to monitor workloads.
  • Advanced searching and sorting features and real-time dashboards allow management to see the bigger picture
  • Allows supervisors/group leads to further  into detail, such as individual workload, priorities and statuses

Advantages:

  • Suitable for proven in high-volume, growth environments.
  • Multi-language support that large enterprise brands demand.
  • Eliminates spam and duplicates generated by robots
  • Abl to compare brand sentiment against competitors and the industry segments in real time.
  • Indentify top influencers as well as their sector and reach of influence.
  • Frequent Words Analysis follows and assesses popular topics and trends that are emerging.
  • Advanced security and privacy features
  • You can keep it simple by setting up a search across the social media or you dig deeper and use it  to manage the online conversation and engage with your clients
  • The feature BuzzTracking, can measure your brand’s buzz volume, detect any sentiment changes and also benchmark these stats against your competitors.
  • The Frequent Words Analysis feature allows you to easily start tracking topics that emerge in the industry, focusing on relevant words and their show-up frequency
  • Support is available to customers’ every step of the way

Disadvantages:

  • The pricing is relatively high. Usually, the package for businesses costs from USD 1500 per month for unlimited user amount and 50 searches.
  • Focus on the community, may be too advanced for most start-ups and small businesses
  • You really have to be established in the social media realm to reap the full benefits of this tool.

Here are the top three reasons why there is value to using measurement tools:

  1. It helps to show ROI. Especially with tools like Lithium, where you are looking to the community to  work for you in order tobuild loyalty around the brand. Imagine impressed senior management would be if you that your customers are working for you for free!
  2. It provides organizations insight into their brand. Many of the free tools out there measure strength, sentiment, passion and reach, as well as, frequency and top keywords. You can gain valuable insight into how your campaign is doing and whether you are on the right path to meeting your objectives. For those thinking about whether or not they should engage in social media, the free tools out there can be your starting point to find out some metrics around your brand and present that information at your next meeting. After all, numbers talk.
  3. Helps to keep you informed about what the competiton is doing. Many of the free tools out there can help you investigate what your competition is doing and what’s being said about them online, both good and bad. You can use this information to propel your own social media efforts, so stay one step ahead of the competition, learn from their examples and not repeat the same mistakes, or see what they are doing correctly when planning your campaign.

As public relations practitioners, we know that certain things cannot be measured. For example how do you put a value on loyal followers who in the event of a crisis will come to your rescue and set the record straight? It’s something that cannot be measured, but is invaluable to a brands longevity. However, since social media is a fairly new and unfamiliar endeavor for most organizations, being able to quantify and justify your efforts can help prove the value of your social media efforts.

Week 8 – Core Elements of Social Web Strategy

A social web strategy according to Livingston is, “creating a meaningful way, a method, an overarching course, to attract and keep the attention of your stakeholders.”  The most successful strategists research their audience and understand their needs before they engage. Only then do they determine which tool to use to reach them, what timing to employ and what tactics to use within those media or tools to achieve their goals and meet business objectives. Like the diagram above illustrates, the tools are just the tip of the iceberg. The strategic elements are what drive a successful social media campaign.

Image

Source: Blue Source Marketing

It’s easy to tell when social media strategy has failed.

The Motrin Mistake

Take for example Motrin – the painkiller medication.  The company launched an ad showing mothers experiencing back pain and crying when holding their child, and that Motrin was there for them. Bloggers that were mothers found this ad to be patronizing and began tweeting and blogging about it. By the week’s end Motrin was caught in a firestorm. Because the brand was not listening, or monitoring social media channels, it took over a week for the backlash to subside. This took an apology from Motrin as well as its parent company Johnson & Johnson.

Now, let’s take a look at some social media strategies with all the right ingredients.

KLM Suprises it’s Customers

Source: http://www.umpf.co.uk/blog/tag/social-media-campaigns-hall-of-fame/

What they did

KLM used social media to make their customers feel special. Using Foursquare and Twitter, they identified passengers that had checked in at the airport and were waiting for their flights. They decided to reward those passengers with personalized hand delivered gifts.

KLM ran searches on the customers’ social media profile to determine their likes, dislikes and why they were flying in the first place. They then selected and purchased appropriate gifts on-line that matched their personality and hand delivered them to customers prior to boarding.

More than 40 people were presented with gifts and the campaign generated over a 1 million impressions on Twitter alone.

Why it worked

  • They targeted the right audience, those customers already flying with KLM.
  • Used social media tools to build personal, real connections – discovered that doing something that puts a real smile on someone’s face is better than attaching a smiley face.
  • Happy customers were more likely to tweet about a good experience, recommend the airline to a friend or fly with KLM in the future.
  • Listened to their customers, understood them and showed that they valued them.
  • Focus was on building relationships and social media was just the tool.
  • Empowered fans to create/share content and initiate discussions. “When a community embraces and takes on a topic of its own, word of mouth takes on a complex and most desirable form” (Livingston).

Volkswagen’s Interactive Twitter Campaign

Source: http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2011/05/15/successful-twitter-campaigns/

What they did

Volkswagen used Twitter to promote their sponsorship of the Planeta Terra Festival – the most popular music festival in San Paulo, Brazil. They hid tickets to the festival all over the city, and shared the location using a map. The catch was that the map would only zoom in on the area to reveal the locations based on how many people tweeted the hashtag #foxatplanetaterra on Twitter.

The campaign was a huge success, after 2 hrs the #foxatplanetaterra was a trending topic in Brazil

Why it worked

  • The campaign targeted the right audience, the local people of San Paulo, attending the festival.
  • They integrated the online element with a real world – a treasure hunt.
  • The content was simple, engaging and creative. They took what their audience wanted, tickets to the festival and made it available to the first person to get to the secret hidden location.
  • It got people to engage with the brand by having them hunting all over the city.
  • Their target audience spread the word for them. Since the map would only reveal the location when more people were tweeting their message, customers got what they wanted by spreading Volkswagen’s message.
  • They kept their campaign simple but did it really, really well. There was no expensive or complex app involved. People get discouraged if there is too much work involved or the effort outweighs the benefit.

The Smashing Pumpkins’ Visual Campaign

Source: http://thenextweb.com/socialmedia/2011/05/15/successful-twitter-campaigns/

Smashing Pumpkins Oceania cover

Smashing Pumpkins Oceania cover

The band the Smashing Pumpkins used a visual social media campaign to engage their fans. The social media campaign titled “Imagine Oceania” was a promotion of the band’s new album “Oceania”. The band targeted the bands fan base by asking them to design visual interpretations of lyrics or song titles. It was originally posted through the photography blog |JPGMAG.com. The selected artists work was turned into limited edition posters signed by lead singer Billy Corgan and the rest of the band.

Other artist submissions was exhibited on the bands other visual social media outlets, including Pinterest, Storify as well as Twitter and Facebook.

Smashing Pumpkins' facebook page

Smashing Pumpkins’ facebook page

Why it worked

  • By posting the challenge on a blog they attract users who are already familiar with digital technology and would be more likely to compete.
  • Targeting artists who are also Smashing Pumpkins would entice people that would want to be recognized the band.
  • It was designed to crowd source by asking fans to participate engage and share on social networks.
  • Those who participated were rewarded by sharing fans work through their varied social media outlets and getting them exposure (the Smashing Pumpkins Facebook page has nearly 2.5 million fans).
  • Found that their audience enjoyed specific information and had specific interests and created a campaign that was relevant to them.

Have you come acress any out of the box social media campaigns lately?

Twitter shines bright during Toronto power outage – Week 9

Sandy hits Toronto. Thousand of Toronto Hydro customers left without power. Image courtesy of www.torontosun.com

In the wee morning hours of October 30, 2012, much of Toronto woke up to find themselves without power. The high winds and rain as a result of hurricane Sandy left nearly 150,000 Ontarians without power. Toronto was one of the cities hit hardest by the storm.

Like many Torontonians left without power, I immediately took to Twitter to keep updated on the status of power disruptions throughout the city and the progression of the storm. Not soon after the darkness hit the city, the hash tag #darkto began trending on Twitter.

Toronto Hydro wasted no time picking up the hash tag #darkto and #Sandy to increase awareness and drive traffic to their feed. Toronto Hydro did an exemplary job of utilizing this tool feed to keep customers updated on the restoration of power, an outlet for reporting incidents, as submitting inquiries of various degrees of urgency.

Tweets ranged from less serious inquiries like customers wanting to know when power would be restored or what to do with food warming in refrigerators to more serious reports, such as the one below:

Oct 30 – @TorontoHydro we currently have a tree balanced on our power lines but are still receiving power. Advice?

Tweet from Hydro One customer

Toronto Hydro’s Twitter feed during the power outage

My social media campaign for Toronto Hydro

Had I been in charge of the organization’s social web team during this crisis, I would have managed the crises using the following tools:

Facebook:

There was not much activity on Toronto Hydro’ Facebook page, other than a message directing customers to their Twitter feed for continuous updates. In addition to this message I would have created a tab on their Facebook page dedicated to the crisis. The purpose of the tab would be to provide customers with relevant information but not conflict with other communications activities. It would include FAQs on storm preparation and what to do in the event of a power outage. I would have also updated their Facebook status to advise that crews are on standby. There would be links to YouTube videos on storm preparation as well as a link to Toronto Hydro’s own YouTube video produced especially for this event. See below for details regarding the video.

Photo of facebook message

Toronto Hydro’s Facebook status update

You Tube video on storm preparation:

Toronto Hydro would have put out a video on storm emergency preparedness. The video would have featured their Emergency Preparedness Coordinator o Director, and would have acknowledged that a potential crisis is anticipated, offered tip and advice on what to do before and after an outage and advice customers on what Toronto Hydro is doing to prepare. It would conclude with a message stating that Toronto Hydro would be doing everything they can to restore power to customers in the event of a power outage. It would also highlight the different ways that customers can get in touch with Toronto Hydro in the event of an outage (social media efforts emphasized here).

Integrating social media efforts with phone lines:

I would have included messaging on Toronto Hydro’s dedicated phone line advising customers to use Twitter for regular updates. This could have been another resource customers could have used, had they not known Twitter would have been monitoring its Twitter feed 24/7. This may have significantly reduced call volumes for their customer service, especially those calls that were solely for updates.

Twitter

Toronto Hydro did an excellent job at keeping customers updated on the power outage through Twitter. The only thing I would have done differently or added was to personally follow up with customers who reported serious issues on Twitter. The last tweet from Toronto Hydro was posted on November 1st.

Power restored to almost all customers; handful remaining. Thank you for your patience and understanding. #darkto #sandy

This is a great effort on their part, however I would have liked to see one last tweet, advising customers once all power has been restored and thanking everyone for their patience and those that took to twitter to report outages.

Website:

Toronto Hydro’s website was a great tool for customers looking to see whether their area was without power. It also provided a link to a form for those wishing to report an outage. I think an opportunity was missed to integrate a social media component into the website here. I would have incorporated their twitter feed and live streamed it directly on their website, so that customers could see the most recent tweets rolling in.

What are your thoughts on Toronto Hydro’s efforts, and what would you have done differently? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Social media policy, what is it good for? Absolutely everything! – Week 7

Organizations engaging in social media can find themselves in high waters if they don’t have a suitable social media policy in place.  This is especially true for organizations where brand reputation drives business.

I came across an article in Mashable that did a great job of illustrating the importance of a good social media strategy can help mitigate risk for both employers and their employees, by exposing some of the biggest social media mishaps.

Example 1 – The Gap uses Sandy to drive sales

This past Monday the Gap found itself in a sticky social media situation when a mildly insensitive tweet rubbed victims of Hurricane Sandy the wrong way. Monday afternoon, as the storm was hit York and New Jersey, Gap tweeted the following:

They ended up taking the post down and apologizing with the following:

To all impacted by , stay safe. Our check-in and tweet earlier were only meant to remind all to keep safe and indoors.

The post irritated some customers. Here’s an example of a response to the apology. I didn’t get a chance to view the reply tweets to Gap’s original tweet, since they were pretty quick to take it down.

@Gap Try taking a break from being shill for a couple of days instead of trying to tie in a life-threatening storm warning to your ads?

Example 2 – Teacher looses job over Facebook posts

After posting photos and status updates on Facebook from her personal account which included photos showing her drinking on her European vacation, Ashley Payne, a Barrow County, Georgia teacher was asked to resign.

The photographs also included her visits to the Guinness Brewery and a local pub in Dublin. Although her Facebook page was private she had other teaches from her school as friends, and eventually came to the attention of the principle. She was told to resign or face a suspension.

Payne decided to sue the school district in because she was “not made aware of her rights.”

Example 3 – Red Cross Post Rogue Tweet

Whereas, these two examples show how social media can be debilitating, the Red Cross managed to turn a rogue tweet around and use it to their advantage to increase donations.

It all started when Red Cross social media specialist Gloria Huang tweeted the following on the organization’s Twitter feed:

The tweet stayed up for about an hour until Wendy Harman, started getting calls about it in the middle of the night and took it down.

In a later tweet on the employee said the message was meant for her private account and blamed the incident on her lack of facility with Hootsuite.

Although a few blogs picked up the tweet, the Red Cross was able to avert a crisis by turning things around using humor to acknowledge and apologize for the original Tweet.

At the same time Dogfish Head beer picked up the #gettingslizzard, the subject of the original tweet acknowledged the incident by asking fans to donate to the Red Cross.

Mistakes happen. The Red Cross recovered nicely from the incident, and benefited from the blunder by rolling with #getting slizzard to increase donations. Had the tweet been more damaging there may have been a different fate for the employee. The apology went a long way. People understand that everybody makes mistakes. This incident helped to humanize the Red Cross in a way because they acted quickly and transparently.

Examples like thes are why more organizations are opting to put social media policies into place.  Having a well thought out and well written policy can be useful to both parties; It mitigates risk for the employer resulting from employees engaging on the social web, and offer guidelines and outlines expectations to employees. It provides both parties with a clearer picture of what the expectations re. According to Social Media ROI, a social media policy serves the following key purposes:

  • Define a framework of both sanctioned and responsible social media policy internal to an organization
  • Address responsible social media usage outside the company walls.
  • Discuss the organization’s expectations of employee behavior on the social web (not official rules but expectations)
  • Be a source of information, insight advice and training for employees with questions.

Having a social media policy does not always keep you in the clear. The GAP most likely has a social media policy in place, but it doesn’t stop bad judgement on your employees’ part. In addition to having a well versed policy, it’s important to have a crisis strategy in place to deal with blunders both large and small. There are always risks that come with social media, but if it’s done right the rewards can be huge. Even small slip-ups, like with the Red Cross can be steered in the right direction and present new opportunities to engage with customers.

Do you think if the School Board that Ashley Payne worked for has a social media policy in place, they would have been able to avoid the lawsuit with Ashley Payne.

Community Manager: The online party host – Week 6

Photo courtesy of edsocialmedia.com

With the rise in social media use amongst organizations, has come an influx of exciting new positions in social media web communications, community management (CM) being one of them. According to our text, “Whereas this term was probably unheard of just a few years ago, now it’s uncommon now to have a social media program in place without some form of CM activity.” To further demonstrate this point, @boydneil revealed that our course was created by Ryerson with the intent that graduates would be entering management positions in this field.

We had the privilege of getting an insider’s view of what CM is all about the other week when Mary Pretotto presented her experience as Social Media CM at Rogers. Being a Rogers customer myself I could only fathom the social media challenges that come her way. Anxious to learn about the role, after hearing her presentation, I launched a mini investigation into what CM is all about.

What does an online community manager do, exactly?

A ran a good old fashioned Google search and came across a great analogy of the CM as the party host mixed with a fine restaurant host. In his article, Essential Skills of a Community Manager, Chris Brogan states:

“The distinction is because a party is more personal and a restaurant requires their host to think with a business mind. CMs need both skillsets in equal space. A party host will connect people together, praise incoming guests appropriately, maintain conversations throughout the event, and see everyone safely off with a smile and a wave. A restaurant host must be certain the ambiance is just right, know that the kitchen is functioning appropriately, and help the rest of the staff pull off a flawless dining experience.”

Ryan Bauer at Ryanonics, states that a great CM has three main functions: “They engage fans, keep conversations flowing, and to act as the peacemaker when tough situations arise.” Another key function we must not forget according to the text is, “the CM helps manage the development, publishing and curation of online content. Most importantly, the they serve as the ‘voice of the customer’ online, within the community.”

What it takes to become a successful community manager

Ryan Bauer believes that, “customer service has in a way become the new marketing. If you think about it, it makes sense, existing customers happy, in a public way, then that can be the best kind of marketing for your business.” Mary Pretotto revealed that some of the best community managers hail from the customer service industry. Below are some additional traits that make a successful CM.

  • Good listeners – listen to what customers have to say
  • Active participators – in their communities, commit to improving the user experience
  • Helpful – solve problems before it becomes an issue
  • Good reporters –  what they learn from online sources internally, share the good stuff
  • Committed –  to building the community they interact with

To get a better idea of the skills employers are looking for, I sifted through a number of online community manager job postings (about a dozen or so) and compiled a list of top qualifications/skills, as well as main responsibilities.

Qualifications/Skills

Hard Skills Soft Skills
  • A min 2-4 yrs social media marketing experience
  • Active use of social media as well as an understanding of the social web
  • Demonstrated experience engaging users online
  • Serve as the ‘voice of the customer’ online, within the community
  • Written communication skills
  • Project management skills
  • Solid understanding web services, community software general technology/trends
  • Building, managing, engaging online communities
  • Developing/rolling out social media strategies
  • Ability to oversee complex social projects from beginning to end
  • Identify opportunities to enhance engagement and loyalty
  • Develop the online community against key user engagement metrics
  • Monitoring/responding to online metrics

Brainstorming/strategizing social media initiatives based on client goals

  • Passionate about social media
  • Active social media presence and on-screen personality
  • Organizational skills – to track many activities without dropping too many balls
  • Outgoing attitude, excellent interpersonal skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to listen, empathize with and respond to the customer
  • Proactive attitude
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Detail oriented
  • Passionate about social media
  • Creativity
  • Ability to be flexible, work after hours, evening weekends – the community never sleeps
  • Patience to let others participate without dominating the conversation.
  • Marketing to make sure people know about your online community.
  • Self-motivation and the ability to work without much supervision.

Networking with a wide variety of people and being able to call on the right ones at the right time.

Via gigaom

Main Responsibilities

Some of the main responsibilities of a CM may include:

  • Serve as organizations’ spokesperson and voice within online communities
  • Implement, manage and moderate social communities
  • Develop and implement a content management strategy
  • Moderate comments and participate in discussions
  • Listen to users and solicit and interpret user feedback
  • Translate that feedback into actionable recommendations for audience and revenue growth
  • Curate and compose compelling content suitable for social channels to facilitate engagement
  • Measure, report and analyze on line community tools to identify trends, opportunities and behaviors
  • Attend events relevant to social media and online marketing
  • Liaise with creative, accounts and technical teams

How many jobs are out there?

The 2012 Community Manager Report

Info graphic courtesy of banyanbranch.com

Those of us wishing to pursue this as a career are probably interested in how many jobs are out there. I was disappointed to find that when I searched “online community” on Workopolis.ca and Monster.ca, it returned little results. The majority of postings were in the US. This is in-line with the info graphic to the left, which illustrates that the top cities for CMs are NYC, San Francisco, Boston and LA.

This tells us one of three things: 1) the function has not yet fully been recognized as a separate entity within Canada 2) The CM role is blurred with other social media functions 3) Other functions are unofficially performing the CM role.

Although the CM role is rising in popularity as organizations amplify their social media efforts, based on my research it’s still a maturing function within most organizations. It may be a few years or when more until we catch-up with the U.S. and see the CM as a specific role within most organizations involved in social media. It’s most likely to occur once organizations  enter the operational integration phase of their social media practice, meaning that “not only is the program tangible, it is delivering results, and more specialized roles begin to emerge.”  Until them, we will most likely see other functions absorbing the role, or it being blurred with other social media roles.

Please share perspective on where you think the CM role currently  fits into the Canadian job market.

What’s an info graphic worth? – Week 4

This week we covered content strategy. More specifically, visualization, creativity and creating engaging content on the social web. We took a closer look at info graphics and were asked to brainstorm what constitutes an effective one. The consensus amongst groups was that the best info graphics:

  • Summarize large amounts of data or displayed statistics
  • Present information clearly and concisely
  • Capture the readers’ or audiences’ attention, and provide visual breaks when reading through heavy text
  • Packaged lengthy and sometimes dry material in a visually appealing and easy to understand manner
  • Show a natural flow or progression of information, using elements and principles of design like movement and colour
  • Effectively use humour and/or symbolism
  • Show growth over time

As an extension of the class discussion, we were asked to find and analyze three info graphics that illustrated the different elements of a content strategy.

What is a content strategy?
In Kristina Halvorson’s and Melissa Rach’s book, “Content Strategy for the Web”, content strategy is summarized as, “what guides your plans for the curation, delivery and governance of content”.

The content strategy quad
Taken from the site Brain Traffic, the text utilizes the following diagram to illustrate the critical components that make up a content strategy.

Let’s take a look at some other examples that illustrate these components.

1.       Content Strategy Burger

This info graphic immediately caught my eye, and not just because I was hungry. Creaor Mark Smiciklas does an amazing job at illustrating the crucial components of a content strategy. This graphic conveys that when any one of these components is missing, the audience is going to be left unsatisfied.

Advantages or strengths:

  • Uses humour and symbolism that most of us can relate to
  • Minimal wording is needed to get the message across.
  • Creative use of symbols and effective use of colour
  • Easy to understand what the info-graphic is trying to convey at a glance.

Disadvantages or weaknesses:

  • Appeals to a North American audience, but would the same image be iconic across cultures?
  • It’s arguable whether this info graphic strikes the right balance between the amount of information presented and the amount of symbols used.
  • The graphics seem to overpower the information that is being presented.

2.       The 7 Elements of Smart Content

This second example from Patricia Redsicker, shows helpful hints on how to create meaningful content. It is arguably the weakest of the three.

Advantages and strengths

  • The subject matter is clear with a distinct title.
  • Tells a story through the use of a reoccurring character.
  • The eye is guided effectively through the use of numbered lists.
  • Key words are emphasized by highlighting and bold text.
  • Harmony is achieved through the use of an analogous colour scheme.

Disadvantages and weaknesses

  • There is not a whole lot of supporting information here. Where are the facts and figures?
  • Did this information really justify an info graphic, or would it have been just as effective as text?

3.       Content Storytelling for Businesses

Whereas, example one utilized mainly symbols and example two mainly text, this last info graphic, from Fathom Business Events strikes just the right balance between text and graphics.

The graphic uses the whimsical theme of campfires and storytelling to illustrate how compelling stories can be a powerful tool for influencing your target audience.

Advantages and Strengths

  • A clear theme has been developed with the use of iconic imagery one would associate with camp fires and storytelling.
  • There is a limited use of colours and a consistent colour theme.
  • There is a clear flow to the information. The eye is guided left to right and from the top downwards.
  • There is quite a bit of information here. What  may have taken up pages or a chapter, is well summarized using one graphic.
  • Key clusters of information are grouped together.
  • A natural grouping of information is established through the use of headings.
  • Images are not pointless and every illustration/symbol serves a specific purpose.
  • Strikes the right balance of text and imagery.

Disadvantages and weaknesses

  • Text is quite small and font may be hard for some to read.
  • Some images are also quite small – you really have to zoom in to make out what they are.
  • The colours may be hard to reproduce in black and white.

With the rise in popularity or solely visual social media applications like Pinterest and Instagram, there is clearly a demand for more visual content on the social web. With info graphics increasingly being used and becoming easier to produce, PR professionals need think about incorporating them into our content strategy.