Tools to Grow Your Social Media Presence, Audience Engagement

Nowadays, every news organization and journalist needs to have a social media presence. Just having a social media presence is not enough. To maximize your presence and your engagement with your audience – you need to understand the analytics behind your social media presence. This week’s Hub post focuses on how to make the most out of your Twitter presence for your organization and staff.

Once you have Twitter accounts created for your staff and organization, you need to identify a social media strategy. The strategy should include realistic goals and objectives of what you want to reach on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It should be a document that you share with your staff so they are aware of what is expected and how they can play a part in the process.

When developing your strategy document, here are some questions to get you started:

1. How many followers do you want to have a month from now, in six months and the coming year?

2. What kind of information do you want to post to your Twitter account? (news, resources, history, facts, etc.)

3. What kind of information do you want your staff to reply to or retweet?

4. How will you document the retweets and replies you receive?

5. What hashtags should you include in your tweets (as applicable)?

6. How many people or organizations do you want to follow? What will be your policy for this?

After you have established your strategy, you should start collecting information on the following:

1. How many followers do you acquire daily, weekly and monthly?

2. How often do your followers retweet or reply to your posts?

3. How often are your tweets being picked up by non-followers?

4. What hashtags are being associated with your Twitter presence?

5. Who is following you and your staff? (e.g. community members, other news organizations, government officials, think tanks, universities, foundations, etc.)

6. How many website referrals do you receive from Twitter? Where are they coming from?

7. How many mentions do you receive? How many likes do you receive?

8. Who are your most influential followers? What do they tweet about?

To answer your questions above, there are several tools that can help you to measure your impact. I suggest you select more than one tool to see the different kinds of analytics you can obtain from each. Some of them are fairly easy to use and others can be complicated. Here are just a few I want to highlight:

If you are into finding out the latest trends happening in the Twittersphere, this website allows you to search by keywords and location to see what is trending geographically around the world. This may be helpful to see what is trending in your local community or region.

Twitter advanced search
As simple as it sounds, you can do searches from the Twitter platform. The advanced search function allows you to explore by keywords, hashtags, places and by the type of tweet (positive or negative). This is a great tool to help with the development of your social media strategy document in determining the kinds of keywords you would like to use in common hashtags for your site, finding profiles of people or organizations you want to follow, etc.

Tweetstats is a free tool to analyze your Twitter account activity to see how many tweets you make daily and monthly, your tweet density, tweeting averages, who you retweet and reply to the most, and much more. This can be helpful information for analyzing your staff’s Twitter accounts.

HootSuite Social Analytics
Hootsuite is a robust social media analytical tool that you can try out for 30 days for free. It can track all your social media accounts and the levels of engagement with each. After 30 days, they have different kinds of accounts that range from $15 to $50/monthly.

This is another tool that allows you to track your social media presence across multiple platforms and accounts. You can get a free trial for seven days. For journalists, they offer a $19/month per a seat account otherwise the basic account is $149/month per a seat.

Once you have your social media strategy defined and your analytical tools selected, you are ready to optimize your social media presence! It’s crucial to understand that your social media strategy should be open to change because you may find certain techniques work well and others don’t with your audience. It should be a document you revisit monthly and ask yourself: Are you reaching the goals and objectives you set? Are you reaching the followers you need/want? What are the topics you are receiving the most response to? What tweets are you not receiving any response to?

Social media has created a brave new world for news organizations and how they engage with the audience. It’s a place of great challenges and opportunity – those who embrace it, explore and try it out have the most to benefit from it.