Every news organization today must have a social media presence. If you are a news start-up and uncertain of what to do and how to get started, there are several key questions to ask when setting up your social media presence by creating a social media strategy (check out this past post on how to create that strategy).
Once you are past the point of establishing your strategy and social media presence on the various social networks, there is more work to be done.
When we think about reaching out to our publics with news and information, we may make the assumption that if we post the content to Facebook or Twitter, they will come. That is not always the case. In today’s digital media landscape, news organizations have to think differently about reaching the public and understanding what that reach means.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Edelman 2012 Academic Summit that brought together academics from around the globe along with some of the biggest companies in digital and social media to discuss what is happening in the media industry today.
One of the panels titled, “The New Influentials: Tracking & Measuring Online Influence,” focused on how companies can use specific tools and techniques to measure their digital and social media presence online. One of the panelists, Brian Solis, principal analyst for the Altimeter Group, brought up a key point that companies today need to understand what they want to measure from these social media channels – it goes beyond just the popularity figures – the number of followers you have, the number of retweets or Facebook likes or even your social network score from the various social media services out there – it comes back to your social capital and how you measure it.
Solis shared with the audience a report he published recently in March, “The Rise of Digital Influence: A “How-To” Guide for Businesses,” (pdf) which is a guide for businesses on how to understand their digital influence and how to measure it.
Solis’ report provides many great tips for setting up a plan to help measure digital influence that can be applied to news organizations.
For example, do you know who your audience is via your social media channels? Do you know how your news content is shared and where it is shared on social media channels? Do you know how long that news content is shared in the social media sphere and what the conversation is about your news content?
If you cannot answer these questions above, you may want to take some time to understand who is following your Twitter account or who is posting to your Facebook page or liking your posts for example.
Knowing what your digital influence is on these channels can help you to have a better idea of how you are engaging and communicating with your audience.
Solis states in his report a “framework for influence” that is built off of three pillars of reach, resonance and relevance that can cause change or effect.
Each of these pillars can help a company or in this case, a news organization to better understand their social capital and the outcomes sought from the use of social media channels.
The Three Pillars
Solis defines each pillar as such:
- Reach: “Relationships form the union of the social graph and define how far information can travel across the social graph and communities at large.” This can include measurements of popularity, affinity and potential impact.
- Relevance: “Individuals aligned through subject matter create a series of linked relationships that send information along communities of focus.” This can include measurements of authority, trust and affinity.
- Resonance: “The culmination of reach and relevance serve as the foundation for “the score”.” This can include measurements of duration, rate and interactivity levels with the content.
Furthermore, Solis states in the report that reach and relevance can feed into resonance: “Resonance is a result of reach and relevance and determines how long something stays alive in the stream before attention dissipates. This is important because social media is a noisy world, and without resonance, conversations evaporate quickly.”
As you review your social media strategy, it’s important to recognize that your influence and thus, your ability to connect, engage and communicate with the community can be tied to your reach, relevance and resonance on Twitter, Facebook and the other social media channels you use.
These three pillars can be a good starting point to help you refine your social media strategy and furthermore help you to have specific outcomes in order to have a deeper understanding of who your audience is, how to grow that relationship with your audience, and how to engage new audiences with your content.
Using these three pillars can also help you to determine the benchmarks you want to set daily, weekly or monthly with the various social media channels you use.
Once you have your refined strategy in place, you can select some online tools that can help you in measuring these outcomes.
Appendix A of the report features a great snapshot of the various measurement tools that you can use that can provide some insight about your digital influence. Each tool can only be as helpful in terms of what specific outcomes you set and tying it back to your strategy. These tools should not be used solely to just get scores or rankings but as a complement to understanding the overall picture of your digital influence. Here is a quick list of the tools mentioned by Solis grouped by the three pillars of reach, relevance and resonance.
Creating a social media strategy and getting your feet wet with using social media is a big step for the news start-up but as time goes on, every news organization must refine that strategy to find ways to go beyond the typical social media rankings, scores, and numbers of popularity.
Using Solis’ framework can be a different approach to digging deeper into understanding your own goals for using social media, engaging with the community, and building the relationship with the community you serve.