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Nearly every business in the world has considered using social media for their brand (or at least been told by someone to do so). It's an important concept because social media has all of the characteristics of an excellent set of venues for getting out a brand message - popularity, ease, reach, and interactivity. The challenge is that with so many businesses doing it, many messages start with great intentions and end up falling on deaf (aka nonexistent) ears.
There are ways to use social media properly to get out the message whether it's a general PR item or a major announcement. While press releases are still a strong method of doing it, there are certain restrictions that make social media and blogs in particular a superior message delivery system. Those reasons are easy to list:
Now that the "why" is out of the way, here's the "how"...
Something's happening at the company. It could be a new product or service. It could be a partnership or change in leadership. It could be a charitable contribution or simply taking a stand against an injustice. Regardless of what "it" is, there needs to be a campaign built around it.
The most common mistake that companies make when trying to send out a brand message is that they simply pick the wrong topic. It may seem impossible; how can the topic be anything other than obvious? The reality is that time and time again businesses focus on the wrong portion of the news because they go after what is most important to them rather than selecting something that will resonate properly through social media.
Here's an example to illustrate the importance of topic selection.
To really get a brand message out, one must select the right channels. A blog post is only the beginning. There are other venues through which to get the word out to the masses. The obvious ones are Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, but those only help to amplify the message once it's created. Social content sites like YouTube and Pinterest can enhance the message, giving it more bulk and enabling more opportunities to cross-pollinate the message.
It can be broken down into five channel types:
Here's a breakdown of the different channels and how they work.
The hub and spoke model has been used in marketing for decades, well before the internet was even conceived. Modern variations include uses for search engine optimization and content marketing. These are not what we mean by using a blog as the hub.
In brand messaging, the goal is to get the masses back to a single point of consolidated information. This post in itself is a loose example; we're posting this article on TECHi with each point expanded through other blog posts. TECHi is the hub for this particular topic while the other posts, including the one on Business Insider about Why Blogs Should Be The Hub Of Social Media Strategies, each go into further detail on their particular component of the overall story.
The goal is to have multiple avenues through which to promote and draw people back to the original. Even if they don't visit the hub, they'll still get some form of important information that may have them explore further through search. They may read the spoke story and never come back. It doesn't matter. Having a single blog as the hub is a key to this strategy as well as others. Blogs make the only length restriction the attention span of the reader. No other limits are present.
Now that we know about the hub, it's time to plan it out for the slicing. In the example above that refers to the Sally's Shoe Company story, the hub story would be about everything without going into much detail about any of the components. Visitors to the hub story could explore the other topics more deeply. Here are some examples of spoke topics from the example above:
There are other possibilities depending on the real situation, but these would each be linked from the longer hub story to go into more detail about the different components of the overall message. It becomes a two-way street of traffic and exposure and allows for more opportunities for people to latch onto and share on their own social networks.
From here, you could learn more about The Art of Multi-Posting.
The real difference between social media and press releases is in the creative license. This doesn't have to be bland and boring. It can't be if it has any hopes of being shared socially.
Nearly every situation can have some color added to it. The "hippo in the bar" is an allusion to something funny, entertaining, or extremely interesting about the message. For Sally's Shoes, it could be something that's literally about a hippo that goes into a bar, leading up to a comedic result while still focusing on the idea that these endangered animals need a refuge of their own so they don't risk human contact that could turn deadly.
Now that the pieces are ready to be written, it's time to plan out the exposure. You can't simply post the stories and start Tweeting and Facebooking everything at once. Depending on the timing of the news, social media exposure can be spread out over time to allow for the maximum possible exposure of the overall news.
People latch onto different things when sharing on social media. Something that rings well for one person will be ignored by another. The goal is to get as much exposure for each individual component as possible, even covering one on top of another in a way that will lead people down a path to eventually land on the hub.
This process isn't nearly as easy as putting together a press release and pressing it through the proper channels. It's not designed to be easy, and that's a good thing. Your efforts will be greater than your competitors'. You results will be greater as well. Put in the effort. Take a swing.
Bring it home.
(Post originally published on TECHi)