2009 integrating social media in communications raport agencji kinross render
Integrating social media in communications
The range of social media platforms that have emerged in this decade create wonderful
new opportunities for businesses and brands to engage in relatively low cost conversation.
Given that this enables one of the key objectives of effective public relations, a positive
dialogue with key stakeholders, every professional communicator should be welcoming an
exciting new era where our skills are needed more than ever before.
For many PR professionals, social media is still perceived as a specialist black art
requiring new technical skills. This guide is designed to dispel this myth. The technical
skills required are minimal – you don’t have to build a platform to communicate on it! And
although you do need to get into a different mind set, good communicators are able to
do this relatively easily.
The principles for effective social media communications are the same as for every form
of effective communications: dialogue is a two way process, good communicators speak
the same language as the people they are talking to and content should be informative,
engaging, memorable and clearly relevant to the target audience.
Poor quality social media engagements and content tend to be produced by poor quality
communicators. So, if you are good at communications, you should see social media as
an opportunity not a threat. We have written this guide to help skilled communicators get
familiar, and hands on, with the ‘tools and rules’ of social media. Hopefully you will find
little to fear and enjoy another platform where the skills of the public relations professional
The best social media guides are on-line and interactive. This version reflects some
people’s inclination towards printed materials for learning but we will also be publishing
online versions on www.kinrossrender.com, www.ecco-network.com and our own social
network, which will ultimately prove both more useful and up to date.
Chief Executive, Kinross + Render Ltd
Chairman, ECCO International Public Relations Ltd
Chapter 1: Understanding social media 5
> What is social media?
> Why is social media so popular?
> Who uses social media?
> Why should I care about social media?
> What are the main types of social media?
> What is the key to success in social media?
> How does the approach for social media differ from what is required in traditional
Chapter 2: Planning a social media campaign 11
> Is my company ready for social media?
> How can I tell if social media is right for my brand?
> What next? How do I get started?
> How exactly can I find out what’s being said about my brand?
> How do I identify the right people to target in the social media space?
> I’ve now found out what people are saying about my brand. What next?
> What should I do with feedback for my brand – both positive and negative?
> Are any particular social media types more influential than others?
> Who should converse for my company?
> What should any social media guidelines or policy for my company contain?
Chapter 3: Writing for social media 18
> What is so different about writing for social media?
> What makes good social media content?
> How do I write a social media news release?
> How do I distribute my social media release?
> How do I create a social media newsroom?
> How do I make my social media content ‘search engine friendly’?
> How do I go about optimising my press releases for search engines?
Chapter 4: Blogs 25
> What is a blog?
> Who blogs?
> What are the benefits of having a corporate blog?
> How do I set up a blog?
> How do I write for blogs?
> How can I make my blog work hard for my company?
> How do I make my blog ‘sticky’?
> Why is it important to monitor blogs?
> How can I identify the right blogs to monitor for my industry?
> How can I track who is reading my blog?
> Can you provide any examples of successful blogs?
Chapter 5: Microblogging 32
> What is microblogging?
> Who uses microblogging tools like Twitter?
> How relevant is Twitter for my brand?
> What are the key components of a successful Twitter communications approach?
> How do I set myself up on Twitter?
> How do I tweet?
> How do I respond to tweets?
> What does RT on a message mean?
> How do I follow people on Twitter – and why would I want to?
> What does the # symbol mean on Twitter?
> What are the benefits of hashtags – and what’s the best way to use them?
> How can I monitor what is being said on Twitter?
> How do I integrate Twitter with some of the other social media tools I use?
> Can you give me any good examples of Twitter being used in communications?
Chapter 6: Social networks 40
> What is an online social network?
> Why should social networks matter to me and my brand?
> What are the main social networks?
> How can I get my business on Facebook?
> How do I make Facebook fans?
> Can you provide me with any examples of successful campaigns using Facebook?
> How could LinkedIn benefit my business?
Chapter 7: Content communities 45
> What is a content community?
> What are the main content communities?
> How do I target content communities?
> How do I include content communities in my PR/marketing?
Chapter 8: Social bookmarking 48
> What is social bookmarking and how do I do it?
> Which are the main social bookmarking sites?
> Why is social bookmarking important as a business tool?
Chapter 9: Measurement and evaluation 51
> What is the best way to measure the success of my social media campaign?
> What kind of metrics should I be using to measure success?
> At what point should I measure success?
Glossary of terms 55
Useful social media resources 59
About K+R and ECCO 62
What is social media?
Social media refers to a group of new online ‘media’, spanning social networks, blogs and
micro blogs, wikis, etc. which make it possible for virtually anyone to create, share and
access content. The content created using social media is sometimes referred to as User
Generated Content (UGC) or Consumer Generated Media (CGM).
Whereas traditional media – newspapers, magazines, TV stations
etc. – are controlled by a group of individuals, social media puts
publishing into the hands of the masses and makes it possible for
anyone, anywhere in the world to publish information and share
their thoughts and opinions with others. Another important feature
of social media is its immediacy – it allows you to share content
quickly, in some cases instantly. It is also scalable, in the sense
that people can keep adding to it and expanding on it with their
thoughts and views.
This makes it a very powerful tool which is starting to have a
real impact on the way consumers relate to brands and the way
people do business. Despite what you may read, social media
does not spell the end of traditional media – it is simply another
communications channel, albeit one that is growing in importance.
/ iCrossing’s Antony Mayfield summarises the common
characteristics of social media as:
people are encouraged to contribute and provide feedback,
blurring the lines between media and audience
Wikipedia is a great example of User
Generated Content (UGC) > Openness
social media is about collaboration and the open exchange of information. Anyone is able
to take part – there are no barriers to entry
whereas traditional media tends to be about ‘telling’ or pushing out a message, social
media is much more of a dialogue and involves careful listening
social media allows communities of like-minded people to form quickly
most kinds of social media thrive on their connectedness, making use of links to other
sites, resources and people
Why is social media so popular?
The accessibility of social media makes it popular. It also appeals to people’s love of
interacting and sharing their experiences. It is often seen as an extension of being at a party
or, as Rudd Kessels from Bex Communicatie puts it, having a conversation in the pub.
Who uses social media?
An increasing number of people are using social media, with a recent report from Nielson
Online finding that member communities (social networks and blogs) are now more popular
than email. And while many dismiss social media as a youth phenomenon, the biggest
growth is actually among older age groups. According to new research from Ofcom (The
Communications Market 2009), the proportion of 25-34 years olds claiming to have a
social networking profile grew by six percentage points in the past year (to Q1 2009), while
it grew by eight percentage points among 35-54 year olds. In contrast there are signs that
the popularity of social networking is starting to dwindle among younger age groups – the
15-24 year olds – falling by five percentage points over the year.
/ Some other key UK usage figures include:
> 19 million
number of Facebook users (Source: Facebook Advertising Platform, July 2009)
> 16 million
almost the number of YouTube users (Source: Nielson Online, May 2008 – May 2009)
> 2.6 million
number of unique users of Twitter (Source: Ofcom Communications Report 2008)
> 50 per cent
the percentage of British Internet surfers who have signed up to at least one social
networking site (Mintel research, May 2009)
Other interesting statistics can be found at Econsultancy:
Why should I care about social media?
Quite simply because your customers do! The figures cited above speak for themselves.
And if that isn’t incentive enough, new research by Wetpaint and Altimeter Group into
the use of social media by *the world’s top 100 brands showed a statistically significant
correlation between social media engagement and revenue and profit.
(*Based on Business Week/Interbrand “Best Global Brands” publication 2008)
What are the main types of social media?
/ The main social media types are listed below:
> Social networks, such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, where people can ‘meet’
and share information and ideas with like-minded people. Tools such as Ning allow users
to create their own network
> Blogs are simply a publishing tool that allows an individual or
organisation to share news and views. Many companies and
individuals have their own, with established industry blogs
including Tech Crunch and Mashable
> Micro blogs are a much shorter version of a blog, limited to 140
characters (two short sentences!) in the case of Twitter
> Content sharing communities, such as Flickr, Slideshare,
YouTube and Ustream.tv, enable users to share content such as
photographs, presentations, video clips and live webcasts
> Social news aggregators such as Digg, Reddit, Fark and
Slashdot let users share interesting news items they find online
and comment and vote on the content they like best. The most
popular items are elevated to the sites’ front pages, where they
can receive massive exposure. News aggregators are an effective
way to direct attention to quirky news items that may be under-
reported in the mainstream press
> Social bookmarking (or tagging) sites including del.icio.us,
Blogmarks, StumbleUpon and GoogleBookmarks allow users to
tag, save, manage and share web pages from a central source
The Nokia Facebook page
> Wikis allow a group of people to collaboratively develop a website with no knowledge of
HTML or other mark-up languages. Anyone can edit the pages. The best-known wiki is
online encyclopaedia Wikipedia but others include Wetpaint and PBwiki
> Virtual worlds such as Second Life or custom environments created using software from
Forterra allow users to meet, train and communicate in an online space
> Podcasts are audio files that you can download over the Internet. You can subscribe to
podcast channels and once subscribed, your computer will automatically check back
to see if new podcasts are available and download them for you. A vodcast is just like a
podcast – only with video
What is the key to success in social media?
/ Embrace the difference
The first step is to recognise that social media is completely different to traditional media
with a different set of rules and a different kind of approach needed. It is a whole new way
of interacting with your target audience. It is not a quick fix you can bolt on to your latest
communications campaign – it takes time to listen to what people are saying, to build
relationships and to become part of the community.
/ Listen carefully
Rather than launch straight in to the world of social media, it helps to listen first to better
understand how it works, to see which social media are most popular with your customers,
who’s who in the various communities and the kinds of issues and topics they are talking
about. And once you’ve joined the social media space it is important that you continue to
listen. The Carphone Warehouse in the UK does a great job of listening to what people are
saying about the brand and the customer experience and then responding quickly (see our
case study on them in Chapter 5 on microblogging).
/ Join the conversation
People often describe social media as a kind of party – and the etiquette is to listen to what
people are saying and join in the conversation when you have something interesting and
relevant to say. You should avoid the hard-sell and instead concentrate on listening and
responding and becoming an accepted member of the social media community.
/ Make every comment count
The social media space is very crowded and increasingly so, which means that the
‘conversation’ you do have needs to be meaningful and add value. And given that you are
supposed to be having a conversation – and not preaching from on high – it is important
that the tone you adapt is natural, informal and genuine.
/ Be open and honest
Honesty and transparency are paramount in social media. This means being up front about
who you are. And if you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, be the first
to point it out.
How does the approach for social media differ from
what is required in traditional communications?
Traditional communications involve pushing out your message to relevant media with the
aim that they will write about it.
With social media the approach is one of push and pull; it is less
about broadcasting and more about sharing your message and
encouraging people to comment and provide their feedback. It
allows you to cut out the middle man (the media) and to have a
direct relationship with your customers.
As Brain Solis says in his book The Social Media Manifesto,
“It’s [social media] about conversations, and the best
communicators start as the best listeners.”
Finally, in the social media space you have to be prepared
to give up control. When you start a conversation there is no
knowing where it might go.
It’s all about listening
Is my company ready for social media?
Success in social media takes time, patience and the right approach, so the question is
really if your company is ready to do what it takes. You need to be willing to listen and
not just talk at the people you meet online. You don’t want to be a fair-weather friend,
and that’s exactly how your brand will come across if you try to sell your wares at every
opportunity. Many companies struggle with what they perceive to be a lack of control, but
social media requires a certain amount of letting go and allowing the conversation to take
its course. And while you can’t control it as such, you can certainly participate and engage
with the people having the conversation. Finally, social media requires a personal touch, so
you need to be prepared to let your personality shine through.
How can I tell if social media is right for my brand?
If you see social media simply as a way to sell your products, then it probably isn’t for you.
If, however, you see it as an opportunity to build a community around your brand or to
better connect with your customers, and are prepared to invest the time and effort needed
to maintain it, then it could be the right thing to do. Essentially, social media is not a quick
fix – it is a long-term commitment.
The best way to truly understand the opportunity for your brand is to actually spend time
in some of the social media communities and listen to what is going on. Set up a Twitter
account. Explore Facebook. Step up your LinkedIn activity. This will enable you to find
out if your customers and prospects are there and where they spend most of their time.
Take a close look at how they are using social media and what they are talking about.
Various free search tools will also help you track who is saying what about your brand
What next? How do I get started?
If you decide to take the plunge into social media, you need to think carefully about what you
want to achieve so that your activity has a purpose and can be measured – as much as this
is possible. There is no point in ‘doing social media’ simply because you think you should.
Also, only fools rush in so start by listening carefully to what is being said – find out how
your brand and industry is currently being talked about in social communities – and then
join the conversation when you have something interesting to say.
How exactly can I find out what’s being said about
Keeping up with what is being said about your brand is a daunting task and there are many
and various tools and services designed to help – so many in fact that it can be confusing.
You can of course use a specialist service such as Onalytica or Nielson Buzzmetrics or a
professional (i.e. paid-for!) application such as Radian6, to track the so-called buzz around
your brand. However, we recommend you make use of the plethora of free tools available;
a few used in combination can provide you with a comprehensive view of what is being
said and the only real investment needed is time (this may be something you outsource to
your PR agency or assign responsibility to one of your in-house team).
Unfortunately there isn’t one tool that monitors all social media sources and the best
approach is really to use a general tool and a few platform-specific tools. Try some out and
see which work best for you.
/ General Tools we recommend you look at are:
> Google Alerts
can help you track what is being said and receive streaming or
batched reports. Set a comprehensive alert to monitor across
various media – news, blogs, web, videos and groups
enables you to scan up to 20 different search engines at any one
tracks conversations across multiple sources
> Social Mention (and Social Mention Alerts)
whostalkin is a great tool for seeing
what is being said about your brand pulls content from across 80+ social media properties directly. You can also set up daily
in social media Social Mention Alerts to track what is being said about your brand on a daily basis
is similar to Social Mention and enables you to track over 60 of the Internet’s most
popular social media platforms
As well as monitoring what is being said about your brand, you should also track what is
being said about key competitors and topics specific to your business.
/ Platform-specific Tools include:
is a search engine, message-tracking and instant alerts tool for forums
> Ego Surf
helps you keep track of where your blog is mentioned not only within Google but also
within Yahoo, MSN, delicious and Technorati. It keeps a historical track of your ranking
too so that you can track changes over a period of time
> Friendfeed Search
is a conversation tracker for Friendfeed
> Google Blog Search (and Google Blog Alerts)
Google’s index of blog posts, allows you to see who is blogging about your brand and
what they’re saying. With Google Blog Alerts you can set up daily, weekly or as-it-
happens alerts for any time someone mentions your brand online
allows you to search the blogosphere. You should search for your brand on Technorati
and subscribe to RSS alerts so that when someone blogs about you, you find out
provides real-time monitoring of the Twittersphere
> TweetScan (and Twitter Email Alerts)
enables you to see what is being said about your brand on Twitter. It includes the option
to set up Twitter Email Alerts
is a kind of Google Alerts for Twitter that will show you who is tweeting about your brand
and related topics. The key is to make your search as specific as you can, you can
even narrow it down to a specific place, otherwise you may get more alerts than you
allows you to see the tone of voice of what is being said about you – and how much of it
is positive, negative, neutral
> Twitter Search
allows you to see what people are saying about your brand or on a particular topic
/ Other tools you may find useful are:
allows you to measure your brand’s visibility across social media
is a way of saving bookmarks and allows users to manage their bookmarks online and
share them with friends. Searching for your brand, product or event in this way can be
a real eye-opener – it is a good way to see how and in what relation others are talking
Check out eConsultancy’s list of 20 free buzz monitoring tools for a few others not included
/ Making sense of it all
Once you have identified the tools that work best for you, we recommend you set up a
monitoring dashboard which brings together everything you are monitoring in a central
place – news sites, RSS feeds, blogs, social networks, etc. This makes life so much easier!
The ones we recommend you use are Netvibes, Pageflakes and Addictomatic.
A useful guide to setting up Netvibes can be found here http://tinyurl.com/lj7xco
How do I identify the right people to target in the
social media space?
In social media it is less about targeting individuals and more about
targeting communities. Or as social media expert Richard Stacy
says, “It’s about space not place.” Of course it is useful to know
who the influential bloggers or ‘tweeters’ are, but more from the
point of view of monitoring or following them in order to find out
more about your industry.
Some of the tools you can use to track down specific people are:
> Twellow: a kind of yellow pages for Twitter which allows you to
search people by name, by biography details or by business
> Tweetbeep: a kind of Google Alerts for Twitter that will show you
who is tweeting about your brand and related topics
> Twinfluence: this tool enables you to identify the most influential
Twitter users based on reach, velocity and social capital (i.e. how
influential their followers are)
www.tweetbeep.com is a great way
of keeping track of who is tweeting To identify influential bloggers, use a combination of Google blog search and Technorati.
I’ve now found out what people are saying about
my brand. What next?
Your next step is to decide how important it is – and what to do about it. The kinds of
questions you should be asking yourself are:
> Is it real conversation?
> What’s the source?
> Is it a reliable source?
> What are people talking about?
> What is the general sentiment towards my brand?
> To what extent are their comments valid?
The answers to these questions will largely determine what you do next – whether it is
feeding comments into product development, responding to criticism or using feedback to
shape your marketing and communications programme.
What should I do with feedback for my brand –
both positive and negative?
/ The good
If someone says something positive about your company it is good to post a thank you or
show your appreciation. Perhaps provide advice or greater insight – this added attention can go
a long way to turning a happy customer into a real brand advocate. Over time you may want to
form a panel or group of VIP customers who you can consult and offer special offers to.
/ The bad
It is important to deal swiftly with criticism to prevent any negative comments being spread
further via blogs or Twitter. Even if you don’t have the answer, it is important to say that
you’ll look into it – and avoid getting defensive at all costs. Responding to the criticism
shows that your brand is open, is listening and values its customers’ views. Finally, try to
keep a level head and take every complaint in your stride – think of it as an opportunity to
resolve a customer problem and improve your brand image.
Are any particular social media types more
influential than others?
Not as such – although different social media types may have more resonance with some
target audiences than with others. Quite simply, the most influential social media types for
your brand will be the ones which your customers use most frequently.
Who should converse for my company?
It really depends on your company culture – but it is important that whoever converses on
behalf of your company commits time and effort to it. Some companies appoint a small
team of representatives within corporate comms, others recruit people from across the
organisation who show a genuine willingness and ability to converse for the company.
Forrester recommends a Hub and Spoke model, based on the fact that social media can
involve many different parts of a business – PR, marketing, customer service, support,
development and so on. With a Hub and Spoke set-up, the Hub facilitates information
sharing among different business units – or spokes. This makes a lot of sense – with
corporate communications probably the best suited to the Hub role.
To facilitate the conversation from your company it is also important that you have a social
media policy in place.
What should any social media guidelines or policy
for my company contain?
These should set out how your employees can make the most of social media. As The
Carphone Warehouse’s Guy Stephens says: “It’s about providing your employees with a
sense of freedom within a framework. It’s not about stipulating a strict code of conduct, but
rather about drawing on the individual’s sense of ownership and responsibility for what or
how they tweet.”
We’ve included some links to companies’ social media policies below, but common traits
> How people should conduct themselves in the social media space – openness,
transparency, honesty about who they are and who they work for
> The type of content they should be sharing – interesting, value-add, with quality over
> Subject matters – such as company secrets – that are strictly out of bounds
Writing for social
By James Nunn, Managing Director of The Lounge Company
What is so different about writing for social media?
Whereas traditional print is driven by the author, online content is
dictated by the reader, so it pays to know the reader and what they
are looking for. It is no coincidence that some of the most popular
blogs are written by journalists. This provides one of the first clues
to successful content generation for social media. First of all,
journalists know their readers. Their readership profile is drilled into
them from day one on the job. Journalists are also good writers,
sometimes brilliant ones. They appreciate the importance of good
content – which is usually defined by having at least one of three
key attributes – it’s interesting, informative or entertaining – or a
combination of all three. Knowing your reader, having an interesting
subject and writing well are all essential in social media.
Then there are the microblogs, with Twitter probably the best
known. With its 140 character limit, Twitter has made editing an art
form and again it is unsurprising that among the celebrities most
followed on Twitter, there are many talk-show hosts and comedians
– pre-Twitter masters of the one-liner.
If you represent a company, remember that your average social
networker can spot marketing hyperbole a mile away and there’s
nothing more likely to turn them off than an over-imaginative use
of adjectives. By all means use keywords but only where they are
Finally, it pays to remember that underpinning every social network
is a philosophy of collaboration, sharing and transparency. The way
to succeed as a social networker is therefore to have something
interesting to say, to say it well and to elaborate and share with
interesting references and links to other relevant and mixed
content, text, audio and video.
Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) is one of
the most followed people on Twitter,
constantly mixing work and personal
What makes good social media content?
A difficult question because interesting content for one, is boredom for another. Perhaps
the question is rather: “what do my audience of social networkers really need and how can
I facilitate that?”
It involves knowing your audience, getting a good understanding of the subjects and issues
that interest them and seeing what mediums they’re using – are people using audio and
video, for example?
Just like traditional PR it’s important to have an opinion, it takes courage to stand up and
communicate it and the skill to deliver that opinion eloquently. But if you can develop a
position on one of the discussion threads running already, simply start communicating with
the group – post a comment, write a blog, get tweeting.
Multimedia usually works well as people are used to scanning a page and clicking on items
they think look interesting. You only need to look at the YouTube explosion to understand
how video works well on the web.
/ So, if you’re trying to develop ‘good’ social media content consider the following:
> Have a content strategy: what do you want to achieve and how can you achieve it?
> Do your social media research – there is plenty of reference material available
> Understand where your audience is online and what they’re interested in
> Have something interesting, informative or entertaining to say or share
> Allocate time – get involved, participate, debate and discuss
> Don’t waffle, don’t sell and don’t use marketing language
> Be open, honest and transparent
> Be clear and concise – keep it short and to the point
> Don’t become an Internet hoarder – share your interesting bookmarks, links and content
> Use multimedia content – it’s also good for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). (Read
more under ‘How do I make my content search engine friendly?’)
> Where possible make content ‘scannable’, web users seldom read, they scan a page –
anything that stands out and is relevant will help direct their journey through your content
How do I write a social media news release?
In exactly the same way as you did before! But it might be worth explaining a social or new
media release. A social media news release is NOT a news release written for social media
but a news release that is social media friendly.
A social media release is essentially a digital news release –
available electronically in different formats – that allows users such
as journalists or bloggers to rapidly identify the information that they
can use to put together and publish a story.
At best a social media release will be rich in content, offering a mix
of video and sound files, images, text and hyperlinks to relevant
and related resources such as social media sites, blogs and other
The aim is to provide interesting, objective, balanced, open and
transparent content that people want to write about, reproduce and
debate. Consequently, the tried and tested rules of writing a press
release for print still hold true.
Remember, the traditional journalist is just as interested in what
social media are discussing as what the industry experts are talking
The Social Media Release: Clearly,
there is a lot of content in this about. By adding social media links, you are also adding another level of transparency and
example so special attention needs the visitor will appreciate the balanced and objective view. And if an organisation wants to
to be paid – as with any website
– to usability and navigation. The share its own content, then additional links to its own social media presence, Facebook or
information you want people to focus LinkedIn for example, can be included as well.
on should be the most prominent
information on the page
How do I distribute my social media release?
The social media release is often a web page, but can just as easily be distributed on a
DVD, CD ROM or even email (but then bear in mind the restrictions imposed by some
How do I create a social media newsroom?
It’s a simple step from a social media release to a social media newsroom/press office,
in fact they are almost identical. The key is to be able to display a wider variety of related
content on a single page, which allows the user to define their personal journey in the
However, it’s dangerous to focus solely on social media. Traditional media remains a
powerful communications force and will do so for the foreseeable future. What is needed is
not so much a social media newsroom as a multimedia press office – a flexible online press
office which caters for the needs of the traditional print journalist as much as the blogger or
So when you create your social media newsroom, think about personalisation and offer
users choice – you can do this by setting up user-defined content baskets or ‘My content’
which the website user can refer to each time they log on to your site.
And yes, it all comes back to content, content, content! The art is delivering the right
content and all of the other content related to it in a simple package.
/ An example of a ‘My content’ basket could be:
> A news release about a CEO appointment at a major PLC
> A photo of the CEO
> His/her biography
> A video interview on his/her appointment and plans for the company
> Links to his blog and his/her previous company website
> Social media links to any current conversations about the appointment
> An audio sample of the appointment being discussed on a radio show
So whenever you produce a single piece of content, think hard about how other content
can be provided to enrich the overall story or address the needs of other audiences.
How do I make my social media content ‘search
Fundamentally, making your social media content search engine friendly will depend on
what social media platform you use. Even though they are all categorised as social media,
they differ in many ways – as do the various search engines. Entries (videos) in YouTube
will be “spidered” and hence show in the Google SERP (Search engine result page) while
del.icio.us entries/users will not show in the Google SERP for example.
A good way to approach social media and SEO is to think of each social media platform as
its own search engine. Hence, you want to populate the various social media platforms you
are interested in with your content.
How you behave/act/communicate/use social media will have different effects on your search
engine ranking or SEO. Just being visible in the social media can increase your SEO. Creating
useful content (white papers, research, useful statistics etc.) and distributing it through
social media can also improve your SEO – as can adding value to conversations (insightful
comments on blog posts, helpful del.icio.us account, Facebook group for fans of X etc.).
In general, many of the same rules for website SEO apply to your social media presence,
> The use of rich multimedia and a presence in social media is also good for SEO: If tagged
properly (filenames) with relevant keywords, your content (containing text and image title
keywords) is more likely to be picked up by the Google images and video search engines
> Bookmarks: The most well-known social bookmarking sites are del.icio.us, technorati
and Digg. Using these tools allows users to build up a reference library and share it with
friends and colleagues. To web crawlers, bookmarks appear as links to your page and
that makes them SEO friendly
> Blogs: Google will usually rank these highly
> Optimising content (remember key messages – combined with keywords):
– Optimising a press release includes
= Adding keywords in the text
= Linking the press release to strategically important websites
= Sending the press release to distribution sites
– Optimising a press release makes it easier for search engines and Internet users to
find relevant news
– If you don’t optimise your press releases, they may never appear in keyword
How do I go about optimising my press releases
for search engines?
The following tips and tricks will help you create press releases that appeal to search engines:
> The choice of keywords and/or keyword phrases for your press release is critical to press
> Come up with your keywords before you start to write – it will make it easier and appear
> Look at the keywords your company already uses and try and apply those to the press
> Think of what keywords an ordinary person within your target group would use. If the
press release is about a new aspirin tablet, using the keywords ‘aspirin’ or ‘headache
cure’ might get better returns than its stricter medical term, ‘acetylsalicylic acid’ for
example. The most common search query contains two words
> Day-to-day words and typical business terms are used frequently in texts and
consequently don’t achieve high rankings. Buy Adwords for these keywords to help your
> If any of your keywords has a common acronym i.e. “Content Management System” /
“CMS” – add both as keywords. Searchers will look for both
> Think about web page (title tag) and image titles as these are also searched. Headlines
should include keywords or keyword phrases (even if it’s slightly less compelling for the
reader) as this will carry the most weight with search engines
> The title will usually become the title tag on distribution sites and carries quite some
weight for search engines
/ First Page & Summaries
> Most distribution sites contain the first few lines, paragraph or summary of your press
release. Include one to two secondary keyword phrases in the summary
> The summary sometimes becomes the text on the search engine results page. Put your
search term/keywords in bold to show that your page is relevant for the searchers
/ Body Text
> Use three to four keywords/keyword phrases throughout the body of the text and if
possible, repeat them two to four times throughout the piece. Do NOT overdo it. Search
engines don’t like keyword overkill on pages or sites!
> Avoid shortening product names or referring to them as something other than their
proper name. It will lower your rank in the search engine since the actual product won’t
be mentioned enough
> Currently, search engines prefer press releases between 300 – 500 words
> Hyperlinking is a strategic tool and also a way to increase your SEO ranking
– Search engines assign more value to hyperlinked keywords than those without
– Think where you want visitors to go (e.g. to a product on your website) and
provide logical ‘signposts’
– Make sure all links lead to the right place
– A smoothly running site with intuitive hyperlinks improves the visitor’s experience
– Don’t force your visitor away – hyperlink wisely and open new windows, rather
than send the user off-site
– Place your hyperlinks somewhere in the first two paragraphs
– Don’t over do it. You never know the magic number but three to five hyperlinks per
content item is probably ideal
What is a blog?
A blog is simply an easy way to publish information via the Internet. Traditionally blogs have
been regarded as a kind of personal online diary, but this is fast changing as other personal
publishing tools and places emerge and people learn how to integrate blogs into a wider
range of personal and corporate publishing techniques. The best way to approach a blog
is therefore to think of it as a pen and paper for the 21st century – but really what you do
with it is much more important than what it is.
Apparently everyone! Technorati tracked blogs in 81 languages in June 2008 and
collectively, bloggers are creating around one million posts per day.
But it’s not just idle chit-chat. The social media revolution has given everyone permission
to be an opinion-former and influence the way we do business and with whom. Four out
of five bloggers post product or brand reviews, as well as company information or gossip.
Bloggers and social network sites now hold as much sway with the general public as
journalists, and businesses need to learn to use them to build direct relationships with their
audiences and, if necessary, cut out the traditional ‘middle man’.
Blogs are now in the top 10 websites across all key categories and are an integral part of
the social media universe.
What are the benefits of having a corporate blog?
A corporate blog can help you build relationships with people interested in your products
and services or in the issues on which you campaign as a business.
It is an instant and inexpensive communications channel which, according to a report by
internet marketing specialist HubSpot in January 2009, user companies view as one of the
most important ways to generate leads.
A further benefit is that a company’s online profile can be significantly raised by blogging.
This is due to the extremely search-engine friendly nature of blogs, which are actually more
‘searchable’ than conventional web pages, and the fact that blog posts can spread very
quickly through the new social media space. This last point is an important one and the
reason why a blog is a good starting point for any company moving into social media. With
the right post your views or information can spread and spread.
How do I set up a blog?
There are a number of open-source software products for creating blogs, one of the most
popular being Wordpress (http://wordpress.org/). Here, providing you have a web host
which meets the minimum requirements, you can download and install Wordpress software
script which is completely customisable. There is also a sister service called Wordpress.
com (http://wordpress.com/), which is less flexible than the downloadable version but
hosted for you.
Wordpress.com is a great way to familiarise yourself with the art of blogging and when
the time is right can be integrated into your website to further increase your search
How do I write for blogs?
There are two objectives when writing for blogs – attracting and holding on to readers, and
attracting search engines. Some tactics benefit both but the trick comes in successfully
combining the two.
/ Attracting search engines
Let’s start with the name of your blog. The most accessible blogs
both for readers and search engines are those that state their
content clearly in the title eg. Celebrity Gossip or Treehugger.
This helps readers seeking out like-minded bloggers and articles on
a particular subject who search by keywords on specialist search
engines such as icerocket (http://www.icerocket.com).
Google Suggest and Wordtracker both give you an instant read on
the keywords your audience is using (see our separate chapter on
monitoring). Your job is to take this vocabulary and weave it into the
fabric of your content – in site names as just mentioned, as well as
urls, page titles, links etc.
Use categories and tags for your posts wherever possible as these
help search engine crawlers understand and navigate your site.
Feefo – a good example of a
/ Attracting and holding on to readers
> Start by defining your audience(s) and your objectives for blogging. Always write with
them both in mind
> Plan and write your content with two different audiences in mind – readers who will follow
your regular posts via RSS feed and people who will simply come to your blog because of
a specific post (which they may have been directed to). This means planning your content
so that there is an overall theme and storyline that will hold the interest of your regular
followers, but also trying to make as many of your posts as possible work as a stand-alone
> Keep blog posts short and relevant to your readers; write passionately about subjects
you know will interest them
> Find a style of writing that reflects your individuality – blogs tend to be more
conversational and personalised than corporate websites so let your personality shine
> Avoid spelling mistakes that will annoy readers and make you look amateurish
> Blatant selling and herding readers to your website is a turn-off. You need to be cleverer
> Vary the style of posts – opinion pieces, news commentary, lists, video, etc.
> Make it visually appealing – use sub-heads, appropriate imagery, etc.
> Use the side bars to give readers further information about the company – contact
details, author profile and picture, future events
> Share information from other sources that you think will be of interest to your readers.
The blog posts that attract the most attention are often those that say very little in
themselves, but that link together interesting titbits of digital information – other blog
posts, video, photos, etc.
> Blog regularly if you want people to stay with you. If you don’t update your blog for
weeks or months, readers will lose interest and stop subscribing to your RSS feeds
How can I make my blog work hard for my
Following are some of the things you can do to make your blog visible and easy to find, so
improving your (and your company’s) search engine ranking. These include:
Almost all blogs have a comments facility that allows readers to submit their views on the
blog or a specific post. Comments act as a networking and profile-raising tool, and you
can successfully grow the reader-base of your own blog or website through the clicks you
receive from commenting on other people’s blogs.
The blog roll enables you to list links to other blogs that interest you. They may be on
related topics, written by industry peers, your customers or high profile commentators.
They demonstrate to visitors that you are committed to the blogosphere and are aware
of other bloggers. Hopefully, after a while, bloggers will add your blog to their blog rolls
thereby helping search engine optimisation.
/ RSS Feeds
All blogs should have at least one RSS feed so that people can subscribe to receive regular
updates. Generally feeds are created automatically by your blogging software so all you
have to do is make sure it can be found.
/ RSS Feed Directories
You can submit your RSS feed to a number of web directories which enable people to
search by subject. RSS Directories can be found at http://allrss.com/rssdirectories.html
/ Blog Search engines
It is important to be indexed in the main blog search engines
such as Technorati. This can be done by ‘pinging’ the relevant
webservers (see below). This means that new posts will be listed
This is a short automatic notification to blog servers and search
engines to tell them you have posted new information on your blog.
Again most blogging software enables you to switch on ‘pinging’.
Technorati is one of the most popular
search engines for blogs
/ Blog Tagging
Tagging your blog posts makes them more easily searchable. These indicate the main
categories under which the content would fall and give an indication to anyone looking of
what the post is talking about. The most commonly used are tags for Technorati.
Identify and participate in the most important blogs, magazines and forums in your space.
Keep a running book on the most influential blogs and contribute by way of comment
posts, contributed articles, responses to questions and feedback to other participants.
These will all help raise your profile and promote your blog.
When you reference another blog in your post you should include a link to the original
within the text (this is called ‘link love’) and wherever possible use a trackback. A
trackback will automatically inform the author that you are talking about them and are
continuing the conversation. At the same time it will create a link in the comments
section of the original post to your site for people to follow back. The trackback address
appears at the bottom of the post and this should be copied into the relevant box on
your post screen.
/ Linkage to other social networks
Spread your content even further by connecting your blog with other social networks,
and vice versa. For example, for those of you on Facebook there is an application that
will include your blog posts on your Facebook page or profile as a note or update. There
is also a strong case for tapping in to Twitter, which is rapidly growing in influence. Simply
post a tweet to alert your followers to any new posts on your blog. This is important
because people are starting to use Twitter to follow people and source information, rather
than relying on email or RSS subscription.
It is wise to front-load your posting, especially material about you and/or your company, so
that readers can very quickly form an impression of who you are and what you’re writing
about. Hopefully this will encourage them to stay around and follow your subsequent
posts. Then, once you have built up a certain head of steam, you can gradually reduce the
frequency of your posting.
How do I make my blog ‘sticky’?
Sticky is the term used to describe what attracts visitors to a site/blog in the first place
and what makes them stay. The answer to all three is great content. If what you have to
say on a particular topic is of interest to other people and adds value to the debate, fellow
bloggers and readers will monitor your blog and return. If you also manage to demonstrate
how your knowledge and expertise has benefited your customers you should pave the way
to gaining more business.
People who want to read what you have to say on a regular basis can subscribe using
Bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com), Google Reader or Newsgator (http://www.
newsgator.com) newsreader services. This software enables you to read a newsfeed via
RSS. All blogs and most news websites have RSS feeds attached.
Why is it important to monitor blogs?
Monitoring other people’s blogs is invaluable in gaining an understanding of your online
reputation and that of the competition – and is a good way to find out what is happening
in your industry as a whole. Even if you don’t have a blog of your own it is important to
respond to any negative comments about your company or brand before they are picked
up by search engines, other bloggers or more traditional media.
How can I identify the right blogs to monitor for my
Start by establishing which are the most important blogs and social media for your
company or your industry via a blog search engine such as Technorati. The more
bloggers that are linked to a site, the higher the rating (or Technorati Authority) the site is
given. Lots of links show that a blog is well integrated and respected within its own space
in the blogosphere. Don’t monitor too many to begin with as your online universe will grow
organically as you engage in the conversation.
Think about the keywords that define your industry, and then track them so you know
what’s changing in it. Use http://twilert.com and http://google.com/alerts to track keywords
by email, or create an RSS feed of new information via the content keyword RSS Yahoo
Google accounts for more than 75 per cent of the total UK search engine market, so any
blogs ranked highly will have more traffic and therefore more readers.
The number of subscribers to RSS feeds is another critical indication of a blog’s influence.
A simple tool which helps collate and assess this information is bloginfluence.net.
By listening to the conversations taking place in your industry and among your customers,
you can start to join the discussion and influence the debate.
How can I track who is reading my blog?
You can gather intelligence on visitors to your own blog via tools such as Google Analytics
(http://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/analytics/index.html), Sitemeter (http://www.sitemeter.
com/) and Statcounter (http://www.statcounter.com/)
Can you provide any examples of successful
There is no simple answer to this question. At the end of the day
a successful blog is one that provides content that people (ideally
your customers and industry) find interesting and useful. Some of
the early CEO blogs, such as Jonathan Schwartz’s at Sun http://
useful because they created a much greater level of transparency.
The Microsoft blogging policy was similarly successful, particularly
because the number of Microsoft bloggers means that they can
publish a great amount of very specific information – i.e. exactly
the type and detail of conversation you need to populate the social
Jonathan Schwartz’s blog was
one of the first from a CEO of a
major company (in this case, Sun
What is microblogging?
Microblogging is a form of blogging, but
with shorter posts (up to 140 characters
in the case of Twitter) and much greater
immediacy. Microblogs include Jaiku (www.
jaiku.com) and Spoink (www.spoink) but
the most popular by far is Twitter, which is
the one we will focus on here.
Twitter is effectively an online
communications tool which allows you to
send and receive short, sharp updates –
or Tweets – from a variety of platforms;
these include the Twitter website, your
mobile phone or blackberry, or a dedicated
desktop application such as TweetDeck
(www.tweetdeck.com) or Twhirl (www.
Tweetdeck is a free desktop Twitter
Who uses micro blogging tools like Twitter?
Everyone’s at it, it would seem! From Paris Hilton to Barack Obama, and from the BBC
to Sky. At the time of writing there are as many as 14 million Twitter users worldwide, and
Twitter’s UK traffic has already trebled in 2009 (according to Hitwise’s latest report). The
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson used it to resolve the issue of London’s overheated buses
in June 2009. Inundated with tweets on the ‘roasting’ hot bus situation, Boris’ team took
up the issue with Transport for London then let people know the matter was being dealt
with on Twitter. Meanwhile, Obama used Twitter in the run up to the election to keep voters
informed of his presidential campaign.
Brands are using Twitter increasingly to interact with their customers, with Dell, Innocent
and Kodak singled out by a recent report (by Immediate Future, www.immediatefuture.
co.uk) as some of the most effective users of Twitter.
Many journalists use the tool as a way not only to share their views but also to post details
of features they are writing and would like input on (not unlike Response Source). Following
journalists relevant to your brand often means you get to find out about their commissions
in advance. FeaturesExec – for those of you who subscribe – has a helpful list of media
outlets on Twitter: http://www.featuresexec.com/publications/list_twitter.php
How relevant is Twitter for my brand?
Potentially very relevant. It can be a great way to find out what people are saying about
your brand and to interact with your target audience. There are lots of examples of Twitter
being used successfully as a communications tool – both for consumer and B2B brands
(we will focus on this more at the end of the chapter).
/ Possible uses are various and include:
> Resolving customer issues quickly
> Sharing company news
> Communicating special offers
> Responding to requests for information
> Asking customers for feedback or floating ideas
> Directing people to your latest blog posting or other interesting content
> Simply engaging with and getting to know target audiences in an informal way
What are the key components of a successful
Twitter communications approach?
Successful Twitter use involves listening and interacting – the key to
any good conversation. Our advice is to:
> Actively monitor discussions on your brand. What are people
saying and what other issues are they talking about?
> Identify the influential tweeters in your sector and follow them
> Set clear KPIs: what does success look like to you?
> Identify opportunities to tweet
> Make every tweet meaningful; provide updates that are relevant,
topical and in keeping with your brand and that show the human
side of your company
> Maintain a dialogue with your followers with regular updates
> Measure the success of your Twitter activity (see our separate
chapter on measurement)
The Mayor of London is one of
Twitter’s many high-profile users
How do I set myself up on Twitter?
Simply go to the Twitter website at www.twitter.com and set up an account. You will need
to choose a user name; ideally this should be your own name (if it hasn’t already been
taken) or your brand name so that people can easily find you. Next, create your profile and
add a picture. It is also recommended that you customise the design of your Twitter page
– it is after all an extension of your brand. Details of how to do this can be found on the
Twitter website – http://twitter.com/account/profile_settings
Before you tweet for the first time it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Twitter
environment by listening to what other people are tweeting about. Through ‘Find People’
you can choose the people, companies, publications, etc. you want to follow. You can also
use Twitter search to find out who is tweeting about specific subjects you are interested in.
How do I tweet?
You simply post a message of up to 140 characters. You can tweet in several different
ways – via your mobile phone (this is easy to set up via the Twitter site), via the Twitter site
itself or by using a special Twitter application that sits on your desktop, such as TweetDeck
or TwitterFox. We have found Twhirl to be a great time saver – no need to keep logging into
the Twitter site and less disruptive than receiving updates via your mobile phone.
How do I respond to tweets?
You can send a private and direct message in reply to someone’s tweets or simply to make
contact, but they must be following you. The message appears in that person’s Direct
Messages In Box and is for their – and your – viewing only.
You can reply publicly to any tweet, regardless of whether the person tweeting is following
you or not – this is called an @reply. To do this, use the @username format, with the
username of the person you are replying to.
What does RT on a message mean?
You use RT or ReTweet when you want to repeat or share someone else’s Tweet with your
followers. Using RT is like forwarding an interesting email to your colleagues. This makes
Twitter a powerful word of mouth tool – if you say something interesting and pertinent it will
hopefully get passed on.
Your tweet should start with the abbreviation RT or the word Retweet followed by the
username of the person who tweeted it (e.g @username) and then finish with the content
of the actual tweet. You can modify the original tweet to make it more interesting for your
followers. It is often recommended by experts that you do this, so your followers know
that you actually put some effort into it. It is also important to make sure there is a space
between the letters RT and the @username so that it becomes a live link again and lets the
person know you have retweeted them.
How do I get followers on Twitter?
Gaining followers takes time and patience – you aren’t suddenly
going to acquire hundreds of them overnight! There are, however, a
number of things you can do to help the process:
> Make your profile work for you. Use relevant keywords so that
people can easily find you through Twitter Search. Stand out by
injecting a bit of humour and personality. For example, Twitter
consultant Mark Shaw’s biog reads: Advising businesses how to
get the most from Twitter. Lover of: Tweetdeck, fresh air, humour,
walking, haribo sweets and telling it like it is
> Don’t talk about yourself at every opportunity, be a good listener
and join relevant conversations with lots of @replies
> Be helpful by sharing interesting titbits of information and
responding to people’s questions when you can add value
> Say interesting things that add value to the conversation and that
people want to Retweet
> Use video content or photos to illustrate what you’re saying and
> Use relevant #hashtags in your posts to make them easy to find
> Link to your Twitter profile from everywhere you possibly can:
Sarah Brown has overtaken Stephen
Fry as the country’s foremost your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, your email signature, etc.
celebrity twitterer with 809,690
followers at the time of writing
How do I follow people on Twitter – and why
would I want to?
Following people enables you to listen in to what they are saying. It’s best to be selective
about who you follow, choosing only those people you believe have something interesting
to say, otherwise you could spend all day reading updates of little relevance to you or your
brand. You usually find that good and interesting Twitter-ers have a much larger number of
followers than people they are following.
To follow someone simply click on the follow button. When you do this they will receive an
email letting them know that you are now one of their followers. To ‘unfollow’ or, in extreme
cases, to block someone, simply click on the icon on the right-hand side of the person’s
profile and select this option.
What does the # symbol mean on Twitter?
The # denotes a hashtag. More and more people are using them to create a conversation
space and group together related tweets within Twitter on subjects both serious and light-
hearted – from major world events and news to job openings and music worth sharing.
Hashtags first became popular during the San Diego forest fires of 2007, when Nate Ritter
used #sandiegofire to identify his updates related to the disaster. Other recent and popular
hashtags include #iranelection and #michaeljackson (both self-explanatory) as well as
#followfriday (a Friday pastime of recommending people to follow) and #musicmonday (a
way to recommend music you are listening to – but only on a Monday!).
What are the benefits of hashtags – and what’s
the best way to use them?
Using hashtags makes your tweets easier to find by people interested in the topic you
are talking about – and searching on them is a quick way to find all tweets on a particular
subject. A good place to start is http://hashtags.com, which features a directory of all
existing hashtags and shows which are the most popular.
When you do use hashtags do so sparingly and with respect. It is a rare tweet that
deserves a hashtag, so tag only those updates that you feel will add real value to the
conversation. One hashtag is best – two are permissible – but three hashtags is probably
excessive and is likely to irritate the Twitter community.
How can I monitor what is being said on Twitter?
There are a variety of tools you can use. One of the ones we use is called TweetBeep – a
sort of Google Alerts for Twitter – which allows you to set up keyword-specific searches.
These can be turned into alerts or RSS feeds so that you can receive alerts when someone
is tweeting about your brand or a subject you are interested in. Please see our chapter on
planning a social media campaign for more detail on monitoring.
How do I integrate Twitter with some of the other
social media tools I use?
/ Twitter and your blog
You can use a tool called twitterfeed to automatically create tweets and links from your
blog headlines. These are then sent to all your followers on Twitter.
/ Twitter and FaceBook (and other social networks)
Add the Twitter application to your FaceBook page (or MySpace page, etc), by going to
www.twitter.com/badges and following the simple step-by-step instructions.
Can you give me any good examples of Twitter
being used in communications?
Dell Outlet (US), a division of computer giant Dell carries
refurbished equipment and other inventory that it needs to sell
quickly. It first started using Twitter to get the word out about its
latest deals. However, when people started responding to posts it
realised the potential of the medium for customer interaction and
so now uses Twitter for customer service and getting closer to
its customers and prospects. Dell Outlet has booked more than
$3 million in revenue attributable to its Twitter posts and recent
research has shown that awareness of the Outlet has grown too.
Paganum is an online farmers’ market supplying meat and produce
from family and small artisan farms in the Yorkshire Dales to
consumer and trade outlets. It uses Twitter to promote its services
and build its profile.
Farmers’ Market Paganum uses
Twitter to build its profile
Managing partner, Chris Wildman was an early Twitter adopter and set about using the
tool to chat to people about Paganum; he also sent out food samples and before long lots
of people were writing about the business including Time Out. He says that he has found
many excellent contacts, resources and customers from Twitter.
The Carphone Warehouse (CPW) started using Twitter in
December 2008. The Customer Experience team first realised the
potential of using social media when they resolved a complaint that
had been posted on a blog by engaging with the customer directly.
From this they decided to move on to Twitter, which they had been
monitoring for a short time before.
Today the company uses Twitter in different ways across its
business and has several different accounts to reflect this. @
guyatcarphone provides informal support and advice to
customers, @becksatcarphone provides customer service, while
@stuartcarphone focuses on Blackberry-related issues, again
taking an informal tone. There are also more formal feeds covering
corporate announcements (@carphoneware) and Financial PR-
related news (@shaneatcarphone). Steve Blan, the UK Sales &
Customer Director, has also recently started tweeting with updates
on his working day.
It is the immediacy of Twitter that appeals most to Carphone
Warehouse – the ability to openly engage with customers and
identify problems as and when they happen.
As for the business benefits, according to Customer Knowledge
One of the Carphone Warehouse’s
many Twitter accounts – this one Manager Guy Stephens, they are numerous. He says, “We are seeing what our customers
is @stuartcarphone dealing with are really saying about us and rather than shying away from anything that might be
customers’ Blackberry issues
construed as negative we’re actively embracing it. If someone has taken the time to let us
know that something hasn’t gone right, it’s an opportunity for us to really do something
about it and make it better for them.”
He continues, “It also helps us stay true to our customers. We are an organisation that
prides itself on doing the right thing by our customers. It’s true we don’t always get it right,
but increasingly through Twitter and other social media platforms, we are able to listen to
what they have to say.”
* This case study has been brought to you by Twitter, following a request from @janinevmax
for success stories to which @guyatcarphone responded. Proof indeed that Twitter does