Posts Tagged ‘ Social Media ’

Did news media use social media enough on election night?

Last week I posted a video of Iowa State students describing how they followed Election 2010.  I was surprised by the fairly even mix of people saying they used new media vs. traditional media to follow the results.

Graph showing the analysis of tweets by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism

This left me thinking. Did the news media use social media enough? Were fewer people following online because they just didn’t think there would be reliable results?

I turned to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism to find some analysis, which worked with Crimson Hexagon to analyze what was being said on Twitter.

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Kill the feed already

Congratulations (insert name of news organization here).

You joined Twitter, but if you enabled Twitterfeed or RSS integration your success stops there. If you turned on these services you’re failing to utilize all that Twitter has to offer.

Using Twitterfeed or RSS integration means you are using Twitter as a broadcast medium. It’s not. It’s so much more and you’re failing to use it to its fullest potential.

First off, the tweets these services send out often leave something to be desired. They rarely leave room for traditional retweets. They usually just spit out a headline and the start of a story. Cutoff headlines and leads are also a common problem, not to mention an annoyance for your followers. What about mentioning that awesome video your staff created to go with the story?

Second, consider the timing. Automatic services usually have a delay of about an hour.  So, you need to think about what time your content is going online. I have seen several newspapers posting  several stories around 1 a.m., which means their tweets are going out around 2 a.m. How many of your followers will be checking Twitter at 2 a.m.? Improving your workflow could counter this problem, but it doesn’t reverse all the negatives of an automated service.

Another problem with automated services is that often send multiple tweets in a short amount of time. I don’t know about you, but when I see 10 tweets in three minutes from one organization I get annoyed and tend to skip over all of them.

What about crowdsourcing? Are you following important leaders in your community? Twitter is a two-way communication channel. Start listening. Find out what’s going on in your community, find sources for your next big project or get more information on the latest breaking news event. Best yet, interact with your community. Talk to the people using your service, find ways to improve and connect with them.

I know it’s a lot of work to turn off the automation, but the benefits will make it worth your effort. Look at other news organizations, find ones that aren’t using automatic services and talk to the people in charge of their social media accounts, experiment and find a way to make Twitter work for you.

If you’re looking for some tips look at the various training materials Steve Buttry has prepared, read JouranlismNext by Mark Briggs or look for seminars hosted by groups like SPJ, Poynter or your local press association.

Building a community

As I discussed in my previous post, I believe companies have been using Twitter in one of three ways: as a PR/Marketing machine, as a customer service platform or to engage their customers and form an online community. While the focus is a little different, each does have a customer services impact. It is the latter of the three that I will be discussing today.

The community approach encourages more than just communication from the company to its customers. It encourages customers to communicate with each other.

It does more than draw attention to the company. It portrays the company as one that cares about its customers. The key to this model’s success is how it responds to the needs of the customers (here’s the customer service angle).

A example of this approach is Panchero’s Mexican Grill, a chain of  made to order burrito restaurants based out of Coralville, Iowa.

If you check out Panchero’s Twitter feed you will see what I mean. Reid Travis, the social media manager for Panchero’s, monitors the feed and actively engages with the community.

Panchero’s even takes the concept of tweetups one step further and hosts “burritoups” at its restaurants.

“Panchero’s basically started the Twitter account with the goal of having a way to intercept and participate in conversations taking place online and also to spark conversation about Panchero’s online,” Travis said.

I would say with more than 3,400 followers and 5,700 tweets, Panchero’s is achieving that goal.

With Panchero’s “burritoups” and community engagement many of the followers have had the opportunity to meet Travis in person and if they haven’t they still communicate with him frequently.

If you go into a restaurant and have a negative experience are you more likely to ignore it, call customer service and complain or simply send a quick tweet to someone you have established a rapport with?

Watching for negative tweets and responding is a key measure of a company’s success at this approach.

While, I had  to go back several days to find a negative tweet, Travis responds to them and requests more details.

“@GeraldHenry That doesn’t sound too good. Something I can help with?:

Reaching out like this shows the customer, who in this case didn’t even mention @pancheros in his original tweet, that Panchero’s wants to rectify the situation. The responses are public and other customers can see that Panchero’s reacts to issues and shines a more positive light on the company.

Panchero’s also hosts Twitter Trivia Fridays. Trivia Fridays incorporates Panchero’s other social media outlets as the winners are announced in a video posted on the company’s YouTube and blog.

“A platform like Twitter is a dream come true for companies who want to focus on customer service and have a drive to connect with their consumers. I think it’s important for companies to keep up with where their consumers are gathering,” Travis said.

I’m sure there are others taking Panchero’s approach, but I have struggled to find them. If you know of any please leave me a comment or contact me at I would love to follow up with additional examples.

In the interest of disclosure: I am a regular customer of Panchero’s and have participated in contests they hosted. I did win one contest. However, I am not receiving anything from Panchero’s for posting this blog. Everything I have written is my own opinion (with the exception of Reid Travis’s quotes of course).