Press Release 2.0: How Your News Release Should Evolve For Digital Media.

The first press release was written in 1906 to announce something newsworthy. Over the years PR professionals developed a standard format to obtain earned media publication in newspaper, magazine, radio and TV news. Like any industry the rise of digital and social media has changed best practices in this discipline. In this article you will learn the new standards and best practices for digital and social media optimized press releases.

The traditional press release was mailed, faxed or emailed to editors and journalists consisting of:

  1. A Headline to grab attention of journalists and summarize the news.
  2. A Dateline for the release date and originating city.
  3. An Introduction Paragraph that provided quick answers to who, what, when, where and why.
  4. The Body with further explanation, details, background, and statistics.
  5. A Boilerplate with short about copy on the organization or company.
  6. The Close was a symbol that meant the release ended.
  7. Media Contact Information included the name, phone, email and address for the PR or media relations person.

An example of a traditional press release template is pictured below.

Today’s press releases must include more to be effective. Digital assets, quality links, headlines, and calls to action should all be designed for easy sharing on social networks and be optimized for online search. The main difference in a new digital or social media release is that it doesn’t necessarily mimic a complete news story like previous traditional releases. Instead it provides more components or raw ingredients to put together a story in any format or to be shared on various social networks.

In 2006, Shift Communications developed what they call the Social Media Press Release with the template seen below. It includes a series of bullets with quotes from senior executives and multimedia elements such as logos, photos, PDFs of key materials, links to podcasts, and an annual report or PowerPoint.

The template above is still relevant, but Shift suggests some updated features including:

  1. Sharing Buttons for various social channels at the top of the page right under the headline
  2. Multimedia that now emphasizes using short video.
  3. Varying Viewpoints from other perspectives that make it more social.
  4. A Link to an Official Press Release because some prefer the facts in one easy-to-read place for new aggregators to pick up easily.
  5. Twitter Conversations curated to showcase what people are saying about the news on Twitter.

An example of these new features can be seen below.

When writing IR Magazine suggests that … 

Therefore, communicating with bloggers is not the same as communicating with traditional media. Most bloggers who think you are pushing biased information will turn against you. The first step is to know the blogger you are targeting. Read their blog, get a sense of what they care about and start a conversation. Establish a relationship first and start with an interesting news item that may not directly relate to your company, then ensure the release links back to your organization’s main website as long as your content is good. Don’t let a person excited about your press release be disappointed by your site.

Press releases now need to be optimized for SEO. Write your release around three keywords or phrases that are important to key audiences. Keywords should be included in the headline and subheads at the top and in the body of the release. Sprinkle keywords throughout the release and add hyperlinks to help people find related content and provide support. SEO optimized releases help you get ranked in news search and editors may contact you solely based on your press release being properly optimized and relevant.

Catherine Spicer of PR Newswire focuses on what is not needed. She argues that it is also time to leave behind some conventions of the traditional news release. Writing “For Immediate Release” was intended to tell journalists when the story could be published, but now when a press release goes live online, it’s assumed that it is ready for immediate use. You may also want to stop using “Embargoed until XX:XX.” With so many news sites competing to break the stories first these days, embargoes are not always honored. Closes with a “###” are outdated as well. Readers today will more likely think the pound sign is a hashtag for tweets. The press release dateline now should always include a year. Thanks to website archives and search engines, press releases are now discoverable for an indefinite amount of time.

Victoria Harres also of PR Newswire suggests:

  1. New releases should focus links on relevant metrics that count such as tracking online reads, social shares, and content popularity.
  2. Releases should be used to publicize other organization content. When something interesting is published on your blog, website or YouTube channel use a release to drive brand exposure, social shares, media pickup, and brand discovery.
  3. Improve SEO by answering questions. Search engines try to deliver results that answer searcher questions. So write press release headlines that highlight the questions the release answers.
  4. Use keywords for SEO, but use language that relates with the target or it won’t get read or shared.
  5. Remember that the press release today reaches much more than the press. Press release strategy should strive to reach editors and journalists, but also influencers, investors, employees and consumers.

What new press release standards and features are you practicing for digital and social media?

What Hollywood Pitches Can Teach Us About Storytelling, Social Media Marketing, and User Generated Content.

In Daniel Pink’s book To Sell Is Human, he references a study by two business professors who analyzed the Hollywood pitch process to discover how writers got their movie and TV series ideas approved by producers. What they found can help improve our social strategies.

Keith Quesenberry Social Media Marketing Content Marketing Strategy Advertising PRThe researchers observed that the most successful pitches didn’t push their idea on the person they were trying to convince. Instead, the “seller” invited the “buyer” in as a collaborator. The more the buyer was able to contribute, the better the idea (product) became and the more likely it would be approved (bought). One of the producers told the researchers, “At a certain point the writer needs to pull back as the creator of the story. And let [the buyer] project what he needs onto your idea that makes the story whole for him.”

I’ve written before about the power of story, my research in that area, and how to leverage storytelling in social media strategy. Yet, here I want to focus on collaboration. It is important to tell your organization or brand story and ultimately we all want to sell something, but don’t be too “pushy.” Invite the consumer in to tell their story and help expand upon your brand story to make it more of their own. When they start feeling like it is more of their own they have already bought in. So when you do present them with a sell message it is seen as more of an opportunity than a hard sell.

In social media, inviting the consumer in as a collaborator is called user generated content (UGC). Not only is this good for the user, but the content they create is more convincing than your own content. Research has found that

and 65% of consumers trust word-of-mouth on the Internet (UGC) more than content produced by advertisers.

Surprisingly, 51% say user generated content is more important than the opinions of their friends and family, and far more trustworthy than website content. How much user generated content is there? Researchers estimate that 25% of search results on brand names return user generated content from review sites, blogs, and social media updates. So how do we invite consumer social media collaboration? I’ve collected some ideas from Social Bro, Sprout Social, and HubSpot.

Here are 6 strategies to increase your user generated content:

  1. Share consumer comments, photos and video. It amazes me when I see awesome brand fan comments and photos and the brand does nothing. I ran an experiment once where I posted some positive comments and photos directly to various brands on Twitter. Two responded, but one ignored me. Don’t miss out on this easy opportunity, if you see a fan compliment your brand or share photos and videos using your products or services thank them and then share the content to your own followers. Fashion brands and GoPro are good at doing this. For the super contributors consider sending special offers and gifts as a reward.
  2. Reward fans by featuring their content in your advertising. When I was an advertising copywriter I always got a kick out of seeing my ideas and lines on TV, billboards and in magazines. Most consumers feel the same way. Plus, UGC is more believable, so including it in your advertising could make the advertising more believable. Doritos turns UGC videos into Super Bowl commercials every year and gets a lot of press for doing it. Of course, before placing that fan photo in your next print ad always get permission.
  3. Make user generate content part of a competition. Sweepstakes and giveaways are tried and true marketing methods, but instead of simple entry forms suggest users submit a photo, video or quote. Starbucks challenged consumers to decorate the Starbucks white coffee cup and post on social media. The winner’s design was turned into a limited edition reusable cup.
  4. Crowdsource ideas for new products, services, designs and ad campaigns. Who knows better what they want than your customers? Why not ask them? In the process they will generate a lot of brand content that will help get your organization noticed. Fiat Brazil crowdsourced a concept car design and now collects ideas for new car features via Facebook and Twitter. Dell’s IdeaStorm has collected over 20,000 ideas and implemented over 540 of them.
  5. Create a specific user generated content campaign. Ask for content by creating a campaign hashtag and promoting it on your social channels, but also in ads, in-store, and on packaging. Under Armour has #IWILL. Tourism Australia gets amazing photos and videos from all over the country. Photos they could never afford to take on their own. They post on their Facebook “Tourism Australia’s official Facebook page. Post your best photos to our wall to give us permission to share.”
  6. Just ask a questions. Perhaps this suggestion is the simplest, but it is a basic social media engagement strategy that we should not ignore. In Daniel Pink’s book he also cites research that says people are more likely to support something if presented with a question. Instead of telling them the benefits, asking a question makes people come up with their own reasons for agreeing or believing in what you are selling. GRK Greek Kitchen asks simple fun questions to encourage response such as “fill in the blank,” and “what is your favorite flavor?” A nice big brand example of UGC is the “Share a Coke” campaign where the brand produced Coke bottles with customers’ names on them. Customers were asked to share the pictures of their personalized coke bottles on Twitter and other social media platforms. Coca-Cola attributes the UGC campaign to a 2% increase in U.S. sales after over a decade of declining revenues. Also check out Pantagonia’s Worn Wear website and Tumblr blog where they ask for and feature customer’s stories about their well worn Pantagonia clothing.

How is your social media pitch? Are your being too pushy or are your letting consumer’s in on your brand story? Leveraging user generated content could mean the difference between a social media flop and a block buster response.

Big Data Hype: Don’t Forget The Big Idea.

Big data is very valuable, but it can’t do everything. The numbers can only take you so far. Even as big data gets even bigger, don’t forget the value of big ideas based on true human insight and how they can be what really drives social media content and engagement.

Social Media Marketing

Big Ideas, Big Results.

On Business 2 Community, author Jason Bowden stated that: Digital marketing professionals declare big data as the next BIG thing in digital marketing … there’s no way of stopping the surge of big data explosion upon the emergence of better online marketing analytic tools, mobile marketing schemes, internet technology and social media platforms.”

I completely agree with this sentiment. A Google search of the term “Big Data” reveals 787 million results. In contrast, the search term “Big Idea” reveals only 335 million results. Is big data really deserving of nearly 50% more of our attention?

Big data is defined as extremely large data sets that may be analyzed, computationally, to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. Big data requires new tools to handle the amount and complexity of data, but with investment comes valuable insight. On the other hand, a big idea is the driving, unifying force behind a brand’s marketing efforts. Big ideas are also valuable. In a piece for Entrepreneur, Chris Wirthwein stated that big ideas provide ten valuable qualities: transformation, ownability, simplicity, originality, surprise, magnetism, infectiousness, contagiousness, egocentricity, and likability.

I’m not advocating replacing big data with big ideas. In a recent survey more than three out of five companies (62 percent) have started investing in data marketing solutions. And almost half of brands (47 percent) are already seeing a positive return on data-related investments. What I am advocating is that in all the excitement over computer generated big data do not leave the human generated ideas and creativity behind. Big data cannot generate a big idea and big ideas can generate real feelings, big movements and real big results.

When Big Data Meets Big Creativity.

At the recent Advertising Week gathering of marketing communication professionals some professed this same sentiment. In a panel called “When Big Data Met Big Creativity” advertising agency executives were adamant that creativity goes hand-in-hand with data and should complement each other. Tham Khai Meng, worldwide chief creative officer and chairman of Ogilvy, cited the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty,” campaign as an example. The campaign won many creative awards and produced amazing business results but grew out of single data point: Only 4% of women considered themselves beautiful. Meng said: Data is the orchestra, creative is the music. You need both.” John Hegarty, founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarity, said that data provides insights, but warned that: Human beings are not a collection of algorithms.”

What Does A Big Idea Look Like?

Proctor & Gamble is the global package goods company that has built enormous brands based on enormous amounts of traditional and digital research data. Yet, even they know the value of big ideas. In 2012 they needed a global campaign to help reverse the brand Fabreze’s sales decline. Research pointed them in the right direction, but the big leap came in a big idea based on a globally relevant universal human truth – something big data could not spit out of a data set. The big idea was to “Involve real people in visceral experiences to prove Febreze makes even the filthiest places smell nice, no matter what they look like.“ You can view how the campaign was set up in this behind the scenes YouTube video.

Social Media Marketing

What were the results? It won an Effie award that explains how the effort reversed Febreze’s sales trend, by increasing sales by 10% with 10 weeks of growth resulting in a 36% point turnaround. The Breathe Happy Campaign also received 511MM earned media impressions in high profile media publications and many bloggers developed rich content with their own Febreze experiment videos uploaded to YouTube. 
In addition, Febreze Facebook fans increased from 235k to 600k in 6 months.

In the end computer data and human ideas produced real business results. What’s your view on the value of big data and big ideas?

This blog post originally appeared on Social Media Today here.

Top 100 Social Media Tools & Resources You Can Benefit From Today

In writing my new book on social media strategy and from teaching social media marketing and digital marketing for years I have collected a list if valuable references. Below is a list of what I have found to the be some of the top social media resources and tools in marketing, advertising and PR. Hopefully I have provided some references and links that you have not heard of and can benefit from today.

Keith A Quesenberry Social Media StrategyFor a view of the bigger picture. Look for my new book that lays out a comprehensive social media planning process for any brand, organization or individual. “Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution” is coming out in October 2015 with Roman & Littlefield publishers.

It provides a step-by-step system for creating a social media marketing plan, but also looks at social media outside marketing for silo smashing integration across strategic business units. You can read about it here: http://bit.ly/Quesenberry

If there is a valuable tool or resource you use for social media that I have not listed, please let me know in the comments below!

Social Media News & Insights

  1. Social Media Examiner: www.socialmediaexaminer.com
  2. Social Media Explorer: www.socialmediaexplorer.com
  3. Social Media Today: socialmediatoday.com
  4. Social Media Marketing Magazine: www.smmmagazine.com
  5. Chris Brogan: http://chrisbrogan.com/blog
  6. Hubspot’s Inbound Hub: blog.hubspot.com
  7. RazerSocial: www.razorsocial.com
  8. Social Mouths: socialmouths.com/blog
  9. Mashable Social Media: mashable.com/social-media
  10. Gartner Digital Marketing: blogs.gartner.com/digital-marketing
  11. Jeff Bullas: jeffbullas.com
  12. Convince & Convert : www.convinceandconvert.com
  13. Grow: www.businessesgrow.com
  14. FTC Disclosures: http://1.usa.gov/1eBRixc
  15. Social Media Law Bulletin: www.socialmedialawbulletin.com

Social Media Podcasts

  1. Social Media Examiner: www.socialmediaexaminer.com/tag/podcast
  2. Social Pros Podcast: socialpros.podbean.com
  3. This Old Marketing: contentmarketinginstitute.com/pnr-with-this-old-marketing-podcast
  4. The Marketing Companion: marketingpodcasts.com/the-marketing-companion
  5. Content Inc.: contentmarketinginstitute.com/content-inc-podcast

Social Media Monitoring & Metrics

  1. Hootsuite: hootsuite.com
  2. Social Bakers: socialbakers.com
  3. Lithium: lithium.com
  4. Brandwatch: brandwatch.com
  5. Oracle Social Cloud: www.oracle.com/us/solutions/social
  6. Radian6 (Salesforce): exacttarget.com/products/social-media-marketing/radian6
  7. Sysomos: www.sysomos.com
  8. Nielson Social: www.nielsensocial.com
  9. Critical Mention: www.criticalmention.com
  10. Cision: www.cision.com/us/social-software
  11. Social Mention: socialmention.com
  12. Addict-o-matic: addictomatic.com
  13. How Socialble: howsociable.com
  14. Meltwater Ice Rocket: www.icerocket.com
  15. Simply Measured: simplymeasured.com
  16. Trackur: www.trackur.com
  17. Row Feeder: rowfeeder.com

Online Data Collection

  1. Quantcast: quantcast.com
  2. Google Analytics: www.google.com/analytics
  3. Kiss Metrics: www.kissmetrics.com
  4. SEMrush: www.semrush.com
  5. Mention: en.mention.com
  6. Social Bakers: www.socialbakers.com
  7. Talkwalker Alerts: www.talkwalker.com
  8. Omgili: omgili.com
  9. SharedCount: www.sharedcount.com
  10. Topsy: topsy.com
  11. Twitter Advanced Search: twitter.com/search-advanced
  12. Tweetreach: tweetreach.com
  13. Cyfe: www.cyfe.com
  14. Keyhole: keyhole.co
  15. YouGovProfiles: yougov.co.uk/profiler#
  16. Google Trends: www.google.com/trends
  17. Soovle: soovle.com
  18. Klout: Klout.com
  19. Kred: kred.com

Social Media Research

  1. Pew Research Center: www.pewinternet.org
  2. Nielsen Social Media Reports: www.nielsensocial.com
  3. Forrester: www.forrester.com/social-media
  4. Social Technographics Profile: www.empowered.forrester.com/tool_consumer.html
  5. Social Media Collective: socialmediacollective.org
  6. Social Explorer: www.socialexplorer.com
  7. Global Web Index: www.globalwebindex.net
  8. Statista: www.statista.com
  9. Affinio: www.affin.io/
  10. Gallap: www.gallap.com
  11. Roper Center: www.ropercenter.uconn.edu
  12. Kantar Media SRDS: srds.com
  13. Simmons: simmonsssurvey.com

Social Media Graphics Tools

  1. Canva: www.canva.com
  2. PicMonkey: picmonkey.com
  3. Piktochart: piktochart.com
  4. Easelly: www.easel.ly
  5. Design Seeds: design–seeds.com
  6. Word Swag: www.wordswag.co
  7. Over: madewithover.com
  8. Pictaculous: pictaculous.com
  9. Adobe Kuler: color.adobe.com/create.color–wheel
  10. Google Fonts: www.google.com/fonts   

Social Content Scheduling & Automation

  1. HubSpot: hubspot.com
  2. Sprout Social: sproutsocial.com
  3. SocialOomph: www.socialoomph.com
  4. Buffer: bufferapp.com
  5. TweetDeck: about.twitter.com/products/tweetdeck
  6. Crowdbooster: crowdbooster.com
  7. Later Bro: laterbro.com
  8. Post Planner: www.postplanner.com
  9. Buddy Media: www.exacttarget.com/products/social-media-marketing/buddy-media
  10. dlvr.it: dlvr.it
  11. Edgar: meetedgar.com
  12. Zapier: zapier.com
  13. IFTTT: ifttt.com
  14. Short Stack: www.shortstack.com
  15. Woodbox: woobox.com
  16. Zendesk: www.zendesk.com

Trade Associations, Awards, Conferences

  1. Word of Mouth Marketing Association: womma.org
  2. Online Media Marketing Awards: www.mediapost.com/ommaawards
  3. The Webby Awards: www.webbyawards.com
  4. The Shorty Awards: shortyawards.com
  5. The Mashies: mashable.com/mashies
  6. Social Media Strategies Summit: socialmediastrategiessummit.com
  7. Social Media Week: socialmediaweek.org
  8. SXSW: sxsw.com
  9. SXSWedu: http://www.sxswedu.com
  10. Social Media Marketing World: www.socialmediaexaminer.com/smmworld
  11. INBOUND: www.inbound.com
  12. Content Marketing World: www.contentmarketingworld.com
  13. Brand Innovators: brand-innovators.com/events
  14. Summit: summit.adobe.com/na

FoMO: Why Fear of Missing Out Could Hurt Your Social Media Efforts.

Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) has been described as “the fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity.” This fear can apply to missed social interaction, experiences, investments, new movies, apps, anything. Ultimately FoMO is fearing that we made the wrong decision on how to spend our time. I believe FoMO is pervasive among marketers, advertisers, entrepreneurs and business owners when it comes to social media. Fear of missing out on the latest social app or network can seriously hurt social media marketing efforts.

Social Media MarketingSome report there are over 800 social networks, apps and services. That number is overwhelming and it feels like there is a hot new social network popping up every other week. A couple of years ago it was Pinterest, then Instagram, Tumblr and Vine. Now it is SnapChat, Yik Yak, Yo, Meerkat and Periscope. What will be next? With the changes in social media happening so quickly, marketers and advertisers always feel left behind and like they must rush into every new thing.

The truth is that you should never rush into any social media action because of FoMO. Any good social media effort should first start with listening. If you are jumping into SnapChat because it is the latest channel to get buzz in the press, how do you know what to say? How do you know what works? How do you even know your target audience is there? Did you ever meet someone who only talks about themselves and never listens? Fairly quickly you learn to avoid those people. The same thing can happen in social networks with businesses that rush to start talking in new channels.

You should also never rush into any social media action because social media results take time. Results only come from significant planning and time investment into creating valuable content. Despite all the talk of ROI and immediate measurement, social media marketing doesn’t give immediate return, like a new TV campaign that can spike retail sales the weekend you run it. You must put in significant effort over time to see real results in social media. How much time?

Tom Martin from Converse Digital polled digital marketers and asked how long it takes to see results from social media marketing. Most respondents felt 6 months was a fair average, but only if you were doing it right. Comments to the post from people such as Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute chimed in with time frames of 6 to 9 months or 12 to 18 months.

Susan Gunelius in an Entrepreneur article explains that successful social media marketing requires following the Law of Patience. She says, “Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.”

Raffe at Transcending Social Media asks and answers this question in a different way. How long does it take for you to create a loyal following? Social media is all about engagement, relationships and listening. It can take months to curate a community by targeting them with articles, pictures, videos and other content that fosters engagement. Raffe concludes by saying, “Don’t be fooled into thinking that because social media is an instantaneous means of communication that a community will simply spring forth from the ground. Your customers will support you, if you work at it.”

Jaybird Social Media brings a dose of reality simply by saying, “If your social media consultant is suggesting that you can make it big overnight on the Internet, she is relying too heavily on the idea that memes and campaigns can go viral. Going viral is like winning the lottery.”

Hopefully by now you are feeling less fearful about missing out, but what does it mean to do social media right? Converse Digital suggests investing your time in three key areas:

  1. Invest in a solid strategy. Spend time to go through a social media marketing process. For example, always start with business objectives, target audience and listening.
  2. Invest in great content. People don’t share “blah.” What you create and share has to be excellent. It has to entertain, educate and simply be interesting to get shared online.
  3. Invest in quality people. Who is going to be the voice of your brand? Invest in experience and knowledge and training. No offense against college students, but don’t put your entire brand’s social presence solely in the hands of an intern.

Jaybird Social Media adds some great insight by saying you should spend your time on social media where your clients, prospects or customers spend their time. No need to jump on a trendy new network if your customers and prospects are not there. Jaybird also suggests optimizing your time with tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer or HubSpot.

In a past blog post I wrote about David Higdon, NASCAR’s IMC Managing Director and how I heard him talk about the brand’s remarkable overhaul at a conference. Through social media they were able to achieve amazing results and engage a younger fan base, but it was accomplished through a 3-year plan.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t experiment with new social channels, but don’t let FoMO rush you into to not taking the time to do it right. And don’t let FoMO scare you into pulling needed resources from your existing social channels to rush to that trendy network or app. It reminds me of a saying from my advertising days that says, “There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over.” Do it right the first time and you won’t miss out on anything.

Take a breath. Take a step back and listen before you leap. If you are not on any social networks yet then you probably are missing out. The good news is that by waiting you now have over 800 to choose from!

This post originally appeared on Social Media Today here.

Can You Win the Content Marketing Arms Race?

Every minute there are 100,000 new Tweets, 40,000 Facebook updates, 40,000 Instagram photos and 30 hours of YouTube videos added to the Internet. That is an enormous amount of new content being generated every minute of every day. Much of this content is coming from marketers and the deluge will only get worse as more marketers become content marketers.

Social Media Marketing Keith QuesenberryThe volume and frequency of content is increasing. In a Content Marketing Institute survey, 69% of marketers say they are creating more content in 2015 than they did one year ago. Looking ahead, 59% expect their organization’s content marketing budget to increase in the next year. Of these content marketers, 48% publish new content daily or multiple times a week and they are creating content for an average of 13 different content marketing tactics.

The amount of content being created is exploding. Yet the more content we create the harder it will be to get our content seen. Each individual piece of content will become less and less effective. This will lead to more content creation and more frequent publishing.

A similar thing happened with advertising over the last several decades. More ads were placed in TV shows, more banner ads were placed online, more and more ads were placed everywhere such as sidewalks, elevators and bathroom stalls. The end results was an enormous amount of advertising clutter. One look at Times Square in New York City gives you a visual depiction.

Social Media Marketing Keith QuesenberryIt is said that in 1970, the average person was exposed to only 500 advertisements a day, but by 1990 they saw an average of 5,000 ad messages a day. 

Because of this clutter each ad has become less effective. In 1965, consumers recalled 34% of commercials they saw, but by 1990 recall of TV commercials dropped to just 8%. By 2007 people could only remember two commercials they saw in a day.

Social media was a way to get away from advertising clutter. However, now it seems that social media may become just as cluttered as advertising. With each social network being flooded with more content, reach is dropping. New social channels spring up only to increase the content clutter.

For example, Facebook reported that the average person saw 1,500+ newsfeeds whenever they log onto Facebook This was too many to possibly read. So they narrowed the feed to show only about 300 through adjusting their algorithm resulting in a drop in organic reach to 3%. Competition is increasing and it is becoming harder for any one piece of content to gain exposure.

I believe the answer to this content race may lie within one-on-one engagement. Despite the explosive growth of social content, the medium number of friends a user has on Facebook is still only 200. Even if you have thousands of followers on Twitter, how many of those user’s Tweets do you see in a day? How many do you engage with on a regular basis? No matter the increase in content and channels we sill have a limited amount of time to engage.

Social Media Marketing Keith QuesenberryThis makes me think of a long tail strategy for SEO. Here you use key phrases to narrow to a smaller audience of those more likely to be interested in our content and convert. Perhaps this thinking can also apply to social content where the long tail focuses less on reach and more on engagement with a smaller group. Thus content becomes more important for engaging current fans rather than for generating awareness – something traditional advertising in mass media can do better.

So perhaps as social content gets more crowed we should not abandon traditional advertising. Use paid advertising for mass awareness and concentrate social media on interaction. Social can still generate awareness, but without paying you will mostly likely gain that awareness through engagement.

. This leads to a renewed call for integration of traditional and social. One effort is not enough. Social media is more effective when you add paid media to help meet your goals.

In 2009, the trade publication Advertising Age, pronounced that the ad age was over after the prestigious advertising award show Cannes was swept by PR, integrated and Internet winners. David Lubars, chairman-chief creative officer of BBDO said, “The way the world is heading is voluntary engagement.” I believe they were half right. We have entered an age of engagement, but the ad age cannot be left behind. To win in this race you need both.

This article originally appeared on Social Media Today.

How to Leverage the Power of Storytelling in Your Social Media Marketing

What keeps you coming back to your favorite books, TV series or movies? A good story. Publishers and producers know this and have become masters at using the power of story to draw big audiences.

Today, businesses are relying less on buying audiences with paid ads in traditional mass media and are turning to marketing on social media. However, to be successful we must approach this new media with a different mindset.

In advertising marketers interrupt the story people want to see with brand promotions that pay for it. Yet, in social media marketers must create the content people want to see. Brands must interest the audience themselves by telling a good brand story. But what makes a good story?

To research the power of story my colleague Michael Coolsen and I analyzed two years of Super Bowl commercials – the one time people choose to watch advertisements for the enjoyment of the ads themselves. We wanted to know which ads were the most liked, the ones that drew interest with buzz and votes to finish in the top of the advertising ratings polls.

We coded the commercials based on Freytag’s Pyramid, a theory, which breaks down story into five parts: introduction (exposition), rising action, climax, falling action and resolve (denouement). Shakespeare used this story formula to draw mass audience for his five act plays.

Keith Quesenberry postcontrolmarketing.com storytelling social media marketing

What we found was the ads that tell a complete story (all five acts) were the most popular and the ads at the bottom of the consumer ratings polls told less of a story (less than five acts). Having all five parts creates a dramatic arc or plot – the formula for being interesting. This is the same story formula you can apply to social media.

Social media depends on producing frequent, consistent, quality content. Brand managers used to producing yearly advertising campaigns with a series of 3 to 6 ads, are often left wondering what to post daily or weekly on their social networks. Establishing a bigger brand story can give you the content base you need. Then each social post or response can be a mini-chapter or character quote, expressing and advancing the overall story.

Social Media Marketing In Five Acts:

Act 1: Introduction. Also called the Exposition, this provides the background details, setting, previous events, character, etc. People buy brands for products and service, but also for the back story. Are you sharing your company’s history, people and mission or vision through your social media content?

Act 2: Rising Action. This is a series of related incidents or events that build toward a point of greatest interest – the climax. Be careful of flat posts that simply contain the same information over and over in different ways. Think from a much bigger perspective of creating social media posts that build upon each other towards a big action, reveal or turning point that fans and followers can look forward to, check in on and keeping coming back to see.

Act 3: Climax. This is the turning point, which changes the main character’s fate. There are two ways to think about this act for marketing. First identify the main character of your social media effort. Are your posts focused on telling the brand story or are they focused on telling your customer’s story. In social media you want to present the brand or customer reaching a turning point of finding a solution or overcoming a challenge by drawing upon brand, product or service strengths.

Act 4: Falling Action. During the falling action, the consequences of the turning point are revealed in greater detail. In social media express those results. If an obstacle was overcome, what are the results for the brand or consumer? If an opportunity was seized, detail the many benefits and outcomes that point toward a final victory.

Act 5: Resolution. Here all the events lead to an ending scene of the drama or narrative. Conflicts are resolved for the characters which creates a release of tension and anxiety. Here social media content should show the brand or customer winning. Provide a look at the ultimate goal of the brand and its customers. What is your happily ever after?

Howard Gossage, a famous copywriter from the 1960s said people don’t read advertising, they read what they like. This thought applies more so now in our digital world. In social media give your audience what they like. People like stories. Are you leveraging all five acts of storytelling in your social media content?

This post originally appeared on Social Media Today.