Adam T. Vaccaro

Occasional musings on journalism and media

Posts Tagged ‘social media

Why Are Social Media Accounts Used Only for Editorial Purposes?

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Here’s a question for the media-types.

Why do news organizations only treat their social media accounts for editorial purposes?

Social is the buzzword in advertising, and most every news organization has itself at least a Twitter and a Facebook page, with a decent number of followers.

Why shouldn’t advertisers pay to have links to their websites or products or what have you blasted via those accounts? Newspapers, magazines have always been editorial and ads. If a Facebook feed and a Twitter stream are going to be considered a vessel for news organizations to spread their content, why can’t they equally be seen as an advertising source?

Without having done any kind of study, but I bet advertising services as disbursed via social media would be a hell of a lot more effective than simple banner or display ads. Or popup ads. It is shocking to me that some sites are still employing popups. Seriously. If I see a product advertised via popup, there’s a decent chance I’ll go out of my way to not buy it.

Two things. First, you would not put your editorial staff in charge of these advertising blasts. You would most indeed want to keep that line between editorial and advertising steadfast, for the same reason you don’t want your editorial staff writing ads — it comes as a threat of credibility, etc. So you’d need to make sure your advertising staff has access to post those ads. And there would likely need to be some agreed to quota between advertiser and organization as to the amount of times an ad can run per day, as well as an internal agreement at the organization about the ratio of ads posted to news content. The editorial content should probably be posted at a much higher ratio, so as to not irritate readers and risk the dreaded unfollow.

Second, also in keeping with the traditions of news organizations, I imagine you’d need to make it clear that a social ad is indeed an ad. I don’t know if that’s as simple as writing AD: (You’re only losing 4 of your 140 Twitter characters that way if you include the space bar) ahead of the Tweet, but I feel like this could be easily worked around.

It just strikes me as obvious. News sites are being accessed via social media. Readers ignore display ads. Advertising is the lifeblood of the industry. And editorial and advertising have always shared the page and the airwaves. Why can’t they share a newsfeed? Who says a news organization’s social networking account should be purely editorial?

I’ve never run a business and have never attempted to sell an ad, so I may be missing something. If so, please tell me why this wouldn’t work. Or are there places it’s already being done? I haven’t seen it, and I have a hard time understanding why not.

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Written by Adam T. Vaccaro

October 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Posted in Commentary

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Sandwich’s Attempt to Attempt at Social Media

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I spent my Labor Day weekend in my hometown of Sandwich, Mass.

The small Cape Cod town is both charming and boring in its slow, somewhat antiquated style. Its general resistance to new business and industry is attributed to its having the highest property tax rates on Cape Cod despite not possessing anything near the tourist appeal of Wellfleet, Provincetown or Dennis.

Anyway, that sort of sets the stage for this mostly benign but puzzling article I saw in the town’s free weekly, The Sandwich Broadsider last weekend: (The Broadsider is owned by Gatehouse Media, which also owns The Patriot Ledger, my current journalistic home base.) Here it is online.

Headline: “Selectmen explore social media options”

Key sentence:

Town Manager Bud Dunham said a municipal Facebook page is not the way to go and is something that [the town’s I.T. director] would likely not support.

The town wants to inform folks of going-ons, meetings and Town Hall news through social media. Sounds smart to me. And several other municipalities, too, seeing how social media usage by local governments is not uncommon. But Sandwich wants to do this without with Facebook.

Let me state again: this is mostly benign. Not really a big deal. In a faster news cycle than the week before Labor Day, it might not make the paper.

BUT…

How on earth do you say you want to get into social media but take Facebook out of the discussion? You can’t “do” social media without including Facebook. It’s not a matter of finding the right platform and saying, “Here we go! Now we’re in social media!”

Having a social media strategy is about using as many forms of social media as possible, or at least, as many that are relevant and applicable to your brand. (So no, the town doesn’t need a Spotify account. An Instagram account might work out pretty well, though.)

A social media strategy is diverse. And let’s be real: it includes Facebook. You wouldn’t say you want to build a house and not include a foundation. You wouldn’t say you want to build a baseball team and not have a pitcher. So don’t say you’re going to have a social media strategy and not include Facebook.

But selectwoman Linell Grundman doesn’t see it that way. “There are other social media. I think we need to do some research,” she said, according to The Broadsider.

There are indeed other forms of social media. That’s why the town should use them all if they’re serious about enacting a social media strategy.

The other town complaint from the meeting is that a Facebook page would require staff time to update. I don’t get how that would be any different than it is with any other form of communication. And with Twitter, for instance, you need to put in a lot more work to stay near the top of someone’s feed than is required by Facebook.

Okay. Like I’ve already said twice, not really a big deal. In truth, the selectmen should be focused on getting those property taxes down and finding ways to develop the town’s stagnant commercial sector, not Facebook.

But their comments on social media in The Broadsider, to me, reflect a lack of understanding about social media itself. And with social media such a key element of business growth today, perhaps that lack of understanding is indicative of a more general lack of understanding about today’s economy.

That would represent a far more significant problem for Sandwich. For now, the selectmen just look silly by saying they want a balanced diet but refusing to eat protein.

Written by Adam T. Vaccaro

September 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

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