Working with 2-4 people, you should formulate a plan according to the instructions below. The goal of this assignment is to incorporate everything you have learned in this class about platforms, audience, relationships, interactions and the network society. You should employ everything you have learned about this class in a way that will be beneficial to your portfolio. All must include some kind of written report that is evaluative. The final hand-in will vary for each team, determined at the proposal stage with the client. Our five clients this semester are: Capital Times, Madison Magazine, WORT, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Isthmus.
- Executive Summary (Statement of Understanding): Evaluation of the Current Social Media Execution or of the Targeted Project
- Goals of the organization in terms of content and audience or of the project. Get specific with them: what demographics do they want to target? What is their overall mission? What kind of relationship do they want to have with their audiences? What would they like to do more of but can’t figure out how? Who is the target audience for the project? What purpose will the project serve? How does the project reflect the mission statement of the organization as a whole?
- Analyze who that audience actually is via followers/friends/fans, who is engaging, and any metrics they are willing to share with you
- Evaluate the kinds of postings, conversations, engagement the organization is doing now; look at what they have done with other projects (if anything)
- Evaluation of the resources the organization currently has in terms of employees willing to perform in these realms or on the project as well as in terms of CMS and other considerations
- All of this should be written up as the first section of the report.
- Social Media Strategy
- First consider platforms. Which platforms make the best sense, given their goals and desired audiences? Which platforms are they using now? What makes sense for the project they want to do or the content they want to produce?
- Second, consider engagement. What kinds of engagement should they be doing? Think Unmarketing and all the other applied readings we have had as well as anything you find on your own. What advice can you give to the social media editors and reporters on how to build audiences? Think JOURNALISM AS PROCESS. Analyze their key communities, identify hashtags/blogs/Facebook or any other pages they should be following and engaging with, list a bunch of key influencers in each of the realms you identify as being important to their content and goals. Be very very specific (as in actualy hashtags, actual handles, actual Facbeook Group pages, etc.).
- Third, I want you to make VERY SPECIFIC suggestions to the organization: What are some particular projects they could do in these realms? One idea is to take some stories they had already done, and tell them how they could have made it more socially dynamic and worked better for them. How can they improve the journalism they are doing currently with these social-media tools? You should aim to have at least FIVE specific ideas for them.
An example of one idea:
“On February 15 you ran a feature about the anniversary of the protests with a slideshow of photos from your archive. You updated the Facebook page with the link to the story. Here’s what you could have done instead: Tweeted about the upcoming anniversary to the #wiunion hashtag as you were reporting it. Direct them to your Facebook page where you have a post about the anniversary and asking people to share their memories from the protests. Direct them to your Pinterest page where you have a board just with protest pictures from readers. Offer a prize for the person who shares the best story or the best photo. Ask readers to vote. Market that you will be doing a live Google Hangout with five key city officials and UW experts to talk about how the protests changed the cultural makeup of the city. Market the Hangout for the day the story runs and take tweeted questions for the five people as a sort of Q/A panel. Market the heck out of it a week before via all your platforms and all the bloggers who also write about this. Corral your sources to take part and ask questions. Make them commit to being there during the live broadcast. Run the Hangout on the highest traffic time of the day. Record it as a video and post to your site where you also have an evergreen page that is all about the protests, all your past stories about it, video etc. Also post it to YouTube. Make sure you have a headline and tags that include these keywords: “Madison, protests, Wisconsin, anniversary,” etc. Five days before the story and Hangout go, tweet out little-known facts about the original event and what has happened (like “Did you know since the protests police have arrested XX people for disturbing the peace at the Capitol? Check out our recap on 2/15 here: URL”). Tweet versions of this as key Twitter times of the day – 11 am and 1 pm. Tweet similar tweets to the #wiunion as well as the following hashtags: #madison, #madtown, ##### (etc). Then tag these key madison influencers letting them know about the coming protests: @@@@@@@.) Once the story has run, of course link to it on all your media but ask questions such as “Do you think Wisconsin is better or worse off since the protests?” But also go onto the big blogs that are writing about the anniversary such as BlueCheddar and ForwardLookout and post to their anniversary entries about your coverage. Engage with them in a conversation as well. Go into the hashtags you tweeted to and engage with the people on there by looking for questions your reporters can answer about the anniversary, for example.”
- Fourth, consider the organization’s resources. You don’t want to suggest a bunch of recommendations they are not going to be able to implement. Be logical and realistic and be VERY VERY specific. These organizations all KNOW they need to beef up their social media but they don’t really know HOW to do this. Be very very detailed. How many of their employees are tweeting? Can management mandate them to get into social realms or are you dealing with just a few key adopters?
- Fifth, justify your suggestions by citing stats and studies. Here is where all the concepts stuff you hated comes in. Why bother? Some editors will need convincing that this effort is worth it. You need to explain to them how the network society is working, how building relationships with key information individuals is going to be a new kind of currency for them. You do not need to cite from our readings here, but it would be helpful if you incorporated evidence for the editors. Don’t be afraid to bring in reports and studies! Plus it’s good to tell them what sources you drew from in case they would like to follow up and look at the stuff themselves.
- Sixth, help them propose a timeline for their engagement goals. For example: “Three months from now you should have participated in two hashtags, created one Google Hangout and built 100 more followers/fans by doing the following X, Y and Z.” Or suggest specific parts of their strategy to work on: In the next six months we recommend you just concentrate on becoming more engage on Twitter through the following ways – having your social-media taking part in this weekly hashtag chat, training reporters to get into these spaces by talking to them about what kinds of posts/updates/interactions have shown to build audience relationships better, etc.
- Seventh, and lastly, I’d like you to take something from the plan and implement it. There should be a section in your report about what you did, why you did it, and how it went. For those doing projects, this last entry will be a large part of the report. For those doing strategies, this should be something smaller. When you do your outline for the April 10 deadline, we can be more detailed. It matters somewhat on how your meetings with the clients go and your own brainstorming with you. You should talk to them about a part that you can implement. This should be a discrete task, such as working an event or hosting an interactive live blog for them.
Due Wednesday, May 3 at 2:30 (but I’d like an email update from your team after spring break and a major working draft is due me April 24; you will also give the class a “dry run” presentation before you give one to them on May 1.)
** These are excellent opportunities to make connections in the industry, to impress people who have a TON of liaisons in news orgs around the country, and to develop a sense for how to do this in whatever organization you end up in. Doing well could translate into very real jobs or opportunities (as it has done for past students who have taken this class). I hope you make the most of this opportunity. It’s gonna look so awesome on your resume. If you put the actual report in your portfolio, you MUST REDACT ALL THE IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR ORGANIZATION. ANY INFORMATION THE ORGANIZATION SHARES WITH YOU SHOULD BE TREATED AS CONFIDENTIAL. You may of course state on your resume that you worked with the organization on a plan or project.