As a social media researcher I have been extremely interested in how organisations integrate content across their social media and traditional media channels. By integration, I am referring to refashioning core content so that it can be used on a range of different platforms.
Apart from helping content stretch further, integrating it can have many other benefits (the main three will be discussed in greater detail below). However, in reality, many of the organisations that I have researched do not make integration a priority and/or do not have any clear processes in place for it to become a common practice.
The reasons offered for avoiding integration have been:
- Social media moves too rapidly.
- There is only time to post on one platform.
- Lack of communication exists between the people responsible for social media and traditional media.
- Integration is an approach that has not yet been considered.
Taking an integrative approach to content can actually save resources. Three main benefits of integrating content are:
1.Time and cost reduction by creating core content that can be tweaked to suit the characteristics of each channel rather than developing completely different content for each platform. For example, a media release with accompanying image could be refashioned into a:
- Website article
- Email newsletter article
- Facebook post
- LinkedIn post
- Instagram post
The key is to understand the specific characteristics of each channel and optimise the content to leverage the strengths of that platform rather than posting exactly the same thing on multiple channels. To do this effectively, it is important for public relations and marketing professionals to think about the potential uses for content while they are gathering it.
2. Reaching wider networks of people through the use of multiple channels. Posting reworked content across a range of platforms increases the potential that greater numbers of people will be exposed to it, particularly on social media if the content is shared by existing followers to new people within their own networks.
3. Reinforcement of key messages across communications channels. Today, consuming media from multiple sources and devices simultaneously (for example, using social media on a tablet device while watching television) is a common occurrence.Integrating content will increase the opportunities to reach and reinforce key messages with stakeholders through a variety of touch points.
However, bombarding people is never the answer either. Taking an integrative approach means carefully selecting channels that work together and refashioning content to suit each one.
Also, it’s vital to be ready to participate in a conversation in a timely way if content sparks discussion on social media. It’s a two-way channel after all.
Integrating content across social and traditional media channels
What does integrating social media and traditional media content actually look like? The two examples below demonstrate how the staff responsible for social media, traditional media and events can work together to facilitate integration. Obviously not all organisations are structured in this way, but the examples provide a general overview of the integration process.
The CEO of a charity is scheduled to appear on a morning television program the following day. The Traditional Media Manager informs the Social Media/Digital Manager immediately so that they can promote the details of the appearance (date, time, channel, program, etc.) on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn by tagging the program and tweaking content so that it is relevant for each platform. The aim of this step is to encourage stakeholders ahead of time to tune in to the appearance.
As the appearance is being broadcast, the Social Media/Digital Manager would use the suggested social media platforms to remind stakeholders once again about the appearance, possibly including a photo that has been taken from the set to add a propinquital element and tagging the show and the names of the presenters if they are in the photo. If a video of the appearance is made available online after the appearance, the Social Media/Digital Manager would share the link on the recommended platforms so that stakeholders who missed the piece are provided with the opportunity to see it and are encouraged to potentially share it within their networks.
In the lead-up to an offline event, the Traditional Media Manager, Social Media/Digital Manager and Event Manager work together to ensure promotion before the event can occur through social media and traditional communication channels. During the event, photos and video are taken and shared on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. After the event, stakeholders are encouraged to tag themselves in the photos and share them within their own networks.
Of course, social media content is often integrated across traditional media channels such as encouraging people to tweet or comment on Facebook.
Proactive not Reactive. Strategic Not Ad Hoc
As the examples above indicate, taking an integrative approach requires public relations and marketing professionals to be proactive and strategic. Develop a process around how to best to integrate content. Have guidelines for the best content features required for each platform. Understand what platforms work best together when integrating content.
Taking some time to work these things out (and putting them into practice) will pay off in the long run saving your organisation, time, effort and money.
Does your organisation take an integrative approach?