Structuring enterprise social content teams

Choirs of angels. Buzzfeed have come up with a simple, ‘three content bucket’ structure for differentiating between types of social content: Buzz, Buzzfeed News, and Buzzfeed Life. 

When you talk about ‘social media’ in a company remember that everyone usually defaults to thinking about apps and short snacky type content like Facebook updates and tweets.  Buzzfeed call this Buzz or BuzzTeam for ‘socially-oriented, experimental content’. The thing about this type of content is that everyone enjoys working on it and massively overestimates both how good they are at it and the value it brings to the organisation. It’s important to have it in the mix for attraction and content distribution, but is also the most difficult to measure and can result in a lot of junk that doesn’t really do a lot. 

For most organisations, the Buzzfeed News part will form the earned (media relations, PR) arm of your content strategy. Things like live event or conference coverage, industry news, business results, new appointments, store openings and product announcements. Your blog or blog network should be the home base for this type of content on a company-owned online space.

Your Buzz social team will work with the news team to make the content more digestible and interesting to audiences through engaging headlines, attractive photos and updates through various social media channels like LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Skills like writing, video production, editorial and researching skills, as well as media relations and strategy are needed in the News area. 

Buzzfeed Life is the really new area where organisations need to pay more attention and resource up for client-side, branded media production. Buzzfeed say that their Life team has mainly grown out of success with Pinterest for ‘lifestyle content like parenting tips, recipes, or how-to guide’. You can adapt this to your organisation by thinking about how to better equip and help customers with case studies, maps, how-to videos, whitepapers, playbooks, recipes, budget advice, online calculators, restaurant reviews and inspiring photos.  People developing this type of content will be working more like a traditional ad agency. Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, you might also be making paid media decisions in here about placing Google ads, buying Twitter Cards, making and placing Facebook ads and YouTube sponsored content. 

The three all work together.  So if you are doing a new store opening you might have the Buzz team giving away branded vouchers and T-shirts that the Life team produced. The News team publish blog and vlog posts about some brand ambassadors who might be at the store getting photos with customers.  Paid ads produced by the Life team run on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote the new store opening specials.  I know you're thinking 'that's cool for them but we are a boring government agency' but if you work backwards from how a customer or stakeholder might come across and consume your content you'll find it does make sense and the real challenge is getting teams of people who have flexible skills to work across different formats such as blogs, videos and social channels. Buzzfeed are also known for testing and measuring everything so there is also an analytics component to factor in. Most is done at an individual, content producer level and the teams are benchmarked with dashboards to deliver the most effective and shareable formats. 

Start small. Even getting teams that haven't worked together to agree on one hashtag can be a challenge at the start but take the tiny triumphs and try to keep the focus on News at the start as everyone will want to talk about and work on Buzz. Also, try and be realistic with Life content. You probably won't be able to produce a $5 million Samsung TVC in three hours on a $300 Go Pro. Learn to develop formats that you can make with your existing tools and that are sustainable. One simple how-to video per week is a lot more useful than one masterpiece that takes 12 weeks and soaks up hours and hours of time with meetings and sign-off because everyone wants to play movie director. LOL OMG CUTE.  Buzzfeed are awesome at this stuff and it works so learn from them and your content teams will probably enjoy working on projects a lot more too. 

23 reasons it's great HuffPo is coming to Australia (number 17 will surprise you)

The Huffington Post is coming to Australia and that’s great news for people like me who have sat in cubicles at traditional media companies thinking ‘this whole thing just doesn’t work anymore and I want to go home now.'

Now Australia and New Zealand media companies will have a working model of a proper new media company so that we don’t have to skip to page 110 of the Digital First Content Strategy Newsroom of The Future strategy document to try and convince editors that their fears of native content are largely imaginary and that the smiley-faced external consultancy person walking around with a spreadsheet who keeps disappearing into that meeting room that’s locked all the time is more likely to cause you pain and suffering by process of redundancy than writing a blog post for Toyota about driving a four wheel drive car up a ski field. 

HuffPo (or as the ABC charmingly calls it "the liberal American online news aggregator and blog") is brazen about native advertising, blogger friendly, and happy to talk about machines curating content through behavioural targeting.  Sponsored and branded content discussions are not imaginary but actual real-life things that happen and result in advertisers paying money to media companies so that they can pay editorial teams and journalists and everyone can pay for their groceries and maybe a new pair of shoes now and again.Great. 

The media industry gets more competition, The Guardian and Buzzfeed (oh look- they’re here already) come to Australia so talented local people like First Dog on The Moon get to develop new characters like the Westboro Baptist Hate Octopus, and we don’t all have to read about climate change being imaginary, rugby union, rugby league, Aussie rules rugby, and racehorses all the time. 

Koda Wang is the HuffPo person getting all the Australian stuff ready to go and he said the second quarter of 2014 generated about as much revenue in terms of native advertising than the whole of 2013. That's called growth and growth is good because the opposite of growth is decay which results in death and killing and book titles like this one:

Professional aggregator of liberal cat video bloggists Koda Wang said,"we keep the same bar of quality for native as we do for editorial. A lot of editors that create our native content come from our newsroom - they know how to create good content. It's also important to make sure native advertising is clearly labelled. And it's got to be authentic to the brand of your advertiser and to your own brand."

My thoughts exactly. Treat your audience like they’re adults and didn't just come out the Christmas cracker yesterday and they’ll be OK with some ad-supported content. 

But what about the ‘slippery slope argument’. The slippery slope argument comes from editors and usually goes along the lines of ‘if I drive a Toyota up a ski field and write a blog post about it then next week I will have to run streaming propaganda for the war in Gaza because that’s how North Korea works. It’s a slippery slope’. 

I know that’s a big separate discussion but at the heart of it I would say perhaps it’s time for journalists and editors to also be adults and take responsibility for their decision making.  The days of kidding yourself that “I don’t work for News Corp, I work for The Daily Telegraph” are over and trying to pretend that you aren’t part of the machine like everyone else…well come on.  The challenges of the media industry impact everyone and trying to cling to some romantic notion of eighties journalism is what’s causing all the pain in suffering in today’s traditional media companies where employee satisfaction ratings sit around 22-35%.  It’s not the war in Gaza but good grief I’d be gratefully taking the keys to that Toyota and getting my branded content on. 

The Huffington Post Australia plans to launch in the first quarter of 2015 and let’s hope it’s a shining light of new media that will inspire Australia and New Zealand media companies to face the realities that yes print is lovely but no, it doesn't make money anymore so let's go drive a Toyota around a ski field so that your colleagues will have a job that they actually like going to next year and if you don't want to write crappy '23 reasons' blog posts then don't write them. 

How to deal with misinformation in the age of the Google news desk

The first global media event I worked on was a big one. I was called in as a contractor and, to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. 

I was posted on the night shift from 10pm-6am and I would sit and teach myself how to use the fancy new media monitoring software and type up the media call logs the managers had scribbled on Post Its. Nothing really happened and nobody called. 

At 6am, I would then do a handover to the main media person who would get hammered with phone calls from media and government officlas for the next 12 hours from 6am to 6pm. She eventually walked off the job due to stress and I was put in the big seat. 

As the media event hit week eight, the misinformation was getting worse and there was a lot of criticism about 'no communication' from the Ministry.

We had to keep pointing journalists to the weekly update figures.  I was getting small waves of calls throughout the day, with each journalist asking exactly the same questions. I would try to slow them down while I fumbled for my weekly numbers print out and asked them how their day was going. They all seemed to be starting or finishing a shift and monitoring the story for handovers. 

"Yeah we've seen those, you put those out last Friday, why are you stonewalling us? What else is going on?" they would ask and start digging around other news sources. 

Week nine and we had a big conference call with all the government officials and some of the best spin doctors in the land. The first thing agreed was that we were to continue the weekly updates to the media. 

"I don't know about other regions but I need them daily," I said. 

"The pattern is following the radio rosters and when they are doing their handovers. If we make it clear for them, then the correct information will get out and reported. All the other journalists are then Googling the correct figures and information, and we are pushing down the false stuff. A week is too long and they are rehashing incorrect reports. We need to flood them with correct data for a while. Even if it's just restating the same thing. Put a daily report on the website and we look more assertive. Email a daily situation update to the media then we know it's accurate. Put big date stamps on everything. Make it look live and current."

The conference line went dead apart from a few clicks from the mute buttons. 

"We will continue with the weekly reports", said the government Minister.