Create a blogging strategy for 2013

The approaching new year offers an opportunity to assess your communications efforts and set new goals for 2013. If your communication and brand awareness campaigns include blogging, this is the perfect time to set targets for things such as reframing the focus of your content, finding new ways to measure the impact of your posts or how many posts you want to make each week. When you are setting these goals, remember that your posts will be noticed and read more often if they are posted between noon and 4 p.m. on weekdays, or on Saturdays.

As for creating a strategy itself, one tip is to plot out the topics you want to be sure to cover each month of the year and then use an outline or mindmap to ensure that you hit on each of the topics in your strategy. Lists, outlines and mindmaps are your friends when it comes to ensuring a focused communication strategy – whether your communication channel is on a blog, social media, news release, through advertising buys or any other means.

What are your communication goals for 2013?

Instagram to users – we hear you, don’t break up with us

The lawyers over at Instagram caused a major ruckus for the users of the popular social media and photo sharing tool yesterday when Instagram released new Terms of Service language that made it appear that beginning in January, users’ photos might be used in advertisements without any notification or profit sharing for the photographers who took the photos. This morning, this led to a host of Facebook and Twitter posts in my feeds about people bailing on Instagram and giving the new Flickr apps a chance as an alternative.

The folks at Instagram hope you’ll wait and reconsider. A few minutes ago they posted a blog piece – Thank you, and we’re listening.

We will see if this clarifying blog post will help stem the tide of defections from Instagram, but this whole incident is a great reminder that when it comes to building a social media presence for your company, government or idea, you can’t afford to put all of your resources in one tool.

Your photos may not look the same as the originals

After all of the hubbub about Instagram photos no longer appearing in Twitter feeds, I have to note that if you choose to use Flickr as your online photo tool of choice and you share one of your photos on Facebook, your photo won’t look the same as the original. I am spending a little bit of time this morning looking at the new Flickr app for iPhones and iPads, and I couldn’t resist sharing a photo to Facebook. And, alas, the resulting photo on my timeline is squared off like an Instagram photo, even though the original is not square.

Although the photos from Flickr are square, at least you can rest assured that your photos will display in your timeline and the feeds of those who have friended you on Facebook. Silver linings.

As for the new Flickr app itself, the app seems to work pretty well. Like Instagram, it doesn’t take advantage of the larger screen space on the iPad, instead offering a tiny, iPhone-sized application in a sea of wasted screen space. But the app still looks good if you hit the 2X button and use it that way. And of course, the app offers a slew of filters and editing features to help you maximize your images before you share them either with the Flickr community or through Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. I will play with the app a little more in the coming days and weeks.

Additional links:

Seth Long, who I follow on Flickr, just posted a link to a good story from GigaOm about what the new Flickr could mean as an alternative to Instagram.

Newspapers aren’t dead yet

Last week I wrote about the decreasing reach of newspapers for telling your story to the community at large. While some of that decrease is due to falling readership, a situation that is likely to get even worse if you live in a community where the main daily newspaper is about to create a paywall and pull the rug out from under online readers who have grown used to the paper giving away content for free online, one newspaper in California thinks that falling readership is really about the content itself. This morning, National Public Radio ran an article about the Orange County Register and its recent growth and hiring spurt, where the newspaper leadership has found that improving the news content is bringing back subscribers. Read and listen.

This experiment goes against the path followed by most newspapers, where dwindling advertising revenue caused staff reductions, many of which led to less local news content. The other interesting part of this story is that this particular newspaper is concentrating on its print paper over the digital version of the paper.

One thing is sure – if your newspaper is growing, and if the number of print subscribers is growing, that newspaper could be an effective place to reach members of the public whose demographics match your message. The key is knowing and trusting those demographics.

Instagram and Twitter scuffle means your photos display differently

You should be aware that beginning today, your Instagram photos won’t appear in your followers’ Twitter feeds in the same way. The two social media tools are in a battle that results in big changes for end users – the very people you are trying to reach with your photos and strategic communications.

I’ll offer tips and best practices for how your organization or business can work around this change as things shake out in the next few days, but in case you wonder what this is all about and you want to find out more, here are a few links to the news that explains what is happening:

You can also follow my Twitter feed for more tips related to this and other communication topics: www.twitter.com/robmcnairhuff

One way to create inexpensive video

If you need to create a video for your website or for posting on YouTube, Derrick Story offers some tips and inspiration regarding how he created a high quality time lapse video using a Third Generation iPad and editing software on his Mac – Time lapse behind the scenes look at Leo Laporte’s TWiT studio.

This short blog post does intrigue me, since I work with a Third Generation iPad and I haven’t done anything really useful with the camera, other than make jokes about people who hold up iPads to record events. Maybe it’s time to stop being funny and learn something!

Promoting your story in an age of dwindling readership

The local daily newspaper made a sobering announcement last weekend. Beginning Dec. 17, 2012, access to articles on the paper’s website will cost readers nearly $10 a month. This isn’t a surprising announcement. Before the creation of the Internet, everyone had to either pay for the newspaper to be delivered at home, pick up a copy at a newsstand or newspaper box, or read a free communal copy at the local cafe or library. Now the Internet readers – the fastest growing audience for most newspapers – will have to pay or go away.

Newspapers have to find a way to make money from the growing online audience, and it’s easy to debate whether your local paper or the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or any other paper that has set up a paywall is implementing the right policies to attract paying customers, but regardless of this debate, papers are changing or dying.

Why does this matter for you? If you have a story to tell or products to sell, and you rely on coverage in the local newspaper to create awareness for your story or products, it is very likely that the potential audience for your message will drastically drop when your local newspaper turns off free access to its content on the Internet. Those who opt to pay for online access to news and advertising that they are used to getting for free, and those who follow the industry will soon see how these paywall experiments work. But more importantly for you and your business, how will you work around the likelihood of a smaller readership if you count on newspaper readers to build buzz for your products and services?

The need for an effective communication and marketing strategy that uses multiple channels to get your story in front of readers and potential customers is growing more obvious every day. And remember – many people still want to stay informed about their community and the stories within their community. It’s just that the delivery methods for that news are more diverse than they were in the 1950s and 1960s, before the Internet grew into such a resource and distraction.

An emerging community on Instagram

As you make decisions about what social media tools you should use to reach your audience, one of the keys to consider is whether a particular tool has a growing audience or is falling out of vogue. It’s safe to choose Facebook these days, and there is still a growing audience on Twitter, but you wouldn’t want to choose to build an audience on an outdated service like MySpace, for instance.

When it comes to new social media tools, one of the fastest growing sites for sharing visual information is Instagram. This photo-sharing site offers easy ways to use the camera on your mobile phone along with the available filters built into the Instagram app to create a personal or business presence on the Web.

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I took the photo above while doing a trail run yesterday in nearby Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington. It is one of a few hundred photos that live on my Instagram feed.

A business can create its own Instagram feed to highlight its products or people, to do promotions of holiday sales or just about any other purpose that would benefit from a highly visual communication method. In fact, the content you create on Instagram is easy to use across a number of social media tools. But remember that, just as it is with most social media, you need to build an audience before you can expect a new presence on something like Instagram will grow into a truly useful communications platform in and of itself.

Are you already using Instagram to promote your business, government or ideas? I would love to hear about your experiences so far. Just reply to this post below.

Reading the tea leaves for social media in 2013

Welcome to December! It’s the month for looking back at communications trends and lessons from 2012 as well as for an endless supply of articles looking to the future in 2013. While no one really knows what will happen in communications and social media in 2013, a number of luminaries and amateur soothsayers are making their best guesses heard. Here are links to a couple of worthwhile summary pieces, as well as a reference to a new tool for managing your posts on Pinterest.

– Earlier this week, a piece on Ragan.com offered The best social media advice for 2013.

– Yesterday, the CEO of Hootsuite offered his prognostications for the top five trends in social media in 2013. The takeaways – more mobile, more social and more big data. Read the whole piece.

– It’s a safe bet that new add-on tools will continue to emerge in 2013 that will make the current social media favorites easier to use and manage. One example I saw mentioned today is pingraphy, for scheduling your Pinterest posts to the most opportune times and tracking statistics using that tool.

I’ll link to the articles I find most useful throughout the month here, and I would love to hear from others who run into good summaries and advice throughout this busy holiday month.