Do It For The Likes

WE Communications Blog: Technology

— Caitlin Valtierra 

From Facebook Live to Instagram Stories, more and more outlets are continuing to embrace the latest and greatest in social media to help tell stories and keep readers engaged. For many outlets, it’s becoming the dominant storytelling medium as a way to engage new followers and keep readers coming back to their website not just daily, but multiple times a day. We recently got the inside scoop from social media editors from Bustle, Good Housekeeping and others, who shared the process of securing and creating social and digital coverage and what it takes for PR people to land their clients a spot on content calendars.

Social as an appetizer – not a dessert

Panelists across the board are feeling the frustration that social is being significantly underestimated as a way for thoughtful and compelling stories to be told. In reality, social media content drives a significant amount of engagement, garnering more eyes than a traditional editorial piece, guaranteeing a longer shelf life. Followers look to and repeatedly reference social content as it’s easier to digest and engage with. Not only that, but social content lends itself to more creative story ideas and opportunities. While clients may place the most value on traditional editorial coverage, they still want us to think outside the box. Social is the key that can open up these opportunities and oftentimes, can lead to a follow up editorial piece or act as a catalyst for another story down the road.

Content in motion - video is king

With virtually every platform adding a “stories” or “live” feature, panelists couldn’t stress enough how video was the driving force behind their story ideas. How can content be visually appealing and packed with action over dialogue? Video is the direction that digital is moving. However, each social media editor noted how outlets are struggling to keep up with the various social platforms and carefully study analytics on which platform’s video content grabs and keeps the most eyes. With this in mind, they’re looking for pitches that not only include visuals but an idea of how the story can work as a video or even slideshows. Including hi-res photos or links to past video or broadcast segments demonstrates how compelling your brand can be to their audience. Additionally, bringing them specific yet tailorable ideas for a Facebook Live demo or Q&A with your product and spokesperson will result in a faster turnaround for coverage.

Social media editors are paid to have a short attention span

While social media is great for finding out breaking news on the fly, it puts an extreme amount of pressure to identify and report stories as they happen. Editors train themselves to skim content at a rapid-fire pace and appreciate when pitches allow them to do the same. Insights straight from the horses’ mouths include “send us bullets, “use the 5 W’s method,” “bold/highlight what you want us to read.” Instead of overloading a pitch with written product details, focus on fleshing it out to convey what the story would look like and how it will the engage their audience. Also, why they may not be big on words, they emphasized how much they love and need assets to turn around a story. Help them help you by including assets in your first pitch instead of making them ask. We also learned that since their mornings are consumed by news scanning and real time content creation, firing off those pitches in the afternoon will give you the best chance at getting their attention real-time.

Although editorial content is the backbone of storytelling, leveraging social media to engage audiences can truly bring these stories to life. 

Insights provided by Caitlin Valtierra and Anna Behr