Social Media as the New Newspaper

Have we marketers already forgotten the newspaper? Sometimes it seems like we have it. But it is important to remember what newspapers are — or used to be — in order to be successful in social media.

So let’s have a refresher course. Newspapers were delivered every morning to our front door steps by the paper boy or paper girl. They were filled with news articles about the latest events in our local area, state, nation and the world. They also contained feature articles, e.g., an in-depth look at a timely topic, individual or institution.  There was an editorial section with letters to the editor and opinion and op-ed pieces. And there were advertisements.

So what’s the takeaway for social media? I suggest organizing your social media efforts just as if you were publishing a newspaper. Consider your “likes” or followers just like people who might have subscribed to your newspaper. But instead of picking up the newspaper from their door step every morning, they’re logging on to their computers or looking at their Facebook mobile app to see what you have published for that day.

Just like the newspaper, your social media efforts need to be a combination of news and feature articles as well as advertisements or self-promotions. A newspaper that only has news articles won’t succeed because it may be considered boring if there are no human interest stories to appeal to the heart strings as well as the head. It also needs some advertisements because it needs revenue. But a newspaper that is only filled with advertisements won’t make it either. Readers will be turned off.

Social marketers can learn from the newspaper model to formulate their own strategies for success. I usually recommend the 3-3-3 plan: 1/3’rd of the posts can be about news for your particular industry or niche; 1/3’rd can be news/human interest stories shared from referral sources or partners; and the last-third can be self-promotion about your organization or brand. Also sprinkle in some blog posts and “personality” that portrays you and the people who work in your organization.  But it is really important that you not focus solely on promoting your brand. You want engagement and you won’t get it if you only post about yourself.

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