We Are Communication Architects

Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

October 21st, 2015

Tying Content Marketing to Business Goals

One of the most frequent topics of the presentations at Spredfast Summit 2015 was that social programs of any size and shape need to be tied to business goals. Social programs can’t – and shouldn’t – live in a bubble and be judged independently of other marketing efforts. If straight PR and advertising need to prove their worth to the bottom line then so does social content marketing, whatever department it lives under.

That’s not to say that the metrics being measured are always the same. You shouldn’t judge the potential reach of a Facebook post in the same manner you measure impressions of an earned media story, for instance. There are metrics that are unique to online content marketing and practitioners of this field should jealously defend those metrics’ existence. Those goals should be agreed upon beforehand, inform the strategy for the program, be built into a content framework and then be executed on through an editorial calendar and other tools. Just like PR and advertising.

Too often, though, social media content programs are held to a higher standard. Because updates on networks can contain clicks it’s wondered sometimes why they’re not doing more to do X. There can be the perception that every Tweet or blog post should result in $X.YZ in sales. But that’s not how it works.

12_oz_PLR_Image-1This is where content marketing being measured on the same scale as advertising and other forms of marketing becomes important and valuable. Just like an ad campaign can say their flight of ads generated X impressions and Y awareness which resulted in Z sales, social content marketing is the same way. THIS TWEET may not lead to a direct conversion, but the awareness built up by the constant drumbeat of core content coupled with the big spikes of premium content will likely result in sales down the road. Every Tweet is like a highway billboard. No, I didn’t buy a Snickers bar right as I saw the sign, but when I got the Stuckey’s 25 miles down the road I’m more likely to buy one because I’ve been thinking about it for the last 20 minutes.

(OK, that’s a bad example. If I’m stopping at Stuckey’s I’m buying a Pecan Log. Because come on. And now the 32% of you who know what I’m talking about are really craving a Pecan Log, right?)

At one of the final sessions of the conference, Megan Dewan from Turner Sports rightly pointed out that pointed out when we say we’re tracking conversions or action, that doesn’t necessarily always mean sales. It can mean that, or it can mean data capture (e.g. signing up for an email newsletter or registering for a sweeps), it can mean audience retention or any of a variety of things. This statement is 100% on fleek.

When you’re going in and setting up your social content strategy be sure you’re setting goals that are appropriate to that program. Find out what’s important to your manager or your client and that those goals are aligned to those priorities and that the metrics you’re tracking are telling the story not only you want to tell, but the story that she or he wants and needs to tell.

Now excuse me, I need to go see if I can order Stuckey’s Pecan Logs online.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Publishing Programs

October 20th, 2015

My Morning Notifications: Randy Ksar

I have to admit that reading to me when I was a kid was not my ideal time of just sitting back and relaxing or even learning. It wasn’t until I was about 15 when I read Jurassic Park that I realized the art of storytelling and imagination. I literally read that book within a few days and my parents and English teacher were shocked!

Fast forward 24 years (yikes 39 years old..ugh), reading is taken a totally different meaning – consuming content – and I love it!

Here is my reading list when I “wake up in the morning” (I put that in quotes cause I have a 3 1/2 year old and a 22 month old):


I love Flipboard primarily because I can easily find magazines that are curated by influencers and that the experience is mobile optimized. Every morning, I launch the app and start swiping and, if interesting enough, I share news via Buffer. I actually think Flipboard should buy Buffer but that is for another blog post. I have good set of magazines ranging from green living to news to tech influencers. To get a glimpse of all the data I swipe thru, go to my Flipboard account and if you want to see a couple of magazines I curate check out the ones on security and green architecture.

medium app logoMedium

I find the articles on Medium are so in-depth yet short enough for me to have a quick glance for 3 to 4 minutes. Also, the authors that I discover are CEOs, senior product managers and entrepreneurs that provide insight into the behind-the-scenes of their company that I won’t find anywhere else. People that I find interesting on here are: Jacob Morgan who writes about the future of work, Google Ventures, Chris Messina for startup advice and Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite

LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn Pulse (iOS | Android) is probably my most useful app when it comes to keeping in touch with business contacts.  I get a notification that says someone has a new job, has been in the news (or featured in an article) or perhaps has written a blog post. For my contacts (maybe not for yours), this app just makes sense and is so crucial to my day to day. It’s helpful for re-connecting, finding new business opportunities and content curation.


I swipe down on my iPhone and see all the stocks I’m following and/or have a stake in. I’m not a day trader by any means but I like to know how my funds are doing and if there is any news associated with each company.

What are you reading? What does your morning notifications look like?

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Voce People

October 19th, 2015

Meshing Campaigns with Core Content

One of the big themes many of the speakers and presenters at the Spredfast Summit 2015 brought up and talked about was “campaigns” and how they can be planned, executed and tracked. Everyone was talking about putting together campaign reports, bringing user-generated video and other media into campaigns, using data to plan campaigns and so on.

Very few of these speakers talked about what we at Voce refer to as “core content.” This is the daily grind. The basic news beats that are, for lack of a better phrase, part of the business-as-usual content plan. The tweets about a product or service that aren’t tied to a theme or broader topic, it’s just about raising awareness of or driving conversions for the widgets, whatever they may be in your case, that need to be sold.

Central Illinois

Campaigns come closer to what we call “premium content.” These are the big spikes around a special infographic, a larger umbrella theme that has smaller news beats under it, a microsite that’s tied to a specific event or moment and so on. These kinds of moments – this kind of content – is likely to be accompanied by a press release because the company in question is rallying all efforts around a single big deal.

Social content marketing programs need the former – the core content – in order to support the latter. It’s absolutely essential. The core, to use a different term, is foundational.

With core content what you’re doing is building the base. The daily news beats about everyday things keeps the audience’s attention. It makes them aware of your company or brand and provides points of daily awareness and engagement. If they’ve taken the positive action to follow you on, let’s say, Twitter then they have already signaled their affinity. They may not engage with every Tweet but they’re seeing many of them. And each one of these is another reminder that your brand is there and is active. Core content builds relationships, even if those relationships may be mostly passive.

Then your CAMPAIGN, your premium content moment, comes along. You and your client want to make a Big Hairy Deal about something because it’s Super Important that Everyone Knows.

If you’ve laid the foundation with your core content then this is the moment to activate those fans. You want to make the big appeal for those passive fans whose attention you’ve been maintaining with that core content to get active. And they’re more likely to because as you’ve been engaging in the daily grind you’ve been building affinity. So now as you make an actionable appeal to them they’re more likely to take that action because you’ve been in their face, reminding them that you’re there and that you do something they like, for the last three, six, 12 or more months.

Campaign – premium content moments – are served by the daily core content. If you’re running a social program that goes dark for the periods between those Big Hairy Deal campaigns you’re doing nothing to support those premium moments. With a focus on core content you’re adding fans on online platforms every day because 178 people just RTd a bland, everyday update and 34 of the people who saw those RTs took the positive action to follow you. Without that core content, if you had a program that went essentially dark for three months, you’re not building up the wall on a regular basis. So the audience doesn’t change significantly from one campaign to the next, meaning your results aren’t going to be significantly different from one campaign to the next.

While campaigns are big, flashy and really important, they are served best by a program that has core, foundation-building content in support. So don’t look at that daily content as being somehow of lesser importance. The success of those bigger moments, the kind of things that get awards consideration and headlines in industry publications, relies on the daily grind.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing

October 16th, 2015

What I’m Not Reading…Because “Robots” Read It To Me

I consume a lot of media. Maybe too much.  My girlfriend has complained more than once that I need to get better at “shutting down”.

That aspect of my life is still a “ work in progress.” For the last 10 years of my life I’ve been consuming lots of media rapidly, one of my colleagues started his list with his process of learned “skimming.” I want to briefly outline a similar process I use to “read.”

My sophomore year in college I discovered there was a pretty lucrative business in writing essays for my classmates*. I quickly realized if I wanted to make this really profitable I needed to learn how to read very quickly. What I discovered instead was the process often refered to as “accelerated learning.” There are people that are absolutely amazing at this and I devoured their learnings.  The super short version of “accelerated learning” is using a combination of visual cues to cut out the “fat” of sentences combined with memory techniques**. I hardly read this way anymore mainly because my income is no longer dependent on supplying frats with papers but some of the learnings are still traceable in my reading style. It is noticeable if you hear me read out loud.

With all of that being said I don’t actually read much anymore. A year ago I made the move from NYC to SF and discovered that I was spending a lot more time walking to meetings than sitting on a subway. I needed to find a better way to “speed read”. I haven’t mastered an exact formula but I currently use a combination of IFFFT recipes, Pocket, and Google’s “Speak It” to have articles read to me at 1.5x the speed. This typically starts while I brew coffee and have articles read over my apartment’s speakers and then move to Podcasts once I start walking to work. I also have it read to me in a British accent. Which gives my morning a James Bond feel that Dirichlet distributions do not.

So what am I having read to me?

Below are some quick hits cut up by frequency


I’m a big fan of Paper.li service. It has its faults but most mornings I churn through a bunch of curations before I even sip my coffee.

I hit these with varying frequency but my constants are:

Digital & Social Marketing Daily

The DataViz Daily

The Forrester Insights Weekly

I also check in on The Economists Daily Graph.

I dig the minimalist style they (mostly) maintain.


hbr_bannerThe Harvard Business Review

I know that might be clichéd…but there is a reason for that. Read it

First Monday

This one can be dense. First Monday is an online “openly accessible, peer–reviewed journals on the Internet, solely devoted to the Internet.”

Yes, it is very academic. Yes, you will learn more from it than you will in 100 other articles.

It is designed to ask some of the bigger questions about how the internet is shaping society and vice versa in a way that isn’t lazy and sensationalist nor overly academic.

This Twitter bot article will make you rethink “influence” if you haven’t already (the article is two years old and still highly relevant)


I don’t do this as much as I did when NYU was two blocks from my apartment

Go to your local college library and ask for recent senior thesis submitted or dissertations on any subject you like. This might be “marketing” or “digital media” or even “Philosophy”. Regardless of what you settle on it gives you a great sense of what a younger generation is thinking about, what they want to do, how they want to approach future problems and how they are evaluating previous ones.

That is really it. It is not a lot despite having started this article by saying I consume a lot of media.

But that because I think there is a difference between consuming and digesting. The above are what I think are worth digesting.

The rest…leave it for the robots


** If that sounds even remotely interesting to you I really advocate taking Jonathan Levi’s “Becoming A SuperLearner

Filed in Voce People

October 15th, 2015

Tools Inform, But Don’t Dictate, Strategy

I’ve spent the last three days in Austin at the Spredfast Summit 2015. There was plenty of great food eaten, lots of good drink consumed and inspiring conversation engaged in as I met and mingled with both people who I haven’t seen in a long time or was meeting for the first time.

Because of the nature of the event there was a strong focus on product. On tools. On how those tools can be used to engage with fans and distribute content efficiently and so on. This is all true and valuable of course. A hammer is a much more efficient way of putting a nail in a piece of wood than trying to use the palm of your hand. Tools help us.

About to kick off #sfsummit with the opening keynote.

In this case one of the big value propositions being offered by tools like Spredfast and countless others is that they can offer you data that will inform how and when you, as a content marketing professional, post and engage. They offer you the best time to publish to Twitter, Facebook and other platforms because that’s the time when the audience is most responsive and you will see, the ideal goes, the biggest bang for your buck.

I have zero problem with this kind of insight. It’s valuable to use and show to your manager, clients and other stakeholders what the peak day or time for the program is. This can help guide the execution of a content marketing program, though there should be broader guidelines that are part of a content framework and style guide.

But (you knew there was going to be a “but” coming) that should be just one factor that goes into that content marketing execution. It should be considered alongside and with the guidance and experience of the people running the program. Not only that, but “peak post time” may not even be feasible for any combination of the following reasons:

  • If there’s more than one piece of news, what gets the golden slot? If you’re running a program that has any sort of scale you’re going to be posting multiple times a day. So someone will need to make sure that, assuming you have multiple beats that are known in advance, they’re making the call as to what goes where on the editorial calendar.
  • Building off one point above, the “here’s when to post to maximum impact” assumes you know what beats are coming. And when. But if your peak time is, say, 11AM but there’s a breaking news item coming in hot at 3:30PM, then by necessity (unless you’re a Time Lord) you will have missed your window.
  • That you’re not creating a feedback loop. The data may tell you – rightly, I should add – that 11AM is the best time for you to post. And if you keep maximizing the impact of that slot and seeing success, the data will likely continue to show that. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but is something where you should be sure you’re not creating a situation where you’re backed into a corner.

Make sure that not only are the tools you’re using giving you good, actionable data but that you’re combining the insights from the data are being combined with similarly good, actionable recommendations based on the experiences of the team involved. Someone telling you “that won’t work” based on their experience and gut feeling about how the audience will react should be taken just as seriously as someone coming in with reams of data about why and how a proposed tactic will or won’t work.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Publishing Programs

October 14th, 2015

What I’m Reading: Mary Gaulke


As part of Voce’s content team, I follow many sites and authors focused on the discipline of content strategy. Here are some of my favorite things I’m reading/have read lately:

  • As Voce/PN’s primary resident Wikipedian, I enjoy William Beutler’s weekly “Wikipedia in 60 Seconds” emails, which review the basics of how Wikipedia works.
  • When it comes to content strategy, there’s no one I trust more than Kristina Halvorson, author of the excellent Content Strategy for the Web. (I refer to Halvorson almost exclusively as “Our Lady of Content Strategy.”) This summary of a recent presentation of hers is practically gospel to me: “Answering why is especially important — and especially difficult. ‘This content will make us a thought leader’ is not an answer to why.”
  • A List Apart offers solid wisdom on UX, content strategy, and the intersection of both. A recent highlight: “Reclaiming Social: Content Strategy for Social Media.” Those seven questions you should ask about every social update deserve to be on a sticky note on the desk of every social media exec worldwide.
  • Contently’s Content Strategist blog is consistently worth reading.
  • Finally, Fast Company’s deeply silly Today in Tabs keeps me savvy to the latest happenings on the turbulent seas of the Internet.

Filed in Voce People

October 13th, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 10/13: Getting Rid of Comments, Embracing Annotation & More

Article or ad pic2 Image via Mashable

Social Media

Vice’s Motherboard is getting rid of comments

“The argument for comments has long been that a well-moderated section lowers the barrier to entry for readers to share their thoughts, positive or otherwise. In a vacuum, that sounds like a dream, but the key there is ‘well-moderated.’ Good comment sections exist, and social media can be just as abrasive an alternative. But for a growing site like ours, I think that our readers are best served by dedicating our resources to doing more reporting than attempting to police a comments section in the hopes of marginally increasing the number of useful comments.”

Voce Insight – Community engagement is important, but so is enabling the right kind of engagement with the right kind of environment. That’s likely the reasoning behind the decisions of a host of publications to remove comments from their sites and stick solely to social media for engagement. It’s still important to decide what function comments on your own site serve, and if it improves the quality of conversation.

Twitter users are really not happy about the blue dot in Moments

“Unsurprisingly, as with pretty much every major update to any widely used social media platform, the move has been met with some criticism from users. For many, it seems, the worst part of the update isn’t the addition of the new tab itself, but the blue dot that accompanies the tab whenever the content within it is updated, which happens several times a day.”

Voce Insight – This is a fascinating case of 21st century Pavlovian conditioning. It also represents the inevitable criticism social media platforms face when they make a noticeable change. Corrections will be made and the fuss will die down. It’s still worth watching how Moments continues to affect Twitter usage.

Public Relations

Washington Post Homepages Through the Years

“‘The Post’s newsroom remains one that constantly tweaks, plays with and innovates with its homepage and website,’ says Narisetti, ‘something that is essential in this world of permanent beta.’”

Voce Insight – Permanent beta not only belongs on a motivational poster, but also in your head when thinking about publications. Big news is big news, but priorities are still shifting constantly, which must be taken into account when working with reporters. A publication’s front page is just one indication of those priorities.

How annotation can save journalism

“But in a world in which people are looking for context and commentary with their news and where primary source documents are becoming more and more the coin of the realm, annotation seems to me to hold almost limitless potential as a new avenue by which journalists can add value (and keep their jobs!).”

Voce Insight – Annotation works not only when commenting on source material as a journalist – as a PR professional you can also use this in press releases, pitches, emails and newsletters. For the sake of brevity, adding context with additional links gives the reader what they need up front, with the option to click through for more detail (or fun).

Handling Nightmare Public Relations Clients

“The worst thing about PR are the nightmare clients. The consumer product manager who fires you then tries to hire you again and again; a client who changes their business model, asks you to hold off contacting reporters, then demands to know why there’s no media coverage – in the first month; and the manufacturer with five different websites who brags about the ‘world’s most expensive’ product that is a photo-shopped picture.”

Voce Insight – Commiserating about unreasonable clients is part of PR, but maintaining good relationships with clients — even the difficult ones — is paramount to success. Even more important for aspiring PR professionals is to make sure their team is strong. The people around you make the more trying times a little less difficult.


The 8 Things No Recruiter (Ever) Wants To See On Your Resume

“Your resume is essential to helping you get a job – you’re unlikely to get far without it. As a record of your achievement, it (ideally) lays out for an employer exactly what you have done and therefore that you can do the job for which you’re applying.”

Voce Insight – You’re going to be emailing your resume, which means the question is not if you should include links, but where those links will lead. As this article notes, linking to Facebook or Instagram is rarely a good idea. A personal website, a well maintained Twitter account or your LinkedIn profile is a better bet. Annotation everybody (ahem … see above).

Filed in Career Development

October 13th, 2015

How To Skim, And What I’m Skimming: Christopher Barger

Like most of my fellow digital media practitioners, I have a lot of reading every week. Reading is as big a part of life for a digital consultant as understanding community management best practices or understanding audience need states and how to relevant to your target communities. The digital space changes fast — faster than the rest of communications; there are always new players emerging, new developments from existing players, new brand experiences that will end up being case studies to learn from… keeping up on all these changes is absolutely necessary if you want to maintain your ability to keep your clients informed, and to keep providing the strongest and most up to date counsel.

I also am responsible, along with Chris Thilk and a couple of other colleagues, for our weekly PNConnect Weekly Reading newsletter. This pretty much means that one of my responsibilities is to tell other people — colleagues, clients, and other observers — what they should be reading. That comes with additional pressure to be thorough and complete in my reading; I have to see enough each week to be able to identify and promote the most significant content that week.

It can be tough, however, to do your job and do all the reading you need to do. Clients need counsel; they also need execution from you. And of course, that’s why we’re all in business: to support our clients. So in order to keep up with everything going on in the digital space while still supporting clients, I’ve had to sharpen a very important skill: skimming.

Call it skimming, call it speed-reading; whatever its name, the skill involves learning to glance at an article or post, be able to go over it quickly, and identify and understand the key points and main thrust of the article. It’s kind of like drawing up your own Cliff’s Notes for everything you read. The only way to get good at it is to do it again and again; like training yourself to pick up a ball leaving a pitcher’s hand and knowing by release point and arm angle what he’s throwing, it takes practice and repetition to get it right. Ultimately, what you’re training yourself to do is to read only the words or lines that will increase your understanding of the text, and avoid the excess words that don’t help you.

One of the ways I’ve trained myself to do this is to skim several articles about the same topic; if I come away from all of them with the same takeaways, it’s a decent bet that I’ve really grokked it. I did an awful lot of this as I was learning; if you’re trying to master the skill, you should identify three or four stories on the same subject. When you’re drawing similar conclusions from each article, you’re probably doing it right. If you’re drawing different conclusions, re-read everything more slowly. (Try not to read opinion pieces as you’re doing this; you really need to train yourself on reporting, not columns or opinion posts. With opinion pieces, you’re reliant on the author’s conclusions or perspectives for your own coming out of the read.)

Don’t read every word on the page. I tend to read the lead graphs first — good reporting still includes getting all the keys in the lede. It also helps me to look for quotes in the story; if the author has interviewed or cited a third party in the piece, that’s usually good for providing color and adding depth to my understanding. Looking for names, dates, percentages or other data, and that kind of thing also tends to help identify when something’s going to make you “get it” better. Finally, the first few words of each new paragraph give you the sense of what the graph is about; reading the first sentence more thoroughly or carefully than the rest can be an effective tactic.

Now that we’ve talked a little about how to skim articles, I should probably tell you what I skim on a regular basis to keep current and make my counsel as effective as possible. I should first admit that I read a lot more publications than individual perspectives. There are two reasons for this. First, I don’t always want to see someone else’s opinionated perspective as the first exposure I get to a topic. I want the “just the facts, ma’am” version of the subject, so I can develop my own opinion about it. I’ll then gut-check my developing opinion by reading the perspectives of the people I respect in the field. If they come to a different conclusion than I do, it doesn’t necessarily make me wrong, but I do tend to go back and re-read about the subject with greater care than at first, to make sure I understand the topic as well as I thought.

The other reason I don’t read many individuals is that I think there’s a dearth of good counsel and genuinely good opinion out there in the digital media world. There’s a lot of self-promotion — much of it from people who haven’t actually been in the trenches executing programs, but just fancy themselves “experts” — but I find that many of the voices that are still considered most prominent in this space haven’t had much original to say since about 2009.

That said, there are a handful of people who I think are really smart and whom I read regularly. My former competitor when I was at GM and he at Ford, Scott Monty always makes me think, and points me to stories that I should probably “learn up” on. Gini Dietrich and her team at Spin Sucks are a good resource both for pointing out stories of importance and for making me aware of professional development resources (as well as being a professional development resource in their own right). Shelly Kramer and her team at the V3 Blog are a good read. And Geoff Livingston challenges conventional wisdom and makes me really consider my own positions on digital marketing when he posts about marketing.

The rest of my reading is accomplished through Feedly. Feedly is like any RSS tool, in that you have to tell it what you want to follow and what you want it to present to you. But it makes it a lot easier for me to see what’s being published by my sources of choice. I look at Feedly several times a day to see what these sources are running with — and to see if more than one is covering the same story (a good indication that it’s an important story that I ought to get smart on pretty fast).

I’ve got a couple of different categories of reading to check. For General Reading, I have mainstream news outlets — the New York Times, Washington Post, the major broadcast networks’ websites. First, if these outlets are covering a digital story, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s a story of significance to the “real world” of people who don’t specialize in digital for a living. But I also just want to be up on what’s going on in the world, to provide context to some of the digital stories I cover.


I have a category dedicated to Marketing and Social Media. These outlets help me stay up on the broad field of marketing, and especially digital marketing. Some of the outlets I seem to find most useful in this category include Marketingland, AdWeek, ClickZ, MarketingProfs, eMarketer, Ragan’s PR Daily, and the eConsultancy Blog. There’s others in that feed, but these seem to be the outlets that make me smartest. Like I said, these help me stay up on the developments that will impact my job the most.

I have a category dedicated to Tech. Voce tends to focus much of its business on the tech industry, a lot of our clients are in tech, and often when either the major digital platforms or emerging competitors are doing something new, the tech media cover it. Among the sites in this category most useful to me are Quartz (which I especially find useful for smartening me up on global digital developments), ReadWrite, Re/Code, the New York Times’ “Bits” blog, The Verge, VentureBeat, Fast Company, and Wired. Again, there are others — but I do find myself gravitating to these more often.


From a Journalism standpoint, I like looking at the Columbia Journalism Review — they often have pieces that provide depth to how the emergence of digital has impacted the pursuit of journalism and breaking news — for both better and worse.

Finally, every now and then, I confess that I will check out BuzzFeed. The snob in me wants to pretend that I don’t, but every so often, in between the articles on 37 First Sex Mistakes That Will Make You Cringe, they have a story on a brand or company that’s using digital in a creative or interesting way. They’re also pioneers in the area of native advertising, which is something every digital practitioner should rapidly be gaining expertise in — and I learn from some of the brands who do native ads on BuzzFeed.

Now, do you see why I’ve had to learn the art of skimming?

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Voce People

October 12th, 2015

What I’m Reading: Chris Thilk

I do a lot of reading. As one of the people, along with Christopher Barger, responsible for assembling the PNConnect Weekly Reading newsletter and blog post I need to be monitoring a lot of different news sources on a regular basis. To do this most efficiently I use Digg Reader (yes, I’m one of the 74 people still addicted to RSS. I have Digg Reader for one set of feeds and Feedly for another set that’s focused on client news monitoring) and check it a dozen times a day to keep up with the hundreds of feeds I’m subscribed to. Items I save in Digg are automatically pushed to my Pocket account so I can collect them and then go through them later, reading what I want to just read and using the rest as the basis for Weekly Reading, Voce blog posts, personal blog posts or for use elsewhere like on LinkedIn.

rssHere’s a dirty little secret about my RSS reading, though: I subscribe to very few “personal” blogs. Like…three. That’s because a few years ago I realized that most of what was passing for thought leadership in the PR/Social Media world these days sounded very much like the thought leadership we were seeing in 2007. It was all about “7 Tips to Blog Like a Rock Star” and “12 Ways to Run an Effective Twitter Chat.” Not that there’s anything wrong with those kinds of posts, but they felt way recycled and there didn’t seem to be much new in the thinking on display.

Instead my RSS feeds are mostly made up of news sites. Mostly that’s media and social media sites, but with general news feeds in there as well from The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek and so on. Because if I’m not up on the news in the rest of the world then I’m of less value not only as a citizen but also as a social media manager since those national and world events absolutely inform the guidance I’m providing my clients. There’s also a healthy amount of “entertainment” news in there as well since that’s not only of interest to me personally but also informs what I write for my personal blog.

In addition to RSS I do obviously use Twitter for just kind of general worldly awareness. It’s where I look for trending topics and breaking news, though I don’t count on it for actual news reading outside of the “Priorities” column I have in Tweetdeck. And I enjoy following select news media accounts on Tumblr, not so much to see the news but to see how those pubs are using Tumblr as a distribution and engagement point.

If you’d like to know exactly what I read (I don’t think there’s anything too embarrassing in there), leave a comment below and I’ll email you an OPML export from Digg Reader.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Voce People

October 8th, 2015

Facebook Test Reactions

Facebook has announced they are officially testing Reactions, an enhancement that is supposed to be a more nuanced approach to engaging with a post beyond just Liking it or not Liking it. After all, humans have more emotions than can be summed up with a simple binary option.

Reactions are rolling out just to Ireland and Spain for now and will be available on posts from individuals and Pages from publishers, businesses and more, including posts from advertisers. Facebook is selling this as an opportunity for Page managers to better understand their audience and how they feel about what’s being published.

What’s clear here is that this is NOT a “Dislike” button, which is what the internet kind of thought it would be when it was first announced a couple months ago. In fact there’s nothing here beside “angry” that even comes close.


So what can publishers do now? Not much, honestly. For now, Page managers will be able to see what kind of emoji Reactions people are sharing on their posts, meaning they will at least be able to draw anecdotal, if not actual quantitative, conclusions. While the network reminds publishers to follow their core best practices and post content that is “meaningful” to their audience, it remains to be see exactly how these new emoji-based Reactions will translate into Insights.

As this expands beyond its original test countries it will be interesting to see how publishers can actually use the data that’s provided to guide future posting decisions. Right now it looks like more nuanced emotions will mean more work for those who are tasked with diving into data since they will have to draw a lot of conclusions out of what it means when 27% of the audience used the “Wow” emoji, 36% used the “Love” and so on. But hopefully that means, once everyone becomes acclimated to this new paradigm, publishers will be able to much more carefully choose what they do and don’t post on Facebook.

Additional thoughts from Christopher Barger:

I’m optimistically hoping that this can begin to have a positive impact on the quality of what gets posted on Facebook — because as audiences have options to provide more nuanced feedback, the self-serving/overly promotional posts will start to track worse in a way that’s demonstrable. I think the end result is better content over time.

Again, it’s anecdotal and not qualitative feedback, but those who think “Like this post if you like ketchup” makes a good Facebook post, and who won’t post anything unless it contains product or branding, may get a stern wakeup call with this feature in effect.

More to come as more details are revealed.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs, Social Networks

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