February 13, 2012

Engaging Audiences via Social Media (shoutout to #scio12)

I'm facilitating a class tonight on how to increase visibility and evaluating response to a blog. The class is a group of students in the Interdisciplinary Health Communication program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They run the blog Upstream (go take a look!), which has "the goal of encouraging dialogue and debate on health communication."

I'm going to discuss two elements important to all bloggers / Twitterers, both in the library and in the science community (and other communities too, of course):
  1. How to improve visibility of your blog (Twitter / other social media)
  2. How to evaluate the response to your blog
To address these issues,  I plan to morph two great sessions I saw at the 2012 Science Online conference.

To improve visibility folks need to be talking about or sharing your content. Emily Finke and Kevin Zelnio's #scio12 session Understanding audiences and how to know when you are *really* reaching out helped me generate the following questions for the class:
  • What would improving visibility look like? 
    • More hits on your blog?
    • More shared blog posts?
    • More comments on the blog?
  • The audience raised some excellent points about using blog comments to make assessments about your blog itself. These include:
    • Sharing (retweeting or emailing to others) vs. commenting on a blog post
    • Many barriers to commenting on blogs, such as:
      • Comments are longer-lasting, possibly contentious
      • Comments requiring login serves as an additional barrier
      • Commenting is tough on a mobile phone
    • Tweets are more ephemeral, and sharing with people you've chosen
  • Based on these questions, are comments a good way of assessing visibility?
  • One audience member suggested that a good way of increasing reach would be to translate your blog into another language.  This would be important if you wanted a to reach a group for whom English is not the first language.
It's also important to communicate back and forth with your audience on your blog and via Twitter.

I've collected a lot of links to help evaluate the response to your social media presence, which are on my library guide Assessing Social Media Campaigns.  Many of these links were identified by the ScienceOnline session The Attention Economy and Influence Metrics by Adrian J. Ebsary and Lou Woodley. Handy links include 
  • Website Grader, analyzes websites for SEO, readability, links, and more. 
  • TwitSprout, which track social media activity for your Twitter account.
  • TweetPsych creates a psychological profile of any public Twitter account and compares it to the thousands already in the database on categories such as learning, work, media
  • SnapBird doesn't assess your media reach, but it does store the last 3,000 tweets from any Twitter account. Handy for assessing comments about a brand or campaign from a known account.
Lots more to talk about -- I'm sure we won't cover all of these points in the class, but at least it's a good outline.  I plan to share some ideas from the students in a future blog post.

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