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A Tactical Guide to Social Media

March 24, 2014
This month in Public Information, I’m going to get into the nitty-gritty of how I actually use social media in a tactical sense. I’ve talked about what makes these tools “social,” I’ve discussed the fiscal and branding opportunities they present. Now’s the time to get down to it.
 
Social media is what experts call a “spoke model,” meaning there are lots of opportunities for interaction (represented by spokes, like a bike wheel) from one “hub” of information. Another way to say this is “create once, share everywhere.”
 
Step one: Create your press release, video, article, etc.
Make sure you’ve got compelling, well-written content that is structured and styled correctly. It always helps to have a fantastic photograph, too, to catch the eye of the reader.

For more information on how to make this happen, see the previous columns How to Write for Media 1 (part 1)How to Write for Media (part 2)  and Taking a Quality Photograph.
 
Step two: Share using your pre-determined network
For Milton, I use an e-mail service named Constant Contact. However, there are some other great options out there, like Mail Chimp. The other option, if it’s too specialized to go to everyone in my network, is to simply put it on the city’s Web site.
 
Step three: Grab your link
Once the story is on the city’s Web site, grab your page link. You want to always share from your main site so that your Web traffic goes up when users click on the link. E-mail services like Constant Contact have an option to simply share the Web version of the e-mail, but this does not help your overall network. 

Next I shorten the link so it’s easy to share (we use a content management system for our Web site, so our links are long and nonsense). I use a free service called bitly that shortens links to like 5 characters – this is essential on Twitter, as you’ll see.
 
Step four: Place the link
Take your shortened link and place it into your Twitter or Facebook update box. Facebook should pick it up and display the story for you. Make sure to come up with something snappy to go with the link so people actually want to read the story. Remember that space is precious on Twitter (which is why bitly is key), so get right to the meat of it. Usually your lead will suffice.
 
Step five: Track, track, track
Once your item is posted, keep an eye on it. How many people check it out? Has anyone commented on it? Make sure to respond back quickly and kindly.
 
Soon, you’ll be able to tell what’s going to flourish and what will die on the vine – this is the beauty of social media: real-time market research. And that will lead to better content as you begin to create pieces specifically for your audience.
 
That concludes the four-month stretch of columns devoted to social media. I hope you enjoyed it.
JASON WRIGHT
Jason Wright is Communications Manager for the Georgia Tech Research Library. Up until November 2015, he was the Director of Innovation and Engagement for the City of Milton where he oversaw all aspects of the city's branding and communications efforts, including transparency, automation, design, photography, printing, web services and social media and public outreach.

Prior to Milton, Wright spent seven years working in the magazine and newspaper business. Most recently he was editor of both the Milton Herald and Alpharetta–Roswell Revue and News, where he wrote, edited, photographed for and oversaw design of the weekly papers. Prior to that, he worked as a writer, editor, designer and photographer for local, regional and national publication.