For a hyperlocal news publication to be successful, its editors have to do more than break news and tell fascinating stories. Using social media to promote great content and engage local community readers is key for any independent publication looking to build a devoted audience.
Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all useful tools for publishers trying to promote their stories, but these platforms don’t always provide users with the type of guidance they need to truly build a following online. For that, publishers need a diversified social media strategy that involves posting content across multiple platforms and using analytics to track which types of posts and updates are generating the most views.
Here are six social media marketing tools that hyperlocal publishers can use to improve reader engagement and help their stories go viral.
Publications that need help monitoring and measuring reader engagement across multiple social media platforms can use Spredfast to improve engagement levels on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Spredfast can provide media companies with guidance when it comes to building buzz and driving traffic to breaking news stories. The company works with media organizations like Gannett, McGraw Hill, and WB. Spredfast offers a tiered pricing structure with a free 30-day trial.
ShareThis is a tool that provides hyperlocal publishers with insights based on social media engagement. Publishers can add a ShareThis widget to their sites to encourage users to share their articles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The company’s latest tool, called ShareNow, makes this process even more seamless by giving readers a way to share content on multiple networks without having to click away from a publisher’s site. Using proprietary analytics, ShareThis helps publishers find out which articles are being shared the most and which networks their readers are sharing those articles on. ShareThis is used by Mashable, delish, and AllThingsD. ShareThis is free for publishers.
HootSuite provides hyperlocal publishers with a straightforward way to manage multiple social media accounts. Editors can schedule messages to go out on all the most popular platforms — including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, and others — and use HootSuite’s analytics to promote the articles that seem to be generating the highest levels of “virality.” HootSuite pricing starts are free, with Pro accounts costing $9.99 per month.
Independent publishers and bloggers looking for a straightforward way to syndicate their articles across the social web can use dlvr.it to automatically send content from their sites directly to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and other popular networks. Publishers that don’t wish to auto-publish all their content can also use dlvr.it to selectively update their accounts with top stories and breaking news alerts. They can also modify the text in certain messages to make those messages more suitable for audiences on Facebook or Twitter. Dlvr.it delivers content for Reuters, ESPN, and BoingBoing. The service is free for publishers.
Hyperlocal publishers who are interested in finding out what readers are saying about their publications online can use SproutSocial to track mentions and engage with followers on social media. Editors can schedule tweets, monitor the topics being covered by competing news organizations, and track relevant keywords. They can also control access to their publications’ social media accounts as a way to make sure any messages posted by lower-level reporters are reviewed before they’re sent. SproutSocial is used by Yahoo!, Microsoft, and T-Mobile. Pricing options for the platform range from $9 to $99 per month.
Independent publishers can use BlogFrog to find and engage with powerful social media users—known as “influencers”—on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Publications that use BlogFrog to start virtual communities, which attach to their websites, can invite online influencers to share photos and participate in live chats as a way to drive traffic and build stronger relationships with readers. BlogFrog’s media partners include the Meredith Corporation and ABC News. Publishers can start their own social communities through the BlogFrog platform for free.
Know of other social media tools that local publishers should try? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.