RJI Innovation: Analytics & Social Media

The Mizzou J-School is usually bursting to the seams with brilliance. This week, it erupted, thanks to RJI’s Innovation Week. Although I couldn’t attend every event, there was one I was able to catch that I found particularly useful: how to optimize analytics and social media.

The first presenter began by discussing STL Today’s website. She stressed that reorganization, not a complete redesign, was being suggested. Visualization is key, since that’s the viewer’s first impression of the site. The better the presentation, the better user experience, meaning longer visits and a higher chance of returning. See, people are, quite frankly, lazy. They don’t want to search for stuff, so a website needs a strong focal point to lead the eye. This can be accomplished with a strong photo and headline placed front and center. Color plays an important role, too — grey is easily skipped over, whereas a dark red catches the viewer’s attention. A later presenter shared that people expect social media buttons to be either be at the top or the bottom of the page, according to click-map research.

The next presenter focused on email newsletters. Email, after all, is accessible on a plethora of devices, making it easy to check. Email newsletters are also personalized — not just in that the recipient’s name is included, but also in that the news contained can be catered to fit that user’s interests. However, there are some things to watch out for. First, many email users have image blockers, so if ads are included in the newsletter, they may not even appear. Make sure the alt attribute on images is used, so that if the images don’t appear, the viewer will still see something. Second, make sure any links included actually, you know, work. Kind of a big deal. Third, email newsletters should ideally be created so they’re also mobile-friendly. Finally, on the actual website, a “subscribe” function for email newsletters should be easy to find.

On Facebook, media outlets (and any other business, really) can engage users on a more personal level with actual back-and-forth conversation. Linking to articles or other content on your own website can also bring in more traffic. A good way to actually get people to click on it is by asking users to read the article before commenting. Knowing what the community is interested in is a good way to promote engagement, too. The new Timeline layout is ideal for visuals, but often photos, cartoons, etc., don’t generate web traffic.

It’s easy to just tweet information to numerous followers, but making an effort to actually interact is always a good idea. Again, knowing the community’s interests works in your favor. Creating lists for people to follow, as well as marking some tweets as “Favorites,” shows users you understand them.

A young but rapidly growing social media beast is Pinterest. Again, visuals are key. This site is basically just pictures with small captions, after all. And what do we know about visuals? People love them! Pinterest is a free way to attract interest, plus it’s easy for users to share your stuff. It easily integrates with other social media platforms, too, allowing for simultaneous posting.

How does your organization use social media to engage people?

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