Like any good editors, we love having more eyeballs on our content. But how do you get those eyeballs to a Seattle-based community media site like Flip the Media?
Officially, Flip the Media is the online publication of the Communication Leadership (Comm Lead) program at the University of Washington, an outlet for students and faculty to share their journalism, passions, and thought leadership with broader communities in media, business, and communication technology. Flip is also essentially a volunteer organization – we have a large base of writers from the Comm Lead community with wildly different schedules, all of whom contribute when they can.
Since we’re not built for the constant content push of the breaking news cycle, creating posts that resonate with our audience means being realistic about how our team can deliver the most value to readers. With that in mind, here are three ways we’ve been able to create great content that resonates both within, and outside of, our immediate community.
SME Content – Know Your Contributor’s Strengths
We may not be a news outlet offering snackable content 24/7, but with a group of contributors engaged in rigorous graduate studies, not to mention their own professional careers, we can offer deeper pieces from subject matter experts with genuinely useful insights and takeaways.
A piece from last summer, “Rules of Engagement: 10 Guidelines for Posting Photography on Social Media,” is a great example. Drawn directly from the work product of Comm Lead professor Robin Avni and the students from her unique course on digital media visual culture, the piece offers useful, funny, original, and relatable takeaways on what to do and, especially, what NOT to do when posting photos on social media outlets (for God’s sake, no funeral selfies!). With 3,266 views, the story took off on social media; in particular, Facebook referrals accounted for well over one-third of the total traffic.
“Using Tableau and Google Analytics to Create Beautiful, Useful Maps,” by Flip’s own co-editor, Connie Rock, also became a hit last summer, with 3,748 views. Organic search referrals accounted for 2,397 of those views, and the piece received 541 shares on Twitter, including shares from Google and Tableau. Connie’s deep data viz and analytics experience meant a super useful piece for readers that also aligned itself well with hot industry topics – who’s not talking about data visualization and analytics these days? Which also brings us to….
Ride the Wave – Capitalize on Hot Topics
A recent piece from Flip contributor Jesse Zook Mann, “If Facebook’s Organic Reach Is Dead, What Are Social Media Managers To Do?” illustrated this point when it took off in January and nabbed over 2000 views. While the post received a reasonable boost from social media channels, Jesse really struck gold by creating a topical post that was easily surfaced via organic search. Facebook’s ever-changing organic reach algorithm is an ever-popular subject, and Jesse brought the goods with smart recommendations on how to handle “Facebook Zero” from social media experts. Mix it all together with some well-aligned SEO, and you’ve got a story that still showed up near the top of Google News search results for “Facebook organic reach” after two months.
Another recent post from Kirsten O’Brien, “Want To Snapchat Like a Pro? Follow Diplo’s Lead,” also racked up a cool 2,000 views after its publication in February. Much like the organic reach post, Kirsten’s piece offered a unique take on a topic which was making national headlines at the time, and it remained a top Google search result for weeks after its posting.
Don’t Forget! Leverage Your Community
All of the pieces above had the benefit of timely subject matter that would appeal to a broad audience. But what about more local pieces? Through the Communication Leadership program, we’re fortunate to have access to terrific thought leaders in the Seattle community, and we leverage that access as much as possible to create valuable content for Flip.
Contributor Sebastian Sanchez used his access to great success a post about his student project & film “Pioneering Virtual Reality: Creating a Better World Though VR.” Sebastian’s film tells the story of local VR pioneer Tom Furness, who longs for a day when VR and gaming technology are better leveraged for societal good. It’s an inspiring film (not to mention beautifully shot), but not necessarily a trending topic. Nonetheless, the post nabbed 1,125 views, and had broad community appeal. Over half of the traffic came from social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter and, in a change for Flip, LinkedIn; and it also got picked up by other VR focused sites, like The VR Times, and Mixed Realities.
Of course, there are endless ways to slice and dice the analytics and figure out what works for your site, but using the foundational methods above, we’ve seen a lot of success in pushing our content beyond the immediate realm of our grad program community. Agree, disagree? Let us know what works for you in the comments!