What do Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube have in common? While they are often essential to our content strategy, none of these third-party social media platforms are completely intuitive. They all have little-known functionality, power user tricks and an unceasing tide of new features that, if we’re in the know, can help us more effectively achieve our communications goals.
The good news is, we can get a lot of insight straight from the horses’ mouths. What follows is a collection of content creation guidelines published by the big dogs themselves, packed with valuable information to help us better publish and manage our content within the schemes created by these services.
This begs the question: Why did the companies go to the trouble of creating these handy guides? Because they have a business interest in keeping us using their services to manage our communities. The more success we have, aided by guides such as these, the more invested both we and our audiences become in the platform. That said, as it stands, these are the places where our audience is already spending time. So if we want to reach them, we need all the help we can get.
The Twitter blog provides useful information about changes to the service, user stats and exemplary uses of the channel. But what I find more interesting is Twitter Media, a resource that explores how to “bring the power of Twitter to TV, music, entertainment, sports and news.” With the growing trend toward multichannel, transmedia experiences, I find this more helpful for staying ahead of the curve.
Twitter Media originally began as a blog that covered specific case studies, such as Amazon MP3 tweeting links to purchase songs played during the Super Bowl broadcast or the use of hashtags during the 2011 Oscars telecast. Unfortunately, a lot of those posts appear to have been lost as Twitter Media evolved into a collection of guides for TV shows and stars, TV producers, newsrooms, sports organizations and athletes, as well as specific guides for live-tweeting and using photos in tweets. The good news is, those guides are thorough and helpful. They also use Storify to curate highly creative uses of the service.
In July, Twitter launched a new site for developers, which includes a developer-centric blog highlighting API updates, mobile development info and more. This provides yet another excuse to buy your developer a cup of coffee and figure out how to up your Twitter game.
Facebook is probably the channel where we need the most help figuring out how to make the most of it. What with all the peculiarities of the EdgeRank algorithm and the ever-shifting Facebook landscape, it’s tough to keep up. Luckily, Facebook has created several extensive guides and best practices for publishers.
- The 15-page Facebook Page Insights guide [PDF] helps page managers understand how to publish content that is relevant and shareable. For a quicker look, this best practices document on audience engagement via Facebook Pages [PDF] offers a top ten list of tips such as sharing exclusive information with Page fans and localizing posts when appropriate.
- This 14-page best practice guide for “Marketing on Facebook” [PDF] provides a high-level overview to the value of marketing via Facebook, complete with mini case studies and five-step strategies for implementing core marketing objectives. The last page of the guide is a master directory of resources about all things Facebook.
- Tucked within their vast repository of developer resources is a section exploring one of Facebook’s core concepts, social design, which they define as “a way of thinking about product design that puts social experiences at the core.” Through three in-depth sections—utilizing community, building conversations and curating identity—you can learn how to leverage the Facebook platform (whether through creating an app or integrating Facebook functionality onto your website) to make your content more social.
- Facebook has created resources (in the form of Facebook Pages, natch) targeting a range of fields, offering guidance on how each of them can best use Facebook.
- Facebook Pages, a page all about, well, Pages. Within this page, there are tabs dedicated to livestreaming video via Facebook and a collection of downloadable best practice Pages guides for education [PDF], news [PDF] and nonprofits [PDF], among other fields.
- Facebook for Marketing
- Facebook for Education
- Facebook for Nonprofits
- Facebook for News
- Facebook for Journalists
- Facebook Studio, a showcase for “marketers who are creating and innovating on Facebook.”
- Facebook for Small Business Marketing
Earlier this year, YouTube kicked off a new effort to support video content creators, launching the Creators Hub community and resource. The most valuable section is the Creator Playbook, a 70-plus page guide to creating and hosting video content more effectively. Topics include calls-to-action, annotations, analytics, video responses, involving your audience and publishing frequency. The guide uses graphics, bullet points and screenshots to convey the bevy of tips and tricks clearly.
The Creators Hub also curates more than 50 tutorial videos on video production (aperture, white balance, shutter speed, lighting, audio, cameras and rigs) and more effective use of YouTube (annotation, building audience, using metadata). You can also check out the YouTube Creators blog, where they post product announcements (like the new YouTube analytics and enhancements to YouTube Channels) and examples of great content creation on YouTube. (The main YouTube blog is a good resource, as well.)
If you’re looking for some extra tips, Seth Odell dropped a ton of YouTube knowledge in an episode of Higher Ed Live a year ago. And for more video tips, check out Vimeo’s Video School, which has tutorials and lessons on beginner video production, lenses, DSLR basics, lighting, editing, animation and much more.
Google has put its purchase of Blogger to at least one good use: hosting dozens of value-packed blogs to aid and enlighten users of its myriad services. The blogs include:
- Analytics (both enhancements and uses of Google Analytics in general and a blog specifically focused on conversions.)
- Think With Google, offering “tips, tools and insights for planning marketing campaigns.”
- Nonprofits, sharing several examples of how nonprofits are using Google’s tools to support their goals.
- Small Business Blog, which offers tips in a similar vein to the Nonprofits blog.
- Geo Developers and the Lat Long Blog (authored by the Google Earth and Maps team), for those concerned with location-specific and geo-sensitive content.
- Google Mobile apps, covering topics such as Android enhancements, the mobile version of Google Maps, and apps such as Goggles and Latitude.
- Google+ Blog, sure to be a spot to watch as we all continue to figure out what the heck to do with Google+.
- Google for Students, where you can see how Google is positioning itself as a resource for college students, including the new College Tips site.
What are some other resources available to help us learn how to use these services to best support our content goals?