Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast
A mobile phone can do more than just take pictures. It can be used to be used to build a brand, and it’s perfect for content distribution, because it has connectivity hardwired into it. To do that, there are two ways to send out content using a phone. One is through platform-to-platform and the other method is through aggregators that can be used to save time.
First, it’s important to have accounts on all the relevant social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google My Business, Instagram, Youtube, and more, including even WeChat and Weibo. Having mobile apps of these platforms makes it really easy to take a picture or record something and then send it directly via any of these different platforms. Doing that one by one, however, can take up time, which is why it’s also possible to use aggregation tools. This is one way to amplify content at scale without having to spend more time doing so. In the SPEAK|pr program which stands for Storify, Personalise, Engage, Amplify, and Know, amplification is the part of public relations and communications that quite possibly benefits the most from technology, because technology nowadays enables batch processing of content. Moreover, mobile phones provide almost as much functionality as a computer, with the advantage being that you can easily take it with you wherever you go.
The all-powerful Zoho
One of the first aggregation tools is Zoho, which is a great platform to use, because it has a free service offering. On it, one can publish on all networks with one team member and one brand, and it includes a URL shortener and a zShare browser extension, which enables someone to share content on a website through to the different networks. After adding social media accounts onto Zoho Social using a browser, the next step is authorising Zoho Social to use the app API to go through to those other channels.
In terms of functionality, these platforms are all similar. Via Zoho, Buffer, Hootsuite, or HubSpot, with one click, all the different channels are connected. Posting content can be done using any of these aggregation platforms, and there’s also an option to post it right away or to schedule it. Some of them can select a schedule slot according to how much content is already lined up, and some of them choose the best time slot where the post is likely to get the most engagement, making it really handy. Repeating posts can also be done. Within the SPEAK|pr methodology, the need to repurpose content is discussed, as well as the need to repost certain posts because as mentioned before, a tweet only lasts for 18 minutes, while a Facebook posts lasts less than 60 minutes, and a YouTube video lasts less than five days. Since the shelf life of the content can be very short, especially when posting across multiple time zones, it may be better to repeat the same post at different times or days.
There are other features to think about as well. One is the ability to upload content and pause it to have a chance to review it and go over it. Another is the use of statistics and reports made available to determine how to proceed with the PR strategy based on what the metrics are saying. Also, it’s important to consider collaboration when working with a team. With the Zoho basic program, which is free, it’s just one team member and one brand, but to add two members with one brand and have seven different channels, it’s £8 per month. The Professional package has one brand with seven channels with three team members who can then collectively post content, and it provides different reports per brand. For £160 a month, you can have 10 brands and five team members. It becomes more sophisticated and more pricey the more people there are managing the content, but if you’re on your own and you’re just using your mobile phone, you could do a lot already with Zoho Social for free.
Alternatives to Zoho
There are alternatives to Zoho, but these all offer pretty much the key features. There’s Buffer, which allows scheduling and posting content to social media, and it supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. Buffer is one of the main players in this space, and this evidenced by the 75,000 companies that trust Buffer. There, one can publish content and analyse campaigns. As most of these platforms do now, they give you the ability to send content from your phone as well as manage everything from a web browser, to measure and report on the progress of individual campaigns and posts, and to manage communities. Buffer has extra tools like a Stories Creator, the ability to link content to a shopping cart, to create, save, and organize hashtags, and to do some tagging too. So, it’s no surprise so many people are using Buffer.
Another platform is Hootsuite, which was launched back in 2008 and is also available as a mobile phone app. This has integration again with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and YouTube. To some degree, these are all limited by the number of channels that they’re connecting to. On it, you can have multiple profiles and you can see the different streams of content going in and out of those different channels. Hootsuite starts at £25 a month for the Professional plan, and with this, one can have up to 10 social profiles, unlimited scheduling, and one user. For a team, one can have up to 20 social profiles, unlimited scheduling, and three users for £99 per month. Next, the price would be as much as £520 a month for enterprises. They’ve got 18 million users in 175 countries, so this is one of the largest companies in the world when it comes to managing content distribution.
Hubspot is another big player, and it’s built as an inbound marketing company, focusing more on lead generation than content management. To get started, it would cost around $50 per month. Its key features include a CRM and a marketing hub, making it similar to its competitor, Salesforce. Another option is Agorapulse. This is an easy and affordable social media management tool that offers users a 14-day trial, and then after that, it’s $14 per month, and it allows three profiles and one user. Like the other platforms, it can send content to the social media channels through one click, plus they all have different levels of reporting in real time.
Sprout Social is another social media management software. After the free 30-day trial, it’s $99 a month for the individual user. It can give brand keywords, so you can do researching, and it has a smart inbox feature, so that you can get any messages from different websites all in one place. It also allows pre-approval to check posts before they are published or scheduled, providing a gatekeeper function. A slightly less mainsteam content distribution platform is Statusbrew, which enables sending out content to the different channels, but it also can help manage trends in the market by providing analytics. It helps manage and reduce the advertising across social media channels, and it can identify fraudulent and misleading brands in campaigns. It has more security features in there and starts at $1,200 a month.
Lastly, there is Eclincher, and this, again, enables social media posting, scheduling, and interactions. It does what most of these platforms do, which is to centralise all social interactions, and it’s $49 per month after a 14-day trial. This connects to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google, YouTube, and Yelp. Zoho doesn’t connect to YouTube, but Eclincher can. Zoho can not be used to create content; it’s simply for publishing or scheduling content. But with Eclincher’s image editor, one can create image designs and post them all on the same app. One of the things to note when posting to Instagram is that the size of the picture is different to the picture dimensions for Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s also important to keep in mind that Facebook requires one to enter content uniquely, even when posting using one of these aggregators.
There are a number of tools available: Zoho Social, Buffer, Hootsuite, HubSpot, Agorapulse, Sprout Social, Statusbrew, and Eclincher, to name a few, but as Scott Brinker and his team have found, there are over 8,000 tools available, 100 of which are consolidated in EASTWEST PR’s Technology Applications Directory. The point here is that using a mobile phone with any of these apps downloaded onto it, with one click, one can post content on up to seven platforms, either there and then or schedule them. So, the device in your hand can be an amazingly powerful content generator and broadcaster, and it doesn’t have to take up much time. As you’re looking at building your own brand for your company or for yourself, think about the tool in your hand and the power that you’ve got, and that even for free or for a modest fee, you can use any of these platforms and amplify your message around the world in real time from wherever you are, whenever you are. Now that is great public relations.
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.
Cover Photo from GovTech