The following are questions submitted during a webinar with stations and producers.

1. What are some of the social media sites that may help me reach a broader audience?

There are an overwhelming number of social sites on the Web – choosing the right one(s) can be tricky but there are a few that we can recommend. We even have some helpful Best Practices that will get you started.

  • Facebook: www.facebook.com
    Facebook is a social media platform where people can create profiles, share content, create groups and interact in many other ways.
  • Twitter: www.twitter.com
    Twitter is an exciting and quirky social media tool. At last count there are several million Twitter users, and a fair number of those visit the site and update regularly. Twitter is essentially a way to send instant messages to groups of people who have chosen to “follow.” You, in turn, can follow the same (or different) people yourself.
  • Flickr: www.flickr.com
    Flickr is a user-generated photo sharing site.
  • YouTube: www.youtube.com
    YouTube is a user-generated video sharing site.
  • Delicious: www.delicious.com
    Delicious is a social bookmarking and sharing site.
    Having a presence in the blogosphere is key to growing an audience. You want to be involved wherever your audience is.

2. I have a blog but no one is coming – what now?

Be patient and proactive. Building an audience takes time. The first step is making sure the content you have on your site/blog meets the needs of your audience or intended audience. Take your time to find what works best for you and your audience – experiment with content and structure. Once you have something that you feel works for you, start reaching out.

3. How can I reach out and connect to the blogosphere?

Reaching out and connecting with the blogosphere may take a little work at first but you will likely reap many benefits. First, there are some easy free ways to reach out:
Have everyone involved with the blog - authors, editors, web producers, production or station staff, management - include the name and url of the blog on their e-mail signature line.
If appropriate, ask people you know who have blogs - family, friends, co-workers, colleagues - to include a link from their blog to your blog. In addition, find related blogs your target readers are likely to enjoy (or know) and list them in your blogroll.

Read other blogs and occasionally leave comments on them. Make sure you have something relevant to say and use your blog in your signature line. If an entry on one of those blogs is of interest to your readers, link to it.
Put a visible link, ideally with an image, on your station’s home page and appropriate inside pages. Make sure the link language is very clear so people know what they’re getting if they click.

4. Should I set up a Facebook Fan Page?
Yes. Fan pages allow you to promote and interact with an engaged community already using Facebook; you can send direct messages to “Fans” of your organization; and fan pages are SEO (search engine optimization) friendly. In addition, when someone becomes a fan, a link to your fan page is inserted into their news feed, further spreading your brand across the social network.

5. How do I set up a Facebook Fan Page?
Start by visiting http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and select what type of fan page you want to create.
Next, give your fan page a name and upload a logo or image. That’s it!

Once you’ve created your page, you’ll need to add content. You can add text, images, video, events, notes, discussion boards, or Facebook Applications as you would a personal profile. Each of these present an additional opportunity to spread your content virally across the Facebook network.

6. I love using Facebook for advertising and it works very well for us but I feel that we can do better. What are some things we should do to have more successful Facebook ads?

Facebook ads are made up of a title, description, and an image. Titles are limited to 25 characters and the descriptions are limited to 130 characters. The image should be 110x80 pixels. With such limited space, you need to pay extra attention to what message you want to send out that will get the most bang for your buck. Be unique but relevant. There are a lot of ads on Facebook and you want yours to stick out.

You also need to have a very clear call to action. Using a linked phrase like “click here” will drive more traffic to your site.

Choosing the right keywords to target a specific audience is also very important. Use words that will really resonate with your audience.

A good place to start is to use words that match the interests, ages and location or your audience. For example, if you are advertising a program about art history, you may want to use words like “renaissance”, “Picasso”, or “The Louvre” to target your ads.

Facebook offers a variety of tips on setting up Facebook ads at www.facebook.com/ads. 

7. How can I maximize the use of Facebook ads with a limited budget?

There are two ways to pay for your Facebook ad: Bidding and Budget.

The budget is what you can stipulate as the maximum amount of money you want to spend per day. For example, if you have $1,000 for 5 days worth of ads, you may want to say your maximum budget per day is $200. The amount spent is based on the number of times your ad is displayed throughout the day based on the criteria you use to target users. For instance, if you are targeting a large group of people, you’ll run through your budgeted allotment more quickly than if you are targeting a smaller, more specific group of Facebook users.

For each of these options there are some things to determine, such as where you want your ad to go, who will see the ad (mentioned above), how often it will run, and what you are willing to “bid” for your ad. Bids are based on either how many people see your ad (CPM, or cost per thousand basis) or how many people actually click on your ad (CPC , or cost per click basis). Explanations for which methodology you might want to use, CPC or CPM, are available on the aforementioned Facebook ads page.

8. Should my station get a Twitter account? I’m worried that it will take up a lot of time.

Many organizations are twittering to help them reach out and connect with their community, members, and constituents. The very nature of Twitter makes it easy to do as much or as little as you want.

Ideally you would tweet multiple times a day. Since the messages are short this shouldn’t take too much time. You can put links in your tweets and direct people to your web site.

Initially, you may need to spend a little more time on Twitter to get yourself established. Find like-minded people and organizations to follow and hope that they’ll follow you.
Try to respond and reach out to some of your followers from time-to-time so that their followers will see you and possibly follow you, too.

It doesn’t have to take too much time and you can set an easy schedule and time limit to check the Twitter account. But be careful, it can be addictive!

No matter what you do though, even if you don’t plan to start using Twitter right away – reserve your station’s username on Twitter – now.