Digital Snippets splash imageThe evolution of the social media release took another step this week with the unveiling of the Social Media Group’s Digital Snippets. The template (click here for the PDF) differs from the Todd Defren and Shift Communications’ industry standard in several ways, mostly in providing a basic content menu of items for the online user instead of the narrative, digital resource hybrid from Shift’s.

See their application of it with Ford Motor Company here.

The new version is being talked about by industry thought leaders like Geoff Livingston and Paul Gillin, among others, but no one seems to notice the void in what I’ve always considered one of the essential elements of the SMR: embracing context.

Yes, the template includes all the buzz words: del.icio.us, Technorati and “third party” but look closer and you see the references are all to outbound traffic. The template basically says you can share information about this product or company (Digital Snippits was developed in Social Media Group’s work with Ford Motor Company) but we don’t really want to make it easy for you to see an independent third party’s review of it.

Sure, there’s a “Community” at the bottom with links to “third party” websites, but embracing the context of your product or service within the community is a key element to building credibility there.

Todd And’s presentation on Defren’s original template clearly circles the purpose-driven del.icio.us bookmarks (third party, but brand selected), Technorati tags and Links To Relevant Coverage as methods of embracing context. The Digital Snippets template seemingly leaves those out.

While I certainly think the Digital Snippets approach is something to be applauded and will certainly be more digestable for the social media-nervous executives, in my opinion, it isn’t a step forward in the evolution of the social media release.

Other Links You’ll Find Interesting:

  1. If I Could Change One Thing About The Social Media Release
  2. The Unbearable Idiocy Of Brands: Ford Runs Over Its Fansumers
  3. Not New, Not Even Improved (not about Digital Snippets, but related)
  4. Elements Of The Social Media Release
  5. Social Media Release Useless?

[tags]socialmediarelease, social media release, Digital Snippets, Ford, Ford Motor Company, Social Media Group, social media[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.livingstonbuzz.com/blog Geoff Livingston

    Not sure if I agree with that. To me a lot of the criticism of this version assumes that people really want to talk about the SMR. I think no one gives a darn about press releases or SMRs as central conversation point. They may — if the content is OUTSTANDING — be interested enough to consider another story.

    Another criticism I hear is that it’s just a new version of PR NEwswire’s Multivu. I don’t know about that, but I don’t think Multivu has RSS, etc. Not familiar with Multivu at all.

    It doesn’t really matter what anyone of us inside the bubble thinks. What does matter is if these formats are generating results. And I think all parties need to talk more about the coverage — both new and traditional — that these various formats are or aren’t generating.

  • http://www.autohousewife.blogspot.com Autohousewife

    I agree that this is a pretty rough execution of what might have been, but I also think that this is a fairly large step in the right direction. Do we really need Ford’s PR team to tell us what is important about the cars? Isn’t it more fun as a blogger to watch the videos and read the highlights and figure out what is interesting for our readers and for ourselves? Maybe the evolution of this type of PR release should include a Twitter ID (or pownce) and some back links so we can easily see who has Dugg, Twittered, Pownced, or blogged about the release. Or maybe I am way off base :)

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Geoff — Point well taken and thanks for the persperctive. And the inside the bubble argument is certainly a well made one.

    My contention, though, is that the social media release is supposed to be more substance and less spin. While I agree with Autohousewife that providing the materials to allow the audience to decide for themselves is in fact a step in the right direction, the lack of third party input and reference, I believe, takes away from the context angle. Afterall, Ford is going to pump beautiful pictures, videos and the like on the site. They’re going to give us material to “decide for ourselves” but the material is already sphun, though more subtley.

    I do think Digital Snippits is well done and certainly gives a nice version of a social media release to the big corporations and businesses that aren’t keen on showing off their flaws, or at least opening up the possibility of such. But I see a lack of some context and wanted to make sure I pointed it out. I’m happy to be disagreed with, however. Thanks for stopping by.

    Autohousewife — You’re not off base at all. Transparency, from the company and from the community, only builds credibility and context. Nice thoughts. And as I indicated to Geoff above, I agree that it’s good we can decide on Ford for ourselves, but there’s still a fair degree of beautification that occurs with what we see. Thanks for chiming in!

  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    Autohouswife brings up a good point, and one that always bothered me about the SMNR (v 1 or v 2) – did they ever ask bloggers or journalists if this is what they wanted? Do we, as PR people, have a right to dictate the tags, etc that a blogger is going to use?

    There’s a better way out there for press releases, but I think it involves a lot better writing and more strategic thinking.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    J-Pepp … Good point. I would imagine some blogger/journalist input happened, but that’s a question for Mr. Defren.

    I also agree there is a better way for press releases, but I am convinced the gravitation to new media, even by old media, illlustrates the social media release (or to dumb it down for hillbillies like me — digital resources for journalists, citizen or otherwise) is a resource that will eventually be much more prevalent.

    My logic: If you give writers of any kind the resources they need, there’s no need for narrative or opportunity to copy-paste. Sure, that means journalists and bloggers have to work a little more, that’s fine. It holds them to a higher standard. Does it diminish the role of PR? Hell no. It only changes it.

    Thanks for the input. You are, as you know, the man.

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  • http://www.socialmediagroup.ca maggie fox

    Hi Jason – thanks so much for your feedback! You’re absolutely right – context is incredibly important and valuable, which is why we’ve included the “community” space in which links to sites or blogs that have used our assets to tell their story are posted.

    Of course we must exercise some degree of editorial control here (with the aim of always providing a balanced perspective). Without this, for the F-150 alone we came across over 200 splogs that were using scraped content that would have otherwise been included in our links.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Maggie — It’s an honor. Thanks for stopping by. I can understand editorial control and weeding out the splogs of the world. And forgive me for not clicking through to all the community links, but are there some mediocre reviews out there? Certainly my clients would also nix the idea of uplifting them, but offering that perspective and context, in the social media space and environment, is a good thing. In my opinion, that is participating (more) meaningfully to give consumers a whole picture view rather than just the “I Love Ford” perspective.

    Understandably, Ford is the client and what flies with us may not with them. I don’t mean to toss a blanket over the project and say it didn’t work. If the client is happy and it connects with consumers (or bloggers), to Geoff’s point, it is a success. But if the point of social media outreach is to offer a wide array of resources to bloggers wishing to write about a certain product, service or company, the array is wider with that additional perspective.

    Bravo for the launch of the Snippets. I know I sometimes come across as naysayer and nitpicker and not enough positive. I have a client that probably would eat Digital Snippets up (and I’ll be happy to discuss it with them). I only offer the perspective as another comment on the evolution of the social media release.

    Thank you, so much, for coming by and commenting.

  • http://www.socialmediagroup.ca maggie fox

    Hey – Jason, the pleasure is mine!

    I also wanted to address @Jeremy Pepper’s comment re: did we ask journalists and online content producers what they wanted? The answer is yes – the online versions of MSM print publications have a tremendous hunger for content they can’t always produce, and they’ve told us they want this. Blogger feedback has been similarly positive – they’re happy not to have to chase people down for assets while justifying why they should also be considered “media”, not to mention the RSS functionality.

    And ultimately, of course, everything that comes from a company is positioned in the most positive light possible, that’s what the Communications Department is for. It’s up to the rest of us to click on the links and find the discussion in order to determine what the true context is.

  • http://my-creativeteam.com/blog Harry Hoover

    I’m with you, Jason. As an old school PR guy, I’ve always believed that it’s about providing substance and context without the spin. PR people are so afraid that someone is going to say something bad about their client. Well, people are saying bad things and you can’t control it. That hasn’t changed in my 30 years in the business. It’s just easier to see who is saying what now, which provides PR people with an opportunity to carry on a dialogue. And, in the final analysis, that is what PR is about: dialogue.

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Agree, Mr. H. However, I can see previous points, and that of Mr. Heuer (the pingback) in that large corporations aren’t going to tread into the dialogue business willingly. And frankly, they don’t HAVE to. I think Ford certainly is tip-toeing in quite well, while protecting themselves quite nicely. No one other than us “in the bubble” as Geoff put it is going to complain they didn’t offer balance. They’re just going to be thrilled to have access to the digital resources, spun or not.

  • http://www.briansolis.com Brian Solis

    Very interesting discussion here to say the least. Jason, thanks for hosting it. And Maggie, thanks for sparking it.

    Social media releases, to me, expand the discussion beyond form versus function and forces us to examine why we need to explore additional options and what we can bring to the table in return.

    One thing to think about in any discussion related to traditional or social media releases is that stats show that good releases ARE the central point of “conversations” and more importantly, a catalyst for “action” courtesy of search engines.

    In the tech world, numbers show as much as 51% of IT professionals discover news and information from press releases found in Google or Yahoo over trade journals. That’s pretty compelling…and it’s the activity and discussions inside the bubble that keep a level playing field in order for it to effectively influence the rest of the industry.

    With stats like that, it starts to show you several things…1. Press releases are far from dead. 2. One press release doesn’t serve everyone. 3. There are now press releases for journalists and bloggers as well as story-based releases directly for customers.

    And, when you break it down, as of now, there are search engines that comb through traditional HTML web sites and there are search engines that monitor blogs, wikis, and other forms of social media.

    If customers are searching for information, make sure you have a social and traditional strategy in place and think about the content, context and building the social bridges that reach them. You might write for them differently than you would for media and you should consider utilizing all forms of releases available to you. After all, one message doesn’t fit all…

    Maggie’s keeping the discussion going…if anything, we should consider that “social” in the social media release implies conversation…whether hosted internally or externally. An SMR is an ideal beacon for all of those conversations and can serve as a hub for flourishing thoughts, ideas, and opportunities for customer service and also a magnifying glass into the dialog within their online communities.

    At the end of the day, take from all of this what applies and matters to the people you’re trying to reach – media, bloggers, and customers. None of these options are magic bullets. You have to do your homework and reverse engineer the distribution channels that reach them, understand what they need, and why they should listen to you, and in turn, share information within their own social networks.

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  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    It’s hard to find points of conention with Brian. Thank you, sir, for bringing all this together. I have tangential thoughts, but they shall come tomorrow in an tangential conversation. I’m excited about Geoff’s post today and the continued conversation which, I’m sure, will help continute to define and focus the social media release and newsroom.

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  • http://www.jtpratt.com JTPratt’s Blogging Mistakes

    I believe that “Social Media Press Release” is an oxymoron – read my post Ford uses WordPress and Social Media to find out why…

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  • http://www.concordsoftech.com concord

    Some point should be included in social media optimization

    Know how to target your audience

    Create content

    Create a SMO strategy

    Bookmarking and tagging

    Increase your linkability

    SMO should be a continuous process

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