Q&A: Ciaran Norris, head of social media, Mindshare

In our latest Q&A we ask Ciaran Norris, head of social media at global media agency Mindshare, about his work at the agency, and about the importance of social media and SEO for successful online journalism and niche publishing.

Ciaran’s early publishing jobs were with Centaur Media and then RBI, where he was one of three founder members of the company’s first ever search marketing team, helping journalists to integrate SEO into their work. He moved agency side in April 2007, going to Altogether, the digital arm of The Engine Group, and from there to Mindshare.

Ciaran will be taking part in our panel discussion on What’s next for the niche? – Tools, techniques and platforms specialist journalists should be looking towards. Follow this link to see the full agenda.

Click here to purchase tickets for news:rewired – the nouveau niche.

Tell us a bit about your work – what is Mindshare and what do you do?

Mindshare is a global media agency of the type that traditionally plans and books media campaigns base on consumer analysis and insight. What we’re now aiming to do is build an understanding of social media into everything we do – not just in terms of what should our clients be doing on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but how can brands work to make all media social, so that campaigns drive interaction and conversation.

How important is social media to the success of niche publishing operations?

One thing that social media does, in its most basic form, is enable digital conversations using simple tools. As such, it’s a great way to both foster a sense of community amongst readers, and to build a deep understanding of what it is your consumers want, and to provide them with it in real-time.

You’ve trained journalists to integrate SEO into their work, is this something all niche, online publishers should practice?

Absolutely. Many say that journalists should ignore search as copy should be read for humans not algorithms, but all writing for search really means is understanding how consumers are finding content and shaping your editorial in line with that. I’d say that all journalists should have a basic understanding of search. Going forward of course, we’ll probably find that more and more content distribution comes via social channels, where SEO techniques might not work so well.

What’s the one online tool you couldn’t live without for your work and why?

I guess, at the most basic level, email. But something that I have come to rely on more and more, and I’d guess I won’t be the only to say this, is Twitter. It doubles as an IM client, research tool, distribution outlet and general time-sink. Of the Twitter apps I’ve tried, I find Tweetdeck rules the roost on iPhone and desktop, whilst the official Twitter client for the Blackberry is rather nice.

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