35 tips in 30 minutes (text edition)

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As many of you know members of the PRBC group presented today at Ragan’s Social Media panel.  Below we share some of our thoughts on SM.  The names in parenthesis indicate who brought up the point.  Hyperlinked to their twitter account on the first use.

Diving Into Social Media

Before any company, agency, or professional decides to become involved in social media, there will no doubt be some basic questions that they want answered, or some background information that they would appreciate hearing.  The first group of points provide some helpful hints for diving into social media, whether you’re interested in using it for clients or becoming the resident thought-leader for your company.

1.   The social media strategy should ALWAYS fit the client.  A bigger brand will benefit from different tactics than a start-up.  Note: Established brands might have it easier but they will also be dealing with a larger and more vocal audience (Jess)

2.   Celebrities (more specifically, musicians) who utilize social media will be more successful because they know how to reach their audience digitally (e.g. Lady Gaga).  While an authentic voice is ALWAYS helpful, it might make the work of a publicist more difficult. (Jess)

3.   One person should either operate or oversee all social medias. One voice should be heard/read from the company. (Kate)

4.   The PR/Marketing team or agency of a business should operate the company’s social media platforms. (Kate)

5.   This isn’t rocket science. People will finally realize that what we’re doing, even in social media space, is still common sense. It’s just common sense done creatively and strategically. (Keith)

6.   We will all finally realize that it’s time to get over the notion that every CEO/C-level needs to be on or “get” social media. They don’t. It’s our job to help them best understand why certain initiatives and accomplishments within social media are relevant and important to the business’ bottom line, and that means putting social media concepts into more traditional terms that CEOs/C-levels readily understand. (Keith)

7.   Use SM to meet people you wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet in real life, because that will give you opportunities and ideas you would have otherwise never had. (TJ)

8.   Online audience is diverse; we are no longer going after an impossible “target consumer.” Stop trying to reach someone who doesn’t exist. (TJ)

EXPLORING IT ON YOUR OWN

If you plan on learning more about social media for business purposes, there’s a very large chance that you will become hooked on using it for your own benefit- both personal and professional.  In fact, it’s essential that you start your own social media profiles if you truly want to understand it. The next couple of thoughts address using social media for your own needs.

9.   Personal branding will continue to be a divisive subject. Is it just about the brand you work with or is it about how you brand yourself?  (Marie)

10.  Self promotion is important but it isn’t going to save the world. People don’t want to know about what you are/do — they want to know what you can do for them (Danielle)

INTERACTING WITH CONSUMERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

A large percentage of the brands that are experimenting in social media are in the consumer products/consumer packaged goods industries.  This means that they are reaching out to, engaging with, and responding to, well, consumers!  The next set of points address this two-way relationship.

11.  Be prompt about addressing any client/customer dissatisfaction in the social media space. You now have a minute, not a day to address a crisis (credit to Marie). (Kate)

12.  Now with SM offering us news in real time, crisis communications can no longer afford to wait. Responses must be smart, fast and incredibly effective to sufficiently control the message. (Christina) – Touch on real life tweeting of the earthquake in Chile and streaming of the Tsunami in Hawaii.

13.  Consumers/Customers no longer voice complaints by writing a letter to the president of a company. Now they have an open forum and a world wide audience made easy with hashtags like #fail to tag their concerns. (Christina) An example: SouthWest Airlines how a company can look bad at first but now have people on their side too by effectively answering customer concerns.

14.  Credible sources still rule. Even in real-time crises that are played out on Twitter, blogs, etc., still need to link back to credible sources (e.g. a company’s official blog or some other official info source) so that rumor mill doesn’t continue to spread. Twitter is a link-based economy, and just simply sending tweets w/o credible links will do little to get truth out there to the right people who need to know that info. (Keith)

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

So you know that Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are the three biggest players in the social media space and you understand that using them could be a huge benefit to your job, clients, personal life, etc.  The next step is figuring out how to use them and really understanding the pros, cons, and unique features of each one.  The next set of thoughts discuss particular social media platforms and include some ideas for what they can do.

15.  Twitter will break off into separate non-business and business platforms, or a third-party will develop a great app for this, to be separate the non-business noise from the stuff that businesses’ really want to communicate to interested parties (perhaps we will develop some type of B2B platform similar to Twitter). (Keith)

16.  Geolocation will be bigger, more ‘private,’ and finally get a good business (i.e b2b) angle (Jess, credit to Cog)

17.  YouTube headlines for SEO. Don’t just paste some quick headline up for your next YouTube video. Give it some good, hard thought for SEO purposes. (Keith)

18.  Brand your own YouTube channel. Make it an extension of your website, blog, Facebook page, etc. in look, feel, color, theme and more. (Kate)

19.  Use the search bar on platforms like Tweetdeck. Monitor, monitor, monitor instead of blindly following Twitter users. (Kate)

20.  Remember: Journalists still have specific ways they’d like to be pitched. Pay attention. Is it now through Facebook or Twitter or still via e-mail or phone? (Kate)

21.  Twitter has enhanced our ability to networking, allowing us to land a job in 140 characters or less. (e.g., HAPPO) (Christina) More and more professionals are able to connect and learn from each other. This is a time when we need to help each other too – HAPPO is a great example.

22.  Our resume is no longer a word document or piece of paper. Inspired by Gary Vaynerchuck, we have an online presence to account for including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, all SM outlets.  (Christina) Social Media Balancing Act – Be careful what you tweet.

SOME PREDICTIONS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

As a group, we share a passion for social media and are constantly immersed in it, both personally and professionally. Since social media is still a relatively new area, and its business platforms are still evolving, it’s fair to assume that social media won’t always be used in the same way by all industries – especially for Public Relations, Marketing, and Media.  Given our unique experiences with social media working in these industries, we’re going to make some predictions for the direction that it will take in the next year or few years.

23.  The line between a blogger and a marketer will continue to blur. More bloggers will claim to be marketing experts (Marie)

24.  As more bloggers demand to get paid, social media will slowly move towards advertising (Marie)

25.  ((On the topic of advertising)) Social Media will become the new telemarketing. When you complain about a brand or company; a competitor can find you and pitch them their services (Marie, credit to CT)

26.  As media outlets begin charging for their online content, B-level content will move to places like Facebook and Twitter.  People won’t pay for second-rate content that they are used to getting for free. (Danielle)

27.  Companies will realize being a source and a resource is important, which will redefine their use of SM. Your community isn’t solely concerned with what you do, but also with what you can do for them. (Danielle)

28.  There will continue to be the struggle of the importance of quantity vs. quality. Is it about how many “fans” you have, or is it really about who’s listening? (Marie)

29.  Companies will start to evaluate with a fine tooth comb how social media is impacting the bottom line. Are blog reviews resulting in sales? etc. (Marie)

SUCCESSFULLY USING SOCIAL MEDIA

There are now a ton of businesses that are participating in social media, or at least using it as a customer service tool.  But that doesn’t mean they’re all doing it CORRECTLY.  It’s a really bad idea to start a social media strategy without doing your research, planning ahead, or even deciding what you would like to get out of it.  Since we don’t want any of you to become the next laughingstock of the social media world, our next group of points will give you a little bit of advice to in order to ensure that you have smooth sailing.

30.  We have come to a point where more and more companies are seeing the important role that SM can play in their PR campaigns. However one of the key parts to any successful PR campaign is evaluation and measurement. How can we measure the success of SM in a campaign? How can we explain this to clients that don’t fully understand SM?   The best way to start is to outline and detail goals from numbers of Facebook fans, to increase of blog traffic, or twitter interaction. The evaluation methods of SM will change rapidly just like the medium (Christina)

31.  People need to realize they can’t be robots. Auto dms and canned responses don’t build & engage the community.  Be human, show some personality in your SM interactions. (Danielle)

32.  Be authentic.  Ghost-tweeting and other ghost-written SM content will become more common as companies continue to do more with less resources.  It will consequently be scrutinized more and become an increasingly controversial topic. (Danielle)

33.  Be well-read and diversely read because it can only help you in terms of how to connect with people. (TJ)

34.  Platforms and apps come and go, but the ability to tell a story to people who care will always be our bedrock. (TJ)

35.  For God’s sake, keep a sense of humor about the whole thing. Discomfort and embarrassments will happen just as in real life. Like Keith said, it’s not rocket science. We’re not performing surgery. (TJ)

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  • kmskala

    Overall, some nice points.

    However, being the guy I am, I'm going to disagree with #3 & #4.

    #3 – for some brands, it's simply not feasible or good business. While you want to ensure a consistent message online, look at what brands like Best Buy, Wells Fargo & Bank of America are doing. They use multiple users for their various Twitter accounts. And it works quite well. Are they in the minority, probably. But to automatically assume 1 person is the only way to run your online presence is foolish.

    #4 – Again, take a look at the brands mentioned above. SM is not always PR or marketing. We're bias because we're in the PR field, but why can't customer service run your Twitter account?

    Again, overall, good job and useful content. The beauty of SM is it's not one-size fits all.

  • jeffespo

    Good points KMSKALA, the reason that CRM shouldn't be the lead voice in handling SM accounts is that while they are skilled at handling customers, they may not be best suited for handling a crisis or be the most well versed on company happenings.

    I'd suggest that CRM be an arm of your SM efforts and leave the branding and non-customer communications to the PR or other communications team.

  • http://twitter.com/KOttavio Kate Ottavio

    Thanks for your comment.

    Here are my further explanations you would have heard if at the conference. My one person bit (see: oversee) ensues that one social media plan is created and implemented. The Phoenix Suns have a considerable amount of their players and staff on Twitter. But all had one “director” to essentially answer to and be monitored by. A company’s brand cannot crumble because of a stray voice that is not coherent with the organization’s messaging. Does the Phoenix Suns have more of a reach than the lone Twitter handle for XYZ Company? Sure. But they have a plan in place that works. Why do we have the title Social Media Director now otherwise?

    On number 4 – PR people are communicators. That’s our job. Customer Service being the only representative running a Twitter account wouldn’t be the best option in my opinion. Where is the promotion, proactive communication, giveaways, links to stories about the company, inside information on company happenings? If a brand I liked only had customer service reps on Twitter, or was heavily operated by them, I’d probably be less driven to engage. Customer service to me usually hints at reactive communication or sales. Not community or engagement.

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