Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spreading the Social Media Wealth

In the past week, I've attended two great events that centered on social media and how its changing the public relations profession. I learned some great tips about social media in general and how to utilize it to advance my career and benefit my clients. So, I'm taking this opportunity to spread the wealth and share my newly-acquired knowledge. Chris Brogan preaches the importance of sharing what you learn...because why keep it all inside when you can teach it to someone else? I concur :)

The first event I attended was hosted by the Detroit chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators at Automation Alley in Troy and was titled "Social Media: Can You Digg It?" Love the creative title! The panel consisted of Lisa Platt, director of interactive media at Skidmore Studio, Tonja Deegan, social media specialist at Airfoil Public Relations and Chasen Cunitz, a recent communications grad of Hillsdale College and current employee at Toyota.

The three panelists were very knowledgeable on the topic of social media and how to integrate it into any communications outreach. I felt like I knew and understood the majority of what they were discussing and was hoping to get a bit more out of the session, but unfortunately many people in the audience didn't even know what Twitter was. Therefore, a lot of time was spent explaining the different sites that are creating such a social media firestorm nowadays. I did of course find the discussion to be valuable, so here's what I feel is most important to share:
  • People are always watching what you're saying online and online content lives forever, so be careful!
  • Three-fourths of U.S. consumes are online.
  • A company can't just make a Facebook page and expect results. It's imperative to pay attention to your audience, participate and encourage conversations and watch the behavior of your target audience.
  • Don't immediately pitch a product via social media sites like Twitter. Start with general conversation, build trust and open the line of dialogue with journalists or your intended audience.
  • I asked the panelists if the recent article on Wired's Web site by a Silicon Valley correspondent was true and if blogs truly are "so 2004." Answer: Absolutely not. Blogs are more niche and concise now, but they definitely aren't dead. Valuable content is core, so blogging for the sake of blogging may be dead, but blogs themselves still drive search engine optimization.
  • Responding to comments (both positive and negative) about your company or brand on social media networks is the best word of mouth and something you can't buy in advertisements.
  • Social media can be overwhelming (ya, you think?!?), so invest as much time as you can, but target what you're doing and be strategic about what social media networks you dabble in. Don't just join 30 forums for bragging rights.
Social media session numero dos was part of the PRSA International Conference that Detroit so proudly hosted for the past few days at the Ren Cen Marriott. This session was titled "The Changed PR Landscape - What Works and What Doesn't." Panelists included Rob Key, founder and CEO of Converseon, David Bradfield, senior vice president and partner at FH Digital and Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing. The moderator was Peter Himler (ironically, he writes a blog called The Flack), president of Flatiron Communications, LLC. This session rocked and I was furiously trying to write down everything these social media gurus were discussing, so here's what I managed to capture:
  • Brands don't communicate, people do.
  • 91 percent of journalists use search engines to find experts for stories and to research people they are including in stories.
  • PR people need to become publishers in order for content to be found by journalists.
  • PR people also need to optimize content and make it visible to their clients' audiences.
  • The dynamic of pitching journalists is changing because more are finding story ideas and experts via social media networks.
  • Become a native in social media communities and figure out what these communities are all about (what's the language, cultural need, etc).
  • Listening is a marketing discipline - communications centers on the ability to listen.
  • If you find positive sentiment about your client, energize it. Also engage with people who talk negatively about your client or client's brand.
  • The once hailed social media release isn't as broadly used as when it was first introduced.
  • Turn your releases into something more engaging and speak the language of your customers.
  • Communication tools will constantly change, so don't lose sight of the bare bones of communicating.
  • You can engage bloggers first to reach mainstream media versus going the opposite route and trying to reach bloggers via mainstream media coverage.
  • We're still in the early days of social media ROI -- no one has it all figured out yet.
  • The heart of communicating and making your voice heard is simple: Say something interesting and people will listen, care and respond.
WHEW! So I know people have itty-bitty attention spans and this post is uber long, but I learned so much this past week and truly felt compelled to share it all. These social media sessions were fantastic and I thank those who participated because they planted quite a few creative seeds in my head!

3 comments:

michaelsavoni said...

Nikki,

Thanks for sharing about the IABC event. I got caught up in a client meeting and couldn't make it to the event, but it sounds like it was focused more on familiarization than on social media strategy. Good to know.

Cool blog, by the way.

Tonja said...

Thanks for reviewing the event. Maybe we need a 101 and a 201? There's an amazing difference is understanding, usage and ROI out there.

EstrellaBella10 said...

Thanks, Tonja. I like your idea! Maybe in the future there can be beginner and advanced socmed events. I am not looking to learn about the various types of socmed because I feel I have a good grasp on that. I need to learn more about how to integrate socmed into my communications outreach. Nevertheless, your advice was extremely valuable!