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Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

I’m only a few posts in to the new direction of this blog, and I already feel like I need to make a clarification. I’m talking here about publications. Now, I realize that the automatic reaction when I say “publication” is to think of a printed newsletter or magazine, but this is only one piece of the puzzle.

In today’s Web 2.0 world, social media is a buzz word and companies keep asking how they can use blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc., to connect not only with their customers but with their employees as well. Online publications are one way.

You can have a publication solely online. Don’t restrict yourself to printed items that have to be mailed. While there are some industries that definitely need the latter, as the population becomes more tech savvy there will be more companies that can successfuly achieve the purpose of an internal publication through an online publication. Future posts will get into more of the details of strategies and functions an online publication can have, but for now I just want to ensure your mind is open to a publication world beyond the printed word.

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My company is just jumping into the social arena with a new Facebook page, Twitter account and hopefully soon, a blog. As I’ve been watching it unfold and participating in the process when I can, I have noticed how easy it is for one person’s voice to become the voice of the organization. It is an issue that all businesses must face when they enter Web 2.0. If only one person twitters or if only one person writes the copy on the Facebook page then how is the company’s voice being portrayed?

I know people from my company read this blog and so with a small shout out to them I bring up some points you may want to consider as your company enters the social media realm:

1. Think about the reasoning behind each social media outreach. Why do you use Twitter? Are you trying to be an expert in your field? Improving customer relations? Making business contacts? For KGBTexas, I believe the original purpose was to show our clients that we knew what Twitter was about. Okay, now that we’ve become mini-experts, what is the point? Why have a business account when your employees could (and already do) have their own? 

2. Keep that goal in mind throughout the lifecycle of the process. It is easy to get caught up in social media. You can easily spend hours every day connecting with new people, reading the words of experts and commenting on their thoughts. However, you came into this realm with a purpose in mind. Always ask yourself if what you are doing is to reach that purpose. If your goal is to obtain new clients, then use your Twitter account to do that. Be in circles with the types of businesses you serve. 

3. Convey personalities correctly. A main benefit and excitement of social media is that it allows everyone to display their distinct personalities. However when you start social media for your business you have to decide how those personalities will be conveyed. If the business has a Twitter account then the business’ point of view should be conveyed — not the person running the account. If you create a blog you get a few more options. Maybe you only have one author and that author represents the business’ voice. Or you let multiple employees write and each have their personality showcased. Do this with individual author pages where each employee writes his / her own bio. The same with a Facebook page. Let each person have a photo and write his / her own bio. If you’re going to let the individuals be shown let them fully embrace their personalities, their likes and dislikes and their beliefs. 

Obviously the more employees you bring in the more time you are taking away from their work. However, that is what social media is about. Your business isn’t about the work of just one person, so your social media efforts shouldn’t be too.

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I will be the first to admit that Facebook isn’t high on my priority list. I can distinctly remember everyone back in college jumping on board the social media outlet and me just hanging back. 

I am now a Facebook member– feel free to come friend me (search Melanie Thompson, San Antonio) — but as I begin using the outlet I have become quite confused about the number of people whose pages are blocked from the general public. 

To me, social media is about being out there, welcoming conversations — see a related blog by Chris Brogan today. By blocking yourself from the outside I feel that you are doing a disservice to the whole purpose of Web 2.0. It is hard — nay impossible — to carry on a conversation with someone you can’t reach. And by forbidding me to interact with you without becoming your friend, how am I supposed to get true insight into your personality? Or is that in fact the best point of view to your personality.

I look at my Facebook page as another window to the community. Another avenue to spread my point of view, meet new business contacts and expand as a PR professional. To help me do this I have left my Facebook open to the public. 

If your page is blocked, please let me know why. As a Facebook beginner I am interested to hear how this impacts the number of friends you get, the conversations you have, etc. And do you look at your Facebook page as a personal outlet, a business outlet or both?

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  I’m waiting to see someone take the senior community by storm by creating a social media campaign that really reaches the older demographic. Yes, seniors are not known to be bloggers and rank the lowest in social media engagement studies. However, the demographic is growing.

If you think about it, there are many benefits to targeting seniors through this method. For one, seniors have the time. Many seniors are looking for someone or something to fill their post-retirement time. Engaging them in social media is the perfect thing to give them something to do and also help them feel connected to the mainstream population. 

Secondly, seniors are a growing demographic. This means it is an important audience to reach because of its buying power. Thus if you can make social media work for you, it can turn into a huge boom for your product.

 But while seniors are becoming more computer literate expecting them to  jump online and start blogging or adding you as a friend on Facebook is unrealistic. You have to create an avenue that seniors can understand and don’t feel overwhelmed by.

Then you have to introduce them to this avenue through channels they are already used to. Utilize their affinity to share their stories to help them connect. Have instructions. Make the page / site senior friendly. And know that whatever you create for seniors will not also reach teenagers. These are two different audiences and need to be approached in different ways.

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We’re only three weeks into 2009, and I can already see the big pitfall facing PR professionals (and in some way all businesses) this year — social media. I know what you’re thinking. Social media has been listed on almost every list as the trend of 2009. But that is the problem. 

For every new client coming this year, it seems like the natural reaction is they need a social media campaign. It isn’t true. Social media doesn’t work for every client. It isn’t the end all be all of PR strategy. It is really important that we, as PR professionals, take a step back and really think about the why. 

The strategy of a social media campaign is just as important as the strategy behind the entire PR campaign. You have to think about your target audience and how they can be reached. Certain demographics are on Twitter. Different ones are on Facebook. Way different ones are on MySpace. Suddenly jumping into everything social media with a Twitter account, Facebook page, blog, LinkedIn account, YouTube channel and Flickr page isn’t the way to go.

A social media campaign shouldn’t be done just for the sake of doing one. That’s the pitfall. So as you are planning for new clients and old, be sure you equip them with the right tactics to achieve their goals.

What do you think? What are the other pitfalls facing PR professionals this year?

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RSS feeds are the primary way I read blogs. And what I’ve noticed is the lack of power in the first paragraph of posts. You see, many feeders only run the first paragraph, thus if you don’t make your point up front, your reader is going to miss out on all the great things you have to say later. This will address how you can improve that opening paragraph. 

It is one of the golden rules of journalism … you have to captivate your audience with the lead paragraph. If not, they’ll move on to something else. This still holds true for blog posts. You must captivate your reader with the first paragraph or they may never make it to the second.

There are two key elements to starting your post off right.

1. State the problem. Something obviously spurred you to write the post. Refer to it here. 

2. State how the solution will be presented. Is this a list? Just ramblings of your idea? Do you have eight solutions to talk about. Make sure the reader knows what they’re going to get.

No blogger can rely on his / her reputation to ensure people will read the whole post. People are busy. Make sure you give them what they want up front, so they can choose whether they want to continue reading.

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Everyone wants into the social media conversation. Every business wants their product talked about by bloggers. Everyone wants their praises sung from the rooftops.

However, despite the want, want, want, so many of my clients are hesitant to jump into social media because of the negatives.

Yes, when you open yourself up to the social conversation there is an opportunity for negatives (See Motrin). However, one good thing about social media is that negative things disappear quickly (Again, see Motrin). And another thing, for every negative comment there is typically at least one good one. People are contradictory by nature, so you’re always going to have both sides of the story. Welcome it. Defend your position. And three, if you have a good product, it will win out in the end.

For businesses, blogs can create an avenue for customer service. Why wouldn’t you want to talk to your customers? Open another line of communication. Make things easier for them. Let them be a part of your decision making. And, yes, let them complain. But answer their complaints. Again, if your product and company is good, you’ll win out in the end.

I have one client in the social media realm — more their recognition of social media’s value more so than anything I did. Now I’m ready for another one. This is where so much is headed. Let me be a part of taking you there.

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