Social Media: For PR Pros or Marketing Mavens?

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As more and more brands venture into the social media world, it can be a struggle on which team members “own” those accounts. Should social media live under your brand’s public relations (PR) team or should it stay under the marketing and advertising umbrella? While the answer may be easier to find for some brands/companies than others, in my opinion, it should be a team effort.

How can this happen? Start by breaking down department silos and recognizing each others’ strengths. It’s better to collaborate than repeat work or work against one another.

The Role of PR

Public or media relations has changed over the last few years, with the establishment of social media. It used to be that reporters were confined to their Rolodex and making phone calls and PR pros only pitched stories to traditional media outlets. Now journalists can reach out to sources in several different ways. A PR team needs to make sure it is following reporters and media outlets on social networks that may be influential to the brand. Social media allows brands to build real relationships over time, which PR professionals have always tried to develop, but now its much more accessible via social media.

Since we can follow certain journalists or influencers, it can help make pitches more relevant and less time consuming. It can also anticipate the reach of a potential pitch, by tracking that individuals followers and connections. Social media also helps PR teams eliminate the “middle man” and talk directly with consumers. It’s a great way for your brand to connect directly with a target audience. Instead of letting a reporter tell your story, tell it yourself. This can position your brand as a “friend” rather than a typical salesman.

Your PR team probably already has a good handle of the “pulse” of your audience, knowing what they like to hear about and what products or services resonate the best. PR professionals also know how to manage crisis situations and deal with damage control. We all know opening up a brand on social media can bring about positive relationships, but it can also open up your company to negative feedback. With social media’s real-time dialogue, the environment lends itself well for PR pros to do damage control and stay on message with a diverse group to deliver a consistent brand message. This is why listening and monitoring mentions can be beneficial to your brand staying in front of a PR crisis.

The Marketing Role

But before your brand hands everything social media-related off to the PR team, there is also a role for your marketing team to be involved. Social media is an environment that can be used to help sell and inform your target audience about your brand. While many people may initially “like” or follow your brand, it is the promotions, products, and developments that can keep them engaged. While your PR team can be listening for “mentions”, this is only useful if consumers are actually talking about your brand. You need to give them something to talk about. This is where targeted marketing efforts can come in handy.

As investment in social media increases, return on investment (ROI) is becoming an increasingly important metric for many companies. So, brands need to closely align product news and promotional offers to drive success. The mentions that the PR team is watching can help the marketing team develop future messaging  and campaigns, and again allow your brand to connect with consumers on a more personal level.

A Team Effort

Each brand is different. That being said I think most can benefit from using a team effort on social media, with both PR and marketing professionals. The best way to determine each role is to have clear guidelines and goals for your social networks. Are these accounts to share conversations, create buzz, monitor influencers? Or are the accounts to generate sales? Either way, both teams should be involved in the communications and messaging of your brand. If you limit your social media team to one sub-specialty or the other, you’re ultimately limiting your brand.

Questions to Consider:

Who manages social media at your organization? Do you think it’s working or does it need to change? If you don’t currently work for an organization, do you agree with me that it should be a team effort? Why or why not?

What suggestions would you have for PR and marketing teams to work together better when it comes to social media?

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The Value of Social Media

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Despite the popularity of social media worldwide, many businesses still wonder about its value from a brand standpoint.

Why should my company invest in social media? What’s the return on investment (ROI) for social media?

As a social media marketer, these are question I face all the time. The truth is like any form of advertising, social media is a unique platform. But that doesn’t mean you can’t measure successes and failures (but let’s focus on the positives here!).

One-Size-Does-NOT-Fit-AllIt’s Not One Size Fits All

Understanding the value of social media is a challenge. It’s not one size fits all for businesses and marketing strategies. Especially if your company only focuses on the financial aspects of investment and return. What companies need to focus on is the non-monetary economic value. This doesn’t mean finances shouldn’t be a factor, it just means it shouldn’t be the focus. By non-monetary economic value, I’m referring to value that can travel throughout the social media world. Companies aren’t just having conversations with one customer, on social media they are having conversations with that customer and everyone connected to their social networks, as well.

Before launching a social media marketing initiative your business should have a specific goal. By “specific” I mean not just a generic business goal, something that is unique to your brand. Once you’ve developed that goal, social media can help:

  • Increase brand exposure
  • Increase traffic to your website or a physical location
  • Develop brand advocates (I’ll talk more about these a little later)
  • Improve organic search traffic
  • Create new business partnerships
  • Reduce marketing expenses (What employer doesn’t love this!)
  • Increase sales

Relationships Build ROI

It’s important to remember, in today’s “social” world, your business should be forming  “R.E.A.L.” relationships: Reciprocal, Empathetic, Authentic, and Long-Lasting. Brands should realize experiences over social media aren’t happening with the network, but with the public at large. This can create both positive and negative conversations, but hopefully will lead to countless purchasing decisions in the future (Remember, we’re focusing on the positive here!). It also gives you the platform to right those negative conversations. Your goal on social media should always include “doing right by the consumer.”

When building relationships it’s important to start with your loyal customers. These advocates or influencers can help broaden your marketing reach. This group of customers probably won’t have a problem getting the word out about an initiative and new customers may respond to “people like them” passing along a message, rather than a business. With 52% of U.S. consumers using the Internet as their primary purchasing tool, it’s an area brands can’t afford to ignore.  By actively engaging with consumers via social media, you will keep your brand relevant.

Fundraising

A great way to build brand awareness and ultimately drive ROI is to get involved with fundraising. But remember…

“Social Media platforms aren’t necessarily fundraising engines, it’s the people using them that are.”

People love a good cause and they love hearing from individuals who benefit from a fundraiser. They do not want a brand pushing a cause on them. Social media allows your business to support a cause, but not necessarily push it on people.

When it comes to a fundraising effort, tell the story–either yourself or through someone else. This can be done with a video (we know people love visuals on social media) uploaded to YouTube or shorter platforms like Vine and Instagram. If people can see who or what their donation will be helping, they’ll probably be more inclined to give.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.56.01 PMAlways include a call to action, but be specific. It’s also important to use active language (Click, Share, Donate Now). People are more apt to take action right away, rather than come back and do it later. Along the same lines, make it easy for people to take action. No one wants to fill out a long form. Fortunately there are platforms, such as Givver.com, Fundly.com, or Snowball.com can help your business’ fundraising efforts reach a higher level.

Once an initiative is underway, always make sure to thank donors, partners, and volunteers. This again goes back to showcasing real relationships. Publicly celebrate success, but remember to be authentic. Maybe you’re not the one thanking donors, but the child who received tuition to school or the disabled mom who received a new mini-van, etc, can post a video testimonial about how the donations helped them.

A personal example I can share right now is this month in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, my organization recently partnered with Member One Federal Credit Union to raise money for our Breast Care Center. Both businesses promoted the sale of “pink hoodies” on our social media sites multiple ways, including links to purchase the hoodies, pictures of employees wearing the hoodies, and promoting sales at community events. So far, it’s been a success and we hope to utilize more of these partnerships in the future to raise awareness for causes that support our mission: Inspiring better health in the communities we serve.

Bottom Line

Social media give companies opportunities for growth, if used for more than mass marketing agendas. By allowing brands to connect on more personal levels, businesses can begin measuring ROI in no time.

Questions:

Have you ever been part of a social media fundraising effort? Share your experience and if it was a success.

What do you think is the most important aspect of social media value?

Keepin’ it Real. Keepin’ it Relevant.

I’d like to believe that most companies who are utilizing social media networks to connect Imagewith target audiences are “keepin’ it real” but I think I’m probably being too idealistic. For those that aren’t “keepin’ it real,” your brand will probably suffer in the long run.

Building social media communities doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a village. Okay, maybe not a village but dedication and patience. I think one of the biggest things businesses don’t realize when it comes to social media is it takes manpower to run successful pages. That doesn’t mean you necessarily need to go out and hire an entire new team dedicated to social networking (although a girl can dream!), but you can utilize your current employees who may have social media knowledge to earn the trust of your audience and nurture relationships. Businesses often overlook their most important audience: employees. Employees are a resource all businesses should be using to keep their brand real and keep the relationship with customers just as real.

If your social networks seem stale, Pam Moore shares 50 Ways to Energize Your Social Media Community & Audiences. I know I’ll be trying out some new tactics to inspire my community with more valuable and relevant content, among other things. Out of Moore’s 50 tips, which do you find the most useful? Or is there one you never thought of and would be most likely to try?

Besides providing relevant content of your own, remember, it’s not about self-promotion. In fact, it should be less about self-promotion and more about sharing good content. Look for content that interests you and share it! Chances are if you find it valuable so will your audience. 

One other thing, I often forget, is it’s okay to repeat. If something is working with your  audience don’t be afraid to do it again or re-share it again. I do find it interesting that Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s former chief evangelist, quadruples his tweets, sending out the same tweet four times, in 8-hour increments. I never thought about doing this because I don’t want to bog down the feeds of followers. But as I learned with Twitter feeds, information is so fast moving, the chances of a user seeing that same tweet all four times is slim. Whereas by tweeting it four times, you broaden your audience. Genius!

While your social media marketing strategy should be content driven, it can be hard to constantly generate quality content. This is where planning can really take your social media marketing to the next level. Just like with any content strategy, and editorial calendar is key. Timing and relevance again will help take your posts to the next level. Does your business/employer have an editorial calendar for social media posts? If so, how many people are involved with determining the appropriate content? 

Another thing to keep in mind, when it comes to generating quality content, is being useful. There is no point in “shouting” posts, but if you can provide information that peaks people’s interests or that they will want to share with their community, you’ve succeeded. When putting together a social media strategy and editorial calendar, remember “inform more than promote.”