Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Social media GPS

Posted by thecastlegroup on September 8, 2009

Nobody wants to admit they don’t know how to participate in the social networking world. Yet we have conversations with seasoned executives (yes, some are in marketing) who admit that they don’t know how to engage. In some cases, their organizations have social media strategies, but they only use personally, do not feel strategic, and don’t know how to use social media as a professional tool. In other cases, they’re concerned about making a misstep, either personally or on behalf of the company, so they do nothing. And in most cases, it’s just plain unchartered territory. Let us be your sonar for a moment, and help those of you looking for a little guidance.

“Where do I start?” Just jump in. Make sure you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Even if you don’t post anything at first, you’ll get a sense of the interaction that happens simply by observing. If you don’t know how to jump in, let your marketing or PR team jump in for you.

“Isn’t it just for connecting with people I’ve lost touch with?” We’ve found that those we counsel have a difficult time separating the social side of social media from the professional side. Facebook, for example, is great for connecting with old classmates or colleagues. But it’s also a platform to engage your prospects and customers. There’s no magic formula or a “right way.” Some can merge personal and professional seamlessly, others like or need more separation.

“How do I control what’s online?” Conversations are happening online with or without your participation. You can use social media to listen, learn and, ultimately, participate, so your corporate voice is represented within social networks. Done right, you can even drive the conversation.

“How do I reach the right audiences?” Just as with your marketing program, you must approach social media with a plan and goals. Audience identification is a critical first step. And that audience is out there, in large numbers of niche groups.

“How do I make something viral?” This request has almost replaced “I want to be on Oprah” as a marketing plea. The simple answer is, you can’t make something viral. What you can do is thoroughly prepare, cover all relevant avenues, develop great creative and share your content as meaningfully as possible. (Feel free to virally share this advice!)

“How do I measure the success?”We consider upticks in sales, inquiries or traffic effective barometers for measuring PR, events and social media activity. Social media also offers opportunity to measure friends, followers, fans, click throughs and more.

“OK, bottom line, what terminology do I need to know to hold my own in a social media conversation?” Ask us or visit Wikipedia to at least become familiar with the terms. Like texting, there’s a new language emerging in social media, from ‘re-tweet’ to ‘friending.’ The best way to be educated is to hang with the smart kids.

Social media is changing every day. What’s on our radar screen today may be less important a year – or even three months – from now, so it’s important to keep abreast of the changes, be strategic and constantly reevaluate your (business and professional) social media strategy. Many of our clients and business associates have had us in for tutorials that provide them with that much-needed comfort level. If you need more help, just ask us. We understand the reluctance to ask for direction. That’s why the GPS was invented.

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