I’m still working on the Q&A from my December 7th Vocus Webinar on “The Techniques of the New PR Champion.” Below is Part III of my responses. The questions from participants range from strategy and planning to the best tool and techniques of the New PR Champion. Parts I and II of the Q&A are also available for review. I’m thrilled at the level of participation from webinar attendees!
1. Which social media tools should you put the most focus on if you have limited resources?
If you have limited resources, the listening or monitoring tools are really important. You want to make sure you can respond in real time to questions, comments and engage in dialogue related to your company. You can also address any negative sentiment as it occurs, and not wait until complaints spiral out of control. A few of the free tools to monitor include Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Social Mention, BackType, Boardreader, CoComment and, of course, Google Alerts.
2. In protecting a company’s reputation and dealing with crisis, what advice would you give in creating internal social media policy guidelines for company employees.
It’s really important that your social media policy guides your employees’ social media participation. You have to let employees know the best way for them to engage as well as educate on some of the practices that they should avoid. Many policies discuss the use of acceptable content, personal vs. professional use, legal issues including copyright, intellectual property and privacy, IT issues to protect the company’s network and to mitigate risk, proper procedures such as an account management process, and the best practice guidelines on the rules of engagement. By spelling out, training and updating your employees, you will put a system of participation in place; one that works to prevent crisis from occurring based on your own employees’ interactions.
3. Where does the time come from to be a new PR champion? Is there a lot of sharing and delegation involved?
Being a new PR champion is an investment in your future and also an investment in your company’s social media growth. Years ago, when PR professionals were first introduced to social media, the notion of becoming the “Research Librarian” surfaced. PR professionals learned that they had to bring information into the organization and rally for change. I suggested back then that sometimes it might take some “after hours” effort to make social media a greater part of the company’s culture.
The same is true with the new practices and becoming a PR Champion. Of course, as you research and share information internally, it often creates a grassroots approach that grows participation as others to pick up on accepted practices. By involving additional champions from different departments in your company you will create synergy and more impact. It’s also important to seek out buy-in from an executive who is extremely enthusiastic about social media. Having acceptance from the top down truly lends support for your efforts, and the new processes you are suggesting.
Eventually this type of buy-in leads to increased internal sharing practices that make your job more efficient and suddenly there are other champions who will share in your efforts and work toward common social media goals. The more people you can involve and efficiencies you can reach through sharing internally, the more you will be able to delegate responsibilities and increase your own productivity.
4. Which sentiment analysis do you recommend, especially to measure competitor sentiment?
There are several platforms that help you to measure your brand’s sentiment vs. the sentiment of your competitors. They include the following:
5. How often do you engage dialogue through social media platforms? How often should this be done? Daily? Weekly?
The question should always be what type of engagement are you trying to achieve and how often do your stakeholders want to interact with you. I could say you should have three to five Facebook posts and Twitter updates a day to keep your profiles active, but if you have people interested in the information you’re sharing, then the conversations may double, triple or quadruple in size.
Before you can determine how many times to share, think about your audience and their behavior/participation. What interests them and what do they want to hear from you. By listening first to the conversations and studying the behavior, it will give you a better idea of how you should participate. Then determine exactly what type of engagement you want from the groups you want to reach or specific individual influencers.
When it comes to engaging in dialog, for example, you might be asking questions, monitoring trending topics to develop meaningful content to share, or even crowdsourcing with your customers to have them solve an issue and you’re using their intelligence. The dialog will largely depend on what you want to achieve.
6. Should a company do social media if it can’t show return – leads, sales and success stories?
Not every social media program in the organization is directly tied to leads, sales, success stories or registration, although executives want this type of reporting. In many cases, it’s a series of strategies and outputs that eventually show the return the executives what to see. You should keep in mind, there are other important reasons for companies to participate in social media, which includes: recruiting the best talent, thought leadership in the market, reputation management, customer service through social media platform participation, and social good or cause related efforts through social media. Many of these activities affect good will and public confidence, which is an extremely important measure that’s tied to higher-level company goals.
7. What’s the best way to measure traditional media exposure through newspapers, magazines now that social media is a part of the reach for each of those outlets?
There are turnkey solutions that include the ability to monitor and measure both traditional media, as the reach of these outlets extend digitally and through social media. At the same time you can measure the conversations and comment via newer media, such as blogs and new influencers, which are also reporting on your company and the market(s) in which you compete.
8. We have a web-based business and know that 40% of our traffic comes from social media. What is the number one thing that we can do to convert people to paid registrations on the site?
When a visitor gets to your site, the #1 thing you can do to move him/her from click to the conversion is to make it easy to understand, “What’s in it for me?” Every website should be set up for the different buyer personas. If you’re able to drive people to your site through meaningful stories and content, then they will expect you to engage with them on a more intimate level, based on their expectations and needs. In addition, they should never feel lost on your site. The value-add you will provide to any group should always be present, front and center, and it should be easy and immediate for them to find ways to engage more intimately.
9. What is the most effective means to neutralize negative conversations about a product when the complaints are reaching critical mass?
There are several steps you should take when negative comments surface and especially as they are reaching critical mass. These steps include:
- Acknowledge the situation.
- Fight social media fire with social media water by answering where the negative conversations surface. For example, don’t communicate through Twitter, if the complaints are coming in through Facebook.
- Be sorry and mean it!
- Create an FAQ to answer those questions that people are asking frequently about the situation.
- Create a pressure valve or an area devoted to answer questions, address complaints and ease concern.
- Know when to move the conversation offline into a more private method of communication (i.e., Direct Message, Facebook Message, email).
- Provide information company-wide so your employees are not in the dark and know when to refer comments and questions to official representatives.
- Learn your lessons and don’t make the same mistake twice.
10. What advice do you have for fostering internal collaboration among departments?
The first step would be to figure out what level of sharing or internal collaboration is right for your department or organization. Sharing can be on different levels from simple document editing and project management alerts for your programs all the way to enterprise collaboration and social computing, where you may have employees connecting through an internal social network by sharing videos, blogging and using innovative idea generation in wikis. Similar to how you participate externally in social media, you have to find out how people want to share internally and what information would be the most valuable to them. By researching or doing your homework first, you will develop a best practice approach to sharing internally with the most helpful tools and educational resources to engage your peers, whether they are in your department or you’re working cross functionally on a larger company initiative.