For those of you who caught my December 7th Vocus Webinar on “The Techniques of the New PR Champion,” here’s Part II of the Q&A. I can tell from the number of questions, (there were over 65 with some duplication), PR professionals are ready to embrace new practices and they’re looking at 2012 as a year with increased social media responsibilities. If you missed Part I of the Q&A, you can find it here.
1. What is the best way to start social media marketing?
The best way to start in social media is to “listen” or monitor conversations for keywords related to your company, its products/services, executives, competitors, and what’s trending in your industry. These conversations will allow you to identify the people who are actively engaged in dialog relevant to your brand, in the networks where you need to participate. You can use either free tools or paid monitoring platforms to track the conversations over a period of time. Listening enables you to know where to build social media profiles because the conversations are frequent and in-depth. These conversations also help you to understand the critical issues of your audiences, to share more meaningful information with them. You want your company to become a valuable resource through social media rather than using it as a channel to pump out “spammy” messages. Setting up a monitoring platform will give you the intelligence you need to prepare a strategic program and to participate effectively.
2. What are some of the key questions we should be asking internally to determine not only where our resources should go, but also how deep into each of these segments we should delve?
This is a great question and so many communications professionals overlook the “why” of social media. The very first question is to ask, “Why do we need social media and do we really need to be everywhere?” The “why part” will also unfold into: Whom are we trying to engage? Where do they congregate? What specific outcome are we looking to achieve? Before beginning your program, you should also be asking simple resource questions including:
- Who will be managing the social media program? Will it be a collaborative effort in the communications department and/or what other departments will be involved?
- Where are we participating now and have those efforts been consistently managed from a resources perspective?
- What types of content do we have available that we can use to engage people vs. developing new content, if we’re short on resources?
- How much time will we need to devote to social media with other types of communications efforts in play?
- How are we going to collaborate internally to advance the organization’s sharing and innovation, which is an efficient and more productive way to approach social media?
3. When you say duplicate others efforts, does this indicate we should cut back on RTing?
Duplicating efforts doesn’t necessarily mean cutting back on RTing. As a matter of fact it makes the RTing more effective. For example, when you have several departments working on a company-wide program, let’s say a big tradeshow, there is an opportunity to share similar content and to time the release of information for more impact. You may also want to consider one set of links for posting that lead back to a central landing area, rather than different departments having their own links and separate landing pages for the same content. It’s more organized to have a one set of links driving to a hub, and it’s a lot easier to keep track. Using internal calendaring or a universal calendar system gives employees access to approved content they can share and then other departments can retweet or support the effort by posting it in their networks. The more you coordinate the sharing of content, based on timing, themes, keywords, etc., and support one another’s participation, the easier it will be to track and see the success of your efforts.
4. How do you know you are getting good ROI on Twitter, especially?
There are so many different tools to measure Twitter activity. You can use Twitalyzer, TweetStats and TweetEfect, which will tell you everything from who shares your content the most, the frequency of your retweets, and even which tweets build your community as opposed to the tweets that make you lose followers. However, when you really want to see the ROI, it’s best to use a specific link in a tweet that directs your Twitter followers to a landing page, where you can track their actions. For example, perhaps you want them to register for an event or sign up to download an ebook? Where social media measurement ends, website analytics begin. Using a link to a landing page allows you to track from click to conversation. I frequently mention the simple example of Dell using a link to a promotion via Twitter. By offering a link to a discount deal on a PC, Dell was able to track $3 million in sales.
5. Can you give a B2B example of a company effectively using social media?
There are many B2B examples but one that comes to mind is Dunn & Bradstreet (D&B). They use social media including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as an extension of how they connect with, and are a resource to, their customers, prospects and the community at large. For D&B, social media is part of how they bring their data to life; they live up to their brand by being a dynamic company and one that wants to connect D&B users, as much as possible, with the people behind the data and their insights. Similar to D&B, IBM was among the first to recognize that allowing their employees to engage directly with their customers through social media made their customer’s feel even closer to the brand. Other B2B companies using social media successfully are: Cisco, SAP, Intel, and Network Solutions.
6. What is the best process on finding advocates?
Social media champions can be your internal employees who naturally raise their hands and want to be a part of social media on behalf of the company. These are the people who take the initiative to start and manage the first social media profiles. These individuals are great candidates to participate on a Social Media Core Team for strategy or to be a part of your Social Media Coalition, which handles a lot of the day to day activities on your social media properties.
The external brand advocates or champions come in many shapes and sizes. You can have customer advocates who engage, use your products and naturally want to share the information in their networks. When you set up the monitoring of your keywords you can usually uncover these champions and their favorable reviews and endorsements. They also make themselves very visible on your social media properties, constantly thanking you and looking for more information to share. There are also influencers or champions who take an interest in what you do based on an interest they have in your industry. They, too, can be uncovered by listening to the conversations in different networks. Of course, with these bloggers, you want to do some homework to identify their level of influence and the communities where they participate. It’s important to take the time to get to know them before you jump into the conversations.
In both cases, your once you pinpoint the needs of your champions, they are willing to share relevant and meaningful information with their communities. Suddenly you have an audience of audiences, happy to further the reach of your stories, further lending credibility to your brand.
7. I am the only person focusing on social media in my company, do you recommend focusing on a few channels or touching on many channels less frequently?
With scarce resources, I would definitely recommend focusing on a few channels and mastering engagement in those places, rather than spreading yourself too thin. The pace you set from the onset has to be maintained, and if all goes well, it will increase based on engagement with your customers and other stakeholders. Too many times I’ve seen companies very enthusiastic about social media participation to later find out months down the road they can’t keep up with the activity and many of their profiles go “dark.” Remember, we are dealing with people and their interests. If someone visits your Facebook page and you haven’t taken the time to post in two months, there are plenty of other places for them to engage with more interesting organizations. People also want to interact with people, so it’s especially important that you have the resources to have a personal presence and to attend to your audiences needs, rather than just use a timed feed of updates or tweets.
8. What method do you recommend for measuring the effectiveness of your PR efforts.
I measure PR in the higher-level buckets, which include financial, employee productivity, reputation and customer service levels. When you put a social media program in place it has to be integrated with other communication and also driving to a hub where this information can be captured, from click to conversion. In many cases, departments may look at community growth, buzz across platforms, the number of retweets on Twitter, or comments on a blog post. However on a higher level, executives want to see how social media looks with respect to leads and sales, how much money it saved the company, the brand’s reputation, endorsements and sentiment tied to public confidence, and how employee activity resulted in productivity by delivering successful projects on time and under budget. PR can also be tied to customer satisfaction by using social media to answer questions directly, measuring customer sentiment, and gathering research and applying helpful feedback to your products and services.
9. What are the best practices a one-person shop can adopt?
A few best practices for the one -man shop include:
- Don’t be in too many places; pick a couple or a few channels and really move toward engagement with people rather than informing with outbound messages.
- Realize that you have to plan your content carefully and know in advance what you are going to share each week. Of course you need to be active on a social site to thank people, ask and answer questions and engage with them, peer-to-peer.
- Monitor keywords carefully and filter down to exactly what you need to hear. Focusing on the most relevant keywords based on your overall communications plan and what you’re trying to achieve will help you to maximize your efforts through social media.
- Enlist the support of other potential champions who work in the company and who may already be out there social networking. They may be able to help you increase the your reach and also help you to listen for negative conversations that surface.
- Set up a good monitoring system and have it tied to your mobile device, especially if you find yourself away from your computer for a good portion of the day.
- Realize you can pre-plan and time certain updates and tweets when you know you have a scheduled meeting or you are in transit. But, be sure to check back with your community to make sure they don’t have any specific questions or issues.
- Monitor and measure frequently, so you can show progress and benchmark small wins. This may lead to additional resources moving forward.
10. What was the website to look up the best practices social media policies?
One of the best websites to help you in your social media policy development is www.socialmediagovernance.com. The site has over 100 best practice social media policies for you to review.