Below is my comment to a story on Twitter and a recent social media roundtable by the New Mexico Independents’ most excellent writer and Tweet-head, Gwyneth Doland. Here’s her post with a lot of really good points, and below are my two cents…
These are some great tips. I’d add that there are a lot of social networks mentioned here (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and those are great to communicate with, but they tend to build the foundation of like-minded people (whether customers/clients, or organizations, non-profits, etc) that you need to follow up with via other communications tools. Things like blogs, podcasts and the like are still great, low-to-no cost ways of creating content that you can communicate your own message with.
And speaking of blogs, you or your organization needs to have a “home base” for all of your social media efforts, someplace that (for lack of a better phrase) I call a “Grand Central You”. A place where people can go for all of the shiznit you have to share, and for that I recommend people use blogs. Especially with a free service like WordPress.com where you can collect your tweets, RSS any podcasts, share your company’s brilliance and embed video. Facebook is another way to do this, but I look at Facebook as a way to drive more people (again from that social networking foundation) to your messages (blog, YouTube, etc).
Video is also very important. You talked about webcasting, and mashing that with a liveblog is a great way to build community and discussion. But beyond that, video is a very powerful tool for social media content creators to communicate with. Whether it’s a video news report about your own company (as long as a VNR is considered to be from your company, and posting it on your blog, with your YouTube account it should be obvious) to downloadable content for people to create their own videos with, or people using their Webcams to tell their story, video is a great way to go. SWOP was doing this for a while with their media updates, I don’t know why they stopped them.
While a nice tool and a great way to crowdsource and communicate, remember that Twitter is a double-edged sword. I’m dunno if you guys remember the James Andrews/FedEx and prior to that the Steve Rubel/PC Mag cluster-tweets from the recent past. As they showed, 140 words is enough to give your company and clients a serious self-inflicted wound. I won’t waste y’all’s space here, but I talk about it in a couple of places:
(For the most recent tweet problem in the world of sports, look up Lane Kiffen Twitter in Google news or ESPN)
Another thing to consider is that many of these items mentioned are tools. There needs to be a change in the “top-down control” mindset of many communications professionals. We’re in the realm of collaboration and conversation, not control. How can I develop trust with my clients without being didactic in the way I communicate with them?
And as a follow up, how can I tap into the network of people who are supporters/purchasers/etc to improve my end product? It’s the idea of the “networked mind,” that while two heads are better than one, 20 heads are better than two, and 2,000 are even better. You can get the best ideas from your customers on what they would like to see in v.2.0 of your product/campaign/etc.
(I know I’m jumping around right now and I apologize, but it’s getting late and I wanted to get this down before crashing, I’ll try to expand on this more tomorrow/later today. What can I say? I love social media.)
And as a second follow up – for PR, marketing and advertising professionals, you have to change your mindset of who the media is. Social media combined with computing advances have removed the barrier to content creation not only for yourselves but for anyone covering you. Nowadays anyone with a $249 netbook, a Flip Video camera, a cell phone camera and a WordPress site is essentially a member of the media (that includes you, your organization and your PR people). They have questions, they want answers… heck, they want respect from us. If you can’t get them the answer they need, have the professional courtesy to tell them so and treat them with respect.
Leverage existing technologies to create your own social networks. Check out Ning to look at creating your own social network (One of the cool things about DCF is how they seamlessly moved (from an outside perspective) from a group blog to city blog to now its own social network). Does your organization need that kind of narrower social network? Ask Barack Obama, but keep in mind they hired one of the minds behind Facebook to create my.barackobama.com.
Don’t forget you have to give your message authenticity. You can’t post press releases as “blog posts” or put them on Facebook. If people want to read that stuff they will go to your online newsroom. (you do have one of those, right?) People want to think that they are interacting with a real person, not a PR flack faking it. If you’re a PR flack and admit it, I don’t think there’s a problem because people know up front. (more on this later, I know I’m throwing a lot of spaghetti against the wall here)
One more quick tip, one of the must have tricks in my toolbag (sorry, running out of steam) – check out HARO. PR guru Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out (http://www.helpareporter.com/). He started it as a Facebook group and it quickly grew beyond the max capacity for Facebook and he turned it into an email list. Three times a day you get an email of topics that reporters need experts for. The great thing is that the reporters send him the queries. And if you’re a reporter, you can send in a query and get responses from all over the world if you want. The best thing about HARO: it’s free.
Social media monitoring is also very important. Not just for your company, but for your competitors and your industry. For example, I work in higher ed at UNM. My Tweetdeck has searches up for “UNM,” “NMSU,” and “#highered”. Plus you can use Google Searches for those terms to keep track of not just what’s being said in the news but also in the blogosphere about your organization and topics of interest. If you have $ for social media, then check out Radian6, Pursuant or AwarenessInc for your monitoring needs.
Always be looking for the next technological innovation. Today it’s Facebook and Twitter (but a lot of the cool kids are already gravitating towards lifestream aggregators like FriendFeed, or using their blogs as that central launching base – check out Chris Brogan, www.chrisbrogan.com), but yesterday it was Friendster and Ryze. (anyone remember Friendster?)
I’m fried, I haven’t even gotten to RSS aggregators, media snacking, collaborative work with competitors and my Robert Scoble example. I’ll spare y’all now but if you want more, I‘d be happy to share.
G’night John Boy.