Public Relations Strategies: Sifting Through the Clutter of Social Media
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The media landscape has been changing since the emergence of social media as a highly influential platform. Everyone has a soapbox and everyone wants to be heard. Some voices are louder than others reaching further and riding that digital wave. Not every brand out there understands how to effectively become part of that conversation and if there is any one thing that people tell me when I talk to them about how social media is instrumental for businesses today, it’s that there is so much fragmentation that it makes their eyes cross. They often wonder, where do I begin? Which social media tools are the most effective? Do I have to be on every single social media site out there for it to have any impact on my business?
First and foremost, all businesses need to understand that social media isn’t just another advertising alternative. It isn’t a place where you can just log on and shout “Look at all of the great things our company is doing!” Because when you make it all about you and less about “them” that sets you up for failure from the get go.
That said, I use this analogy for this new media landscape–social media is similar to parenting. When you become a parent, you instantaneously learn how to multi-task. How many moms reading have loaded laundry while holding a toddler on your hip while talking on the phone? Social Media is the same way, especially when used in combination with RSS. It simplifies by syndicating your content across multiple social media profiles. It simply accomplishes many tasks at once.
As you have more children or as your child gets older, you begin to know “what works” and “what doesn’t” when it comes to your parenting skills. The same holds true for social media tools. The longer you “work” in this space, the better you know which tools are right for you and which ones may not be a good fit (for example, I adore Twitter.) There are brand spanking new social media tools just about every day, and honestly, it is hard to keep up. I live and breathe social media and even I get overwhelmed by everything that is out there, I can hardly imagine what that looks like to a company only beginning to delve into the space. My advice is to prioritize: start with a handful of the ones you feel are most important, leverage those and go from there. Do not hop onto every new social media tool that launches, that will only dilute the experience.
When your children are younger, you need to tend to them every single day to mold and grow them, but as they age they get to a point where they don’t need you overseeing them every moment of the day. Again, this is entirely relevant to social media profiles and tools, especially when using RSS. In the beginning, you blogged 5x a week, but a year or so into it with a well established audience, you don’t need to. RSS will help update your widgets on your various profiles and social bookmarking sites like Diigo, del.icio.us and StumbleUpon can be added to your toolbar to make updating your profile as simple as clicking a button when you come upon a story you want to share with those connected to you. Now, I’m not saying you put less effort in, but what I do mean is that you will not lose your audience if you don’t have time to tend to it everyday.
The point is when you become a new parent you are overwhelmed with everyone’s advice and all of the possibilities that exist for your child. In social media, your “child” is your brand and your brand image. Just as you raise a child, you invest your time and energy into raising them right. Short cuts are not an option. The same holds true for social media.
I’d love to hear which social media sites and tools you use and why they have been beneficial to your company.
Shannon Nelson is the Corporate Communications Director for Pierce Mattie Public Relations. She has been an active participant in social media since 2005 and behind the scenes she can be found helping brands understand its use for business/PR/marketing/customer service. You can also find her blogging at PierceMattiePublicRelations.com where she always welcomes your comments.