Social media, and other unavoidable topics

By Posted in - Public Relations & Social Media on March 8th, 2010 0 Comments

Social media. The topic is completely unavoidable in today’s world. Whether its personal or business related, it seems like everyone is trying to find their place in online communities.

At SCPRSA’s February luncheon, I had the chance to get another take on the phenomenon. Unlike my last post, Being Relevant, this recap is focused on the benefits of social media for business. And unlike using social media as a megaphone to shout your ideas to the world, from a business standpoint social media is best used as a medium for back-and-forth conversation.

At the meeting, guest speaker Jon Evans (@bigjonevans onTwitter) laid out a basic, fundamental understanding of social media, as well as steps for implementation.

First, Jon set up the analogy that social media is a lot like New York City – to start, it’s an unavoidable topic that everyone has at least heard of. There are those who really want to go, those who want to if the opportunity is right, those who just don’t want to and those who just have no business going. Sounds appropriate.

Next, Jon proposed a solid definition. Social media is the concept – not entity – of creating relevant conversation and building a community.

So when considering taking a business or a brand into the realm of social media, there are a series of steps that need to be taken.

1. Decide if social media is a good fit. It may not be.

2. If social media is a reasonable concept, set a plan for action. Establish a mission statement, reasonable goals and a process of measurement.

3. Once you get going, don’t be afraid to ask for help – but be sure to research consultants beforehand.

4. There are millions of people there (the NYC metaphor continues). If you want to get noticed, you have to be different. Pinpoint your audience and determine what about you will set you apart to them, and run with it.

5. Social media is not an end. Integrate social media with traditional media.

6. Last but certainly not least when using social media, address negative comments. A definite plus to social media is that online communities will often correct themselves. People who have had good experiences with brands tend to swoop down and tackle those who say negative things. I’ve noticed this in action in my few weeks of helping Facebook fan pages. True supporters of a brand will come to the rescue often before anyone else steps in.

When traditional media was the only communication tool around, information could only be “pushed” to consumers. By integrating traditional media and the “pull” function of social media, brands can now connect with consumers on a personal level and create relationships, rather than just sales. And I think that’s a topic that isn’t worth avoiding.

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