Lions and Tigers and…Social Media? Oh My!

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with a talented public relations professional and she

Wizard of Oz

Dorothy is clearly not a fan of social media.

posed an interesting question. She asked, “How has PR education changed with all of this social media stuff?” This got me thinking about how rapidly the world of social media has changed business and job descriptions—especially when it comes to public relations. I then began to wonder: how can we, as public relations professionals, make the most of social media for our clients? After letting this thought stew for a while and thinking about what I have learned in the classroom as well as in the field, this is what I came up with:

  • Test the water first. There are so many different social networking sites out there that it is tough to initially decipher between the ones that are worth your time, and the ones that will fizzle out in a month. Google+ is a good example of a medium that many users, (yours truly included), jumped right into without reading the necessary articles or asking the question, what is the purpose of this? Take some time to research what you are getting yourself (or your client) into.
  • Keeping the previous note in mind, do not be afraid to try new things. Some clients have to be gently pushed in the right direction—social media is a new idea to many people, and the thought of putting a company, brand or individual on the Internet in real time can be daunting. Be sure to highlight the proper uses and specific benefits that can be reached by using social media.
  • Not all social media outlets are for everyone. Not all clients will benefit from having a Facebook
    page, and then there are some that will reap countless benefits. Know the audience that each medium serves and find the right match for your client.
  • Transparency is key. If you tweet for your client or manage their Facebook page, let it be known. “Friends” and “followers” want to know who they are connecting with. A great example of this is a Portland-based marketing agency, CMD. Each day the company “tweeter” edits the profile so that it clearly states who is on tweeting duty.
  • Be consistent. Signing up for a Twitter page alone is not going to generate any followers or form meaningful relationships. You or your client must monitor that page and supply meaningful content on a consistent basis. For some companies, this may mean sleeping with an iPhone on your bedside table and with loud alerts set for every @mention. For others, it may mean devoting five minutes of every hour to check in with followers. Either way, be sure that the route you choose is consistent, or those relationships will begin to burn out.
  • Provide meaningful content. No matter what route you take, the connections you make do not want to hear what you had on your bagel that morning (unless you are tweeting for a fitness magazine, and in that case I’d love to hear about a healthy alternative to cream cheese). Be sure that every tweet or post provides insight, contains clickable content, or sparks a conversation among other users.
While I am certainly no professional, I hope that this turned out to be accurate and useful. Maybe someday I will have more hands-on experience with the topic of social media and client relations! In what ways do you find social media useful? Or useless, for that matter? (Google+ is toeing the useless line in my book).
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