Thursday, December 16, 2010

Social Media for PR: Thought Leadership, Conversation and Connection

Kate Schackai, Social Media Director at Crawford PR and author of White Hat PR, just wrote a fantastic article about the difference between marketing and PR in social media. She gives great suggestions on using social media for effective public relations efforts online, but I got a lot of value from her perspective on the way social media is evolving the "sales approach" to more of a conversation and a social experience than just a pitch (whether in marketing or PR). I love watching this evolution happen.

We're seeing this transition occur much more specifically in the B2B space, where the sales and marketing style offline has historically been less about "buy this!" and more about the conversation and the relationship between buyer and seller (referrals, dinners, golf) compared to consumer marketing which is more traditionally about features, price, benefits, etc.

Whether we're talking about marketing or PR, the bottom line for me is that social media permits a brand to demonstrate its skills and build its reputation by shifting the focus from the product or service toward the deeper value the brand can deliver in its thought leadership; how connected the brand is to the industry or space; and how serviceable it is -- how social and supportive it is -- to its customers and to other thought leaders.

Here are my favorite clips from Kate's article:
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Too many devotees are treating the terms “social media PR” and “social media marketing” as interchangeable–when they are anything but. And if you can’t tell which you’re engaged in, the odds are you’re not succeeding in either.
In the great era of one-way messaging, the distinction between marketing and PR was clear: if you were talking to consumers, it was marketing; if you were talking to the press, it was PR.
Marketing sells products. PR builds reputation. And while media matters, social media has opened up a new way to communicate directly, not just that someone should buy what you’re selling, but why.
a constant sales pitch in an area designed for conversation is somewhere beyond annoying; it’s completely tone deaf.
Your online content should comment on industry news, hot stories, trends related to your product/service. This requires that you and your team actually read the news and understand your relevance to it.
If someone replies to you, make sure they are answered and thanked. Quickly. And not just with a link to your product.
Speaking of links… Your PR force should be out there reading and commenting on other people’s content, and not just putting links to your site on theirs.
If you’re looking to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, but your social media content makes you sound like a door-to-door salesman, the first step might be admitting that you have a problem.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Goals of Corporate Social Media Strategy in 2011

1) Integrate, 2) Hire Correctly, and 3) Measure using the ROI Pyramid.
These are the three critical elements of approaching social media marketing in 2011 that are top of mind for me right now.

Today I read Forbes columnist and industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang's keynote presentation for LeWeb - the largest European Internet conference. His presentation outlines the results of a study conducted by Altimeter Group, his firm, and then presented Jeremiah's suggestions on what strategies will make a difference for social media marketers throughout the next year. He had many more points than just these three. In fact, he presents 6 ideas for how you should invest in 2011. But I find these three to be the most critical and compelling.

First, Integrate.
The ultimate goal for many organizations is now shifting from simply "having a social presence" (Facebook fan page, Twitter profiles, etc.) to integrating these fully with the existing online corporate presence (corporate website, for example). How can we bring the conversations happening about our brand closer to our brand? How can we attract interested influencers to our site and keep them there? Should that be the goal anyway? What do you think? Comment below.

Second, hire correctly and properly train.  
People I meet in marketing often ask me what it takes to make a great social media marketer. As agencies and client-side marketing managers look to hire specialists to dedicate to social media efforts, they should certainly take note of Jeremiah's tips, such as looking for "early technology adopters." Those whom I know who have been successful in social media marketing and truly have a passion for it are the same folks who had a Geocities personal site in college just to "play around with the technology" and share content and insights.They're the same people who tried out Google Wave and Apple Ping the day they were released. These are the folks who are going to have a larger understanding of all of the media channels and tools that exist, making them better equipped to select the right ones for your business. 

I also love the term "corporate entrepreneur." Many colleagues of mine have started their own businesses and become very successful at them, such as Erin Steinbruegge (@steinburglar) and Chris Reimer (@RizzoTees). Friends in this group have often asked me: "Why don't you just go into business for yourself as a consultant, or start a firm. You could do great work, attract lots of clients and really build something!" I ponder this opportunity, but I have always found myself coming back to feeling a real passion for working on the corporate side. Whatver that itch is, I'm not sure where it comes from, but I think that term "corporate entrepreneur" fits me well because it means that I am a leader within a corporate structure who is focused on creating value. See the end of this post for more on the concept. After reading the below definition of corporate entrepreneurship, you'll likely better understand why talented individuals who fit that description are likely to be most stellar at the social media marketing role, considering the fragmentation and rapid growth we are seeing in this space in particular.

The ROI pyramid
This slide was also one of my favorites because Owyang distills for us his understanding of calculating ROI and value added by social media, but separating that measurement and analysis by role, factoring in only the most relevant metrics and reporting for that level of the organization. I have provided "executive dashboards" for a long time, in which I choose to distill upward only those metrics that allow my executive leaders to best do their job, not weighing them down with the details. They need the big picture. From Jeremiah's recent blog post about the ROI Pyramid in corporate social strategy:
Often, our industry can appear complicated, and yearns for simplicity.  One such technique to glean simplicity is to develop frameworks which the corporate social strategist can then apply to achieve their business goals.

More on "Corporate Entrepreneurship":
I found this article on corporate entrepreneurship, Cultivating Corporate Entrepreneurship by Lanny Herron, and thought I'd share with you the definition he gives:

"Entrepreneurs" are often thought of as persons who start new business ventures, yet most who study the concept come to view this definition as overly restrictive. Economists in particular have defined entrepreneurship in such diverse and general ways as: forming new combinations (Schumpeter, 1934); dealing with disequilibria (Schultz, 1975, 1980); and exercising opportunity awareness (Kirzner, 1985). A thorough study of the subject suggests that the essence of entrepreneurship resides in the reallocation or recombination of resources with intent to create value. ... The creation of value, however, involves both the recognition of an opportunity and the attendant reconfiguration of the resources necessary to achieve that value.

This view of entrepreneurship makes it abundantly clear that those who start new businesses and those who alter existing ones have much in common. Indeed, they are virtually identical in the broad classes of actions they must carry out to achieve their ends. Both must gather information, recognize opportunities, acquire a requisite level of control over resources, and formulate and implement methods for reconfiguring these resources.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Value of Conversations over Campaigns

I had lunch today with a colleague in marketing and communications. She is a social media maven and an esteemed professional in media communications and public relations. We had a great conversation about the value that an organization's media relations team can bring to the table when putting together a strategy for a social media marketing campaign. We both agreed that the reason this team adds value is that they are professional communicators who typically have an intimate understanding of how to effectively communicate your company's mission, values, practices and products.

As marketers, when we think about an idea in the framework of a "campaign", we may limit ourselves in thinking about it as a one time, event-specific occurrence. It may last a day or a month, but if we're thinking about it as having a start and and a finish, we may miss the opportunity to focus on the bigger picture - the idea that a solid marketing strategy it truly "integrated" across channels. It also takes advantage of the immediacy and the reach that technology has provided us with social media and email to communicate with our audience continuously and meaningfully, targeting our message by media type and inviting the recipients of that message to engage with us and respond.

I found Brian Carroll's post about Conversations over Campaigns. It has several great points about the "start and stop" nature of a campaign versus the more holistic view of the "conversation" in marketing.
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Marketing is undergoing a remarkable evolution at this moment. The multitude of mediums we can use to speak to our marketplace is revolutionizing how we work. I believe the days of campaigns – where we start-stop-measure-tweak and start all over again – are over. Today, for marketing to effectively drive revenue, it must be a continuous, meaningful conversation. 
The most successful marketers will know how to lead that conversation both internally and externally so they can communicate to their customer the right things in the right way at the right time.
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