Social media is nuts. No other way to say it. People get on social media and say things, share things and post things they would never in a million years share with you in person. The upchuck of social media has given rise to a new cottage industry and a new group of consultants, applications and tools that will drive your numbers up, give you a Klout score Mark Cuban would envy, and have you smack in the middle of everyone’s feed.
But is that what you want? Do your customers or the people you want to reach and influence want to see that much of you? Does that level of interactive and social media love mean anything to your marketing and business objectives? If you’re a B2B company, my guess is no. So while there are plenty of tools out there you can use, the trick is to avoid becoming one yourself.
Social media, like any of the disciplines of a fully integrated public relations program, needs to be coordinated and intentional. It needs to have tactics that support the overall marketing objective and strategy. It also has to be relevant to the specific audiences you’re trying to reach and timed to a window when these people are on social media.
What social media does is provide a vehicle for companies to connect directly to a wider variety of audiences than ever before. It’s changed the value of company blogs and case studies and has allowed experts to engage directly on issues driving the market. To do this effectively, you need to have a game plan and it’s not a passive “I’ll let an app handle this for me” kind of play.
Let’s take Twitter as an example and the tweet you want to send out as your player. First, you have to figure out the right equipment. For Twitter, this means what hashtags to wrap around your tweet to help get it inserted into a topical conversation. If the event is happening at a conference, make sure to use the hashtag for that event. If it’s part of a larger industry conversation or trend, use the appropriate tags. This will be particularly helpful as you tweet about company blogs, thought leadership messaging and other content that you want included in the broader debate.
Second, you need to understand who the tweet’s teammates are that can help it carry the ball forward and score by getting it seen by more people. The tweet’s teammates are anyone involved in the story and you need to use that company’s company Twitter handle to bring them into the play. Let’s say you’re tweet a story that your client is mentioned in. To get the broadest reach, include the twitter handles of the publication, reporter, your company, the person quoted, and any other industry influencer involved. What you’re doing is setting up the tweet to get shared by all of the people tagged.
Twitter is also a very effective way to cut through the email clutter with reporters you don’t know that well yet. It’s a simple way to see if a certain reporter is attending an event, is interested in a story idea, or is covering a topical area that might not be evident in their recent coverage. I’ve used this technique hundreds of times with reporters from trades, business press, newspapers and broadcast outlets to start a conversation that continues over email, on the phone or in person. It’s important to remember when using this technique to tweet to folks when they are online. If you just tweet at random times, your message is likely to get lost in the Twitter feed.
Twitter is a contact sport, without putting in the effort to make sure you’re creating multiple points of contact with your social media programs, you’ll find yourself tweeting to an empty stadium instead of cultivating relationships and fans of your company.