Archive for July, 2010

Social media marketing – the holy grail?

Friday, July 23rd, 2010 by Jon Clements

Is social media now a mainstay of mainstream marketing?

In more than two years since PR Media Blog began – when commercial, social media activity in the UK was more rooted in theory than practice – the online engagement revolution seems to have gained enough momentum to pose a serious challenge to the marketing hegemony.

Whereas, at one time,  it was a struggle to get arrested for talking social media with in-house marketing teams, now they are positively dragging you to the table, eager to open up and peer inside the latest “Ark of the Covenant” for business. 

Some organisations, more accustomed to adopting relatively conservative communications methods, are now even choosing to lead campaigns with social media activity. And then there’s the likes of Asda, immersing itself and its customers in social media and even thinking of itself as more than just a retailer – i.e., a content generator.

Why is this?

As Scott Liewehr, senior consultant and lead analyst at Gilbane Group, said in a highly informative webinar yesterday: “Social media is the web…and consumers are shaping your brand.”

He went on to explain how social media, in influencing purchasing choices, means that “customers are trusting complete strangers more than household brands” and that “brands should be viewing this as an opportunity rather than a threat”.

Liewehr describes the “superbrands” as embracing online customer participation and engagement as the social web allows companies to listen, understand and respond. At first look, this isn’t easy, as the social media landscape is more (in his word) the “Splinternet” – with conversations and activity happening simultaneously in disparate online locations.

With this in mind, he offers a checklist for the modern digital marketeer:

1. Be open

2. Be a good listener

3. Be prepared – you need to have something to say in response to a customer comment, and quickly!

4. Be knowledgeable and add value

5. Be consistent

But for those organisations and marketeers still cautious about balancing the threat and opportunity of social media – and wondering how to keep up with the latest gizmo – Liewehr cousels calm! “It’s mostly NOT about technology,” he says, suggesting the skills needed for online engagement aren’t new, but that the delivery channels have changed.

Getting started with social media should include modest expectations in the early days, focusing on small wins and learnings with an eye on building long-term impact.

But, he adds, firms shouldn’t underestimate the transformational power of one person – the right person, doing the right things – representing a brand online.

The net gain should be better brand awareness, increased sales and customer loyalty.  

Funny that; sounds a bit like marketing.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR.

Connect at:
JonClements

Social Media: Still a Moving Target for Professors

Monday, July 19th, 2010 by Tia Tyree

A guest post from Dr. Tia C. M. Tyree, Assistant Professor within the Department of Journalism at Howard University, Washington, D.C.

In August 2009, I was quoted in a PRWeek article titled “Lessons for the Future,” which dealt with how professors across the country were “grappling” with social media. Today, I am confident there isn’t much grappling being done. Those who were on the proverbial fence have probably hopped it and jumped on the bandwagon like everyone else. Over the last few years, most of us were trying to figure out how we could incorporate social media into our course. Now, I think most of us have built or are building social media PR courses. Mine will debut in Spring 2011.

I was convinced I needed the course after attending Edelman’s New Media Academic Summit last month. Educators from across the globe converged in New York, New York to hear from some of the top viral and public relations professionals who are changing the landscape of social media. Presenters included the Group President of Conde Nast, Main Presenter from BBC (Nik Gowing), Co-Founder & CEO of MeetUp, SVP of PepsiCo and Director of Worldwide Communications from Pfizer Global Manufacturing, and each shared their opinions, hopes, desires, stories and lessons learned from the social media landscape. From successes with “Tweetups and Meetups” and the great debate surrounding paywalls and journalists, which raged this weekend with Gannett’s test, the flow of information, ideas and advice was overwhelming. Ultimately, it’s clear PR professionals are still learning exactly how to best use the right mix of social media to obtain success within the media and marketplace.

The summit taught me there is a great benefit in still having a strong mix of online and offline tactics, and it was really a caution not to abandon those practices that are fundamentally successful to try the new online tactics that have not proven successful to a specific company. In essence, it takes time to earn trust, develop relationships and build an online community. PR professionals must learn the new techniques, master them and fold them into their overall strategic plans, because when consumers can participate (i.e., engage with the company through social media) in a brand, than the return on investment and impact is much higher.

How this relates to me and other educators is important. We train the next generation of PR professionals. If we don’t learn social media and teach students how to strategically use social media, than we will graduate thousands of young entry level professionals who are clueless about how social media impacts a company and how they can harness its potential for the benefit a company’s greater good or bottom line.

With social media, the traditional media landscape is continuing to change. The idea that “every company is a media company” was frequently tossed around at the summit. With social media tools, the ability to reach customers, teach customers, inform customers and interact with customers is no longer tied to earned or paid media. Instead, it’s based on the marketing, sales and public relations professionals within a company and their ability to utilize social media tools. I am committed to helping my students use these tools, and I hope other educators are willing to do it, too.