October 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Written by Liz Grams
At Vollrath Associates, we work diligently to make sure our clients’ messages reach their audiences through a variety of media channels. With the emergence of social media over the past few years, we have since leveraged this important outlet and incorporated it into several of our clients’ communication strategies. However, just because social media is consistently evolving, doesn’t mean it changes the process of our public relations efforts. We still work carefully to help our clients develop objectives, implement strategies, review the results and provide recommendations to be more effective going forward. Thus if social media is an appropriate and effective communication tool for them, we find the best way to integrate it with their total program.
I recently attended the 2011 PR + Social Media Summit at Marquette University. One speaker in particular, Christopher Barger of Voce Connect, formerly with General Motors, was especially in tune with how to help companies be more effective with social media over a period of time. I’ve compiled a few lessons from his presentation that can be useful in your company’s social media strategy no matter what the industry:
Lesson #1: Always begin with the audience’s needs first. Start by providing value, and then worry about branding. Everyone loves to talk about brands, but the consumer still needs to come first. Be concerned about how your company delivers value to your target audiences. Analyze how you push your message out and through what channels. When first starting out in the social media sphere, listen more than you talk and answer more than you promote. By building the proper foundation with the audience’s needs at the forefront, the brand will develop as a result of what your audiences are asking for.
Lesson #2: Learn to accept – even embrace – lack of control. Companies always need content. However, instead of continually pushing out content from the central office, give your consumers an opportunity to create it. By allowing them to sit in the driver’s seat, consumers will become more passionate about the brand after they put their personal stamp on it. When you give them the opportunity to influence the company’s product or service, they become involved on a deeper, more permanent level.
Lesson #3: Redefine influence. While it is essential to communicate with your target markets, each individual needs to be accounted for. Do not be consumed with reaching the ‘influencers’ so much that you overlook your other target audiences. Remember that every consumer is important. By helping each individual and creating one-on-one connections, you will reach the influencers while continuing to help your company make a positive impact on a wider spectrum of consumers.
Lesson #4: Think long term. The greatest value of any interaction is the relationship, not the initial contact. Connecting with consumers online is a good way to extend your company’s reach, but then offline elements need to be added to continue to keep the relationship alive. By targeting your consumers through methods other than social media, they will have more connections with the company’s product or service than they would have otherwise.
Lesson #5: The social web is a huge customer service opportunity. Use social media to your advantage. Actively seek out consumers that are talking about your brand, despite whether the conversation is positive or negative. If people are being negative about your product or service, use social media as an opportunity to reach out to them and correct the problem. Consumers appreciate when a company takes the time to listen. Once you have solved their issue, these consumers are more likely to advocate for your product or service in the future. As for the consumers who already like the brand, utilize them as brand ambassadors. Allow them to take a leadership role in the social media sphere by initiating brand conversations and promoting good will for your company.
If you would like more information on Christopher Barger’s other social media lessons as well as information on the rest of the PR + Social Media Summit speakers’ presentations, please click on the slide share link here: http://t.co/CVhqRcbu