5 social media ideas that could breathe new life into your PR and marketing campaigns

In social media, says this expert, it isn’t what you can do right now with channels you already know well so much as it is finding out what you might do in new media you’re unfamiliar with.

Here’s what you already know: You ought to be monitoring and participating in social streams for mentions of your brand; you should also be benchmarking and measuring your efforts.

So instead of telling you what you ought to implement right now, I’m going to suggest some things you ought to experiment with, so you can get ahead of the pack as these concepts become more mainstream.

1. Facebook ads. We’ve used Facebook ads with clients, and we plan to do a lot more with it, but we were really hit by its usefulness when it affected our firm. We recently used Facebook ads to help with a recent recruitment drive at our agency, and once again we were pleased with the facility and cost of the tool. You can really target this stuff pretty narrowly, and as you experiment you’ll discover opportunities to impact your clients or brand.

2. Flowtown. I’ve met and liked the guys who run this Silicon Valley startup, and, more important, I’m intrigued by what they’re up to. Using Flowtown, you can “discover who your customers really are and what they’re doing and saying on social networks.” Think about that for a second. If someone told you that they were offering a single interface from which to explore the social streams of your most influential customers or prospects, wouldn’t you get excited? Get excited.

3. Booshaka, Twithority, IceRocket, etc. There’s more to social media monitoring than Google, folks. These are just a few tools you could be using to see how your brand is being talked about across the social graph, including Facebook. (It’s a closed system unavailable to Google, and yet it hosts the discussions of 500 million people. Maybe you ought to look into that.)

4. Video. Approximately 85 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience regularly views online videos. Forty-six million videos were viewed on Facebook in July 2010, ranking it third behind Google sites (such as YouTube) and Yahoo.

5. Your employees. This sounds freaky, but what I’m suggesting is that the marketing communications folks who tend to “control” the official social streams of the company identify five, 50 or 500 potential evangelists from within separate parts of the organization to aid in the monitoring and participation of the brand online. Set ground rules. Know that some things will get screwed up in advance. Watch what happens. My guess is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

What would you add to this list of experiments?

Todd Defren is a principal at SHIFT Communications and blogs at PR-Squared.

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