PR pros: Stop making these 5 social media blunders

Celebrate World Social Media Day by learning to quit making these classic goofs

Today, June 30, is World Social Media Day, and I’m sitting here shaking my head saying “no, we are not there yet…”

As much as I tout the fact that social media is owned by PR as opposed to advertising, I realize we are not there yet in terms of using social media to the best of our ability. Here are some of the classic blunders PR agencies make when it comes to integrating “social” with “traditional.”

1. Facebook, check; Twitter, check; now let’s go back to hibernation. If you consider joining Twitter and Facebook and issuing daily updates and tweets a huge accomplishment, you’ve missed the boat. If you are the head of marketing/communications at your company, please ask your social media folks to create an engagement calendar. Not an editorial calendar, but an engagement calendar that includes what to tweet or Facebook (soon to be a verb) that is of value to your audience.

Do not just arrive on social networks and forget to keep yourself updated and engaged. It takes just three meaningful tweets a day—that’s what McDonald’s does and it’s enough.

2. Push content without pulling your audience. Tell me which PR/marketing professional doesn’t want to see “What did all this social media do for my brand” report? While we spend countless hours churning out great content, we don’t spend half as much time tracking outcomes. In fact some of us don’t ask ourselves the most important question, “Why am I hosting a tweet chat or a video contest on YouTube?”

Let’s take a step back and define success before recommending tactics. A well thought out social media strategy starts with identifying a strategy followed by key performance indicators followed by tactical recommendations—not the other way around. I realize every social activity can’t be measured but there are lots of free tools available to track how much you are pushing out versus pulling in.

3. Treat SEO, social media and your Website as separate silos. This is when I try to keep my blood pressure under control and accentuate the Colgate smile. If your PR agency is rebranding your website without integrating it with your SEO ambitions and social media goals, run! The three elements are closely integrated. Your blog feeds Google which in turn drives traffic back to your website or any social property that you want to promote.

Start with an online audit first, where do you stand on Google search rankings? What is your online sentiment (which is not who you think you are but who your audience thinks you are). I have seen some companies have multiple vendors with different strategies and tactics to handle SEO, social media and Web separately, and they don’t talk to each other. Now if you have the luxury to do that, good for you but some of my clients don’t so we ask that all partners in Web 2.0 strategy connect and work towards a common set of goals.

4. Promise the ‘stars” without knowing which planet they belong to: Sure, I will get you a tweet from Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki and Larry King but I don’t even know what they are interested in. First subscribe, follow and like them and then start identifying possible connection points. PR agencies will promise you a blog mention or a tweet out from big names in social media as though they live right next door to them. Ask your agency a simple question, “What makes you think you will get a number one blogger to write about my brand that no one has ever heard of?”

5. Viral and video don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand: Recently at the “Metrics and Measurement” panel at BlogWorld NY, Margot Savell, vice president of digital measurement at Weber Shandwick made the point, “First of all you can’t create a viral video campaign. We can only create a video campaign with the hope that it will go viral.”

I am proud to share CRT/tanaka’s success with the Go Granny video campaign for Network Solutions that we launched during this year’s Super Bowl. I am not a big fan of “impressions” but if we were to judge Go Granny by impressions, we garnered more than 50 million in less than a week. PR agencies can only plan for a video to go viral but setting a realistic expectation with clients that not all videos can go viral is just open and honest communication between an agency and its clients.

My intention is not to come across as another PR agency bashing articles because PR is my daily bread. I am proud to spend a vast majority of my life doing what I enjoy the most, helping people and brands communicate effectively so why not try to get it right?

Priya Ramesh heads the social media practice at CRT/tanaka, and blogs at The Buzz Bin, where a version of this article originally ran.

Topics: PR

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