Social Media Marketing As An Effective PR Tool

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The buzz about social media as a PR, marketing or advertising tool is actually increasing, while in some cases the effectiveness of the medium is dwindling. However, with the help of a myriad of tools, and with the right strategies and monitoring, communicators can “speak” like never before. Be careful though, losing focus of what social media tools and purpose are, can reveal a time guzzling monster of frustration. In conjunction with SEO and other invaluable techniques, the PR industry can shine via these digital world techniques, if it pay attention to detail.

Ready Aim Win

Targeting the right social media platform or platforms for a campaign, or for connecting with a constituency is a crucial element of using the medium. The social media cloud, if we can call it that, is as diverse as any other set of conduits for communication, and though Twitter and Facebook might seem like the most appropriate examples for many cases, they have their strong and weak points.

Twitter for example, essentially “humanizes” interaction previously inherent only via email or perhaps blogging. It does this by being dynamic, fast and what one might call “being in motion” out of its real time aspect. With tools like Twellow, essentially yellow pages of Twitter, connecting with virtually any market segment is possible. The rub for busy PR or marketing professionals is that Twitter is a time sink hole that requires “a presence”, as is the case in all social spheres, and delegating networking to interns or other associates carries an obvious pitfal. The effectiveness of Twitter is directly proportionate to the effort people extend to one another in the end. The weak point for Twitter campaigns is not using “sniper quality” targeting methods. The system is starting to look like a 90’s chat room.

Just as Twitter has its optimal utility, so do Facebook, corporate blogs, and dozens of other social media platforms. From an experienced social media networker’s standpoint, using social media to promote my business has been more of a function of notoriety than one of exacting utility. This came about through a sincere approach to being part of the discussion from the onset of Web 2.0, rather than some Machiavellian or narcissistic need to be seen.

The reality for building presence and reputation early on, was one of numbers and traffic as it is for so many bloggers and site owners. Now, the focus is beginning to change, and many of the tools we used before like StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, LinkedIn and many others, have become increasingly ineffective comparatively. As an example, sharing a blog post or news bit via StumbleUpon a year ago, with a decent following of community would produce between 3 and 10 thousand visits to the subject site. Such is not the case now, as the matrix of submitted stumbles, paid inclusions, and increased marketer presence have dilutes even the most excellent of campaigns.

Relevance Does Not Exist Because You Need Customers

At least part of an apparent loss of effectiveness in some media outlets, and this will become even more apparent on Twitter for example, is competition. Regardless of how valuable or “worthy” a commodity anyone tries to promote, each scrap of communication must compete with countless “unworthy” or irrelevant ones. The reason? Poor targeting and traditional “shot gun” type advertising techniques. This aspect not only effects household recognized brands, but especially “up and coming” news or products or services. If the reader wants a clear image of this dynamic, he or she need only look at their incoming notifications. As an example, marketing hair color to parenting bloggers may seem like a good idea because of the numbers, but is it?

In an article for CNET’s Software Interrupted, Dave Rosenberg points an obviously tired networking expert’s finger at social media as a tool of business. In this post, the author, a recognized authority, simply plugs in the correct upcoming Google keywords – telling the reader nothing he has not already elaborated on. I use this example to illustrate just how time consuming this business can be. I am sure that Rosenberg has a lot more to offer than a sound bit, but the temptation to “short cut” the system is there for all of us. The golden rule for any communication is, and should always be, “If you don’t have something important to say, say nothing at all”. This is a hint at how everyone should approach these new tools, especially blogging.

Concluding For Now

Perhaps the best expert on social media and its impact on marketing is the editor of Dosh Dosh. Two years ago, he outlined a sort of “state of social media and marketing” in this post. Much has changed since then, as marketers from hair dye peddlers to magic tonic salesmen push the boundaries of every social media outlet. I am sure even Dosh Dosh has a revised outlook and advice for the “would be” social networker. In fact, this quote from one section of Social Media Fundamentals, fairly exemplifies the “targeting” idea the post you are reading suggests.

Determining your goals and target audience is a fairly important preliminary process when it comes to social media marketing. This is not just plotting objectives for the sake of being organized; your goals directly determine the best strategy to take and the community to target. This article talks about the common goals for social media marketing and includes suggestions on how you can determine your target audience.

Social media as a “pulpit” for marketing is still a superb tool, and one that will be even more important in the months and years to come. But, refinements in the outlets themselves, the strategies used to us the system, and ultimately the way marketing and PR professionals view the public (which is who social media is about in the first place – remember), will eventually lead to an even better system. For now, following Dosh Dosh’s advice, and the tid bit gleaned here, will be beneficial and productive for everyone, especially your clients. The more effective we are, the more efficient and excellent the system is. In the end, there is no short cut beyond the proper engagement of potential customers.

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Comments

  1. says

    Recently microblogging social media is being widely recommended for PR and advertising purposes but to me this is only the tip of the iceberg. People jump on the Twitter type bandwagon without other social media infrastructure to back it up. A more permanent point of reference in the form of a regularly updated website or blog (something that can be clicked through to from the short tweets or updates) which provides more value to the reader should surely be the starting ground?

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