There is a very good article on Imediaconnection.com about the social media sins to avoid. The highlights of the piece include the points that:
- Good social media strategies result in viral, but viral is not a strategy.
- Money isn’t the best social currency; relationships and knowledge are.
- Social media is a strategic amplifier for your campaign, not the entire campaign.
This is piece is worth reading. The writer, Chris Aarons, makes some important points that could influence how you approach social media. One of the points he makes started a bit of a discussion here in the AHA office. In point number five (Social is PR), he says that social media is too big for one department. By defining social media in a public relations or communications capacity, it limits the scope of your campaign. I agree with Chris on this; there is a bigger range for social media that can extend far beyond communications. However, in our experience, at the core of it, social media is a PR tool that can support other areas. At it’s most basic, PR is about creating authentic relationships with your public(s) and whether that information is used by the research & development team, sales, quality control or other areas…in my opinion, it needs to be developed with the strategic input of the communicators or PR people in your organization.
Chris is right when he says: “Your audience wants to know more about you than just what you’re selling; they want to know about what you do, who does it, and how you do it.” That’s what great PR people have been saying for years.
Another key point that came up in our discussion is that if a specific department doesn’t take ownership and accountability for social media, it may not happen. If everyone is responsible for it, no one is specifically responsible. I think that rather than thinking of PR or Communications as that department that does news releases and events, that if you bring this area to the planning table at a senior level, it is of great value.
The takeaway point from Chris for this “pitfall” is: PR is great for news and launches, but social media creates the ongoing and sustained interest between news and launches. I have to say, we don’t agree. PR is more than news and launches and the whole point of public relations is to create ongoing and sustained interest in your organization and what you do – in an authentic way. Good PR professionals don’t just shovel out news and information and help to launch new products or services. We strategically develop a roadmap for internal and external communications and we build relationships with media, bloggers and those participating in the Twitterverse. We connect, collaborate and engage. We help the people in the organizations we work with to join the conversations that are relevant. We provide a perspective that creates the opportunity to provide value to your stakeholders, which is at the core of establishing a strong, meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship with these people – one by one.
I think for the most part, this is a great article, but I think that it ineffectively positions PR. A strategic communications professional should be a part of your senior team. And from our understanding and experience with social media, they should be a leader in driving your social media initiatives and collaborating with other areas, departments or divisions – but they need to be at the forefront.