Starry Eyed Over Social Media

The Internet has been ablaze the last few months about social media and business. Everyone is trying to figure out the value of the different sites – from the “oldies” like Facebook and LinkedIn to newbies like Twitter, Seesmic, Plurk, Brightkite, etc. The value of such communities is especially abuzz in the realms of marketing and communications. People are catching on that marketing and PR are now – more than ever – about building relationships (as opposed to spinning news). PR executives who are not engaging with constituents – media, customers, partners, colleagues, competitors – in these new communities are missing a huge competitive advantage and opportunity. But who are the right constituents?

Just like anything – it’s how you yield the sword, not the sword itself, in my humble opinion. While building a fan base, securing thousands of followers or becoming a “top friend” can be fun, when it comes to business, how do these numbers translate? Where does the value lie? Does having thousands of Twitter followers suddenly make you a “social media expert?”

The ability to use – or experience with – communities like Facebook and Twitter do not make anyone a communications expert. Sheer follower numbers do not necessarily mean value – at least not to everyone. I may have 1000+ followers but that doesn’t mean anything to my clients unless I’m gleaming value specific to their goals. And even if one of their goals is to increase their user base, not all – or even the majority – of those followers are going to be appropriate users for my client’s products.

What if the content I’m sharing on these communities is irrelevant or my approach is more personal than professional? For example, some Twitter users don’t actually converse – they just spew updates about their day. That doesn’t actually build relationships. Some don’t recognize Twitter as a business opportunity but just have fun with their followers. (The smart ones do both – personal and professional communications – for reasons discussed in previous posts). Others build corporate entities only to “spam” followers and quickly lose them. So, while having a great following on these communities is important, so is understanding how to participate appropriately and glean the right value from them – and how to combine that with other communications strategies.

A lot of folks in the industry are also abuzz about “social media experts.” We’ve had plenty of six figure-seeking applicants tell us they know everything there is to know about social media. Personally, I think there are very few who can truly call themselves experts in this arena – yet – and I’m not impressed when an applicant just runs down a list of “Twitterati” that they have on their follower list or “web celeb” Facebook friends list.

Don’t spew names. Give me an example of how these relationships have helped add business value to your organization or your client’s business. How did your relationships increase a company’s users? What strategy did you have in place for using social media to build a brand and what metrics have you used to measure that brand awareness? Just using social media does not mean you know how to tie it to the bigger picture. I find this to especially be true with the younger generation of workers. Yes, they know how to use social media and are fully immersed in it. But do they understand business strategy, marketing goals and how to leverage these communities for such? Some do, but the majority may not yet understand the intricacies of business relationships and communication.

When thinking about new media and marketing, don’t get too starry eyed just because social media is a hot topic right now. Just as anyone can put a press release across the wire, anyone can build a massive following in these communities. But if the tools aren’t used properly – and combined with other elements of the business to execute a larger strategy – they become useless from a business perspective. Sometimes they can even become harmful.

What do you think? Have you found value in hiring a social media expert? How do you define “expert?”

The Corporate Twitter Discussion Continues at BusinessWeek

On April 3 I wrote a post asking the community for opinions on corporations establishing a Twitter presence. We have been pleasantly surprised at the continued reactions and comments to this post and we have learned about some really cool trials taking place within the community. A good deal of folks – including some from Zappos, Stanford University and Mzinga (client) – have all chimed in with opinions and examples.

The conversation continues today at BusinessWeek as Heather Green wrote a post asking for examples of creative business use on Twitter – for a pending cover story. If you know of some examples, please pass them along to Heather by posting a comment on their blog. We are very interested in reading the article when it comes out, as well as continuing to learn – along with the community – about the best way corporations can successfully get involved in the social media landscape.

This is a fun journey!

10 Blogging Tips from the Web 2.0 Expo

It’s been building for a while now, but being at the Web 2.0 Expo and attending sessions led by, and attended by, some of the biggest names in blogging right along side first-timers, made me realize how common blogging and micro blogging are now. Every session had a plethora of busy bloggers/wannabes from all over the world, with laptops open with Twitter up all day, cameras and camera phones, audio recording devices and of course PDAs constantly in hand. Everyone in the same boat feverishly plugging down nuggets to share with their respective online audiences. We are all becoming bloggers and want to tell our stories in one way or another whether it be blogging or micro blogging or both, we were all there to gather information and share it with our friends and colleagues as soon as possible.



Image courtesy of James Duncan Davidson

One of the Tuesday afternoon workshops; Intro to Blogs & Social Media Marketing 101, hosted by Nick Gonzalez (SocialMedia), Eric Eldon (VentureBeat) and Trisha Okubo (eBay & Omiru fashion blogger) was my first observation point. The workshop was well attended, and though many more experienced bloggers probably found it fairly basic, they indulged the audience with their presence, rolled their eyes and probably left patting themselves on the back for how much further ahead of the game they were than others in the audience. For others it was an eye opening experience that provided some great basic tips on how to get into the game or be more effective as a blogger and micro-blogger.

Here are the Top Ten take aways Nick, Eric and Trisha shared during the session:

  1. Create content that’s easily packaged and reusable for example; Top Ten Lists and How-To’s
  2. When blogging or micro-blogging provide news or exclusive content that’s not available elsewhere
  3. Remember Seth Godin’s Purple Cow use catchy headlines and out of the ordinary content to draw attention
  4. Take advantage of blogging distribution channels and measurement tools such as; FeedBurner, Digg, StumbleUpon, Yahoo Buzz, Friend Feed, Facebook, Techmeme, Del.icio.us, and Aide RSS to ensure maximum distribution
  5. Let your fans know when a new post is up, email influencers and key sources cited to let them know you’ve posted and ALWAYS give credit to other bloggers and use link backs on Twitter, and other micro-blogging applications, whenever appropriate
  6. Do offer free advice and incentives like a free informational PDF file or white paper as an incentive to gain new subscribers
  7. Guest write on other blogs and offer the opportunity for other bloggers to guest write for you
  8. Share opportunities with other bloggers and get involved in the community, posting regular comments on other blogs
  9. Meet other bloggers in the ‘real world’ to get know each other in person
  10. Be passionate about your content and don’t shy away from including some of that passion in your blog profile page, the more your readers know about you the more they will connect with your content.

Hope you found this information helpful. Just remember if you do end up using this content in your own blog or micro-blog please follow tip #5 and cite PerkettPRsuasion as the source! :)

Corporate Twitter Entities – Yay or Nay?

There have been some interesting discussions lately – both online and off – around the business value of Twitter. As part of those discussions, we’ve noticed some varying opinions on whether or not corporations should establish their own entity on this rapidly-growing micro-blogging community.

When we first established @PerkettPR, we were immediately called out (coincidentally by PR/marketing competitors) for a few incorrect (on their part) assumptions:

1) That we had just joined Twitter without research, or a “lurking” phase

2) That we were only joining Twitter to promote our involvement in bringing TechCrunch MeetUp to Boston

3) That we would spam people (which in and of itself is an inaccurate label to use, considering the way Twitter works)

4) That we would not use our corporate entity wisely and that a “corporation” was not a “person” and therefore couldn’t participate in conversation

A few months later in March, some of these same naysayers have not only set up their own corporate entities (although most have yet to actually update/use them) but they have encouraged others to do so. That leads us to today and our questions to you:

1) Can a corporation participate in conversations on Twitter?

2) Are there certain types of businesses that should not establish a Twitter presence?

3) Do you follow any corporations on Twitter?

4) Why or why not?

Most, if not all, of our staff has individual entities on Twitter (mine’s @missusP if you’d like to engage). We spent months on Twitter watching, conversing (about business and personal issues) and getting to know the landscape before we established our corporate entity. We use @PerkettPR to share interesting developments that our constituents – those who choose to follow us – may find of interest. This can range from client news to agency news to events, interesting articles, blog posts and more. In doing so, we’ve developed new and stronger relationships with reporters, bloggers, clients – even new business prospects and competitors – as well as insightful feedback and new awareness opportunities for clients.

We believe our participation at an individual level helps us to truly understand the community and that we can engage both as indiviudals and as a team – just as in real life. This quote from Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang also reaffirmed this belief for us:

“I can’t imagine ever advising a client to deal with an advertising, PR, or interactive team that doesn’t get social media….agencies must demonstrate they can participate before they can ever help clients with it.”

We have several clients who have Twitter identities. @mzinga and @Q1labs are the two most recent to join. It remains to be seen if all types of corporations can participate in – and benefit from – Twitter as much as individuals do, but obviously we believe great potential exists. What do you think?

Examples of businesses on Twitter:

@JetBlue

@CNN

@ssldl (This is a local library in one of our staff’s Midwestern towns. How cool is that?!)

@mahalotravel

@hawaiianshirts

@suddenlyslimmer

@hockeygiant

@speedypin

Sermo Named Media Brand of the Year

Congratulations to our client, Sermo, who was named Media Brand of the Year by Medical Marketing & Media. We are particularly excited about this accomplishment because Sermo took a chance in 2006 with PerkettPR – one of the only firms they interviewed that did not have a dedicated healthcare division – and it continues to be a fruitful relationship for both companies. We worked closely with their marketing team all year to spread the word about this one-of-a-kind community for physicians – and helped it to grow to 40,000 doctors and counting.

Sermo continues to revolutionize healthcare. The discussions held, and decisions made, within the community positively impact not only physicians, but the patients they care for and the pharmaceutical companies that want to forge a safer and more productive future through a more efficient exchange of knowledge and resources. Sermo is a Web-based community where physicians share observations from daily practice, discuss emerging trends and provide new insights into medications, devices and treatments.

“And since physicians have never before been able to talk with a unified
voice in such impressive numbers, sharing observations and insight
about treatments, drugs, devices and biologics, we expect Sermo to
continue to rock the pharma marketing world for some time to come.”

We couldn’t agree more! We are extremely proud of this award, thankful for such an interesting and savvy client, and excited to share even more interesting developments about Sermo in the year to come. Congratulations to Dr. Daniel Palestrant, Founder & CEO; Gina Ashe, CMO; Greg Shenk, Director of Communications and the entire team at Sermo! What a year!