An Easy Social Media Lesson From The Peanuts: Talk With Me, Not At Me

One of the most famous cartoon dynamics could pretty much sum up the difference between successful social marketing and unsuccessful social marketing: The Peanuts. I’m sure you recall that when the grown ups are talking at the children, all the children hear are muffled, annoying sounds. But when the children are talking with each other, they are interactive, listening and clear with one another.

A lot of what we spend our time talking with clients and prospects about in meetings these days is social media. Obviously, it’s the hot new buzzword, especially in marketing and PR, and many companies are still trying to figure it all out: “Is it necessary for us, how will it help us, who should manage it, are we doing okay with our current presence?”

Most of the time, the companies we speak with have some sort of presence started in social networks – usually, with one of the more popular and well-known networks such as Facebook or Linkedin. Maybe they’ve posted a few photos on Flickr and some videos on YouTube.  They’ve taken steps to establish accounts and make a few updates, or they  might even be quite active on Twitter. But most of the time – if they’re asking for help – they lack the “Three I’s” – a strategy for integration, interaction and intriguing content.

Here’s a simple way to get started on a strategy that involves the three I’s – and ensures that your messages don’t come across like a Peanuts parent:

  • Social media is about community
  • Community is about relationships
  • Relationships involve hard work, consistent communication, trust, and emotion

If you keep these elements in mind, you’ll begin to see the subtle – yet important – differences between talking at your audiences and talking with your audiences. People tend to listen more – and remember more – when they’re involved in the conversation and you show that you care about them – either by asking their opinion, mentioning something relevant to them or connecting in a unique (intriguing) way. You can’t build a relationship – or a community – if you do all the talking (you know, like those Twitter accounts that are just links to a company’s news releases, or a Facebook fan page that never actually involves the fans.)

How are you integrating social media into your marketing plan to talk with your constituents and not just at them? Are you asking questions? Responding to answers? Listening to opinions? Have you integrated your content across networks to ensure an ongoing and compelling brand story? Are you putting the right resources behind your social media efforts to build a community and relationships? Step back and take a look – making some minor changes in your approach can make a huge difference in your success.

How Twitter Can Expand Your World – Frenemies and All

We admit, Twitter is difficult to understand from an outsider’s perspective. You really need to participate in the community to understand its value. But once you do engage, the power of this eclectic community comes shining through.

Several of us at PerkettPR have personal Twitter accounts and we also have a corporate entity where we share news, poll the community, post blog entries, track events and more. Twitter has become a fantastic resource for our firm professionally and for many of us, personally. So what have we gleamed from Twitter? Everything from tips on restaurants, travel services, books, technology and more, to new relationships across the globe – including many with like-minded PR professionals – who we’ll call “Frenemies.”

Although we continue to compete for business with many of our Frenemies, we have also united with them in a way we never would have before Twitter. It has provided us the opportunity to see each other beyond the walls of the firms we work for – to appreciate our industry colleagues’ writing, strategies and accomplishments, and even to commiserate over similar struggles.

Through Twitter, we’ve had the opportunity to build relationships like never before – not only with other PR and social media professionals, but reporters, bloggers, analysts and others in relevant – and sometimes not-at-all-relevant – industries. Without Twitter, Jeremiah Owyang and Guy Kawasaki might never have chatted with us about various topics – professional and personal – much less visited and mentioned our blog and our website.

Participating in debates about the debates, rallying around a community member fighting breast cancer, supporting the case of a missing child, and even an unexpected death in the community have all been part of our various experiences on Twitter in the last few months alone. We share lively business-related discussions within the community that often extend to each other’s blogs – sharing ideas, “joining together” on issues such as “the death of PR,” the value of social media or something more personal such as parenting woes.

Twitter has not only helped us to extend our network and knowledge significantly, but provided us with a new avenue to prove that PR executives do have substance and can participate in industry conversations. We have also learned that we have more in common with our competitors than we ever thought possible. They are human, they are smart and we can learn from them. We embrace them as our “frenemies” because we still need to compete – which makes for another interesting future blog post …

The relationships may begin on Twitter – but they don’t end there. We have followed up and met face-to-face with “Followers” from “Twitterverse” at various industry events. Twitter is a great opportunity to expand not only your contacts database but your view of the world. Log on, join the community – we bet you’ll learn something new immediately.