Last week I attended a San Diego PRSA New Pros “Digital Communications” event at the Downtown Center (http://www.prsasandiego.org/). The three panelists were: Amy Jones, managing supervisor at Fleishman-Hillard, Carrie Shields, PR manager at Bailey Gardiner and Mike Rose, vice president of Nuffer Smith Tucker. It was a very informative evening with great examples of digital campaigns from each of the agencies. The overall message of the night was, “Social media is a strategy not a tactic.” This is a great thing to remember when working with clients to create a successful social media “strategy.”

Yes, we all know our clients usually want one thing when starting a new campaign. Whether it’s an increased number of event attendees, more sales or a higher ROI, but creating a Facebook page or Twitter account with only one particular goal in mind, and no other systematic plan of action in place, is recipe for disaster. You can no longer rely on the “Build it and they will come” model because it’s not that easy and you will be left with a poor showing of 10 friends over a six month period. Now is that really getting your message across?

Things to keep in mind when creating an online strategy:

  • Do research: Find out where your target audience is, what they are responding to and how best to reach them.
  • Be transparent: Inform those who you are communicating with exactly who it is they are communicating with (If the CEO of the company is blogging, make sure it is, in fact, the CEO).
  • Create “Best Practices” information sheets: It is important for clients to know how to properly use each social media platform that you are implementing on their behalf.
  • Listen: Get onto message boards to see what people are saying. You do not have to address every issue that arises, choose the most important ones and work from there.
  • Monitor your efforts: Set up a way to monitor your social media efforts. Create internal documents your agency’s internal use as a means to help define success, or sign up for online monitoring services.
  • Use examples: When dealing with clients that are weary about social media, show them case studies of your past efforts (or even those of a competitor) and slowly ease them into the world of Web 2.0.
  • Finally – Don’t forget about traditional media. Reporter’s blog and use Twitter, too! (Twitter is also a great place to build personal relationships with reporters that was not possible in the past).

Best of luck!

Lauryn

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