Listening – the first key to unlocking the potential of social media.

May 26, 2009

In my last post, I asserted that traditional press reports have no place in social media – online public relations campaigns simply can’t be measured the same way.

In Jason Baer’s (@Jaybaer) May 21 Twitter interview with Radian6’s Amber Naslund (@AmberCadabra), he asked, What do you see as the PR/ad/digital agency’s role in listening and social media?

To which Amber replied, “Translating intelligence into strategy and action. Being a guidepost and putting execution in the hands of the company.”

Beautifully put, Amber. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The value in reporting on social media monitoring lies in how we as PR professionals steer our clients to appropriate action.

Whether clients are active in the social media space or not, we first advise them that at the very least, they need to start listening to the conversations happening about them, their brand, their competitors and their industry.

These conversations are taking place on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, nings and more.

First, figure out what you need to listen for, and start monitoring.

• Establish keywords. Other than your company name, what do you want to listen for? People talking about industry trends? About your competitor? Establish a lean set of keywords that will offer glimpses into relevant conversations that can shape future communications strategy.

• Find your audience. Pay attention to where your key demographic is. If your primary audience is business women over the age of 40, you probably don’t need to spend a lot of time listening to the conversations happening on My Space.

• Observe search engine ranking. Think of SEO is the new “earned” PR placement. Pay attention not only to the rank of your company name, but to how the name ranks with key search terms.

• Consider opinion polling. Recently, I heard someone say they were working to establish a budget to poll a target audience. Gasp! Welcome to social media, where seeking the opinion of your audience is free, as long as you listen.

After monitoring the social media space, (and, making constant adjustments as needed) it’s time to start doing what Amber referred to as, “translating the intelligence.”

What can we glean from this information, and how can it be used to guide communications strategy?

• What is the tone of the conversation? (positive, negative, neutral?)
• Who is having the conversation? And, who is listening to them?
• On what social networks are these conversations taking place?
• How often do these conversations occur?

From this information, PR professionals can help clients to:

• Set benchmarks and establish goals.
• Determine and shape existing key messages.
• Make observations regarding timed release of information to coincide with when the conversations are taking place.
• Guide decisions on when and where to enter the conversation.
• Identify key influencers of your target audience.
• Recruit brand “evangelists.”
• Manage online reputation.
• Improve search engine ranking.
• Set benchmarks, goals and measure results.

So, are you ready to start listening?

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PR Pros Need to Grasp SEO

March 11, 2009

While participating in a webinar a few months ago titled “New Media PR,” the featured speaker was asked about “search engine optimization” and replied that (and I’m paraphrasing) it’s very important; there are tools available to help you do it; and PR people really should check with their IT department for information on how to do it.

REALLY? Not quite the answer I was looking for. It made me think of my husband, who is an IT guy. Not that I don’t think he’s a smart dude, but he’s just about the last person I want messing with my press releases.

Optimized “content.” CONTENT. It’s as much a part of a press release (or social media release) as the header or the dateline. And, that’s my job, not the IT person’s.

Why do I care so much? Consider the following:

According to the “2008 Journalist Survey on Media Relations Practices”:

• Nearly half of journalists report visiting a corporate website or online newsroom at least once a week, while nearly 87% visit at least once a month.

• More than 75% of journalists say they use social media to research stories.

• Nearly 75% follow at least one blog regularly.

Are they finding you and your clients?

If your press releases, press room, blog and web content aren’t optimized for search engines, it’s almost as though you don’t exist. Even worse, when journalists search for facts or experts, they may just stumble upon your client’s biggest competitor.

Kane Consulting is sharing the SEO love. Join us, and the search specialists from Nina Hale Consulting on March 27, 2009 for an intensive, one-day seminar that will cover the basics – how it works, why it works, and how to start dong it. For details or to register, visit http://www.kaneconsulting.biz/kane_registration.html