Everyday PR

How to Get Started with Social Media

This is the second in our series on social media.  Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich in Chicago talks about how her agency and clients get started in social media.  Gini’s background in social media comes from positioning her agency as her top client, which quickly led to professional presentations and speaking engagements on social media.  Most recently, her blog, F.A.D.S., was named One of the 30 Best Blog Posts on Social Media I’ve Read in 2009 by A New Market Commentary.  If she’s not working, she’s thinking about work during her daily cycling.

Q.    Once organizations decide to use social media, how can agencies like yours help them get started?
A.   Our philosophy about social media is that you’re now able to participate in conversations happening online about you, your company, your
employees, and your competition. We help our clients use social media to enhance the relationships they have with customers, employees, and
prospects. And we look at four main goals:

*    Brand awareness

*    Brand loyalty

*    Talent recruitment, and/or

*    Prospecting

When an organization decides it’s time to jump on the bandwagon, we help them set up listening tools, we help them monitor the conversations, and
we make recommendations for when and how to join the conversations.  A lot of the time we spend with companies is looking at benchmarks and
then setting goals that drive increased dollars from the social media efforts. We coach, we brainstorm, we generate new ideas, we watch what they’re doing, and we make recommendations for changes or shifts.  Getting started is the easy part…we make the rest of it more manageable so they maintain a presence and are consistent, even during their busiest times.

Q.   What are some good ways to monitor social media?
A.  I love a few free tools:
* Set up Google alerts, if you haven’t already. You can create alerts for the company, your name, your competition, and the industry. It
allows you to monitor what is being said online and decide when and how to join the conversations.
* Set up social mention alerts. Just like Google alerts, it monitors what people are saying about you online. But the difference is that social mention looks only at the social channels so you start to receive information, such as tweets and comments on blogs.
* TweetDeck, Hootsuite or another desktop application allows you to set up searches. Like Google and social mention alerts, you can search different terms, but here it populates a column anytime anyone says anything on Twitter. It’s an easy way to monitor in a very time efficient manner.

Q.  How have your clients used social media monitoring as part of their overall PR plans/strategies?
A.  We’re seeing a shift with each of our clients – they’re not using it just for overall PR plans. They’re using it across the business – PR, marketing, sales, advertising, HR, customer service, and in the C-suite.  If there is a customer complaint on one of the social networks, customer service can respond to it instantaneously and fix a problem that otherwise might turn into a crisis. HR is using it to recruit talent they wouldn’t otherwise have access to without an expensive head hunter.  Sales is using it to network with prospects without having to make a cold call or go to a trade show. They’re networking 24/7. The C-suite is using it to demonstrate thought leadership, provide value, and build brand loyalty. And PR is using it to develop better relationships with all influencers, including bloggers, reporters, customers, employees, candidates, shareholders, and prospects.  This shift now allows us to do our jobs via additional dollar line items – some of our budgets come from marketing, some from sales, some from HR, and some from PR.

Q.    What do you see as the future of social media for service providers?
A.   Unlike anything before, social media allows service providers a way to spread a message quickly, to put out fires, to start fires, to become industry leaders, and to reach audiences around the globe. This is less about the canned messages we’re accustomed to writing. It’s less about training our executives what to say and what not to say. It’s less about picking up the phone and pitching stories to reporters. It’s less about designing extraordinary and expensive events. Once PR firms realize this, they’ll be able to help their clients have better relationships; build communities to drive revenue; create tribes of people who care about their products or services and are willing to tell their friends; and interact in places you never thought possible.

Q.    If you could give one piece of advice to organizations starting to use social media, what would that be?
A.   If you do only one thing, listen. It’s the foundation to social media, but also to communication and interaction with other human beings. Set up Google and social mention alerts – they come directly to your e-mail as often (or as little) as you like. And download a desktop application (such as TweetDeck or HootSuite) and create searches in there. Then open your application once a day and quickly scroll through your search columns to see what people are saying.

Next week, Abbie Fink of HMA in Phoenix talks about how to benefit from social media.  And if you like what you’ve read today, share the content via social media, of course.

Category: social media

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6 Responses

  1. I'm a big fan of Gini and her philosophy about social media. For me, her advice about listening is right on. Yes, you need to participate – whether you are actively engaged or not, people will put you into the social media space. But your best bet is to listen and pay attention to what is being said about you, create a strategy around how you will participate and engage.

  2. Tony Kurtz says:

    Great post! Businesses already taking advantage of social media as part of their overall marketing plans are to be commended. Unfortunately, not everyone is so quick to jump on the bandwagon. I say businesses can't afford NOT to use social media to meet their objectives.

  3. emily cruise says:

    I have found social media to be particularly helpful in the nonprofit world. Our resources are limited as it is, and this economic recession isn't helping any. Plus, most of these tools are free. Very helpful info for those wanting to learn more about plunging into social media.

    • everydaypr says:

      Glad you mentioned nonprofits. Guest blogger Abbie Fink will be talking next week about her agency's success with charitable organizations. Thanks for commenting!

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