By John Starr, Joint Managing Director, Clareville
When I receive an invitation to book onto a social media course – and I receive about 20 a week – I review the topics on the schedule.
Far too much of the training is covering the mechanics of social media rather than strategies for making the most of the capabilities or what you actually do with it.
During 20 years running magazines and newspapers before moving into PR, nobody from a brand ever asked how the magazine was produced, what paper we used or the make of the printing machine. In PR, clients rarely enquire about the publication’s processes. In media and PR, the whole focus is on the content and how to engage the readers, how an ad or editorial is conveying desired messages, and what is being done to ensure that the communication is gaining the maximum attention of the target audiences.
It’s not a revelation to PR people that different language and different topics are needed to impact upon different audiences through social media. PR professionals know this and have been doing it since media began. They don’t use the same approach to a national newspaper that they would when speaking to a trade magazine or broadcaster, and write a different style of copy for a consumer magazine than for a business title.
So why is everyone or nearly everyone focussed on the medium and not the message? There are experts to do the technology and their expertise finishes there!
As organisations take steps into blogging and social media, they soon realise that the mechanics are usually a one-off initial subject, and that generating content that impacts positively on the audiences and keeping up a steady flow of good quality relevant thought is a far greater ongoing issue that can be very time-consuming.
PR agencies are best placed to offer this service to clients as that is exactly the challenge that PR teams have been facing for many years in finding ways to keep up clients’ profiles in the media and build relationships between audiences and clients.
Before embarking on a social media programme, a company first needs to consider, with expert help, whether to do so or not. What does the organisation want to achieve and can social media achieve it?
Next, the important part is the strategy and implementation, the crafting of the communication, and the monitoring of attitudes and results.
Overall setting up a social media programme is a six stage process.
- Step one – Social media and digital communication is there and has to be considered as part of the communication and marketing plan. Where does it fit in?
- Step two – Define the objectives
- Step three – Create a communications strategy
- Step four – Devise the activity and plan
- Step five – Implement the strategy and activity
- Step six – Measure and refine the activity
Simple really- it’s essentially the same as a PR and marketing plan.
You don’t need to know how to build it – only how to make it work successfully.