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Putting social media to work for your clients

For the past couple of years, attendance at events with the words “social media” in their title have drawn large crowds. Workshops and seminars that focus on the new communication technologies have greater demand than just about any other topic.

In a recent conversation with another independent public relations practitioner regarding social media, the sentiment was expressed that although us indys may be familiar with social media, most of us really aren’t adept yet at utilizing the new tools. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is we focus on billable hours and are often kept plenty busy keeping clients happy.

As an indy who spends much of his time in technology focused public relations, utilizing the latest tools and techniques, I thought I’d offer some “getting started” advice.

Become familiar with LinkedIn and Facebook. Create a profile for yourself and search for your friends and colleagues (I invite you to add me to your network). The IPA even has a group on Facebook, as does PRSA and most likely many of your PRSA chapters. Use these social networking platforms to share news, tell others what you’re up to—new clients, events, awards, etc. True, it’s self-promotion. But you’re an indy and someone’s got to do it.

Blog. There aren’t many greater tools for search engine optimization. That’s because blogs are based on frequency and keywords. The key to top search placement is publishing enough information so that your site appears at the top of search results, in Google’s Golden Triangle. The more current the information, with the keywords people are searching for, the better. A blog frequently secures higher search placement than a corporate website.

Use an online newsroom. Online newsrooms are blogs without comments. Done right, they should utilize RSS just like a blog, and allow users to subscribe and interact with the company, like sharing announcements on social media sites like Digg and Delicious and viewing photos or videos related to the press release.

Microblog. Twitter is similar to a blog in that it’s based on information posted by date and time. The key difference is it’s limited to 140 characters; thus the term microblog. Twitter’s a great way to update people on your status: “In NYC for a social media conference,” or something like that. It can be a useful tool for promoting events or driving people to websites. (Feel free to follow me on Twitter.)

Engage. The best counselors are those who have been there and done that. You’ll need to engage in the discussion and actually use the tools so that you’re familiar with the pros and cons of each. This allows you to be a strategic counselor instead of taking orders from clients.

Hopefully these few suggestions give you an idea of how to get started, or at least outline the basics of current social media tools. Even if you try one new thing a month, do it! As professional communicators it’s incumbent upon us to embrace new tools or be left stagnant in our professional development.

2 Responses to “Putting social media to work for your clients”

  1. Dan Says:

    Hey Pete, thanks for the post. Social media is great for sending out information to a small percentage of your userbase, but have you actually seen it generate income for your clients? Am not being ferocious I am really curious to know. This question is open to anyone else as well, I will check back for a response soon.


    Dan Sevigny
    LUCID Public Relations

  2. Pete Codella Says:

    Thanks for your comment. I can’t believe it’s almost been two years since this article was published. A lot has happened in the social media world since then.
    There are so many examples of companies and organizations moving the needle and accomplishing great things using social media – new hires, events, new clients, customer service, voting, fundraising…the list goes on.
    Yes, done correctly, social media can generate income.
    Just last week one of my clients told me they got a new book of business because someone saw one of their YouTube videos and liked their philosophy and how they did business.
    In a presentation I was part of this week I listened to a marketing officer describe how she uses Facebook and Twitter to send out promo codes then tracks the number of sign-ups her organization receives through those codes. The numbers were in the hundreds.
    I have had opportunities to write for PR News, do webinars for Ragan Communications, lead dozens of workshops and seminars, and have one of my blog articles linked to by USA Today because of my frequent publishing online.
    I’m convinced social media is a tool that can be used to effectively communicate and engage key constituents (it’s not the only tool, however).
    If you’d like to look at some examples of social media put to work, I recommend checking out: http://wiki.beingpeterkim.com
    You may also like tuning in to my podcast: http://onlineprpodcast.com

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