Sunday, March 28, 2010

Being Good is Good Business (Thanks to Social Media)

There is an inherit danger with social media.

Platforms and tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all bring with it one thing that PR pros of old didn't have to leverage; automatic and immediate transparency. Yep, we can officially (and I think quite happily) throw that old phrase "spin doctor" out with yesterday's trash, because in today's world, spin often gets unspun pretty quickly in the self-policing world of social media where everybody, everywhere is a journalist.

So what does that mean for us PR pros? It means working with clients who bring integrity to the table on a daily basis. For example, at StoryTeller (the PR shop where I call home) we have MindWare Toys. MindWare is "the nation’s best resource for toys that engage and entertain." With a focus on creating and selling children's toys that don't just entertain but teach, MindWare's mission is more than just making money ...they're also focused on making the world a better place.

Another client, Helping Paws, is a non-profit that trains service dogs to help those with physical disabilities. Yet another, the Minnesota Section PGA has a goal of growing the game of golf and will soon be offering tips and tricks to anyone who's interested via their YouTube channel in the near future (stay tuned).

All are great organizations that simply don't have a need for old PR tricks of deceit and slight of hand.

So beware all you organizations out there that have a lot to hide, social media is ready to make life very difficult for you. Thankfully, I get to work with a lot of clients who don't have that concern.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Social Media Backlash? Or are we Just Getting Smarter?

Remember when you first started tweeting? And how much fun it was talking with other like-minded social media users about the “power of social media?” There was this sense that a new communication technique was here to change the world for the better and that we were all so smart to be a part of it. You know, those of us who “got it” with regards to using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc?

Now we’re starting to hear a different story. It’s a story of a social media backlash where users are beginning to drop off the radar. (For more on this perceived backlash, check out this post from AgencyBabylon) So that begs the question, is this the beginning of social media’s end?

That’s hard to imagine, considering that in many ways, social media has already changed the world. From the elections in Iran to Ashton Kutcher battling CNN for followers to the first thing you do in the office every morning, the world is probably a different place thanks to the new world of communication ideology (that being a world where you talk with the people who matter to you, not at them). But let’s face it, the social media love fest is over. Everyone knows about social media, nearly everyone has a profile on at least one of the platforms, plenty of people have made mistakes, others have had success …so the novelty is over. We don’t need to spend our time evangelizing about the benefits of social media anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still love using Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube and others …I’m just a little tired of talking about how much I love it (which I think is the backlash Mr. AgencyBabylon is referring to in his post).

So now comes social media 2.0; using the new interactive communication ideology affectively to achieve whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. Which means integrating that ideology into all your communication plans. In the past, it was enough to simply be on Twitter or to post something to YouTube ...just make sure you’re out there, because “it’s better than not being out there” was the driving force behind a lot of social and interactive media plans.

We’re past that now. Now is the time to start putting specific plans in place with clear objectives and desired results. Then executing those plans to increase sales, raise awareness, build networks or what ever else it is you’ve been trying to achieve since you started trying to achieve things (long before social media came around). That, in my opinion, is far more exciting than sitting around and tweeting about how much we all love social media.

So is there a social media backlash? I don't think so. We're all just getting a little wiser about how to make the most out of something we love so much.