Why social media matters
[Image from Greg Verdino]
Twitter is my best source of content from great thinkers, and Shannon Paul (no relation to my boss - at least I don't think) is one of those. She directs the social media efforts for the Detroit Red Wings, and brings a lot to the table with every post on her blog.
I found a path to her latest one through Twitter, and feel it's worth sharing here because it echoes a lot of what I've said about social media on this blog and in conversations with clients. She focuses on why blogging continues to be important, despite what some surveys say. I would say, though, that the major points she makes speaks to why social media matters.
What social media engagement really requires is a fundamental shift in how companies approach mass communication. Without this shift — even if it comes about gradually, any attempts at throwing up outposts onor anyplace else on the web will basically be a waste of time.
Sure, a good understanding of how these technologies work will come in handy, but companies are better served by understanding how information travels along the social web. Whether anyone likes it or not, information no longer travels in a straight shot from company to journalist to public.
Instead, it bounces back and forth between all three. It’s just as possible for information to swell up from the public to the journalist to the company, or from the public to the company to the journalist. Or from the journalist to the company to the public and back again.
This idea about non-linear information travel speaks exactly to one of the fundamental aspects of PR 2.0. As the way I came to Shannon's post shows, the audiences we are trying to reach no longer get their information through silos. Rather, it is through interconnected, overlapping networks -- or as Facebook likes to say, social graphs -- that increase the way our audiences can hear about us, as well changes what they hear. Traditional announcements and media coverage continue to be important, but we need to go way beyond that to understand how what kind of conversation that coverage generates. We need to be ready to respond to that conversation in a way that shows we respect it, can learn from it and use it to improve the way we communicate with our audiences.
For a client that launched this week, it was extremely important to get in front of the right set of media, analysts and bloggers that would be most interested in the news in order to generate the visibility they wanted. The client had a very good story to tell, so the interest amongst this group was high and it resulted in good coverage.
We knew before the launch, however, that their buying community was very active in the blogosphere and on Twitter. We knew this by listening, and could see as the coverage appeared how it was being spread by individuals with their own megaphones. Just as the client was celebrating a successful launch, we pointed them to this viral reaction and identified where they needed to respond. They appreciated this and could understand how this fit into what we need to do from a communications perspective. Going forward, how we build on our use of social media is going to be based upon an understanding for how information flows within their community and adopt the right tools to leverage this.
So, are you approaching social media in this way? Or is it a "build it and they will come" approach?