Now that I have cast aside the persona of mild-mannered copywriter to become a big butch social media planner, I find I have queues of people banging on my door – or would do, if I didn’t work in a pod, so they just flap their hands around in the air instead – asking for immediate social media solutions.
I’m starting to realise that people think of social media as a ‘quick fix’. Perhaps this is because there’s a lot of it about and people think of it as dynamic. Well, perhaps functionally it is – that is, you can knock up a blog post and have it circulate the blogosphere within minutes – but socially it’s like everything else you’ll engage with through communicating.
In fact, I’m more struck by the similarities with PR than any perceived differences. For example:
- I’m aligning a lot of what I do with our PR document sets. For example, I’m hoping to continue my recent ‘Friendly Chat’ interviews but am now documenting bloggers I want to talk to using our Media Notes templates. These are essentially the same as journalist notes but with a few tweaks for bloggers. More and more I’m realising that I can align and integrate a lot of what I do with what we already have – because at the end of the day it’s still communications, just of a different nature.
- I find I’m telling people that if they want to find out what people are talking about, they have to listen. Sure, we can come up with lists of online sources but really to understand the themes, you must monitor over time. The parallel with ‘traditional’ PR is that you simply go through the papers, listen to the radio and watch TV and keep abreast of what’s going on. You just do it slightly differently online, with RSS and aggregators.
- Similarly, I’m advising people that if they want to engage in conversation, they have to become part of the community. Again, this is akin to ‘normal’ PR. It’s all about relationships (I recently profiled Sally Whittle who gave a great insight into the information-rich/relationship-poor dynamic that’s existed between journalists and PRs of late). If you want to be listened to then you have to contribute.
The first point above shows how social media can fit into the basic thought processes for any communications medium. The second two emphasise the commitment needed over time to progress them. Social media is not a quick fix.