Peter Shankman was keynote speaker for the event and focused his attention on four key rules of social media plus a bonus. I’ll get to those in a moment. Peter started out by saying that social media doesn’t exist. Instead, we simply have the opportunity to make errors on a much larger scale to a much larger audience. Social media is a mesh of tools that make listening to ongoing conversations easy. Listening is critical for social media to work for an organization. The biggest mistake a company can make is monitoring and listening to conversations on social media platforms yet not acting or responding to those statements made by disgruntled — and satisfied — customers.
The rules, as outlined by Peter, are simple.
1) Transparency — At this point in society, everything we do centers around our brands, whether they are personal or professional. The key with those brands is that everyone associated with them must be as open and honest as possible. Social media tools are requiring that organizations and individuals be more transparent in their thinking and sharing of information. That doesn’t mean everything has to be shared but it does mean that honesty should be the priority. Don’t mislead people by saying one thing and then having another be the reality. Also extremely important to remember, transparency means that if you make a mistake, admit it openly and your audience will likely forgive you and become a fan. If you don’t admit it freely, then you risk losing customers to competitors who are more open.
2) Relevance — Social media tools allow organizations and individuals to listen more carefully to target audiences. By listening, PR professionals can determine the most relevant content and channels through which that information should be shared. The worst thing an organization can do is monitor social media tools but not listen to what is being said. If you expect your message to be heard, then you have to find a way to become more relevant to your audience. If you can’t or won’t, then your customer base will find someone who will give them exactly what they want, when they want it. Take a look at Mandy Vavrinak’s post on for the Journal Record on Relevance to get another perspective.
3) Brevity — Be concise. Kind of a “duh” moment, but the point here is to think in sound bites or Twitter’s 140 characters. Our society is trained to hear bits and pieces of information in three to five seconds. This also means that you need to learn to write well. The day after #okieSMart, I wrote this post for the Journal Record. Get to the point as quickly as you can in a manner that makes sense to your audience. If you can’t, then you’ll lose out again and your audience will move on to someone else who can give them what they want.
4) Top of Mind — Find a way to connect with your audience and you’ll be their source for information continuously. You’ll be the first to come to mind. As Peter said, we only connect with about 3 percent of our network on a regular basis. That leaves 97 percent open and available for others to snatch. If you take the time to touch base with your network, they will be more willing to listen to what you have to say.
And the bonus … Self-promotion — Self-promotion will save the world, according to Peter. Self promotion is relevancy and customer service, and this will get your customers promoting for you. By choosing the content that is most relevant to your audience and monitoring what is being said about you, your organization will stand above the fray. You won’t have to promote yourself or organization. Others will do it for you because the service you provide is absolutely the best.
Probably nothing new here, but I’m curious about your rules for using social media. Any additions or changes?