Marketing, PR and Social Media

Posted: June 23, 2011 in Social Media
Tags: , , ,

So I want to preface this post by saying that this is not how everyone acts. This is just an observation on PR and Marketing professionals and how I see many of them use social media. I am a marketer by trade and hope I do not slip into these stereotypes. With that out-of-the-way, if you get offended, chances are you fall into one of these categories.

There has been much debate over which department in a large company should take care of the social media duties. Many believe Marketing should be in charge, while others believe PR should lead the way (there is also a subset of people who believe customer service should be in charge but for the purposes of this post I am leaving it out). While a lot of this depends on what the company’s end goal is with social media, you can many times tell which portion of the company has control over the account.

Let’s start with PR. PR professionals are known for making their professional (i.e. stuffy) press releases. They are corporate documents and that is just how they go out for most companies. Unfortunately this also carries over into the social media aspect. When every tweet sounds like a press release, there is something wrong. You wouldn’t talk to the customer in person that way so why do you talk to them online like that? Talk to them genuinely. Try to not compose a tweet that hashtags every word YOU think people are searching for. Chances are if they are searching, they may not be looking for a specific hashtag. Create something that sounds like you are speaking with friends, not with your board of directors.

Marketing is not without its foibles in the social media realm. Have you ever seen the Twitter account that only tweets links to the company’s products and services? How about the company that never responds to their consumers? That is usually the work of marketing/sales. This is the social media equivalent of a used car salesman (and everyone loves talking to the salesman). Being pushy or purely pushing your message is not what consumers want.

Of course these tactics don’t work in a world of transparency. People want to know there is a personality behind the account. They do not care to see your corporate message. Marketing and PR messages have their place and can even be very useful in a social media setting, just not to the extent people push them. If you have a community event, don’t push it out like a press release. Mention it, show pictures but as if you were sharing it with a friend. If you have a great sale going on, do not push out a quick billboard style message to your followers. Most will ignore it (kind of like billboards themselves).

Talk to people as you would want to be spoken to. Be genuine and you will see some traction. If you are not an established brand, social media can be an uphill battle but you can gain exposure. In all, see what works for you. Just don’t be a Marketing or PR professional online.

Time for you to sound off, have you seen any companies exhibit these traits within social media? Have you seen companies where these traits have actually paid off for them?

  1. Good post. I know of many companies that are using social media just like that. I don’t know who told them it would be a good idea, but it’s not. I agree with you, after a while…you just stop reading their posts.

    • Matt Hodson says:

      It is a sad realization but it is true. Too many companies rely on old communications methods on new media and it just does not fit. Thanks for the comment Bruce!

  2. Jen Jenkins says:

    The cross-section between social media, PR and marketing currently seems a contentious place to occupy. Who manages what feed and what message dominates the social media message (corporate or customer service) says a lot about the company. I think this evolving field has a few more twists and turns to go before the dust settles. Meanwhile it’s a bit like the Wild West frontier—may the best persona/company win!

    • Matt Hodson says:

      It definitely can be. I did talk to one marketer who said that PR and Marketing at their company actually work together on the social media feed and that surprised me but also shows that some can go beyond and not have that contention. Hopefully people will really begin to see the light and not allow the PR and Marketing personalities shine through but an actual persona to come through the feed. Thanks for your insight Jen!

  3. I, for one, hate the typical press release! I usually toss or delete them. So when I get a “good” one, which usually includes some great storytelling and social aspects (ie podcast or video), I actually spend some time with it. Love your transparency comments too. 😉

    • Matt Hodson says:

      Thanks Sheri! It is definitely a different market for press releases now. The times are changing. I love the social aspect. Going to have to use that.

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