How to Use Trending Social Media Strategies to Engage Customers and Influencers
This year, for their 25th years in the public relations and communications business, our Houston Worldcom PR Group partner Ward decided to highlight their global footprint by showcasing the expertise of our partners. They recently interviewed our dear Phoeniz partner Carol Klimas, VP, Partner and Director of social media at Off Madison Avenue on the latest trends and strategies by which clients are reaching and engaging with key influencers online. Here’s what they wrote:
Q. What ways have you seen your clients effectively interact with bloggers to promote a product or service? And more important, what has been your ethical experience working with this audience? Pitfalls to avoid?
A. Last year, we supported our client the Arizona Office of Tourism in its launch of a guest blogger program. The program identified bloggers who could provide real experiences and original photography of the state. In taking this approach to the blog, the Arizona Office of Tourism is not only able to curate quality blogs on an ongoing basis, but can also more effectively reach its target audiences.
We found that when working with bloggers, it is important to have a clear policy in place to outline requirements and restrictions, and to clearly define the relationship between the client and the bloggers. We didn’t compensate the bloggers in any way, which made the content they provided all the more authentic.
When working with a large collection of, mostly, amateur bloggers, it’s very important to keep in contact and to ensure that they have enough direction and motivation to stay excited about the program. You also want to make sure that you aren’t making too big of an ask from them.
Q. Clients have become increasingly familiar working with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Which new platforms do you see evolving into powerful communications tools for clients in the next 5 years? What social trends do you see of impact to B2C and B2B companies?
A. With millennials and Gen-Z quickly becoming a focus point for marketers, platforms like Snapchat and Instagram should be considered in consumer social media strategies. These tools allow a brand to connect on an even deeper level with its audiences, which is what these generations are seeking in brand interactions.
User-generated content is a growing trend that should be taken advantage of whenever possible. Whether guest bloggers or shared Instagram photos, leveraging this type of content not only eases the time commitment of the client, but also further engages the audience with the brand.
On the other side of the coin, long-form content is also going to see a resurgence in coming years. There was recently a statistic that cited videos longer than 19 minutes are soaring in popularity and Facebook is integrating long-form native articles into its feeds. The communications pro of the future is going to have to have that journalism-minded storytelling ability and an understanding of social media’s ability to engage.
Q. What’s a minimum spend level for social media relations? For example, what should a client realistically budget to obtain results? And how do you measure those results to justify an effective return on investment?
A. The budget for social media has to be dependent on the client’s needs and objectives.
However, we do know the need for social media spend is growing every year. Social media definitely isn’t free anymore!
When we’re asking for hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of client budget, ROI becomes paramount and measurement has to be a consideration from day one. We have the ability to generate direct sales via Pinterest, track donations made from Twitter, see app downloads from Facebook and benchmark increases in brand affinity across all platforms. Vanity metrics simply won’t cut it, anymore. Results should be measured on, at least, a monthly basis, allowing the client to review performance and optimize effort where needed.
Q. What’s the biggest risk clients – especially B2B companies — face when they do not consider a social media strategy?
A. Without a sound social media strategy in place, clients miss a huge opportunity to connect with their target audiences in a space where conversations are already happening. They also miss the chance to handle issues when they are still issues. An unhappy customer caught quickly isn’t a big deal. An angry customer who is ignored and makes a YouTube video with millions of views becomes a crisis.
While brands do not need to be on every platform, it is important to be aware of what is being said about the industry and product in a social setting.
Q. What else should Ward to the Wise readers know about social media dynamics?
A. Social media is always evolving, and we as agency partners should be constantly researching and sharing these changes with clients. It is important to stay relevant in this space, and to always position the client in the best way possible.