“We are all, as an (public relations) industry, still widely perceived as witless, disrespectful spambots.” – Todd Defren in his blog post Only As Strong As The Weakest Link.
In this post Defren is pointing out that public relations practitioners’ use of spamming through the social media universe is not only frowned upon but also reflects poorly on the public relations industry. In another post Defren writes about how positive engagement with consumers through social media is the key to regaining a powerful tool that the industry has arguably lost: respect.
Jeff Esposito compiled 23 social media facts to share with executives. In this post I found a statistic by Exact Target that 64 percent of Facebook users have liked a brand on Facebook. Exact Target then found that 55 percent of Facebook users who “unlike” a brand do so because of too much push marketing.
Facebook users will “like” a company’s page, but a hostile takeover over of a fan’s feed with product specs and advertisements is a quick way to be “unliked.”
So, how can the public relations industry avoid using spam and regain its respect with its consumers to make social media marketing a useful tactic?
The answer begins with the fundamentals of a social media plan. Objectives in a public relations plan must be measurable. How objectives are measured is the key to showing the success of the plan. For example, if the firm is only looking for the number of impressions on a website, then the company will get a number that lacks any real information. Impressions do not ensure that the viewer will be in the campaign’s target market or if it will even be seen at all!
Companies will send their messages out to as many people and as many times possible to boost their number of impressions. Having impressions as a main measuring tool for a campaign’s objective promotes this excessive push marketing that leads to 55 percent of Facebook users “unliking” a brand.
Instead of this one-way communication or spam that is most commonly used by companies, conversation with consumers should be the tactic of choice.
The Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles attempts to improve the validity of measurement through creating principles of research. The research principles include policies that should be followed to have effective and accurate results. I found a post by Robert Grupp, the president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations. One of these principles is that social media can and should be measured. Grupp wrote, “Measurement must focus on conversation and communities, not ‘coverage.’”
If companies focus on conversation and communities rather than the coverage they receive, the number of impressions or spam would be a worthless statistic. Companies would be less likely to focus on excessive message delivery. This could reduce the number of social media spam messages out there, which could increase the trustworthiness of the public relations industry.
A company I found most recently to be divulging in quality conversation is Digimarc Corporation. Digimarc developed Digimarc Discover, a program application that links traditional media with websites and extras to increase the involvement in magazines.
I wrote a blog post reviewing the product and its use in Beer West magazine and discussed the potential impact that Digimarc Discover may have on the magazine industry.
Within days after launching the post I received a comment from Damon Knight, the marketing programs manager for Digimarc Corporation. Knight offered to bring me to the Digimarc Corporation and show me around.
I realize that this kind of conversation cannot be done for every “fan,” but it’s conversations with consumers like this that creates the respect that is lost among the public relations field.
Here is a list created by Todd Defren and SHIFT that holds true to every social media platform. Take a look and tell me how you think the public relations industry can increase the level of trust with its consumers.