Good integrated social media campaigns require a joined up approach to PR and advertising
Date: 27 September 2012 11:20
“Why didn’t they involve us earlier?”
It is the common refrain of PROs frustrated at being engaged, at the eleventh hour, by an advertising agency that has already spent months planning and realising a creative campaign.
When marketers work in isolation they fail to recognise that social media successis built on more than the ability to move quickly. In an integrated marketing communications environment, public relations is depended upon for its expertise in areas such as social media content, online influencer relations, community management and reputation management.
Content is the real driver of conversations in social media. Whether we use social media purposefully or leisurely, each of us is looking for, commenting on, and sharing articles or videos or photos or memes or games. What we are not looking for is television commercials (unless driven by nostalgia or because the advertisement struck a particular chord due to its creativity, innovation, humour or talent). Campaigns developed in isolation or by disciplines that are not accustomed to collaboration can fall into the trap of believing their television commercial is compelling enough content for social media. Or that people will be so moved by their advertising campaign, they will give up their time to create content for a brand, as if everyone of us has the talent and inclination to do so. Ad agencies increasingly work with public relations to create complimentary content that is scaled to suit the audience and able to be shared without losing the message.
As content drives reach, influence drives preference. Influencer relations is heartland territory for public relations and campaigns benefit through early integration. Advertising agencies lean on public relations in this territory lest they fall for the trap of paying a reality television star to Tweet a brand name. Or getting their campaign mentioned on a popular advertising blog. Late engagement at this stage prompts the first point of contact with influencers to be rushed and impersonal, typically offering content of little value, or likely putting strain on relationships that have been established over a prolonged period of time. Influence is about creating memorable brand experiences that move the most influential and relevant people online to want to write and share. Creating such experiences takes careful and deliberate consideration to ensure that every aspect, from the initial approach to setting measurable key performance indicators, is geared towards amplifying the marketing initiative and driving genuine conversation as opposed to reducing the activity to nothing more than a reactive broadcast email shot sent to “friendly bloggers“.
As Facebook has become the default home base of many brand campaigns, there has been some confusion about the role of communities even though they have been a mainstay of the Internet for almost 20 years. To say we “like” something on Facebook is like wearing a badge. The very action of liking something on Facebook communicates a statement to our connections. With rare exceptions, a brand that uses communities to continually promote sales and marketing driven messages will not sustain or grow. Just as nobody would watch a television channel or read a magazine composed entirely of advertising. There needs to be a balance, and that balance demands planning, investment and, above all, listening to what the community is telling you through their words and actions.
If the ongoing confusion about whether social media sits in marketing or communications tells us anything, it is that it belongs in both. PR needs to be integrated with all marketing communications disciplines to deliver comprehensive, business solutions. When that fusion happens the result is great social media.