Test the Water Before Diving Into Social Media

BtoB companies usually agree that the use of traditional PR practices is an especially effective way to build a brand – and many now believe that social media should be part of their branding strategy. But how, they wonder, do we begin?

The answer most often given is “by listening.”  And that’s because it is the answer that makes the most sense.  Like dipping a toe in the water before jumping in, listening allows you to get a little familiar with the environment before you become part of it.

Toe-dipping is, in fact, an age-old PR practice. No self-respecting PR person would cold call a key editor.  They research the publication and the editor’s particular beat.  They chronicle how and when the editor wants to be approached.  They ‘follow’ the editor to make sure they can speak to his/her point-of-view.  Then, they deliver their pitch.

Well, the same is true for social media.  But in this case, they are not going after the gatekeeper of a traditional media outlet, but they are entering into a very public platform.

So, if you want to emulate this time-proven PR strategy start your efforts by identifying industry topics issues of interest to you using the following “listening” tools:  

Google Alertsallows you to target keywords and lets the information stream to you.

Technoraticonsidered the leading blog search engine; search is conducted by tags or keywords.

Trendrruse Trendrr to know how your brand is trending in comparison with others.   

Socialmentionsearches user-generated content across a variety of content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, videos, etc.

Topsyuse Topsy to determine the top trending topics in the Twittersphere.

Getting familiar with these tools is essential to your initial social media efforts.  But before you start actively participating in social networking you’d do well to establish your objectives.  What do you want to do?  Promote your brand?   Get maximum customer feedback?  Provide an avenue for employee communications?  Seek out a totally new audience?  

Your objectives will define your social media tactics, but no matter what your strategy is, your presence on the top three social media sites is essential – and if you have any video content to share, YouTube is also key.  So start by developing your presence on these sites:

LinkedIna site that connects business professionals; it offers both company profiles, as well as personal profiles, and it allows you to participate in groups relevant to you and/or your company.

Twitterboth a good information-sharing tool and a good listening tool to discover what others are saying about you, your company and/or its products/services.  

Facebookmostly a social site to stay in touch with friends, but Facebook allows companies or brands to set up profiles so they can converse with their ‘fans.”  

YouTubea quick and easy way to distribute your videos (includes an area for your comments to get the conversation going).

That’s it.  You’ve begun.  Now all you need is an integrated marcom strategy which includes a valid social media initiative and you’re off and running.  That’s because social media, like every other marcom tactic, must make a valued contribution to your marketing objectives to be part of the mix.


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