SUMMARY: PR 2.0 isn’t about using social media to pitch clients to major blogs, publications, or TV shows. It’s about using social media to build relationships with key influencers. Here is a guide to using Web 2.0 in your PR strategy.
Solis founded FutureWorks, a PR and social media agency, in 1999. Before that, he was a director at The Benjamin Group, a Silicon Valley PR agency later acquired by Weber Shandwick. He started his career at Dodge and Mansfield, an advertising/PR firm in Ventura, Calif.
Solis’ focus since 1991 has been PR for high-tech industries. He’s also known as the person to coin the term, “PR 2.0,” which is also the name of his blog that ranks No. 32 on the AdAge Power 150 top marketing blogs.
Implement PR 2.0 Strategy: 5 Steps
Building relationships with key influencers involves creating credibility for a product or service or brand without “selling” it through one-way messaging, Solis says. One good word from a highly regarded blogger could equal thousands of impressions with consumers. Five steps Solis takes:
->Step #1. Become an expert on your product, service and industry
You should be an expert user of the product or service you represent. It may seem rudimentary, Solis says, but PR professionals often fail to do this. You should know everything that news outlets, trade journals, and bloggers have to say about your product, service or industry.
->Step #2. Find conversations taking place in Web 2.0
Finding conversations involves doing simple keyword searches. Start with the company name, brand name, and product name to see what’s being said about them. Then move on to industry-specific keyword searches. Take the digital camera industry, for example. Search words like “shutter lag” since it’s a major “pain point” among consumers, experts, and reviewers.
TIP: Search for conversations about competing brands and products. Document some of those conversations for future reference. It could help in measuring the success of your social media campaign.
Solis offers a free ebook, “The Essential Guide to Social Media,” to search for conversations on sites like Digg, Google Alerts, Bloglines, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube.
->Step #3. Find key influencers
Each basic search in a Web 2.0 community should produce opportunities to find influencers and experts talking about topics important to your client’s or company’s industry.
Perhaps it’s a Twitterer with 10,000 followers or a respected author of an online trade publication. Finding influencers takes some digging. It involves lots of searching, reading and documenting who the influencers are, what they’re writing about, and where they’re writing.
->Step #4. Become a resource for influencers
Demonstrate that you, too, can be a key resource for influencers.
“Once you’re knowledgeable and start observing the people you want to reach … opportunities will almost immediately present themselves on how you can engage with them,” Solis says.
Here are some major dos and don’ts when conversing with influencers through social media outlets:
o Don’t: Misrepresent who you are
When commenting on blogs or forums, Solis defines himself by his name and provides the URL to his blog. People can see his background and experience on PR and social media. This personal branding provides a higher level of credibility because it shows that his intention isn’t merely to promote his clients.
o Don’t: Send out spam Social media influencers will see right through intentions to praise a client or company or to sell something. Influencers don’t want to be pitched, Solis says. “What they are looking for is others who can help them do things better, more efficiently.”
o Do: Answer questions not related to your client or company
This is where becoming an expert in the field comes in handy. “You’re there to be a resource for them and to introduce them to things that don’t, in any way, shape, or form, come across as a sales opp or marketing opp or pitch,” says Solis.
o Do: Be proactive
Observe what influencers are writing about before offering links to articles, statistics, blog posts, or personal observations. Provide additional information on a topic they’re writing about. Do this before you ask anything of them.
o Do: Converse and comment
Comment on blog posts and write blogs that link to influencers’ websites, blogs, and tweets. “It does get their attention,” Solis says.
o Do: Connect influencers with other influencers
Connecting influencers to other influencers can be a powerful step in building relationships.
TIP: Use a social bookmarker like Delicious to save posts relevant to specific influencers. Try tagging each post with the name of the influencer it’s meant for. This is an easy way to organize the content.
->Step #5. Record and measure conversations
There are basically three things to record and measure with a PR 2.0 strategy:
-> Average frequency of relevant conversations
You will participate in many relevant conversations each day, week and month. Keep a record of them. This will give you a comparison of the number of conversations to how well the brand is doing in sales or conversions or feedback from consumers.
-> Frequency of conversations about the brand on the most active communities.
This is a good way to measure if the conversations you engage in are having the desired outcome of increasing conversations about the brand on highly trafficked Web 2.0 sites.
-> Amount of time, resources required to make the conversations happen per community per day.
Compare the time it takes to create conversations to the number of estimated impressions on Web 2.0 sites. If you can connect that to an increase in sales, for example, it proves the effort was worth it. Solis calls these conversations social capital and “the new currency.”
There is another way to measure success: the number of conversations per month to the number of new relationships with influencers created in that month. But that requires you to determine what constitutes a relationship in cyberspace.
Is it five interactions per week or 10 interactions per month? When you make those determinations, measure how they have a positive impact on your brand.
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