One of the great things about LinkedIn is the ability to start a group around an organization or topic. I co-manage the Virtual Events Forumwhich addresses topics related to virtual events and environments. In managing this group and looking at successful examples as the Event Planning and Management group founded by Julius Solaris, whom I’ve met virtually and one day will meet in person, I have these five simple tips for managing your LinkedIn group:
1. Set Up Email Templates: There is an option to set up automatic email responses to people seeking to join the group and when they are approved. This is a great way to add a personal touch while saving you time.
2. Create a Group Logo: When people join a group, they have an option of displaying the group’s logo. This is a great way to brand your group and spread the word through members’ profiles.
3. Communicate Ground Rules: Whether you have tens or thousands of members, it’s good to clearly communicate the rules of engagement for your group. Highlight what is tolerated and what constitutes banning a member or deleting a posting. This will keep things orderly for your group.
4. Assign Group Moderators: At a certain point, say about 150-200 members, you will want to assign a co-manager. This enables you to monitor the group and spread the responsibilities to a trusted member of your community.
5. Share it with Your Contacts: Finally, when you start a group, share it with your contacts by updating your status with the group name and link. I would then selectively send an email to contacts who may be most interested in the group. This way, you’re not spamming everyone in your contacts.
Any other recommendations?
The response to my post on which PR firms hasd a social media presence was, well, more than I expected. My post received 66 comments while Jeremiah Owyang’s post had 47 comments. When reviewing the comments, you could see two audiences emerging:
- those who believe that you have to practice what you preach and
- those who believed that corporate presence wasn’t as important as much as the work that was done for clients and the individual participation within those firms
Regardless of which camp you belong to, the discussion resulted in the creationing of a wiki to allow PR firms to proactively update their profiles. To the A few firms that did proactively update their profilesm thank you. To those who haven’t yet, why not?
Overall, here is the breakdown:
- 109 firms are on the list
- 50 firms have blogs
- While 38 firms have corporate Twitter profiles, 5 firms deferred to individuals versus corporate Twitter. In total, 13 firms had individuals participating on Twitter.
- 47 firms had a Facebook presence, while 38 had LinkedIn
- 16 firms have started using Flickr, YouTube and Second Life
So, who else is missing from the list? Go to http://prfirmssocialmedia.pbwiki.com to make the udpates.
Response to Comments regarding "Would YOU Trust a PR Firm without a Social Media Presence with Your Social Media Programs"
There has been quite a bit of discussion from the original post and on a post by Jeremiah Owyang titled “Walking the Talk: Some Agencies and Vendors Demonstrate Social Media Prowess,”. I honestly didn’t think that my initial effort would generate such discussion, which I think provides a lot of fodder for thought.
I do want to provide my perspective on one aspect of Jennifer Leggio’s comment:
Client service comes first, always. Yes agencies should strive to have a presence of their own but not having a presence on Twitter or LinkedIn for their corporation is not a good measurement — at all.
When reviewing Jennifer Leggio’s post “Is ‘social PR’ for real?”, this paragraph resonated with me:
Agencies need to work hard to ease their clients’ or potential clients’ minds by showing hard metrics of how social programs have worked for other clients. There is also more justifiable pressure on marketers as a whole to demonstrate ROI from social media programs. Clients should start requiring these types of ROI metrics or case studies and not take “this is a new practice” as a valid excuse for the agencies not having proof points. The agency at the very least should be able to show how it’s built its own brand / the brand of its people through social media.
I do agree with the position that a PR agency having a social media presence is not necessarily a barometer of how that agency can deliver results for clients using social media. However, I will argue that an agency’s ability to use these tactics/strategies to build awareness and industry expertise demonstrates understanding of the pressures that clients face and their objectives. This includes increasing incoming sales leads, communicating with key customers, building thought leadership, reaching key audiences, etc.
Besides this particular point, I want to add the following:
I recognize that individual contributors are just as important as corporate brands. I will still assert that corporate brands will be just as important for establishing brand awareness and thought leadership
With that said, how one participates in social media can be dictated based on one’s audience and goals. I strongly believe that having a presence in the right avenues helps to drive an agency’s lead generation efforts
Since I was laid off, I decided to do this research out of curiousity. I knew it would take time and spent a several hours over a two week period to “research” the original list. As I was doing this myself, I acknowledge that I may have missing or incorrect information. As such, I appreciate those who have provided updates in comments or emails to me. I have updated the table accordingly.
And finally, as this endeavor is much bigger than I originally anticipated, I have set up a public wiki for agencies and the community to make updates directly.
A lot of PR firms are stating that they have social media capabilities and can help develop your strategy in this arena. So I thought, how many are actually practicing what they’re preaching?
I decided to see which PR firms were actively participating in social media. [update 2/20/09] I initially evaluated PR firms listed on O’Dwyer’s list of top 100 independent PR firms. This list was based on worldwide fees for firms with major US operations. As such, some prominent firms, such as Ogilvy & Mather, Ketchum PR and others. Since this post was published, the list has been exanded to include firms that have proactively included information in the comments or email. It is now sorted alphabetically and includes different types of firms, such as IR, healthcare and technology.
Some points to keep in mind:
- I looked at if the agency had a blog, Twitter profile, Facebook page (both group and/or fan), LinkedIn Group
- While there are individuals within each agency who have great online presences, I was seeking corporate presence. So some fields may be marked as “none” as a result
- And since I did this myself, I was trying to maximize my time:
* I didn’t categorize the type of PR each firm did – I took the list at its word
* If the blog wasn’t listed on the home page or easily found via a sitemap, I assumed there was none or you don’t really want me to find your blog
* I searched on the agency’s name or common abbreviation as presented on their website. Anything more exotic or too cute, would not have been found
* For Twitter, I used Twitter search or tried to manually type in what seemed like an appropriate Twitter handle
* I used the group search functions found on Facebook and LinkedIn respectively
* I decided not to look at other sites like delicious, slideshare.net, flickr, etc., frankly, because I was doing this myself =); however, I did include it if the agency made it easy to find
- Almost all of the agencies did NOT link to their profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. from their website. I would’ve expected this on their Contact Us page or linked from the Blog but this was very rare.
- While those who had blogs did a good job of putting the blog link front and center on the home page, some were too cute and hid the link under a different section of the website. If you’re one of these agencies and I found your blog regardless, it’s because it was listed on your site map.
- 39 agencies had blogs; 28 had Twitter profiles with one having a hashtag but no Twitter profile; 35 agencies had Facebook Group pages with two establishing fan pages; and 25 had LinkedIn Group pages while two created company pages
So let’s see how this little experiment works. If you’re a PR agency and I have incorrect information, please provide the corrections below or write a post that links back. I will then update the listing as quickly as I can. And if you have accounts with Flickr, YouTube and Slideshare.net, let me know.
But If you don’t have a social media presence, tell me why. I want to give folks the benefit of doubt. I was able to format the list into a table below captured the list in a jpg (couldn’t get it to format correctly, sorry!) or you can download a pdf version of this list. visit the public wiki and make changes to the table.
Table of PR Firms and Social Media Presence
Update: 2/19/09 – This table was updated to be in alphabetical order, includes additional PR firms not on the original list, and eliminates “none” from the table. You can also visit the PR Firms Social Media Public Wiki to make changes.
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All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.
This is the sixth post in a 6 part series on how I using social media. In this sixth installment, I discuss measurement.
Measure What Counts
There has been discussion about how to measure social media and can it truly impact your bottom line. The same could be said of public relations. In the end, it’s measuring what counts for your business.
Personally, I think it’s important to determine your baseline measurements to gauge the effectiveness of your strategies over time. Consider keeping it simple, selecting 3-4 points to track. As you gather more information, you can better refine and expand your measurement criteria. Here are some basic points to measure:
* Subscribers, Followers, Fans: One way to track the success of your programs is by the steady growth of subscribers to your blog, followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook. Feedburner is a nice way to track subscribers to your blog or any RSS feed that you create for corporate updates, such as press releases, newsletters, etc.
* Audience Reach: The key aspect of social media is tracking “word of mouth” or the reach of your content to your key audiences.
Twitter - Tweetburner allows you to create a short URL for Twitter and then tracks who has retweeted the link or clicked on it. You can keep your stats private or public. While this is a great tool, I’ve found that people will create their own short URLs for the content, so you may want to actively search on your Twitter ID for possible retweet. I then add up the number of subscribers for these individuals to get a “number” regarding reach.
Online Reputation: Another way to determine reach is to track who is talking about you online. I wrote a bit about this in my second post – Using Social Media: Part 2 – Search Feeds. The added component is determining the reach of these online outlets. While ad equivalence can be used too, I’m not a fan of this method as I point out in my next bullet point.
* Incoming Leads, Inquiries: There are a couple of free tools such as Quantcast and Google Analytics that provide good detail about your incoming traffic. The key is to closely track the referring sources for the incoming leads and the conversion rates. For example, Twitter is quickly becoming a driver of traffic to my blog or answering a question on LinkedIn can lead to an inquiry about your services.
* Increased Links: Before you start your programs, take a quick snapshot of sites that link to your website. While a basic stat, this can have huge SEO implications for your site, which in turn, increases your visibility on search engines. Check to see if your efforts increase this basic stat.
* Conversation Index: Steve Boyd discusses the Conversation Index as a way to determine which blogs are successful. Basically, successful blogs are those have a more comments than posts. I would think that the same value can be applied to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The more that people interact with your company and messages, one can assume the more engaged they are with you.
No matter what you do, measurement has to be an integral part of your program. Identifying the key data points relevant to your business, you can better justify these programs to your executive management. And who can argue with a program that has a low cost per lead and high conversion rate for sales?
Other posts in the series:
Using Social Media: Part 3 – Social Networking Sites (updated link)
Update: I’ve edited this post to provide a more objective view of social media and how it can be applied.
This is the third post in a 6 part series on how to use social media. In this third installment, I highlight how yoru can participate in social networking sites.
Social Networking Sites
Marketers are seeking to break into several social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. From my perspective, there seems to be two popular models right now – create a group or fan page or participate in existing communities (what Jeremiah Owyang calls “fishing where the fish are“). The former requires dedication to manage the community and ensure that there is fresh content. The latter requires participation in a group without the onus of owning that community.
And while I believe social media should be an integral part of B2B marketing, the reality is that this takes a concerted effort and time. As such, I recommend aligning your efforts with the latter strategy until more staff or focus can be given to the former. While there are different communities to join, LinkedIn has some benefits that you should consider.
Why? I hate to say this, but frankly, of all the social networking sites, organizations can be overtly salesy on LinkedIn. I know, I know – that isn’t the point. So let me be clear, I DON’T RECOMMEND THAT YOU SELL FROM THE PLATFORM. Rather, apply the same rules you would apply elsewhere – be transparent of who you are and offer valuable information. So even when others are being blatantly self-promotional, you and your company are seen as contributory. You’ll see what I mean below.
With that said, here are the aspects of LinkedIn that I recommend:
LinkedIn Answers: Monitor questions for topics that are you related to your company. When appropriate, respond to relevant questions to position you and your company as an industry expert. There will be instances when you can recommend your company as a prospective vendor. Again, you have to be careful that you’re not too self-promotional as your answer can be flagged as inappropriate. Overall, LinkedIn Answers is a good way to provide brand awareness for your company. And since LinkedIn Answers are searchable, your responses may appear in Google search results.
Groups: There are numerous groups within LinkedIn. It’s important to research specific groups as some may be more self-promotional than others. I recommend seeking groups with audiences that are relevant to your company and have good participation by its members. Once you join a group, monitor the discussions before fully participating.
Group Questions: Like LinkedIn Answers, each group incorporates this same functionality. By responding or asking questions in a group, you position your company as an industry expert to a targeted audience relevant to your business.
News: You can submit article links, like Facebook Share, that are relevant to the groups. In addition to blog posts, you can submit general news articles that mention your company or are relevant to your industry. You can also consider submitting submit press releases. While this is slightly self-promotional, make sure the article or press release discusses a larger trend of interest to the group.
Events: LinkedIn recently introduced a way for members to post events. If you have a webinar, in-person seminar or other gathering that you want to promote, LinkedIn events is a place to promote it. What I liked is that they have an option for “virtual events” as well. You can then share this event with your contacts as well as be searchable by other LinkedIn members. One drawback, in case you have to cancel the event, there doesn’t seem to be a way to delete the event.
Overall, LinkedIn is a great way to position your company or company spokesperson as an industry expert, while increasing brand awareness with key audiences. Your participation can also have competitive advantages as well when potential sales leads are researching and evaluating vendors.
And if you or a colleague is dedicated to moderating an online community, consider setting up your own group. HubSpot has done an excellent job at setting up their own group, moderating the group and finding synergy with their Facebook presence as well.
Other posts in the series:
I have only been on a Facebook for a year or so. I mainly use it to keep in touch with personal connections, and rarely use it for professional reasons. I believe that the “casual” aspect of Facebook does make it more difficult for business-to-business companies to leverage the full potential, with early success for consumer related companies.
With that said, I do see the potential of Facebook from a PR perspective:
Fan Club or Group?: Before setting up a group, you have the option of designating it as a group or fan club. Groups have membership limits while fans clubs don’t. It’s a small distinction but quite important depending on the size of the community you’re seeking to tap into.
Before setting up a fan club/group, consider these two points first:
1) Research what groups/clubs already exist in your area. Does it make sense to set up another page if there are hundreds of similar ones out there?
2) Participate in existing groups/clubs to network with people in your target audience. By “friending” these folks, you’re able to pull in your existing network if you do decide to launch your own group or fan club.
Share and Share Alike: With Facebook’s “share” function, you can provide a steady stream of company updates and information to your friend network. For example, my company recently received media coverage in Forbes and San Jose Mercury News. I shared this news to my connections.
I recommend sharing information that is relevant to your industry. Since you can add a comment, this helps to position your company as an expert on a specific topic. And is much quicker than drafting a blog post from scratch =)
In the end, you never know what information will catch a reporter/blogger’s eye for a possible article or posting.
Friending Reporters and Bloggers: If a reporter or blogger has agreed to be friends with you, the implication is that you’ve created or have an existing personal relationship. Depending on your level of “friendship,” you can send pitches via Facebook’s internal email system, which may break through the noise of emails. Just confirm that the person prefers to receive pitches this way. He or she may want to keep Facebook on a personal level while want “business” correspondence to be received in another format.
While I have not personally done this yet, I would just recommend being very careful of how and when you do this. As I wrote recently about HARO spam, the purpose of these tools is to create connections, not harvest emails and contact information. By doing so breaks the trust you’ve created.
Promote Events: Facebook enables people to send out event invitations to your friends. Great way to promote attendance for live events or webinars. Be sure not to over promote an event with multiple reminders.
Applications: As an open platform, Facebook offers different types of applications. These applications range from the silly – sending a beer – to useful – free VoIP phone calls or Twitter updates. For me, I’ve added the Twitter app to tie all my external personalities into Facebook. Determine which apps to incorporate based on the types of information your generating and which are appropriate for your company.
Some have even created complimentary applications within Facebook which have become wildly popular. As long as it’s relevant to your Facebook audience, is easy to use and understand and is relevant to your business, apps can be one way to get your business to your target audience.
Face Book Case Study:
I was seeking B2B examples of using Facebook and couldn’t find any Mike Nierengarten of (company?) did forward me this description of how they leveraged Facebook to drive students to an online animation school (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Animation-Mentor-Online-Animation-School/14719464771):
Animation Mentor, an online animation school, is perfect for Facebook because it has tons of great content (video, events, pictures), a strong (current) student presence on the site, and our target customers (potential students) use the site regularly.
For Animation Mentor, we set up a profile to connect with current students. From there, we added a Facebook page and rolled those students into fans. We then created a Prospective Animation Mentor Student group for individuals who were interested in the school to connect and share thoughts. Finally, we promoted the page off of Facebook using an Animation blog.
Results: Facebook page ranks for targeted keywords on Google (e.g. #23 for “animation school”, #9 for “character animation”), we have over 700 fans with a mix of currents students and interested students interacting online, and we have an area for prospective students to address their concerns and interact directly with someone from the school in their space. We have also seen a near 3% conversion rate (i.e. complete an application) from the Facebook page.
Summary: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
I posted my question on Twitter and LinkedIn. I decided not to ask my Facebook network as my previous questions have received no answers. I overwhelmingly received more responses via LinkedIn. Why?
Twitter seems to elicit a lot of responses depending on the interest of your audience to that question and what other conversations are happening at the time. With the cacophony of voices, it’s very difficult, at least for me, to pose a question that elicits response. I did when I discussed the role of PR agencies but not for this question.
For LinkedIn, people are leveraging it as a business networking tool. The Q&A section is a great way to demonstrate your expertise in a specific topic, as I outlined in my previous post.
I think Lewis Green of BizSolutionsPlus said it best in his response: “I think LinkedIn and Plaxo Pulse are better social networking sites for non-invasive marketing and PR, which is the only way we should be promoting our brands within the social networking and social media worlds. We should be giving, not making an effort to get. That’s why providing free information, such as this Q&A offers us a chance to do so.”
1) LinkedIn great for professional networking and developing expertise with LinkedIn Answers
2) Twitter great for quick updates and breaking information to your company
3) Facebook is like a mini-site that has a social networking component. You need a wealth of relevant information to feed into the pages, while actively working to develop and maintain a community.
Other posts in the “Brave New World of Media Pitching” series:
All content copyright Cece Salomon-Lee, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, with the attribution: By Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing, and a link to the post.
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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