This might be a rant. There was an article in PR Week today that said social media should not be handled by an in-house PR department.
I beg to differ.
If the PR team is not on top of company messaging, there is something wrong with the comms strategy.
I “get” that PR handled by a third party may have more credibility than the propaganda spouted by a voice that’s employed by the company. After all, PR is basically endorsement of a product or service through clever wordsmithery (yes, I just made that word up). If I tell you I am great and Bob Smith tells you I am great, chances are you will listen to Bob a little more than you’ll listen to my subjective bragging.
But, if you’re going to hand your social media over to a third party, the person responsible HAS to get under the skin of the organisation. Social Media is such a personal thing. Whether I’m following my mate Pauline on Twitter or following my favourite singer Kristin Chenoweth, I will read the tweets as something that has been put out there for me to read, enjoy, absorb, learn from and respond to. And that goes double for a brand. I follow Glastonbury for festival updates. I follow Campaign magazine for the latest news on what is happening in the advertising industry that I work in. And their updates are fairly authoritative.
So, if you’re representing a brand, for GOD’S SAKE
– get names right (Clare doesn’t want to be called Claire, Stephen doesn’t want to be Steven)
– get job titles right (don’t call a President a Chairman, it will piss them off)
– get your grammar right – I promise you I am NOT the only person who freaks out over inappropriate use of apostrophes, tenses, plurals etc. “The new Take That single. You can only here it here” = DEATH
– don’t put the same messages on Twitter and Facebook. Different audiences and different consumption. Use Twitter for your “trends”/strategy and Facebook for tactical work. Oh and when you’re using Facebook, set your moderators up so they can post as the organisation rather than individuals!
– If you’re running 2 Twitter accounts from your phone, make sure you tweet from the right one. While it’s funny to read a message that says “When Dermot says One Direction I hear Wand Erection” from my friend – it doesn’t really make me buy into a brand that has a serious and conservative identity when aforementioned friend has got pissed and tweeted from the wrong account
– bear in mind that the words “shiny” and “new” are best used by Heat Magazine, it doesn’t make aforementioned conservative brand “edgy”, it’s just lazy writing
– only re-tweet items that you have an opinion on – link to your blog, don’t just throw it out there – it makes it look as if you don’t have an opinion. Imagine D&AD has introduced a new award for social media? Before you re-tweet, why do you care?
– oh and if you’re going to start a blog – post on a regular basis. Once a month is not regular communication with your audience. And if you’ve got a blog, use it, rather than putting your blog postings on Twitter, Facebook, Forums etc.
I think ultimately companies need to acknowledge the importance of social media in their communications mix and allocate the resource to manage it properly. If you’re a complex brand, your online presence can’t be handled by a junior with 6 months’ experience. If the in-house PR team is senior enough (i.e. people who think, not those who just do – no, not my words) and in touch with the management’s strategy, then it will be in a position to create a credible online presence. With communication increasingly moving into the digital arena, management teams are missing a trick if they underestimate the input of their staff who “get” the importance of online.
Oh and those of us who can spell.