Common Social Media Questions

Remember when MTV played music videos?

I may be showing my age here, but one of my favorites was “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads.

Maybe it was David Byrne’s spastic dance moves or the song’s uniqueness, but it drew me in.

That song pops into my head when I think about questions people often ask before starting a social media strategy.

Now, I am by no means a social media expert. I’m a novice at best and currently work in healthcare and pharmaceutical communications, an industry that has yet to fully embrace social media.

But I’ve found from my personal research that there are a few common questions that surface among those interested social media:

You may ask yourself…why should I care about social media?
Like it or not, social media is becoming mainstream. It’s a powerful medium through which consumers can take their opinions directly to businesses. Companies like Southwest Airlines and The Gap have felt the ire of social media.

While your company may not have a logo debacle in the near future, it’s worth taking the time to explore social media as a potential component for your overall marketing or communications strategy.

You may ask yourself…where do I start in social media?
Consider conducting research into the classic “W” questions before embarking on a social media blow-out. You should find out who is talking about your company/client/products. You may also want to find out where conversations take place—it is on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, or a prominent blog? Additionally, it helps to listen to what is being said.

All this information will help inform you on what social media platform best suits your needs in order to make the most of your customer connections. If you are unsure of how to monitor social media noise, there are several free and paid social media monitoring services out there that can help.

You may ask yourself…can’t I just have a Facebook Page?
A Facebook page will only be helpful if you have determined that your customers/stakeholders are using Facebook already. From your initial research, you need to find out what points of entry in social media make the most sense to connect with your audiences. In many cases, it’s not just one but a combination of social media platforms that complement each other.

But don’t feel pressured to use the social media platform du jour just because everyone seems to be doing it—make sure it works for your company or products.

And you may ask yourself…can I ignore the negative comments?
The nature of social media is the fact it is conducive to two-way direct communication between companies and their customers. But, as with any business, there are unhappy campers who can take the Internet to vent their frustrations. Ignoring them on social media runs the risk of amplifying them and making them worse.

But there is a silver lining to the negative comments–you can take them into account as valid customer feedback to your products/services or you can respond to them via social media as a method of customer service. Comcast did this quite well via Twitter and has since elevated social media as a means for direct customer service.

So before engaging in social media for your company, it’s important to take your time, listen to what your customers are saying and doing, and structure a social media strategy that best suits your company’s needs and brand. Don’t do it just because everyone else is.

If we keep copying what others have done in the past, it’ll be the same as it ever was.

Okay, that’s the last I’ll quote the Talking Heads in this post. (Aren’t you glad I didn’t use “Psycho Killer” instead?)

What are some common social media questions you run into? Do you have any recommendations for companies curious about social media? Any other favorite Talking Heads songs?

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January 18, 2011. Tags: , , , . social media.

9 Comments

  1. Andrew M. Scott replied:

    Very thoughtful post. Kudos.

    As far as negative comments, I agree and believe all feed back should be welcome (even negative) to help better an organization or company. I’m a big fan of Journalistics’ post on handling Potty mouths and Haters: http://bit.ly/hzW7Vv

    As far as bad social media PR, the “United breaks guitars” song is still stuck in my head even today. The direction social network sites have taken us definitely helps press the need for better service and social engagement with consumers.

    • Krista replied:

      Hi Andrew–thanks for sharing the link and weighing in on the discussion! I’ll definitely check out the Journalistics post and agree with your sentiment–companies need to listen to the negative and positive feedback that social media affords them. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Gini Dietrich replied:

    You almost have to feel sorry for Southwest and the Kevin Smith debacle, but it does show the power of social. I’ve been speaking on the topic of integrating social into your marketing programs for almost three years now and I still hear the top three reasons companies won’t get involved.

    3. It’s for my kids.
    2. My customers don’t use the Internet.
    1. I have no control over what is said.

    It’s fun to dissect those one by one.

    • Krista replied:

      Hi Gini – I’m a huge fan of Spin Sucks, so it’s an honor you’ve joined the discussion here! I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of excuses to social media. I hope we all as communicators can help our clients/companies understand it better. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and I look forward to sharing more thoughts with you :)

  3. Frank Strong replied:

    Why care? It’s a great question, Krista. You are way ahead of the curve. I’m continuously surprised by how many PR pros I meet at events that are not engaged in social media. I just don’t understand how it’s even optional, except perhaps for regulated industries, but even then, the career-oriented ought to be experimenting on the side! Here’s a humble, but hopefully pointed presentation aimed at answering the who cares question: Social Media: who cares?

    BTW, it’s great to see Gini on here. She’s awesome.

    • Krista replied:

      Thanks, Frank! The impetus for my venture into social media was because I work in a regulated industry and many of our clients are limited. So, I figured if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! I think if PR pros really want to understand social media, it’s important to participate in it, even at the novice level (like myself). It demonstrates you can practice what you preach, and I think many will find it’s a fun and worthwhile investment of time. There’s still lots for me to learn about social media, and this is a step in the right direction, so you can tell I care :)

  4. paulrobertspar replied:

    Very well done. You make a great point that I don’t see often enough and that is ‘don’t feel pressured to use the social media platform du jour,’ Five years from now the social media tool we use may be very different, so don’t get hung up on the tools – learn the process.

    One last compliment for you…I didn’t think you were old enough to remember with MTV played videos.

    • Krista replied:

      You totally made my day, Paul! Thanks for the compliment– it’s assuring to hear other PR pros out there understand that many of the social media platforms are evolving and it’s the content and process that’s important.

      And yes, looks can be deceiving– I am indeed old enough to remember MTV videos and Dial MTV before it was Total Request Live ;)

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