Everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon these days. Twitter accounts, blogs, and Facebook pages are being created at blurring speeds. As anyone who has been through this process knows, creating these social media communication channels is a great start, but if you build it, how do you get people to join in, follow along, like you?
One, often overlooked, way to create interest is to comment on conversations taking place in appropriate online forums. “Wait!” You might be saying. “My job is to craft the messages and send them out through the communication channels I’ve created. I’m not supposed to enter the fray, and heaven forbid, engage in conversation about it.” Sorry to say, but the only way to a successful social media campaign is take part in the campaign yourself.
Gone are the days when public relations practitioners (or anyone filling that role) can sit safely in their offices sending out messages to a waiting audience. Now, we have to go out and find our audiences, where they live, talk, and socialize. Forums are a great place to start doing that. Not only will people learn more about you and your organization, if you listen closely, you will learn about your audiences. This two-way communication is at the heart of ethical public relations practice.
Posting a blatant ad won’t win you any friends in the long run, but do make sure that you include all your links so that those interested can follow-up. In order to be effective, your forum comments and questions must be relevant and contribute to the conversation. This requirement makes it immensely important to have an intimate and accurate understanding of your organizations’ mission, goals, objectives, and values. Even though you are personally taking part in the conversation, your communications must still be strictly reflective of your organization’s views on the subject, not your personal views (although hopefully these are at least partially compatible or you should get a new job).