Social Media Public Relations

Handshake specializes in social media public relations, not in social media marketing for social media sales, because the latter use of social media remains unproven as a research-based way to achieve results. 

Social media public relations can create word-of-mouth buzz Research shows that traditional marketing can result in sales, although less so in an age of media fragmentation and in today’s economy.  In contrast, the challenge with social media marketing is that the only results of its effectiveness with regard to generating sales are anecdotal.  Just this month, David Cooperstein, a senior advisor with Forrester, probably the top marketing research firm, said as much:  “So how can we move beyond the abundant proof that social media impacts buzz to proof that social media positively affects revenue?”

I define marketing as attempting to communicate with a specific customer segment in hopes of generating sales, and public relations as offering information broadly to a wide audience in hopes of engaging interest, memory, and mentions to others.

Whether using an offline strategy through traditional means such as hosting a networking mixer, or an online strategy through updating a corporate Facebook page, PR’s purpose is the same:  awareness.  If people are aware of you, they can buy from you.  If they’ve never heard of you, they can’t because they don’t even know you exist.  Awareness can result in word-of-mouth referrals from people who know you to people who don’t.  Is PR buzz correlated positvely with sales? Yes. Does a direct one-to-one-correspondence exist between being known through PR and sales?  No. And that's also not one of PR's claims.

For businesses, I don't see social media as A Good Thing. I'm not a social media evangelist.  I’m not a fan of social media any more than I’m a fan of a hammer.  It has no ethical or moral value.  It’s a tool that works well for certain tasks. 

Handshake is in the “abundant proof that social media impacts buzz” business – social media PR.  While big corporations and big marketing research firms with big budgets are in the process of collecting data about the relationship between social media and sales, we’re doing what social media is really good at – generating buzz and awareness for our clients through social media public relations.

Social Media Works to Resurrect Static, Legacy Sites from Internet Obscurity

When people type search terms into search engines, 68% click a search result within the first page of results (iProspect).  That means for 32% of search engine users, results on other pages essentially don't exist.

Google is the top of the top 5 search engines and receives several hundred million search queries each day.

First page matters.  Especially with Google.

For high placement in organic Google search results for single words describing a company's product or service, competition is stiff.  However, to still achieve business results, related terms or phrases will do.

Appearing on the first page of search results for "widget" would be ideal.  "Widget parts" will do.  A person in search of the products or services a company offers can still find them.  And as Brian Clark points out, that's what search engines are for: "quality search results for people."

At the end of our post, A Google Real-Time Search Story – LeBron James Had a Parotidectomy, Too, we highlighted its purpose:  To use social media to bring traffic to a static, legacy, hard-to-find site of high value.  The site was created in 2003 and last updated in 2008: Poked and Parotid – Journal of My Parotid Tumor

We were going for first page results for "parotidectomy." "Parotidectomy scar" would do.

(We very much appreciate Andy Little for allowing us to use his site for this example. No pun intended, but no company had to lose face by us using its party-like-its-1999 site instead.)

A Google Real-Time Search Story was posted on February 11, 2010, 5:30 AM EST. 

A Google search using the term "parotidectomy" shows a link to our post is not on the first page of results, nor is the site we value.  We perused the next two pages since, according to iProspect, "92% of search engine users click a result within the first three pages of search results." Nada.

Conclusion:

One blog post, publicized through Twitter and Facebook, didn't crack the nut of first page search results for our top desired term.

For "parotidectomy scar," the site we value is not in the results on page one, two or three.  Our post – which links to the valued site – was at the top of page two on February 14, 2010, 7:00 AM EST.

Google search results for "parotidectomy scar"
Conclusions:

  • People who want to know what parotid surgery is really like and how bad – or good – that paroditectomy scar will be, will have an easier time finding the site we found provides the best answers to those questions.  "Widget parts," rather than "widgets," will do.
  • We would need to write a 10-page white paper on the SEO heart, mind and knowledge that went into creating the first post, and another one on the social media strategy that went into sharing it.
  • That said, companies who use search engines for business results are vendors to Google.  We can spread our peddler's cloths arranged with SEO ware we consider of high value – web site, blog post, Twitter tweet – but Google chooses based on what it values. And according to Google, that's this:  "The perfect search engine," says [Google] co-founder Larry Page, "would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want."
  • Google offers an overview of how it determines value.  Google doesn't say, "If you do this, you will be on page one."
  • Google asks of us:  "Create a useful, information-rich site…  Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines."
  • High-quality social media, used even minimally and briefly, can help resurrect a static, legacy, hard-to-find site from Internet obscurity.

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Without Andy Little's initiative to write a blog in 2003, and his permission in 2010 to use his site for a case study, this demonstration of how individuals, organizations, and companies can use social media to share their information, ideas, expertise - even kindness – with the world would not have been possible.  Both professionaly and personally, I extend to him my heartfelt thanks.

We’re a Company on a Mission and We’re Doing What It Takes – Twitter Lists Included

"The mission of a manufacturer is to overcome poverty by producing an abundant supply of goods… The mission of a manufacturer is to create material abundance by providing goods as plentiful and inexpensive as tap water. This is how we can banish poverty, bring happiness to people's lives and make this world into a paradise."

– Matsushita Konosuke announcing in 1932 a 250-year plan to implement his vision for the company that would become Panasonic

According to eMarketer, "Marketers must connect business goals to social media objectives."

What would Matsushita Konosuke's social media objectives and strategy have been given his business goals?

A company with a vision may need a Twitter List In Making the List – Branding on Twitter, Z. Kelly Queijo quotes Ryan Paugh, Co-Founder and Director of Community, Brazen Careerist, Inc.:  “Twitter Lists are a great way to bring like-minded people together. If a brand wants to create a community around their product then a Twitter List is a great way to help make that happen.”

We're a company on a mission. We've got business goals, a brand and a product, and a vision for community. If a Twitter List can make things happen – our #1 social media objective - then we're making Twitter Lists. 

Handshake 2.0 isn't exactly a product, but it's an enterprise of Handshake Media, Incorporated, part of whose vision is the creation of affluent communities through regional economic development.  Our current contribution to that development is social media public relations and marketing initiatives.  We've specified how we think a regional social media economic deveopment initiative would look and work.

We've got a pretty simple logic to our vision.  The better companies do and the better individuals in those companies do, the more people they can hire.  Handshake 2.0 showcases companies, and people in companies, to help them do very well.

We've started "collecting" the like-minded – the corporate leadership – in our region in Twitter Lists.  We're tossing our stone into the tap water pool beginning in Blacksburg, Virginia and the surrounding New River Valley of Virginia.  The "where" doesn't matter, however. Any region, industry, organization or collaborative could do the same or for other purposes. Let the ripples begin!

Our Twitter List logic is simple, too.  People do business with people they know.  Our Handshake 2.0 Twitter Lists introduce the members of the corporate leadership on Twitter in one locale to each other.  The existence of the List is an opportunity to introduce this leadership to others on Twitter.  We know each other a bit better than before. 

Let's do business.

Let's work on that mission.

Handshake 2.0's Twitter List of Company Founders

Handshake 2.0's Twitter List of Business, Company, and Corporate Executives

Are you on our lists?  If you're not, please let us know to add you!  Please DM us at Handshake 2.0 on Twitter.

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Graphic: Z. Kelly Queijo

Size Matters – Your Social Media Footprint

Size matters. How big is yours - your social media footprint? Here on Handshake 2.0, the topic of enhancing a social media footprint as a means of getting found on the Web has been addressed many times. Authors of these posts have encouraged readers to Google themselves to find out how they rank in search results both as individuals and as the businesses they represent.

Engaging in blogging, using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedInand other social media tools have been recommended as strategic moves to increase prominence on the Web. While all of this has been solid advice for any Web marketing and/or social media strategy, the relevance increased significantly when, in December 2009, Google announced it was changing its traditional search methodology to include real-time search. Search engines Bing and Yahooquickly followed Google's lead.

Now, it's not just a company's web site that gets indexed by search engines.  Updates to Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook Fan pages are indexed immediately after they are posted. And, according to an article by Adam Ostrow on Mashable, real-time search also works on some mobile devices.

Activity in social networks not only increases a company's Web presence, it now impacts how Google ranks an individual or a company in search results. Size matters – businesses and individuals with the bigger social media footprint are more likely to be discovered on the Web.

If you've been putting off starting a corporate blog, using Twitter or making a video and posting it to YouTube, maybe now is the time to do so.

How competitive are you? Would knowing a competitor appears in the top level of search results ahead of you because they use Twitter or have a YouTube channel be reason enough to enlarge your social media footprint?

From Handshake 2.0:  Creating corporate social media channels and keeping them updated with high quality content got even more mission-critical when Google announced its new search index Caffeine on 6/8/10: "Searchers want to find the latest relevant content and publishers expect to be found the instant they publish."

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Z. Kelly Queijo is the founder of SmartCollegeVisit and a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0. You're invited to follow SmartCollegeVisit on Twitter, @collegevisit.

Should My Company Use Online Video Marketing in 2010?

Our customers are online watching videos.  And videos are coming up in their search results.  If they type in search terms related to our company's products and services, does our company show up in the list?  Do our competitors' companies?  Uh-oh…

"U.S. users streamed 41 percent more video content in August 2009 than they did during the same period in 2008, according to data from ComScore."
– ClickZ, U.S. Online Video Consumption Grows Considerably Year-over-Year

"Online video reached another all-time high in August [2009] with more than 25 billion videos viewed during the month, with Google Sites accounting for more than 10 billion."
– comScore, Google Sites Surpasses 10 Billion Video Views in August

"More than 167 million viewers watched an average of 167 videos per viewer during the month of October [2009]."
– comScore, Hulu Delivers Record 856 Million U.S. Video Views in October During Height of Fall TV Season

"In fact, YouTube not only had 50% more searches than Yahoo web search (3.918B vs 2.629B) and 180% more searches than Bing (3.918B vs 1.399B), but the number of searches at the online video giant made up almost 28% (27.95) of the total searches on Google sites for Dec. 2009… 23% of YouTube’s total visits for December (130.3Million according to compete.com) originated from Google search…"
– ReelSEO, YouTube Search Accounts for Nearly 28% of all Google Searches

"More marketers will increasingly embrace online video advertising, supported by the twin boom of video streams and video ad networks."
– eMarketer, 2010 Predictions Roundup

"…video marketing is poised for a huge year in 2010. The reason is clear: video simply engages people in a way that static text and images cannot. There are dozens of studies that show the power of video to boost customer interaction, drive sales, encourage viral sharing, and build brand awareness."
– Patrick Moran, Mashable, 5 Tips for Using Video to Grow Your Business in 2010

Whether we're ready as companies for online video or not, our customers are.

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Added 6/6/2010: From Mashable: Online Video Will Push Internet Traffic to Quadruple by 2014.

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Handshake 2.0 offers a social media video production and publicity package that covers all the bases.  We help you create your videos, put them on YouTube so they're search-friendly, then publicize them on Handshake 2.0, Facebook and Twitter.  The videos are yours to use on your site, on your blog, or wherever you'd like for best business results.  Feel free to read more.

We're walking the talk, too.  We made The Handshake Video and I keep making videos, on bad hair days and good ones, to continue to share our online passion for what we're doing online.  Here's what we're passionate about.

Blog Post Content – No Secrets Are Hid

"…all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid…"
 From
The Book of Common Prayer

Tell the truth.

That is Handshake 2.0's policy on blog content.

Handshake 2.0 is a business news site and a public relations site.  The business news posts, we write as journalists.  The public relations posts, we write for our clients.  When we're writing for our clients, we say so.

In a March 2009 report from Forrester, Add Sponsored Conversations To Your Toolbox: Why You Should Pay Bloggers To Talk About Your Brand, Sean Corcoran termed the hybrid of blogging plus public relations "sponsored conversation."

Josh Bernoff, also with Forrester and co-author with Charlene Li of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, refers to the report in Why sponsored conversation – aka paid blog posts – can make sense

Bernoff writes, "In PR, you try to get a blogger to talk about you, but your chances of success are hit or miss. In advertising, you can be sure to get a placement, but it's not in the blogger's voice. Sponsored conversation – paying a blogger to write about your product – fits in the middle – it guarantees a post, and it's in the blogger's voice."

On Handshake 2.0, "the blogger's voice" is myriad.  With so many writers, so many commenters, so many individuals quoted, so many sources cited, we reach out from the many to the many with a virtual handshake – a Handshake 2.0 – of greeting.  Some of those handshakes result in deals.

Bernoff includes a meaningful and important chart comparing public relations, advertising, and sponsored conversation in blogs.

And he offers these simple rules for how sponsored conversations can work.

  1. They [bloggers] must disclose that they are being paid.
  2. They [bloggers] must be able to write whatever they want, positive or negative.

In other words?  Hide no secrets.  Tell the truth.

Good.  That's our policy.

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Thanks to Z. Kelly Queijo for the link to Josh Bernoff's post.