by Tom Kowalski*
I recently attended the Social Convergence and The Enterprise conference held at The Graduate Center of CUNY. I listened to more than a half dozen speakers discuss the importance of social media in their organizations. There was one underlying message that everyone seemed to get across: companies who try and jump on the bandwagon of social media without a concrete plan will ultimately end up failing with this initiative.
There’s been a 230 percent increase in social media since 2007. The growth is staggering. Yet, the question remains – how are companies engaging in social media successfully? Brian Renny, CMO, Harvard Business School says we need to understand the sociology of engaging social media to connect with our audience; otherwise we’ll fall short of success. Just because a company tweets or has a Facebook fan page, doesn’t mean the organization is successful. It’s all how the organization is using the social media tools available to them and how they’re leveraging them to connect with the community.
Conversations, good and bad, are happening everywhere. As we all know, a successful public relations campaign is always well thought out and planned. So why should this be any different with the way we handle social media? Matt Peters, creative director, Pandemic Labs, says building a solid social media platform is essential to the organization’s success of future initiatives. Although social media has certainly changed the way we do our jobs, the core concept is still the same. We still must identify how we communicate with our audience.
Some of the most successful PR campaigns and crisis communication resolutions in recent times were well-thought out plans that connected with the audience via social media. As my colleague Denise Giacin points out in a recent post on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog, Jet Blue is a great example of a company using social media to manage PR communications and engagement. When the Valentine’s Day brand disaster occurred in 2007, the company quickly turned to YouTube to connect with their customers. Founder and former CEO, David Neeleman, went on the Internet first apologizing to the employees of Jet Blue and then to their customers for going against everything the company stands for. He ensured something like this will never happen again. The quick response and admittance of fault allowed the public to forgive the airline and move on.
Jenny Dervin, director of corporate communications stated that the company built the brand on goodwill through daily engagement and cashed in on that when the disaster occurred. Dervin said it’s important that you’re proactive with social media on daily basis and people will be more forgiving, should a crisis occur. Another important point Dervin made is that social media allowed the company to directly speak with their audience, rather than using traditional media channels as a middle man. People perceive the company as being more genuine and sincere when the message is direct.
So before you send that tweet, or create a fan page, have a concrete method that parallels the goals of your business and/or your campaign or crisis and do your research. Once you have the appropriate channels in place remain sincere and proactive when connect with constituents. Otherwise, if you jump in too soon without thinking, the chances of your success with social media or handling crisis communication will diminish.
*Bio: As a Senior Account Manager at BurrellesLuce, Tom Kowalski works closely with New York-based clients and PR agencies. Tom brings extensive knowledge of the PR industry with more than 7 years of agency experience. He hopes to stimulate readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas by sharing useful information related to the communications industry and business in general, as well as different perspectives on customer service. LinkedIn: Tom Kowalski Twitter: @BurrellesLuce Facebook: BurrellesLuce