Eleftherios Hatziioannou

The New PR – How to become a Brand among Friends

The New PR – How to become a Brand among Friends
Eleftherios Hatziioannou and Nathaniel Hansen
Nov 7th, 2012. Rebirth of PR Conference in Portoroz, Slovenia.

What we know from our very short history of living online is that community precedes commerce; there’s no commerce without community. ~Kevin Kelley

THE NEW PR PROFESSIONAL: Employees in PR departments and agencies worldwide should be interested in people and relationships. The excellent PR leader possesses a high social and emotional intelligence. He/she is aware of the needs within a community, including complaints, desires, trends, overall sentiment. Today, we have deep access to communities – because people interact publicly in the rapidly expanding online eco-systems. The new PR pro understands the power of communities and is actively engaged within these settings. PR has traditionally been in charge of letting the world know the corporate view on any given issue. Nothing has changed in this respect – except that we use a new means of communication – namely, the social networks. The New PR pro is ideally suited to nurture and guide the communities forming around brands in social networks. The core activitiy in this process is LISTENING.

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words. ~Rachel Naomi Remen

SOCIAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE: The value of Social Business Intelligence is primarily related to strategic planning and action steps based on sophisticated listening technologies. When a “Chief Listening Officer“ sees a pool of friends chatting about product-related interests, he reports this to leadership (along with possible conversations and content-marketing tactics). Marketing, Sales and PR are called in and the pool of friends is discussed. Every division can learn from the resulting insights of these cross-division collaborations.

INSIGHTS & ACTIONS: In business, we can save a lot of time and money when we are listening. For example: We can be much more precise and targeted with our brand messages. And we can add real value by approaching our prospects and existing customers with helpful answers, solutions and relationship-building actions. A strategy built upon intelligence is much more effective than one built upon leadership’s assumptions and gut feeling. Certainly experience is vital. But matching experience WITH observable behavior in the market is an even more effective way of developing strategy. In terms of PR planning, we have an excellent map showing how the US Army listens and responds to blog visitors: http://thesocializers.com/pr_algorithm.html At each stage of this PR chart, we listen, plan respond and then act.

INTERESTS & INFLUENCERS: To understand the value and function of an influencer in social networks, one must understand the nature of Communities of Interest. A community of interest is a community of people who share a common interest or passion. These people exchange ideas and thoughts about a specific passion, making their connection primarily Interest-Based. Twitter is an excellent example of an Interest-Based network. Participants return frequently and remain for extended periods in Communities of Interest, due to compelling conversations and sticky content.

An influencer within a social network is someone who leads a community of interest. When an influencer sends a message into his community, many members of the community take action and re-send this message to one another. An influencer can turn the tide of opinion within an interest group very quickly to one side or another. The value of gaining an influencer’s attention for a brand, a governmental agency, a publication or a service is HUGE!! The reason for this is that, typically, an influencer has a significant following of other influencers who are interested in a specific topic.

There are many ways to ascertain influence in social networks. The most basic of these is to use Google Ad Planner and Google Analytics to measure the unique visitors to a website associated with a particular influencer. One may also look at the “Talking About This” metric within Facebook Insights, the number of lists a specific Twitter user is on, the number of comments made in YouTube on a specific channel, the job title one holds/company one works for in LinkedIn, the number of re-pins in Pinterest, etc…

There are also a growing number of solutions for taking all of this information and scoring a person’s influence in particular social networks and topics. Klout, Kred, PeerIndex and Empire Avenue are all examples of such Influence Scoring Solutions.

INLUENCERS AS YOUR FRIENDS:
When you find out who the most influential people in your industry are and when you listen to them and study who they are and what they do – you will be well prepared to reach out to them. Your main goal must be to build relationships with them and make them part of your network – just like you did with journalists at press events. But you have to careful about how you do it. You cannot gain their trust and credibility without investing time and efforts first. But once you have established these relationships and “made new friends“ it will help you spread your message much faster and further than ever before.

CONCLUSION: In PR, we want our community to know we care and that we have heard their needs — just like good friends do. In the ideal PR department/agency, we have already assigned listening to a specific staff member (Chief Listening Officer).The rebirth of PR means, we have ideally integrated what we’ve learned through listening solutions into our day-to-day operations. We have ideally distributed our findings to the management and all divisions with the goal of creating a tighter corporate team, focused on the customer as a friend. Through listening, PR has the ability to nurture communities in social networks by feeding them with precise and relevant answers and engaging in conversations. The New PR delivers real value to the customer, the stakeholder and the market as a freind would. And of course it’s about associating yourself with the right people (influencers) who can help you spread your message much faster and further.

If you are interested in learning how the New PR can be integrated in your daily efforts and how you can get the most out of it for your own brand/corportation – come and join our lecture on Nov 7th, 2012 at the Rebirth of PR Conference in Portoroz, Slovenia. There we will share our experiences with international clients from various industries and we will together take a look at the strategies, practical tools and methods we have developed in the past years.

Of course, we are also looking forward to making new friends.

Growing Community: the KPI of the heart comes first

Growing community in social networks begins with a passion for shared experience. If you want to be part of something exciting right now, put a few words associated with YOUR favorite activity into a search field at any social network. You are sure to find living, breathing human beings awake and actively discussing your passion RIGHT NOW.

The metrics of growing communities have to be related to heart first. We all want and love specific people and activities in life. And that passion dictates how and where we spend our hard earned dollars. Community managers who understand this very real truth about human beings do not push products, events or services. They initially engage in conversation with others about a shared passion. The offerings within a dynamic community generally emerge out of a collective wish list or a mutually desired experience. Those highly attended events are birthed from noticing where people like to congregate. Great community managers are passionate about the niche topics related to their brand and lead others into mutually gratifying experiences.

When we lay out a plan for growing a community, our initial goals ought to center around creating meaningful content and discovering individuals who feed passion. A community manager who has lived, eaten and breathed a topic finds this naturally and is excellent at listening and encouraging members of the community. Everyone in a community has their own unique way of expressing interest, insight and observation. Good community managers facilitate a collective story fed by everyone in the “circle”. This weaving of stories is how cohesive communities form and provides a context for spreading awareness of a product/service. We need those thousand true fans as our initial base to carry on the work of the Community Manager.

It is the job of a Community Manager to nurture conversation. A Twitter stream, a Facebook wall post, a comment thread on a blog, a winning presentation on Slideshare, a location on FourSquare, a widely pinned photo on Pinterest, a video on YouTube that gets passed around: these are ALL seeds to be watered and nurtured by a Community Manager. JESS3 has given community managers a very precise map of content that different consumers interact with when considering a product or service (The Content Grid). It is a community manager’s job to identify, create and spread each of these pieces of content into the social fabric of the Internet.

For more on people-centered Community Management read this interview I did with Eleftherios Hatziioannou, former social manager for Mercedes Benz.

Discovering, Building and Growing Community: Challenge and Opportunity

CHALLENGES FOR COMMUNITY BUILDERS (from forward-thinking leaders):

I wonder what would happen – if we just stopped talking about the crisis (macro-economics) and simply started giving the best service ever to our customers (micro-economics) instead.
~Eleftherios Hatziioannou

Social psychology is more important than economics. ~Peter Economides

All cultures … have grown out of myths. They are founded on myths. What these myths have given has been inspiration for aspiration. The economic interpretation of history is for the birds. Economics is itself a function of aspiration. It’s what people aspire to that creates the field in which economics works. ~Joseph Campbell

The role of purposeful storytelling is to unlock people’s emotions so they can connect to your story and brand. ~Peter Guber

The real opportunity is in reaching out to the dissatisifed, to those in search of something new. ~Seth Godin

DISCOVERING COMMUNITY: One of the most exciting realities of our time is swift connection via digital networks with others who share one’s passion, beliefs and interests. For individuals, such discovery of peers in the social networks often leads to connection in the flesh. Brands have worked for years with technology companies to develop truly amazing solutions for identifying and connecting with individuals, conversations, and existing communities oriented around specific interests. Leaders in the field include PeopleBrowsr, Radian6, BrandWatch and Converseon.

BUILDING COMMUNITY: Powerful communities are often built around dynamic leaders who balance hard-earned lessons in relationship with an appreciation for new knowledge. Increasingly, brand leaders are giving away power to customers – to tell stories, share suggestions, critique corporate leadership, and even design products/services. The result for many brands has been increased loyalty, positive word of mouth and trust. Here are examples of brands that truly demonstrate customer-centric community development in social networks via Lisa Braziel at Ignite (see examples). Two superior tech solutions for building community include Jive and Buddy Media.

NURTURING COMMUNITY: It takes people to truly grow and nurture a long-term community. In social networks, conversations are a major aspect of how people connect, whether in brief texting via Twitter or Facebook, or within long drawn-out comment threads on blogs. A successful brand has community managers on staff who love the brand, are personable, have common sense, understand social technologies and are pro-active in driving community growth. Content-marketing and curation are catch-prhases at this time in history related to growing online communities. Steve Rosenbaum, author of Curation Nation, is arguably the best resource on curation today. Some of the greatest community managers/social strategists in the industry include Amber Naslund, Eleftherios Hatziioannou, and Jeremiah Owyang.