brands and social media

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: 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.

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.

Four Courses every Corporate Leader Needs in Social Business

The following are four ideal courses that the C-Suite needs as related to Social Business and Social Media Marketing.

TRAINING ONE: Is social media a fad?
Many corporate leaders wonder if social networks are a temporary fad. At the moment, social networks are THE primary means for global brand communication. Independent studies tell us that this will be true for another 5-7 years at the least. We should take advantage of this as corporate leaders and brand evangelists. This training session focuses on training corporate leadership in the nitty-gritty of social business set-up, risk assessment, how the various silos can integrate action in social networks and what role the C-Suite has in guiding the entrance of a brand into social networks. Particular focus is on roles within the corporate structure and best-practice related to risk-assessment in social business.

Additional focus will be placed on the role of the Compliance Department in working with the various silos of a brand entering social networks for the first time. Important questions related to compliance include: What are the risks if I engage my company in social networks? What are the risks if I do not engage with my customers in social networks? What are the legal ramifications of entering social networks? How will the Compliance Department interact efficiently with the various silos as each department enters social networks?

TRAINING TWO: What is the future of social business and related social business software?
The future is centered around mobile access to information and communication. We should be thinking about our mobile customer and how the mobile user will connect with our work in the social web. This training session identifies how a brand can easily transition browser-based communication assets into mobile assets. In addition, valuable resources related to mobile marketing and mobile social marketing will be discussed.

TRAINING THREE: What are the costs and resources needed to do this?
In this training, a step-by-step analysis of a social business proposal from top to bottom will be presented. Typical budgets for social business, social marketing campaigns and social business software licensing will be covered. Examples of real proposals will be shown and dissected by participants. This training is an excellent precursor to the RFP (Request for Proposal) process at a major corporation or brand. Guidance on questions to ask potential vendors will be given.

TRAINING FOUR: Does every employee need to participate?
Each department ought to have 1-2 representative employees that will be active and trained in the social networks. In this training, we will go over the titles and roles that these individuals will have, along with best-practice chronologies of action. We will cover how social business and social marketing can be integrated seamlessly into the everyday duties of current employees. A particular focus will be given to how social business and social business software can actually help corporate leadership save money. This training emphasizes the value brought to a corporation through using social networks and related software. Case studies and real examples will be shared along with suggested steps to take in integrating social business into a brand’s current activities.

Internal and External Data: The Nexus Point

“If Social CRM deliverables can yield measurable lift in sales for businesses, then we are beginning to provide real value.” JP Lind, SVP of Giveo.

Humans are very excited to share personal thoughts & inspirations on social networks. Brands with personality and a living spirit can do this too. And the nexus point of this excitement is where a relationship between brand and individual takes off. Identifying possible nexus points of connection and “spark” between brand and individual is a core function of social business intelligence.

How to do this? Themos Kalafatis accurately points out that “the answer to true Social Media Intelligence is the use of Predictive Analytics (Data & Text Mining) applied to Social Data.” (SOURCE) Mr. Kalafatis is a global pioneer in this work, applying his data-mining expertise in such countries as Serbia and Greece, two very difficult languages in which to apply text-mining methods. The lessons he has learned through this work are fascinating and available at his blog.

The corporate conversation: Ed Fullman, CEO of Reunify (formerly Incentica), says, “At the end of the day it gets down to who is asking about who.” Reunify is focused on scoring traditional CRM using, in part, social data (amongst other identifiers). Business strategist Dion Hinchcliffe writes, “Having the big picture today means connecting internal business data to external information streams, live & without delay.” Connecting the internal conversation at brand/agency HQ with the external conversations in a market niche continues to be a very valuable action, yielding challenging questions to company leaders and agency strategists. Additionally, connecting conversations in social networks WITH actual buying behavior visible in the back-end CRM is a core action by social business intelligence practitioners.

Real-time observation affirms archetypal truth: Conversations and communities in social networks flesh out the “archetypal” pillars of customers that have always congregated around specific phenomena. The particular ways in which this consumer behavior is cloaked is defined by the times one lives in. And it is this flavor that marketers are after in their research. Social data gives us this flavor and data from CRM confirms campaign efforts. While the CFO says, “I would rather pay for qualified leads derived from a social CRM process than insights & trends from ongoing social monitoring,” the CMO says, “We’d like to see those insights and trends available via social business intelligence.” Both are important.


Different types of customers orient around specific archetypes, which we can associate with specific brands. Click here to see the image in a larger format. (Image: Mapping the Organizational Psyche by John G. Corlett & Carol S. Pearson, CAPT Publishers, Gainsville, FL. 2003)


Different types of customers are at various stages of considering a product/service. These stages can be associated with specific content. Click here to see the image above in a larger format. (Image: The Content Grid 2 by Jess3 and Eloqua Agencies.)

A parting question for brands and agencies: Have you matched your CRM with content-pieces organized by type of buyer? Imagine matching content within THE CONTENT GRID 2 CHART (above) with your CRM (customer database). That’s an essential and powerful action of social business intelligence.

Matching internal and external communities

A leading value of introducing listening into organizations and communities is found through matching internal identity with external contribution. What is given within often mirrors what AND where the same gift is given externally. Our customers AND our co-workers are one and the same. We learn within how to give outside.

Market Intelligence that is informed with social data from networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn yields rich insight into BOTH internal AND external communities. The conversations within the marketing or sales department are potentially at the very cutting edge of customer thought as well. The customer has called in with a complaint or a wish list item. Customer service takes this in and, ideally, submits this request to leadership in product development. The net result is a more powerful offering by the company.

Social listening software (like Radian 6 or Sysomos) AND social-network management software (like HootSuite or RightNow) allows organizations to match what customers are saying with what employees are saying. And the nexus point of these conversations is where product/service innovation occurs.

Ideally, the Director of Market Intelligence is passing findings on to department leaders: a vendor suggestion from LinkedIn to Marketing, an employee suggestion from BranchOut to HR, a customer wish list request to Product Development, a customer complaint to Customer Service, a competitor’s press release to the C-Suite. This is the value of an on-going and well organized Market Intelligence effort within an organization. And social listening software has reached a stage of sophistication and specificity that allows accurate signals to be captured by able-bodied research analysts.

An organization without a Market Intelligence function is like a butterfly without antennae. A primary function of antennae is timing. “In the case of the Monarch butterfly, it has been shown that antennae are necessary for proper time-compensated solar compass orientation during migration, that antennal clocks exist in monarchs, and that they are likely to provide the primary timing mechanism for Sun compass orientation.” (Source)

Using the butterfly analogy, an organization with even a rudimentary set of social business intelligence “listening” capabilities has a far stronger chance of finding the sweet spot in social networks and discovering what employees and customers want.