Horn Group has been recognized as an agency that "gets it" when it comes to developing a social media strategy for our clients. However, as a PR professional, I’ve recently been thinking about how to develop a social media strategy for ourselves as well.
It’s easy to identify the benefits of growing a personal "brand" online. You’re a visible part of "the conversation," and can be present in a way that you couldn’t necessarily be in the real world. You can directly correspond with people all over the world on common interests and develop relationships. You may even be recognized for relevant tweets (like our very own Martha Feingold).
But, I have to raise the question, how much social media is too much? Should I connect with journalists, clients, coworkers, etc. on all social media platforms? Does my client care if I have a blog, 1,500 friends on Facebook or a robust list of followers on Twitter? And of course, we all sometimes think “what if a client or journalist doesn’t agree with something I post?” Part of the beauty of social media is that it allows you to transparently express your opinions, but when our personal and professional networks intertwine, how do we prepare ourselves to adequately monitor our thoughts and possibly defend them to others?
And, in terms of frequency, how does one walk the tight rope between participation and saturation? Being involved for the wrong reasons is just as, if not more, risky to your personal brand as not being involved at all. No one can afford to become solely @techPRperson (disclaimer: as of 3/05 this Twitter name does not exist) to clients and the media.
On the flip side, would you as a client trust a member of your PR team to sufficiently construct a campaign who didn’t have a personal Twitter or Facebook account for themselves? If you’re not involved in social media personally, how can you guarantee you’ll be able to counsel your clients on best practices professionally?
As with most things, social media is a matter of balance. Here are some tips I’ve found interesting and helpful in building your personal social media campaign:
- Check it…your post, I mean. Our own Joe Ciarallo said the other day that his rule of thumb when it comes to social media is to make sure anything you publish you’d feel comfortable knowing it will be read by your boss, your clients and your mother. This obviously includes anything on Facebook, MySpace or any other social networking site that can be accessed by coworkers, clients and the media. Take a minute before posting something to make sure what you’re writing is something you could say in both the personal and professional realms.
- Tweet and Talk. Be in “the conversation” but don’t forget to have actual conversations, out loud, with people. We sit behind our desks all day and human interaction most commonly comes in the form of email. Not good. Traditional phone and in-person conversations with clients, coworkers and journalists should always have a place in PR (and life).
- Consider establishing boundaries. I think it’s important that social media continue to breed an open environment for the sharing of thoughts and self-expression, but perhaps putting a framework around how you use social media tools is useful. For instance, one might use, Facebook for friends and personal contacts, LinkedIn for clients and coworkers, and Twitter for the masses. Of course, the lines are always blurring, but you get the idea.
- Beware of the Backlash. It seems like there are just as many Facebook and Twitter haters as there are adoring fans (especially given Facebook’s recent privacy issues). Being social in the real world might not translate for people in the Web world (or vice versa).