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How to Build a Better Mousetrap with Social Media
by Marsha Friedman Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:01
Ever play the game Mouse Trap? The goal is to build a contraption that’s set into motion when a player turns a crank. The crank spins gears that push a lever that smacks a boot that kicks a bucket that spills a marble that rolls down a chute, hits a pole … well, you get the idea.
In the end, it catches a mouse – if you’re lucky.
Seeing how media has evolved reminds me of Mouse Trap. Get a mention in a newspaper article and find an online link to share on Twitter. Your followers retweet it to their followers, who post it on Facebook, where someone finds it and mentions it on a talk-radio fan page and, before you know it, you’re a guest on a show!
Of course, that’s a simplified scenario with a dream outcome, but it gives you the picture.
Connecting these different platforms integrates your publicity with social media. At EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), we have Jeni Hinojosa, our Social Media Campaign Manager, turning the crank. She writes and posts blogs and comments, and tweets updates, on behalf of clients to build a large, credible following for them. I asked her to share a couple of the ways she has spread our clients’ messages and to give you a few tips for handling your own social media.
Jeni, by the way, has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a specialty in social media. She studied the “socialsphere,” how it evolved into its own subculture and how we interact with it. In short, she knows how it works – and she knows how to work it.
Here’s what she wrote:
People who casually use social media may send a few Tweets, update their Facebook status and write a weekly blog post. They connect with people whose content they’re interested in: family and friends, co-workers, fellow hobbyists, groups with shared interests or causes.
If you have serious goals, however, such as building an audience for marketing purposes, you need to do all of that and more. One strategy I use for our clients is generating “third-party conversations.” Instead of simply postingon our clients’ own social networking sites, I visit blogs, websites and fan pages of people with similar interests. I comment on their content in hopes of engaging their audience in a conversation that ultimately brings new traffic to our clients’ websites.
Here’s a for instance: We have a client whose message involves maintaining healthy romantic relationships. I found a great article on this topic and shared it with a comment on other sites. The article prompted conversations and I stayed involved in the discussion. When it seemed appropriate, I shared a link to our client’s blog. In this case, she got new followers on Facebook and Twitter through that one action.
Another strategy I use is promoting our clients when they’re featured in traditional media, such as newspapers, radio and TV, which all seem to have an online presence. We recently had a client who was also on board for our talk radio campaign. I promoted her upcoming interviews to her friends and followers. Then I visited the stations’ websites for links to their Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. I joined their networks, friended their friends, and plugged the upcoming interviews there, too, e.g. “I’m so excited to be chatting with host’s name here on Friday about topic here.”
As a result, this client made lots of new connections among the stations’ listeners.
These are all strategies anyone can use; all they require is time and imagination. To help ensure your success, here are some tips:
• Don’t over-promote yourself. That’s the No. 1 rule. People are turned off by those who seem interested only in selling a book or product. A good rule of thumb is to make sure 80 percent of your content is light, interesting, informative or fun.
• Don’t bury your followers in an avalanche of content. Limit Facebook status updates and Tweets to three or four a day.
• People new to social media often regard those with similar content as rivals or competitors. Actually, these can be your new best friends. When you promote Chef Shane's cooking blog, he’ll likely tweet about the great chocolate cake recipe on your website. Become a partner in sharing with online personalities where messages are similar to yours and you’ll soon have a vast support network.
Integrating publicity and social media takes some thinking, some effort and, as Jeni says, some creativity. But isn’t that always true when you’re trying to build a better mousetrap? And this marketing costs nothing – not with free Wi-Fi available almost everywhere you turn.
About the author
Marsha Friedman is a 23-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3:00 PM EST. Follow her on Twitter: @marshafriedman.