by Jonathan Haile
Some time ago, I was given a question on a test that I can’t recite, verbatim, but went something like, “How do public relations professionals convince members of the C-suite that social media is valuable?” The idea behind the question, I have to assume, is that while social media is valuable in getting audiences to embrace and share content, it doesn’t necessarily equal sales, profits, or return on investment.
This is another example of what has PR pros in a bit of a rut. Whereas, marketing professionals and advertisers have hard data they use to evaluate their work, creating and maintaining relationships don’t always have numbers that can be associated with them. A company’s bottom line is the most important thing and without hard data or facts, the social media pro can get lost in the fold.
That was then. This is now.
We have to thank technology for making things so much easier in many ways, but technology offers the PR pro new powers. It can change soft data into hard, quantifiable data, and ultimately makes the PR pro more valuable. Here are some examples:
Public Relations students at the University of Central Missouri have the advantage of training with Vocus to create media contact lists. I can tell you from experience, it is nice to have the world’s media information at my finger tips, but like many other students, I didn’t know about all the benefits of Vocus beyond its media list capabilities until I investigated further.
Vocus can monitor conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. It uses what is called the “Recommendation Engine” to seek out key influencers, the opinion leaders who companies want to interact with online. It monitors conversations in such a way that if a campaign is embraced by the public in New York and Boston but lacking in Philadelphia, the PR pro will have statistics and data that will help them adjust the campaign accordingly. These are just a few things Vocus can do.
Not far from UCM, one of Kansas City’s fast-growing companies is Spiral16. Its software, similar to Vocus, gives the user or the company “Actionable Analytics” reports from conversations found on social media networks. These customizable reports are client-specific, and they even take into consideration what competitors are doing and saying, giving companies an edge. Using this kind of software takes some training, and Spiral16 helps its clients reach the its full potential with webinars and training sessions.
Originally from Belgium, Engagor recently made a new home in San Francisco. Much like Vocus and Spiral16, Engagor monitors conversations on social media, creates analytics reports for clients, and allows them to manage content for social media pages, much like Hootsuite.
Google searches are popular; I think most people would agree. Every time someone searches for something on Google, advertisements related to the search will pop up on the top, right side, or bottom of the page. Online marketers bid on their ads, and ad placement is a combination of the bid price, strength of the certain keywords, and a few other things.
Get to know this software if you have the opportunity.
Chances are, you might not have access to Vocus, Spiral16, or Engagor, but Google AdWords is available and certification can give you an advantage in online marketing. Even so, try to understand the purpose behind the other three products. If you can find example analytics reports, get to know them. Understand why they’re valuable. In some cases they’re expensive to use, but maybe you can prove to the C-suite why they should make the investment. There are many other examples of software with these capabilities, but I’ll allow you to do the further digging.