Every once in awhile you attend a business event and the wisdom is flying so fast, you can barely keep up. That was definitely the case Tuesday when PR and social media guru Peter Shankman spoke in Green Bay as part of Northeast Wisconsin Public Relations Society Association’s 10th anniversary event.
Shankman, who first gained attention hawking T-shirts in Times Square making fun of the movie Titanic, started the website Help A Reporter Out (HARO), appears frequently on cable news stations sharing his PR related thoughts on this or that and has written several books.
As for people who think social media is going away, Shankman laughs. “Social media isn’t life changing; it’s just part of life,” he says. “For businesses, I have news for you – you don’t control the future of your company. Your audience and customers do.”
To help better connect with customers using social media, Shankman offers the following four tips:
1) Transparency rules. Today, information is everywhere. “Come clean before the news hits,” he says. “Use social media to get in front of any potential problems.”
2) There are so many ways people can receive information – radio, newspapers, TV, Facebook, websites, blogs, podcasts, etc. – so it’s essential you connect with you audience and find out how they want their information delivered. Then, take that advice and act on it.
3) Brevity rules. Consumers have changed a lot in recent years, Shankman points out. Attention spans have gotten shorter – a lot shorter. How long can you capture someone’s attention? “About 144 characters long,” he says.
4) Be top of mind. “When you’re doing social media, remember it’s not about me, it’s about them. We talk to less than 1 percent of our network (on Facebook). Make sure you’re reaching out to people. If you’re relevant to people, it can only benefit you.”
One easy way Shankman suggests being relative is by looking at the birthday list on Facebook every day and post a personal greeting on their wall. “Also, before you tweet or post something, think about the retweet value of it. Will anyone care about it besides me?”
Right now, social media users have a lot of choices – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace (there are still a few fans out there) and other platforms – but Shankman foresees a time when Facebook and Google blend together, creating an experience unique to each user. At that point, using Shankman’s four techniques will be a must.
Shankman got me excited again about social media and reinforced the importance of making sure the connections I make on Twitter and Facebook are ones I keep up with.
–By MaryBeth Matzek