Social Media – Where’s the beef?

It’s been a very busy social media week in LA.  On Tuesday I went to the North American Journeys Summit for DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations.) On Thursday I went over to Hollywood  to speak at the Entertainment Publicists breakfast workshop on social media and then hared back to Pasadena for Social Media Club,  San Gabriel Valley.

One thing I’ve been hearing and reading this week is that while you might have been experimenting with social media in 2008, and those who were ahead of the curve were implementing it in 2009, it’s no longer a differentiator: social media is now an essential part of your marketing and PR mix.

Based on today’s ever-changing marketplace, companies can no longer rely on issuing information to the media in hopes that they share their stories with the public.  A recent prediction from Forrester Research is that within two years half of all US newspapers will have ceased production.

That does seem impossible.  But then again five years ago no one believed that the newspaper business would ever get into the state it is now.

To reach your audience now you have to start telling your stories directly, in multiple channels, and do it in a way that sparks positive conversations.  Simply establishing a presence in social media is no longer enough.

Another constant question I hear at events is  – What’s the value of social media?  What’s the ROI? There are conversations going on every day that could materially affect your business. You need to know what they are and where they take place.  And unless you participate in these conversations you have no hope of influencing the tone and content of the discussion.  Here are 3 case studies that show results.

What you should be thinking about is how to participate in conversations that shape perceptions about your company, brand, product or service.

I am moderating a panel on PR, social media and search at the OMS/SES event in San Diego next week. The panelists are:

Dana Todd, Newsforce

Rand Fishkin, SEO Moz

Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing

David Klein, Purpose Inc

The data they’ll  be presenting aligns perfectly with the need to get strategic in 2010 and incorporate these three disciplines – PR, social and search –  into your marketing mix.

See you there.

Image Credit:  Haiko on Flickr

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