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Social Media Marketing with Rachel Happe at the PRSA Digital Impact Conference 2009

Coming up to speed on social media communications can be really overwhelming, because in addition to learning new tools and concepts, you have to learn a whole new language as well.

I always feel a little guilty when I blurt out “Google your top three keywords, pull RSS feeds for those queries in Google News and Google Blog Search, add them as subscriptions to Google Reader, share worthwhile items, synchronize your Google Reader with your Friendfeed and Tweet out interesting articles to your followers.” The response I get back, particularly when I’m teaching a New Media PR Boot Camp, is one of either uncertainty or fear.

According to Korn Ferry EVP Don Spetner, who’s firm searches for executive job candidates to fill senior level communications posts at multibillion dollar organizations, you need to be fluent at social media communications, but you need to know how to read a balance sheet as well.

But when I work with executives on how to integrate social media communications into organizational communications, after the initial excitement and fascination with these emerging channels subsides, the realization sets in that social media is labor intensive, and that it’s not something they can do in their spare time.

One of the ways of coping with the fear of scope creep that a tour through the whole wired world usually provokes, is by acknowledging that social media communications tasks need to be distributed across various departments, rather than owned entirely by PR, corporate communications and marketing.

Rachel Happe just finished a session addressing functional strategies for integrating social media communications across the organization at the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in NYC (#PRSAdi) and she says social media is like the traffic in India:

  • Social media is self organizing, like the way traffic flows on the streets in India. It’s takes an army to organize chaos. One traffic cop won’t do.
  • In India, cows stop traffic in the streets. But people just move around them, because they’re sacred.
  • No insurance for drivers in India. You might get hurt, but you have to work it out and move on.
  • Suspend your disbelief. It looks like it won’t work out, but some how it always does, whether you participate or not.

What you need to do:

  • Find your informal voice. Learn to interact informally with your customers.
  • Be as responsive to your customers as their friends are to them.
  • Try driving in India. Practice these processes internally before moving externally.

Brian Solis keynoted this morning about “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” Marketing Over Coffee hosts Christopher S. Penn and John Wall did session on using Social Media PR and UK-based social media researcher Tom Smith, who authored “When Did We Start Trusting Strangers [PDF]” when he was at Universal McCann presented hard numbers on global adoption rates by new media channel.

All these sessions will be available as podcasts in the coming weeks and you can stream them online, or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

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