Putting the Social Back into Social Media

Being a ‘remote’ member of the Keene team, I’m not always the first person you’ll see at networking events.  Which is why the opportunity to network via social media channels should be a god send.  But until fairly recently I’ve remained surprisingly resistant to embracing this medium, suspicious of people who feel the need to resort to Twitter when they’re in a room full of friends.  Always seemed pretty anti-social to me.

I wouldn’t say I’m now addicted, far from it, but I do acknowledge the buzz of having someone comment on your Facebook status or retweet your musings to the twittersphere at large.

Working from home, I can check social media whenever I want.  But surprisingly there’s even less hours in the day now I’m not office bound.

Since I was last full time in an office the days when employees had to conduct their social networking on the sly are gone.  Savvy employers now actively encourage staff to spend time on (the company’s) Facebook and Twitter…all in the name of positive PR.  Who after all is better placed to promote an organisation than the people at the coal face, so to speak.

Of course, numerous bigger enterprises now employ dedicated social media minions.  You’re far more likely to elicit a prompt response from companies by giving them a mention on Twitter.  Having trouble with your mobile phone provider?  Tweet about it.  Can’t get through on the customer services line?  Just tweet.

One of my favourite examples of the power of Twitter comes from a friend who tweeted prior to embarking on three months of alcohol abstinence, “and thus with this final sip of Jura whisky 3 months of sobriety begins”.  The clever tweeps at Jura responded instantly, which he retweeted:

Anyone else’s booze tweet them or am i going mad?! RT @jura_whisky: @gprizzle149 Any reason for the three month whisky famine?

I recently attended an SEO and social media training day with Mark Hodson (http://www.markhodson.net/  http://www.travel-seo.co.uk/# ).  He talked about Twitter in terms of ‘the water cooler’ effect.  With more journalists and bloggers (and even PRs) working from home it’s a great platform for replacing the traditional office exchange of news and gossip.

Ultimately, Twitter is a great way for journalists, bloggers and PRs to get to know each other.  And dare I say, forge and build relationships (sound a bit like what PR’s meant to be all about?).  Travelling Tweeters can take a leaf out of Paul Steele (aka the Bald Hiker)’s book – he uses travel as an opportunity to meet up with fellow tweeps.

It’s undoubtedly the first place you’ll hear breaking news and trends.  You may even pick up a great deal, and you’ll definitely refresh your joke repertoire.  The joy of connecting with other people, of listening, responding and being part of a wider community, there’s something inherently sociable about that…and if it leads to a cold beer with a like-minded individual on your travels, even better.

Our guest blogger Samantha Kirton is a freelance PR and runs her own agency Dart PR www.dartpr.co.uk.

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