Nearly 350 PR practitioners gathered to hear tactical advice for maximizing their Facebook efforts at PR News' sold-out Facebook Conference, held Tuesday, May 24, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.
The daylong event covered topics ranging from how to get people to "like" your brand to mastering Facebook's latest features and fielding a Facebook dream team.
"Facebook is the most powerful marketing communications tool there is," said Greg Roth, VP of Buddy Media University. "Facebook has had faster marketing buy-in than any other tool in the world, and on average people spend up to 50 minutes per day on it." Roth, who shared "9 Secret PR Weapons of Facebook," went on to discuss Facebook's EdgeRank system, an algorithm that uses a multitude of factors to aggregate the content that a person sees on their Facebook news feed. "You need to learn how to pack on the pounds to make your posts carry weight in the feed," advised Roth.
"Once you turn on the spigot of engagement, you can't turn it off," said Jason Winocour, social and digital media practice leader/agency partner at Hunter Public Relations, in the opening session, "The Do's and Don'ts of Using Facebook as a PR Tool." "Once you obtain followers, you have to offer them quality content that's useful, entertaining and engaging."
While many speakers noted that an integrated company approach to Facebook is optimal, Fleishman-Hillard VP Paul Dalessio asserted that PR's role in social media is key. "Public relations is the glue that ties everything together between the different business units," said Dalessio. "Collaboration needs to go across the business units to build a robust experience."
Maria Baugh, co-owner of small business Butter Lane Cupcakes said that the most important element of all Facebook communications is authenticity. "Be genuine and real," she said. "People can tell from a mile away when you're not being real on Facebook. Baugh also said that she suspects that her company might not have survived without its early activity on Facebook, which helped generate a base of customers for her cupcakes. Citibank's Frank Eliason sounded a similar note, saying that "social media is a very personal space and demands passion for a particular brand."
In his keynote address, Geoff Livingston, co-founder of Zoetica and author of the new book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate, offered tips on setting a Facebook strategy to leverage the platform's key features, set the right metrics and avoid common pitfalls.
"Measurement is the key to sustainability for your Facebook efforts, and you must invest in where your community is going," Livingston said.
Click here to view photos from the event on our Facebook page.