PR News Q&A: Adam Singer on Taking a Holistic Approach With Facebook

Adam Singer

While many PR professionals wrestle with developing an engaging, brand building Facebook strategy, Adam Singer, social media practice director for LEWIS PR, believes the rules of Facebook are the same for any PR platform. Singer will discuss staffing, employee guidelines, social media workflow and more at PR News’ Facebook Conference on August 9 in San Francisco. Singer, along with Southwest Airlines’ Christi McNeill and Frost & Sullivan’s Jake Wengroff, will speak on the panel “Facebook Team Building Across the PR, Marketing, Sales (and More) Functions.”

PR News: What are the essential components of an effective, successful social media team?  

Adam Singer: At its core, the team should be modern communications professionals. It's not so much about skills in social media specifically because all communicators should understand social by now. That is a basic requirement of success in the world of communications for today and tomorrow.

But it actually goes beyond social: communications pros need to view the Web holistically. Fluency with everything from what is possible in Web application development, to strong writing, to branding campaigns, to working in modern CMS platforms, to SEO, to analytics/data analysis, to getting your communications themselves to spread to relationship building and everything in between, are requirements.

From a team perspective, it’s just like anything else: the team members need to be able to work together fluently, efficiently and creatively. They should be comfortable working in project management systems (as opposed to e-mail, which is clunky and inefficient) and focused on agile execution.

PR News: Do you recommend that brands have a social media policy in place? If so, what are the key parameters of a social media policy?

Singer: Of course, that’s standard operating procedure for engaging in social for every brand, large or small. It is risky for any company to engage in an open dialogue without having some sort of guidelines for participation. This helps set expectations with a community, but also offers protection for the brand, who can clearly state up front what is and is not acceptable as part of discussions.

The key parameters are ensuring clarity for both internal team members and the social Web on what is appropriate as part of social participation. It should also not be an overly complicated legal document, rather something everyone can understand.

PR News: For small businesses or nonprofits with limited staffs, how much time should they dedicate to Facebook and social media initiatives?
Singer: As with any company with limited resources (from a time or revenue standpoint) decisions about what social tactics to participate in should be done thoughtfully. It is impossible to say definitively if one organization should participate in Facebook or any specific channels without understanding their audience and the organization’s objectives.

That’s the key: Start by conducting research and learn where target audiences are spending time. Once that is understood, work out a strategy and tactics designed to connect with that audience and accomplish objectives.

For a small business, a surgical approach is likely the smartest. It might make sense to nurture relationships and publish content in specific channels that provide the greatest returns. Companies with fewer resources should take great care to understand this first and not flirt from platform to platform, but be confident in an approach to see it through.

PR News: What's one key tip you'll give to our audience at PR News' Facebook Conference?

Singer: In essence, that the Web is holistic and to rely too heavily on any one (even very popular) platform such as Facebook or Twitter is shortsighted. Live by Facebook and Twitter, die by Facebook and Twitter. Rather, take a platform agnostic approach to your digital communications and ensure your brand is findable across all relevant channels and networks.

Organize in a model that creates efficiencies for relationship building, content distribution and tracking success. Iterate and refine as you go and be flexible enough to shift strategies as opportunities come up.

Attend PR News’ Facebook Conference on August 9 in San Francisco and learn more from experts like Adam Singer.