PR News Q&A with Jason Falls: Business Strategy Comes First, Then the Tweets

Jason Falls

At this very moment, your brand or client is being discussed on Twitter and other social media platforms – with or without you. In this Q&A, Jason Falls, CEO of Social Media Examiner, and co-author of the just-published No B.S. Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing, shares his insights into why PR professionals must join the conversation on Twitter and how this can drive business for their organizations. He will expand on this theme in his keynote address, "The No B.S. Guide to Twitter: How Defining Your Purpose Helps Guide Your Success on Twitter and Social Media," at PR News’ Twitter Conference on November 10 in Las Vegas.

PR News: What are organizations most afraid of when it comes to social media?

Jason Falls: By and large the biggest fears lie in the unknown. They don't think they know how to communicate on social channels (they actually know how, but think there's some great mystery to it) and they don't know that company policies apply online as well as off. Companies are afraid that real-time conversations will back them into a corner, as if consumers are out to get them. They fear conversations because they now fall into the realm of "marketing communications," which in many industries has always had to be approved by marketing, legal, etc. The real-time responsiveness social media requires baffles companies with layers of approvals. Nimbleness is not their strong suit.

The second area companies seem to be most afraid of is rogue employees letting out trade secrets or expressing their opinion of something the company does in a negative way. If you have a company code of ethics or employee handbook that addresses these issues in the offline world, all you have to do is add, "and online," a few times and you're set.

PR News: What is a common misstep when it comes to social media?

Falls: The most common mistake companies make is diving into it without a strategic purpose. They set up blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts thinking they'll play and learn as they go along. You can certainly do that, but why not do a bit more homework, figure out what social media marketing can do for your business, decide what you want it to do for your business and set some goals?
PR News: How can communicators best prove the need for investment in social media activity to senior management?

Falls: Do a Google or Twitter search for your company or brand name, a competitor or some phrases your prospective customers might use when saying they're in need of your product. Chances are you'll find someone talking bad about you, someone talking good or bad about your competitors or someone saying they need someone like you. All of these are opportunities to win customers. If you're not using social media, you're missing every single one of them.
PR News: What do you hope attendees will take away from your keynote presentation at the November 10 Twitter Conference?

Falls: I hope people understand that joining the conversation and engaging your audience is all well and good, and we can have a lot of fun doing it. If you're not using channels for strategic business purposes and measuring them accordingly, you're never going to be happy with what you get out of them. And that goes for Twitter or any other social media platform.

Attend PR News’ Twitter Conference on November 10 in Las Vegas and hear more from social media leaders like Jason Falls.