Social Media Overload? Focus on Your Audience, Not the Tools

During Internet Week in New York, I attended a presentation that drove home the point that communicators are overloaded with social media options and sinking under the weight of an endless flow of data. Up on the video screen a chart displayed dozens of interconnected logos—each one representing a hot, formerly hot and soon-to-be-hot digital channel.

“Does this represent your typical workday and the choices you have to make?” the speaker asked.

You could feel the air leave the room—not that there was much to begin with on that muggy New York evening—and sense people slumping in their chairs. Yes, it did represent their typical workday.

It’s all too much, sometimes: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr—and whatever else is next—on top of more quaint but still necessary channels like email, news releases and Web sites. How can a PR professional manage it all and show proof that the time invested in each platform is paying off on the bottom line?

One solution is to first admit to yourself that you can’t possibly do it all and to work with an outside agency that can help you manage your social engagement programs. Such an agency can provide you with the data you need to figure out what’s working, what isn’t and what to report to senior leaders in your organization. By doing so you can spend more time being creative with your overall communications strategies and less time jumping from browser window to browser window, app to app—racing, racing, racing to monitor comments and pin, tweet, post, shoot, edit and wade through mountains and mountains of data.

Working with outside experts isn’t always an option, though. As we’ve heard from top digital communicators—some of whom will be leading sessions at PR News’ June 21-22 Social Media Summit in New York—focusing less on the various modes of communication and more on the proclivities of your target audience will help you learn where to spend your time and energy. Maybe your audience has drifted to Pinterest and maybe you’ve been sitting on a storehouse of images that they will want to repin. Maybe immersing yourself in Twitter is all that’s necessary at the moment. Go where they live online, and commit to the process of finding your own voice.

And when that next, hot platform launches, remind yourself that you have no power to halt technology’s march and that you can’t possibly do it all. And then tell yourself that you can do some things very, very well.

—Steve Goldstein

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI 

  • Michael Stinson

    Finally! A reminder to marketing & communications professionals to apply strategy (and common sense) to navigate the sea of blogs, social networks and other online media. Thank you, Steve.

    The target audience and key message(s) drive media selection. This was true with commercial print, followed by radio, then television. The difference is, social media’s adoption rate is WAY faster, and there are A LOT more “channels”. The target audience is changing to… they’re no longer just local or regional or national; it’s global, so it’s bigger and more segmented. The key message may have to be modified to resonate with the target segments. Media selection is determined by how best to reach target segments, and whether the media help the message resonate.

  • William Madaras

    Do you remember when there were 100 PC magazines? We are now in the same boat with way too many social media options that take too much time and energy. Pick 3-5 that work for you and simple forget the rest. They will be gone soon and you will have generated the same results anyway.

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