Your Brand’s Identity and Mission Determines Your Social Media Strategy

Telfer_Jana_cropIt doesn’t matter if you’re a major global brand or a local mom and pop, social media can offer several  benefits for your brand. Regardless of the size of your company, the content strategy implemented within the social space requires more than a cookie-cutter approach.

Content is key to a valid social strategy, but figuring it out can be tough. Jana Telfer, associate director for communication science for the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and speaker at PR News’ Digital PR Summit on Oct. 16, shared some tips on how the CDC leverages content on Twitter.

PR News: How do you ensure your dedicated followers are seeing your content on a platform like Twitter?

Jana Telfer: Twitter is just one part of an integrated digital strategy for CDC and for the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. We provide messages in multiple formats—such as our Your Environment/Your Health blog, Facebook—to give our audiences different ways to interact with the content, based on their level of engagement and preferred channel. We know our Twitter messages are working when we see the content retweeted or when we see a tweet-related spike in Web traffic to the highlighted feature.

PR News:  How often should a brand or organization  post content on Twitter, and what should the content mix be?

Telfer:  As with bathing suits, we don’t believe one size fits all for Twitter. And many styles can be appropriate—depending on the needs of the organization and its function in society. The business objectives for a consumer products firm are likely substantially different from those of a federal public health agency, thus frequency and content mix also are likely to differ.  Typically, CDC’s environmental health programs post about three tweets a day.

We’ve determined that unless an environmental event is occurring, more than that becomes intrusive. But when an event like Superstorm Sandy occurs, we post much more frequently and respond as the evolution of the event indicates. By contrast, when a national tragedy occurs, we’ll send an empathetic message and then go dormant for 24 hours. Whatever the content, it has to be relevant from the audience perspective to be effective.

PR News: People are always offering advice on what to do on Twitter; can you flip that and tell our readers what not to do on Twitter?

Telfer: Unless you’re a bona fide celebrity, Twitter, like any other communication channel, is about the audience more than the tweeting organization. Simply stated, think before you tweet.  This doesn’t mean you can’t use humor or key off emerging trends, but—especially for organizations that hold a public trust—it’s important to understand how you connect to that trend and how your audience is likely to perceive your message. With that in mind, some of the big “don’ts” for our practice include:

  • Don’t make it “all about me.” Always think about the benefit to the audience and how you can get them to connect.
  • Don’t be gratuitous. We all have way too much information coming to us at all times; we don’t want to lose followers or have them wish they could TiVo through our spam.
  • Don’t bore your followers. We should contribute to the conversation in ways that matters.

To learn more from Jana Telfer during her session: "Get Your Messages in Front of the Right Followers on Twitter," register for PR News' October 16 Digital PR Summit, which will take place at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.

Follow Caysey Welton: @CayseyW