How to Leverage the Synergy Between Communications and Social Media

How to Leverage the Synergy Between Communications and Social Media
By Mark Simmons

Traditionally, when companies think of communications, visions of press releases, announcements and crisis management dance in their heads. Communications has mainly been used to control the situation, to get your story out before someone else does. This strategy has been and will remain an effective tactic. However, in today’s age, there’s a new angle that must be addressed. Social media has become an integral part of our lives, and now it’s a must for successful communications.

Businesses need to look at social media in a number of ways. On the one hand, social media channels act as an additional distribution vehicle for their normal communications. The beauty of social media is that content has the potential to go viral and produce tremendous ROI. It won’t happen every time, but when you hit that sweet spot, you can hit an international audience from just a few posts. The number of available tools also makes it easy to streamline distribution. Once you’ve created the content, you can schedule posts for future release and use analytics to measure results.

Social media can be used as a “listening tool.” Essentially, you can get the sentiment of the consumer population around a brand. You can accomplish this by manually searching for information about your company or you can leverage tools to do the heavy lifting. Companies like Radian6 have developed excellent tools to efficiently accomplish this task. Once you add in the particular key words you want to track, the tool will troll the web looking for any and all mentions of them. It organizes them in an easy to use fashion and decides whether they are positive, negative or neutral. Understanding this consumer sentiment is extremely valuable to a brand. Imagine having the ability to push out product information across the web, have strangers (potential customers) discuss it, and then see what they have to say. It’s the same as having a huge focus group but at a much lower cost.

Lastly, we look at measurement of results. This is a major area that gives social media a leg up on traditional communications. Not that there should be competition. Social media and communications should go hand in hand. Many companies shy away from social media because they feel it can’t be measured. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a number of tools available from companies like Google (Google Analytics) and Adobe (Adobe Social Media Suite) that will track and measure activity. It’s as simple as adding code to every piece of content you distribute. You’ll then see how many visits you’ve attracted to a website, mobile app or other destination, and more importantly, what your visitors did when they got there. You can track leads, sales, downloads and more. The biggest change you’ll need to make is ensuring that everything you do is tracked. Then you get to enjoy sifting through all of the data—something us digital marketing nerds love to do.

There’s a place for both traditional communications and new age social media in today’s business landscape. Don’t be afraid of new ideas lest you get left behind by the competition. Begin looking into how you can augment your efforts using social media, determine what channels make sense for you and start measuring everything. If this all seems like a daunting task, invest in a consultant to make sense. Whatever you do, it may be time for a change. Your bottom line will thank you.

Mark Simmons has been a digital marketing professional for over a decade. Prior to co-founding his own group, Mixed Digital, he gained his experience working for leading NYC agencies. His client roster includes SAP, Four Seasons Hotels and Wharton School of Business. Mark has a passion for digital marketing, especially mobile and social media. A graduate of Duke University, he lives with his wife and daughter in Durham, NC. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter (@markfsimmons) or