On July 8, I represented The Heartland Institute at The Publicity Club of Chicago’s (PCC) luncheon on Strategies for Creating Engaging Social Content. PCC is the United States’ largest independent public relations membership organization and consists of Chicago-area professionals. I met people working at the communications departments at the University of Chicago and Depaul University and Market Day.
We were first treated to a scrumptious Maggiano’s lunch served Italian family style. As we ate, the speakers introduced themselves. Katy Lynch, CEO of Techweek and cofounder of SocialKaty, Inc, moderated the event by asking panelists questions before fielding audience queries. The panelists were Jason Miller, vice president of FleishmanHillard Chicago; Katie Eng, director of planning at PACO Communications; Brad Boron, digital director at The Chicago White Sox; and Patrick Cuttica, product marketing manager at Sprout Social, Inc.
The panelists first addressed how to generate high amounts of social activity. Miller stressed the importance of understanding the audience and constantly changing nature of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. Cuttica underscored the need for companies to highlight the cultural relevance of their brands to different demographic groups. He added that it is crucial for them to understand and capitalize on their consumers’ relationship with their brands.
For Cuttica, genuine interaction with consumers is king.
“Organic engagement will always win,” he said.
That extends to social media crisis management. Responding too quickly or harshly to a problem can make it balloon on forums like Reddit and cause unnecessary harm.
“Responding immediately is often seen as inauthentic,” said Eng, adding companies should grow thick skin and not make a habit out of moderating negative comments.
Boron, who previously worked with the Chicago Blackhawks, helped the team be the first in the National Hockey League to have a Twitter account and recorded interactions between its players on team buses. Later, he helped record a 105 year-old White Sox fan first time on the pitch. Boron’s teams combined visual and verbal graphics to show their players’ human side and expand their social media outreach.
Humans process visual information up to 60,000 faster than words. When the panelists were asked about the value of video, photos, and infographics in their work, they said visual media is an entry point for viewers and should complement written content.
When asked about using analytics to measure return on investment (ROI), Boron stressed that return on relationship (ROR) is a better metric for quantifying social media success. ROI is measured in likes, comments, and shares, but ROR is measured by loyalty, conversations, and response rates. Different sets of metrics should be used for analyzing broadcasting and recruiting campaigns, Miller added.
Other topics addressed included how to use celebrities to promote company brands, the emergence of the cell phone, and how to tailor material to different generations.
Boron concluded social media is a vital part of every business and is here to stay.
“Social media now has a seat at the table,” he said.