Facebook pages and online newsrooms are inherently unique communications channels, but they can be used together effectively. Facebook is a great place to “socialize” your brand. But it’s the wrong place to steward your organization’s public record. Here’s why:
Credibility – Your website is the only corporate communications channel *more* credible than a press release on a paid wire service, according to a study [PDF] by PR Week and PR Newswire. If it lives on your website, people are confident that it really comes from you. On a third-party site, the source can be questionable. It could be an unofficial page established by the community, rather than the official company line.
Conversion Leaks – Effective online communications are not just about getting the message out. They’re about leveraging information to drive measurable transactions. And it’s far more difficult to convert awareness into a measurable transaction on a third-party site. On your site, you control the user experience.
Check out this screenshot of the online newsroom iPressroom built for the LA Opera.
The podcast lives on their *own* site, increasing the likelihood that a listener can be converted to ticket holder. On a third party site, best practices like this are impossible. Furthermore, with newspapers and magazines going belly up weekly, using podcasts to drive traffic reinvents the value of PR against clicks instead of clicks, a strategically wise move as the influence of the fourth estate wanes.
Measurable Transactions – As you wade through the waters of online communications, ask yourself, “If my online PR efforts are successful, what measurable transaction will occur?” In this scenario, just getting the word out or building buzz isn’t enough. You have to actually define what impact that buzz will have on your bottom line.
Which is what makes online communications so liberating for PR professionals. For the first time, you’re not dependent on the news media to achieve results.
There’s no way to draw a straight line between a print news placement and sales, but if someone clicks through your Facebook page to your website and converts, there is. Think about how you’re going to leverage social media to engage constituents, generate word of mouth and build awareness. If they discover your website through those channels and click through, what measurable transaction will occur? Here are some realistic objectives:
Think of social media as the bread crumbs that lead the right people to your organization. These are the stepping stones that let you make your web presence discoverable, and they can be a powerful alternative to shotgun, interruption tactics like email blasts or wire releases. Here’s my social media channel map, to give you a visual on the steeping stones to choose from:
Each channel has its own unique characteristics and benefits. Facebook is where people discover and connect. So use your Facebook page to solidify your existing relationships, make new friends and participate in conversations that matter to your constituents. Use your Facebook page to socialize your brand.
Your own website, in the other hand, is where conversion activities will most likely occur. If you’re in public relations, this is where you can drive conversions through original content, like press releases, feature stories, blog posts, images and video. And more likely than not, that information will be hosted in the online newsroom section of your corporate site.
If you are interested in leveraging social networks for organizational communications, Facebook recently changed their page offerings for brands and business with enhanced functionality that lets organization engage more socially online. If you’re looking to strategically leverage Facebook for organizational communications, C.C. Chapman’s Advance Guard new media consultancy has a free white paper you should definitely check out.
If you’re in PR, corporate communications or marketing, what do you think? For organizational communications, is social media a means to an end, or an end itself?
Stepping Stones Photo by Paul Stevenson