While everyone can argue the value of social media, there are places where you simply have to be online to be “present” – to capture earned media through traditional or non-traditional PR avenues and to make sure you leverage the value of the tools you are using.

By not taking advantage of affordable, quick and easy tools to use for building brand and profile, you do your brand a disservice.

Quick example – A client recently frustrated by a self-proclaimed social media expert to pull in visitors to targeted events in the Midwest found she was spending huge amounts of billable hours with no results.

So we turned to Facebook, creating a Facebook ad, targeted to the right time, right content and a small budget, and landed more than 300 people for a one-hour event.

But we also layered traditional media (advisories to local media that resulted in a photo gallery of the event being placed online), hit bloggers with notices and cross-posts, and used a Twitter monitor tool to find people posting in real time conversation in the hours preceding the event.

Finding the right audience to carry and deliver your message equates to outstanding results—if it’s the right audience.

And most of us are online in some form or fashion. The average number of “friends” a woman has on networking sites is 140 while men average 180. Nielsen continues to report that Facebook still rules, with 109.7 million unique visitors in one month (November data).

We conducted a survey for a national association client and its affiliated members and found they were all primarily using Facebook to quickly reach hundreds of thousands of members, second only to Twitter.

And don’t forget that more and more traditional journalists are going online as well to find expert sources, resources and background information—which could be you.

A national survey, conducted by Cision and Don Bates of The George Washington University, found that an overwhelming majority of reporters and editors now depend on social media sources when researching their stories.

Among the journalists surveyed, 89 percent said they turn to blogs for story research, 65 percent to social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and 52 percent to microblogging services such as Twitter. The survey also found that 61 percent use Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia.

Most journalists said that social media were important or somewhat important for reporting and producing the stories they wrote.

Also interesting to note is that PR professionals are still considered relatively important in the mix. According to the survey, most journalists also still turn to public relations professionals for assistance in their primary research:

  • 44 percent of editors and reporters surveyed said they depend on PR professionals for “interviews and access to sources and experts”
  • 23 percent for “answers to questions and targeted information”
  • 17 percent for “perspective, information in context, and background information”

When in doubt, try a tactic to see if it works. If it doesn’t, move on to a meaningful and measurable tactic that does.

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