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August 10, 2010
Getting Real With Social Media
For any who doubt that social media is a fast-growing branch of public relations, we offer Maria Ogneva's discussion of "10 Steps for Successful Social Media Monitoring" on Mashable. Intentionally or not, Ogneva 's post follows the disciplined approach to public relations planning laid out by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) -- starting with defining the problem (how do we monitor social media to best effect?) and the goals and objectives to be realized from doing so. 

Definitely, if you're a business user, social media sites are not for casual visiting. A lot of time can be wasted that way, but starting out Ogneva's way, by defining an objective, is another matter entirely.

"Why are you monitoring?" she asks. "You need to have a clear goal in mind."

She proceeds to lists five specific ones, and they're just to get you started thinking about what your aims might be. Are you monitoring to see who's talking about what, or who's talking about your business specifically, or who you can relate to enter a promising conversation?

Like any disciplined process, there are nuances about doing social media intentionally that can make a big difference in terms of desired results, but you first need to be clear on the results you desire -- or at least your willingness to learn what can open up out there. 

Social media will definitely keep an assigned staffer at his or her keyboard, rather than working the phones, pounding pavement, or holding on-site meetings with clients. But those erstwhile activities are likely to result from disciplined keyboard work over time. Patience pays, if you have the time to be patient. The nice thing about disciplined PR planning is that it gives patience purpose.

Ogneva 's nine other steps:

• Decide where to monitor.
• Decide what to monitor.
• Prioritize.
• Develop a plan.
• Involve others.
• Listen first.
• Inbound versus outbound conversations.
• Build relationships.
• Select tools that match your strategy.

Ogneva has good things to say in each of these areas, but if you've taken PRSA's accreditation training and are used to using its planning process, you'll be familiar -- and nod in agreement -- with what she's proposing to get results from involvement in social media. It's all about getting real with the new tools available to relate to potential influencers and customers.  

A post like Ogneva's shows why the Web can be such a terrific teaching, and learning, tool.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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