Soon after launching our Social Content Integration practice, our Baltimore PR firm began getting some great media attention and requests to speak about social media, most recently to a room full of directors at the American Red Cross of Central Maryland, followed by a briefing for the chapter’s PR Advisory Committee earlier this week.
We’re always willing to take the show on the road, so keep those requests coming in, but in the interest of sharing and using social media the way it’s meant to be used, here’s what we’re telling people:
#1 – Sign up for an RSS feed (I use My Yahoo!) so you can receive updates from thought-leaders and others in the industry you’d like to follow. Just experiment, learn and explore. If that’s all you get out of this presentation, it’s enough for now. And it’s free. Here’s a great video clip from Common Craft on what “our friend, the RSS reader” is all about.
#2 – Read blogs relevant to your industry, using your new RSS reader (now that you know what one is). Ask others who they follow and when you find bloggers you like, check out their blog rolls (a blogger’s list of their favorite blogs in the sidebar of their blog) to find out who they follow. Mix it up. When you get bored of some, find others and keep building and tweaking your list. Hint: when you are on a site you like, click on the orange icon (see image above) and it will help you subscribe to that site’s RSS feed.
#3 – Become familiar and get involved with social networking sites. Begin with LinkedIn and Facebook (where you’ll be surprised at all the relevant sub-groups worth joining and tracking). Sign up even if you don’t understand why you should join; a lot of these social media applications don’t make a lot of sense at the beginning and new applications and uses are always being added, so being part of the network now puts you at a much greater advantage.
#4 – For you PR people, understand how the traditional media are changing and embracing social media. Look for and learn about topics such as the social media news release, connect with reporters who are blogging (great entry points for PR professionals) and find out how you can fulfill your local newspaper’s multi-media needs. We’ve had great successes locally with The Sun.
#5 – Finally, explore and learn by signing up for webinars, listening to podcasts, learning what a widget is, what a wiki is, how people are sharing and commenting on pictures with Flickr, what Twitter is, how organizations are using YouTube channels, etc. This might sound confusing today, but tackle one new element at a time and pretty soon you’ll catch up.
This list is very basic and I know some of the veterans’ eyes are rolling, but we’re here early in the social media game and it’s certainly not too late to join. If you do nothing else after reading this, sign up for an RSS reader to begin your journey.