Don’t be a Social Media Streaker

StreakerI had a really interesting time on the panel for a PRiNZ Event last night. We were discussing the challenges and opportunities in social media for marketing and PR, and what PR professionals can do to participate. One could easily just laugh off the efforts of corporates and PR professionals trying to monetize social media. I’m a lot more sanguine. Like it or not, wherever people are talking about brands online, PR will be in there seeking to control the message.

Tim Nichols from 2Degrees talked about their strategy, commenting on the fact that they are rooted in social media, living and dying by the sword. One comment resonated with me: he said that they have “set up camp” on Twitter and Facebook. Marketers see social media as alien and perhaps even hostile, so setting up camp is a nice metaphor. They’re in there early and often, learning the language and meeting the locals. They still risk a backlash and eviction, but the chances are hugely reduced by their authentic and thorough participation.

On the other hand, you have your streakers. Marketing and PR experts preparing their strategy outside the territory, making a master plan like mini-generals. Then they drop their trousers and go charging right through the middle of the game.

Sure, at best you’re going to get some attention. People will point and laugh (some might appreciate your assets). At worst you’re going to raise the ire of a crowd of angry natives, seeking to skin you alive.

I wish I could have explained this better last night, but here’s what I’m saying to PR and marketing types seeking to understand social media: don’t be a streaker. Instead, sit with the crowd for a bit. Listen, cheer, chat about that great defence by McCaw, or wicked googly by Warney.

Then maybe you can tell the guys sitting nearby about your great brand experience, and watch the message propagate like a Mexican wave.

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9 Comments

  1. Great analogy Ben – I’ve spoken at PRINZ events before too – the PR world is struggling with this because of their focus on the business’s brands – not themselves as part of a tribe…

  2. The point the panel made last night about authenticity really struck me as true. I was one of a minority in that crowd – not a PR person, but a heavy user of this media already looking to harness it in a new way (I’ve spent years using it on a personal level but have recently been charged with bringing a brand to the social hemisphere).

    You’re completely right – a non-authentic voice (generally recognised as a PR person) streaking across the social networking arena is more likely to harm a brand than to increase it’s appeal. All I can say is thank goodness we have companies who can show us all how to do it the right way!

  3. …and perhaps the streaker analogy really hits home when you think about the early joys of streaking — long-haired fun — vs some of the more recent “guerilla marketing” versions where it’s just a pain in the bum to have your enjoyment of the game interrupted by someone who’s been paid to create a scene…?

  4. Well put! You see this on Twitter all the time, companies who create an account, auto-post from an RSS feed or otherwise spew spam, and wonder why they don’t have the followers of @aplusk. Here’s hoping your message gets through!

  5. I watched The Loop for the first time on Sunday night (20:30, C4). There was a wonderful scene where an elderly marketing guy pitches a campaign for a new budget airline. They call it Jack because research shows people like men’s first names – “There’s even some guy called Craig who has a list”. It perfectly illustrated the complete misunderstanding old marketing can have of new media.

  6. Awesome analogies there Ben. So true with 2degrees stance with social media and the ‘streakers’.

  7. Do you have spam problems on this blog; I use Blog Engine, and was wondering about your situation; we have developed some good practices and we are looking to exchange techniques with others. Looking for your advice on what you do . Thanks

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