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On Friday I attended the Don’t Panic Guide To Social Media event in Marble Arch, London. On the whole it was a worthwhile outing because I learned a lot and got to meet a some very interesting people.
The event was chaired by Neville Hobson who opened with a discussion of the possibilities offered by social media in PR and a look at how individuals now have the power to make change.
Edelman’s Marshall Manson then took the stage. He advised that we ‘fish where the fish are’ and that by sticking to the principles of conversation you’ll have success in social media. Interestingly, he didn’t bring up the Walmart blogging scandal until asked about it in the Q&A. But when asked he ‘fessed up’. “I’m the guy,” he said. “It was all my idea.” He explained that social media is a whole new world and everyone, him and the team at Edelman included, are still learning as they go.
Next Meg Pickard of The Guardian was up. I think her presentation was the highlight of the day for me as she summed up how ‘context is king’. She explained the ‘holy trinity of community management’. That is: humans + technology + editorial. Each part is equal in building an engaged online community.
The only other female presenter of the day was Kerry Bridge of Dell. There are 4,000 unique conversations relating to the Dell brand taking place online each and every day. Kerry and her ‘SWAT team’ identify where they are taking place, prioritise them and engage when they feel their participation would make a positive difference. I’m going to write a more lengthy note about her presentation for Tech Talk which will be cross posted in Strive Notes some time soon.
Stephen Davies of WEBITPR was up next. He said his company’s use of the social media news release on behalf of client ITV garnered just as much coverage as previous news conferences had produced, at a fraction of the cost.
After lunch, Graham Goodkind of Frank PR, entertained us with a lively account of some of his company’s consumer campaigns. He said that social media was key in adding another dimension to coverage and audience engagement, calling it 3D PR. So creating content to amplify media campaigns, like posting behind the scenes video gives the target audience the opportunity to engage further in the conversation. He said that social media gives PR the opportunity to ‘own’ viral. But I felt his examples were very marketing led. Neville was a very good sport with his role in this presentation.
Simon Wakeman of Medway Council gave us a facinating insight into social media in the public sector. He described Medway’s campaign to engage younger people which was centred around a podcast, which had a budget of less than £400. He also presented research which revealed that almost 60 per cent of UK councils are blogging in one form or another, yet 60 per cent are not using and have no plans to use, wikis as a collaborative tool. I’d love to hear why the take up of wikis is so low , if anyone knows.
Oxfam’s Sam Barratt was excellent. He and his team have such an important and challenging job to do and face huge obstacles. They are using social media when necessary to bypass the fickle or over stretched mainstream media. He gave an interesting description of using blogs to keep the crisis in Darfur in the public eye, when the disasters in Burma and China were filling the pages of newspapers around the world.
Robin Goad of Hitwise had the unenviable slot as the last speaker of the day, but his presentation was worth the wait. Social networks are now second only to search engines when it comes to traffic referrals and, crucially, they tend to refer traffic to other social networks. His data also showed that people are now tending to use social networks in place of email to communicate within certain networks.
The day ended with a panel discussion, which disappointingly, had only three of the day’s speakers, plus chairman Neville, as the rest had legged it. But we had a focused discussion around ‘selling the concepts’ to stakeholders.
Overall, it was a worthwhile event. I’m glad I attended.