Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Leveraging Social Media Tools and the New Privacy Bill of Rights

What if I told you that your social networks were being underutilized? Sure your brand name is in big bold letters on your Facebook page, your LinkedIn profile showcases every job you’ve had for the last five years, and you tweet about every new product your company creates, but what if these efforts were all in vain. Most importantly, what if you’re not reaching the right audience and influencers? Consumers, brands, politicians and musicians are getting a crash course in social media use optimization, and are finding that strategy and intention are the keys behind any successful social media campaign.

PRSA’s “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest PR and business news and commentary — explores how numerous industries are leveraging social media to promote their agenda and connect with the consumers on a more intimate level. We also look at the White House’s new proposal to Congress addressing a consumer’s right to online privacy.

Brands Face Stream Fatigue as Consumers Look Beyond Gimmicks in Social Networks (@BrianSolis)

In last week’s “Friday Five,” we discussed the importance learning your customers’ needs as a way to better serve them and retain more loyal customers. Brands have flocked to social media channels, designing editorial and engagement programs to encourage consumers to “Like” and follow profiles, view videos submit user generated content. When consumers are inundated by numerous channels and engagement tools, they can experience the dreaded stream fatigue and sometimes, an overwhelming sense of over connectedness. The number of “likes” and “follows” no longer determine the success of your social engagements. The social-savvy consumer desires content and intention behind any social engagement strategy, and brands will have to give reasons upfront as to why consumers should like or follow them into social frontiers. Consumers are realizing that they have the power to reduce or eliminate stream fatigue by tailoring the relationships they maintain in each network. With customers having great impact on the company’s bottom line, it’s time to get to know your customers better.

Tanzina Vega on Campaigns That Customize Online Political Ads (Media Decoder/ The New York Times)

Brands are not the only ones strategically using social media to win over people. Politicians have seen the social light and are creating strategic online advertisements tailored to the demographic they are looking to influence. Here’s how they do it. Data is collected online when anyone makes a purchase. That information is coupled with demographic and voter registration data. The lump sum of this data is known as “big data.” So if you’ve recently seen an online advertisement for a political campaign that speaks directly to you, don’t worry, you’re not crazy. Political campaigns are using data collected online to tailor their advertisements to the type of voter who views them. Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Chris Christie are just few political figures using this method to reach their desired audience. Politicians should think of consumers’ “big data” profiles like a dating profile. Getting to know your audience is only the first step. What you do with that information is ultimately how you retain any loyal customer, or in this case, a voter.

‘Creatocracy’ and the Internet Free-For-All (Los Angeles Times)

The music industry is another foreground seeing the benefits of strategically using social networks. Musicians, such as Jay-Z, have flipped the traditional music industry model on its head. Instead of relying on record sales for the bulk of their income, they use their albums as a marketing tool to get fans to buy concert tickets and merchandise. The easier their music is to access online, the better the promotion. Writers, photographers and designers are also using their personal sites to promote their work in hopes of spreading the word and getting hired. Artists are trying to meet consumers halfway by making themselves available on social platforms. Social networks are a great channel for artists to connect with diverse communities; however, ultimately, they want to get paid just like the rest of us. Behind social media strategy is the underlying bottom line that trumps all engagement efforts. In a social world, the challenge for any artist is preserving the integrity of intellectual property.

‘Privacy Bill of Rights’: Advocacy Groups, Industry Weigh In (Post Tech/ The Washington Post)

The White House’s “privacy bill of rights” received positive feedback from many online privacy advocates and Web companies. It lays out seven basic concepts that consumers should be able to expect from Web companies. The guidelines also propose that the Federal Trade Commission enforce industry self-regulatory codes. The Digital Advertising Alliance, an industry trade group, announced that its members will implement “Do Not Track” technology in Web browsers. Online advocacy groups, including the Future of Privacy Forum, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and Software and Information Industry Association, welcome the proposal during a time when online privacy has become such a sensitive issue.

Search Giants Agree to “Do-Not-Track” Button (This Morning With Gordon Deal/ The Wall Street Journal)

Finally, this week’s “Friday Five” wouldn’t be complete without a little ‘privacy bill of rights’ talk. Large search platforms, including Google, have agreed to support a so-called “Do-Not-Track” button for Web browsers. This comes as a result of the White House’s call for Congress to pass an online privacy bill of rights. Julia Angwin from The Wall Street Journal interviews Cam Kerry, department of commerce general counsel. Kerry discusses how the White House will establish baseline rules for consumer bill of rights and fair information practices that would define a set of rules across the board for all commercial data privacy. Above that baseline, the White House would like to create a framework of multi stakeholder standards, code of conduct that could become enforceable as a matter of law. The big question is how the privacy bill of rights will affect our use of social networks and other social engagement tools. Kerry walks us through some initial planning, but this is certainly a topic that will continue to build over the next few weeks.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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