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March 27, 2008

Social Media

Brenda HainesLee Aase (Mayo Clinic, SMUG University) knows how to get your attention.

“Have you searched your company’s name on Facebook?” he asked the Public Relations Society of America Northeast Wisconsin Chapter meeting on Tuesday.

Heidi and I were among the 40 practitioners and consultants in the room. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see exactly how many people pulled out Blackberries to do so on the spot.

The speaker had done his homework. To prep for the presentation (which included terrific success stories about repurposing content for social media at the Mayo Clinic), he’d searched the names of companies who were represented in the room.

And, he had news to break.

One lucky PR person had an until-now-unknown (insert company name) sucks Facebook page. Only a few others had a presence.

If you haven’t done it, it’s a good exercise. It also prompted a good discussion about the impact of social media marketing. Based on the questions after the presentation, it’s clear there is skepticism over whether social media marketing can produce ROI.

While that might now depend on your target audience, the question seems a bit like asking whether people have ever leaned over the back fence and asked their neighbors for a referral. Of course, they do.

Well, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn are the new neighborhoods.

As marketers, we know the ‘over-the-fence’ recommendations mattered. (The Net Promoter Score science developed around this idea.) The fence may look a little different, but the concept is still the same.

Your best chance to tell your story? Be part of the conversation. If you discovered through a survey that someone was telling all their offline friends that you suck, you’d probably want to know why. Facebook and MySpace just make it easier to know what is being said.

And, that can be invaluable.