Friday, July 02, 2010

Silicone Bitch: Who Owns Social Media in South Florida?

News and notes about the South Florida social media and blogging scene, with a little tech thrown in for good measure. And maybe some other random events, too.

Silicone Bitch only publishes every two weeks, but in today's special edition we examine Social Media Day, the question of "who owns social media" and the issue of public relations companies jumping on the social media bandwagon.

social media day Mashable is a leading news source for social and digital media and they recently rallied communities world-wide to celebrate what they call the "revolution" -- social media as a phenomenon that has enabled all of us who are involved in it to stay connected and to help those in need. Mashable encouraged cities around the world to hold Social Media Day events of their own on June 30. This was not a proprietary event for any one particular community; anyone could've had a Social Day Event and labeled it as such.

That's all fine and well, and of course Silicone Bitch applauds Mashable for being a leader in social media awareness. But a funny thing happened on the way to June 30 ...

In October 2009, Social Media Club South Florida held a panel titled "Who Owns Social Media?" in Downtown Miami. About 50 people showed up to hear reps from five South Florida corporations discuss their social media strategies. The conclusion we came to was that no one owns social media. In fact, that's the beauty of it -- it's a medium that anyone can use to communicate and connect, whether it's for personal or business reasons.

It's obvious that social media would be a natural platform for public relations companies, so Silicone Bitch was not surprised to hear that a PR company would lay claim to at least one Social Media Day event in Miami. But here's where our enthusiasm about the project fell flat, because at this point in history of the social media phenomenon, traditional PR does not automatically translate into social media.

Silicone Bitch knows of many local PR companies using social media and got to thinking: what makes them successful? The social media motto is, after all,"if you get it, share it." Those companies that do get it share it all the time and share it well.

This is not the first time Silicone Bitch has pondered the matter. There have been speaking engagements with PR pros dying to hear what makes writers and social media enthusiasts tick.

Here are some tips, summarized from panel discussions and observed best practices.

1.If you're a PR company that claims to know social media and you never connect with local chapters of Social Media Club, that makes many folks scratch their heads.

social media club south floridaWhile everyone "owns" social media, there is a very cohesive group in South Florida that has been meeting up, connecting and making things happen for over two years. South Florida's Social Media Club chapter is one of the most successful in the world. This is, by far, and to the best of our knowledge, the only regular gather of social media enthusiasts AND professionals in the southeast Florida area, with monthly turnouts of about 50-100 or more people eager to learn and share information about social media. (This isn't counting Southwest Florida, by the way.)

While there are thousands of people using social media who are not professionals in the field, it would still behoove any public relations company to also establish some ties with its local Social Media Club.

2. Please don't embarrass yourself by acting like your PR company event is the last drop of water in the desert and never alienate others by calling your crowd elite.

Tweetups and such in Miami are more widespread than herpes -- they're like flare ups. Throw in Broward and West Palm Beach and you've got a veritable pandemic of people who've connected online and who've been meeting up in person, sticking their noses in their mobile phones and tweeting, foursquaring, twitpicking, facebooking, qiking and youtubing the shit out of everything all night for quite some time now. This isn't news.

Why do we keep mentioning other counties? Because folks, if you're really involved in the South Florida social media scene, you know we are all inextricably connected professionally and socially as far as social media is concerned. Many gas tanks have been filled for tri-county social media commuting.

There are and have been social media events about everything in South Florida -- dogs, drinks, sushi, pizza, wine, bla bla bla -- and gasp! some old school events that are just for social media's sake! Do your research, find out who's been doing what in the past, who's doing what now and show up and network, for Pete Cashmore's sake. You know, things like Twestival (another international event with local outreach), South By Southeast etc; have been making the rounds.

Dovetailing on a major national event without integration into an already established social media community is like wearing a Macy's cocktail party dress you have to return the next day with the tag still on it, never to be worn again.

mashable summer tourAnd yes, do research. Mashable was here in 2008 for Summer Mash, a productive daytime geek and social media "camp" followed by a smash hit social media party in South Beach with Mr. Cashmore himself taking pictures on the red carpet with every bimbo and himbo on the social media radar. This aint the first time there's been partying in the 305 for Mashable's sake.

3. Free booze does not a social media event make, duh. You need to be social.

Many PR companies think that by catering to lushes they can call their event a huge success. What bunch of cheap-ass alcoholics wouldn't show up? But horror of horrors, no nametags? No one to greet and introduce people to each other at the door? A screen feed that only projects your event and not other events and/or tweets around the world? No post-event networking and socializing? No good wi-fi?

Ugh. That's pretty lame, not to mention laughable. We've said it many times before and will say it again: if it aint got a nametag, it aint social media. And actually, you don't need fancy tech to have a good social media event. You need good old-fashioned "meet-and-greet now and stay connected" understanding of human social relationships.

And if people rush out the door after the liquor sponsor puts the cork back in the bottle, that means your social media proof was lower than the stuff in the bottle.

4. Tell me who you tweet with and I'll tell you who you are.

A PR company that is well connected with social media influencers in its community has a well-researched follower list on Twitter that goes beyond celebrity and company "soapbox" accounts. Not engaging with local bloggers and social media enthusiasts is a sure sign of indifference. Blocking social media pros who are trying to engage with you is a Twitter faux pas and the worst kind of netiquette, as is following people only to drop them after they've followed you. These Twitter practices are no better than that of a spammer.

5. Social media is about connecting and staying connected. It's the longest fucking phone call of your life, even if you want to hang up. It takes work.

There is absolutely nothing wrong a PR company trying to incorporate social media into its roster of services -- they'd be stupid not to. As a matter of fact, a good handful of PR local companies are creating social media events brilliantly, making many friends along the way. If you want to engage those who are going to give you the free publicity you need, you practically need to get in bed with them. Engagement is the key word here.

Silicone Bitch can't stand PR companies that pose and kiss a writer's ass for only a day. PR pros who recognize a valuable relationship stick to it because they know that writer's attention is golden. And by "writer" we don't mean only journalists and bloggers, but anyone who's active in social media who's going to help spread that message you've been paid to broadcast.

So in conclusion, every day is social media day. It's great that Mashable picks one day out of the year to highlight the amazing thing that is social media, but for those who talk the talk and walk the walk, this is the daily grind. A PR company that claims to know social media knows damn well it's not just about your turnout, your foursquare check-ins and your hasthag mentions, it's about the relationships you created on your way there and continue to maintain in your journey.

Silicone Bitch is not sure why it's all being called a revolution now, when in fact, the real BANG began years ago and we're all plugging away it day to day like it's second nature. But whatever -- it's good to not take for granted the power of one-on-one communication in social media and solid PR companies build there social media strategies on those kinds of relationships.


Anonymous said...

AMEN! Thank you for telling it like it is. Unfortunately, especially in Miami, these "PR" companies are either (A) nothing more than a promoter with one friend that works for a "lifestyle" magazine, and/or (B) really just trying to get press for themselves instead of their "clients". Now, many of them claim to be "Social Media Pros" because they have followed and un-followed their way to 500 followers on Twitter while only following 50 of the most luxurious brands. Any idiot can follow Gucci, Kim Kardashian, & Ryan Seacrest. Let me know when they follow you back. LOL Not impressed and the educated people in social media are not either.

Jami said...

I don't even know where to begin. All I can say to you is THANK YOU! Excellent. Well done. Gracias. You already know my feelings on this so I won't fill up your comments w/ my stories. ;-) Keep it real.

Steve Garfield said...

Nice post. Brillaint move by Mashable.

Chris Heuer said...

Social Media Club is striving to establish a better set of standards around what it means to be an ethical professional who contributes to the broader community. More details coming this weekend on what we are doing about raising the bar for professionalism.

Michele Lorito-Chase said...

Slam dunk! : ) Thank you for including Southwest Florida in the tribe.

Brian Breslin said...

bravo. f$$%ing excellent my dear.

love how this and freedom from social media douchebaggery day are all coinciding :-)

Miami SEO Expert said...

South Florida's Social Media Club chapter is one of the most successful in the world ???


I Totally Agree and thank you for letting the world know.