DR Or PR? Lead Gen And Social Media
In the panel and in the hallway, one of the best debates concerned whether using social media for prospecting was more like direct response or public relations. It is always fascinating to compare any medium to PR -- it fans the flames of discord, just like bringing up politics. One participant suggested that PR was clearly ancient history, as journalists could simply connect to the background information they need through search. Another said that today's bloggers and traditional writers have become too sophisticated to be swayed by public relations hype.
We heard the other side of the coin: in our overloaded era, gatekeepers and relationships become more important. If that's the case, a well-presented PR campaign can make a difference. This may be like the ongoing debate over news: idealists say that soon everyone will just read the stories and op-eds that they find relevant. But as one attendee noted, unlimited content without good editorial oversight is a recipe for congestion and chaos.
Now look at the argument for direct response. It is a consensus that a traditional "buy now" appeal is completely out of sync with Twitter or Facebook interactions. One of the best analogies we heard several times at OMMA envisions a dinner conversation among friends involving PDAs, which gets interrupted because someone at the table keeps trying to sell his phone to his friends. Bad idea, bad tone -- and it won't work.
But there's a place where DR crosses PR. That's called relationship-building. And relationships are what social media should be about. Think of that dinner table and the PDA conversation. It would be a very different discussion if your friend tells you that he's seen a really terrific article about the relative merits of the latest PDAs, and that he'd be happy to send it to you. In fact, he'd even be willing to forward a series of articles and perhaps a quick Webinar invitation -- if you could tell him a little bit about what interests you. And maybe if he sees a special discount offer, he'll send that along too.
The PR side of this is building a story about brand attributes to create a favorable image. The DR side is asking for ongoing interaction. In some circles, that's called lead nurturing.
Even if the relationship-building hybrid is right for explaining performance within social media, why does it matter? Someone in the exhibit hall summed it up. "We're marketers" she said. "We're naturally interested in what's new, and social media is hot. But to get our clients to buy in and to get the budgets, we have to find the right way to explain it."
What other analogies can you suggest?