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To be fair, when I see companies posting press releases to groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Association boards, etc., its usually from a sales person.

You can understand how this happens. Social media is labor intensive, even if you have a good dashboard to manage all your channels and the expertise to use it wisely. But even then, unlike traditional PR operations, social media marketing (SMM) takes some time (and content creation) every day.

So, Execs look around and see that salespeople have time on their hands. They send an email out with a bunch of links and tell them they’ll be reviewed based on their participation in these groups. The sales person, who might be the best closer on the planet, knows diddly about PR and marketing. (And — forgive me — but sales aren’t the most proactive employees when it comes to learning new skills; Learning about SMM ain’t no fun unless it comes with a commission check.) And so the sales person takes the easiest route, pulls the latest press release from the company’s website, posts the title and links it back to the press release.

Grreeaaatttt. Now you look stupid instead of smart, arrogant instead of helpful. Instead of building credibility and good will, you destroyed it by showing me how little you care about my time.

Social media is effective because it takes the wonkiness — the BS — of a PR professional out of the loop. In many ways, it is marketing distilled to its most altruistic essence. SMM is all about giving  (notice the use of the word “giving,” not posting or providing). It’s about giving content — honest opinions, how to solutions, career advice, etc. — that people NEED to know. Good PR and marketing are also about helping the company’s customer do their job better, smarter, faster. In fairness to my brethren in the salt mines of business communication, many times us PR wonks are hobbled by a poorly designed product or service, and ineffectual business plans based on the “build it and they will come” mentality of commerce.

So, before you post that next press release to a group, think about what value it gives the reader. If it appears that your serving yourself more than the group, go have a drink, or fax an order form to a friend. Do anything, but don’t waste your customers time, or mine.

Next time, we’ll talk about what DOES make for a good SMM post. Ciao Bella, and have a great Easter!

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