You can’t. And you shouldn’t. PR professionals are often asked to reach out to online communities and social networks. There is an urge to draft a few paragraphs with all the key messages and call John Smith at the target Web site. But there is no such editorial contact at social networks. The whole point about the social networks is that every site member can be a contact who can hear your story and choose to tell it to their friends and family. The way to engage social network members is through e-CRM (online customer relationship management) and grassroots activism.
For instance, a company looking to tap into the power of moms’ word of mouth can set up shop on a mommy network and begin reaching out to the community by offering them a valuable service. The company can start a branded page or group on the site, but to draw and keep the right audience, they need to offer various activities, compelling content and conversation starters in these areas. Contests with prizes, expert advice, coupons, discussion forums, user-generated video platforms are some of ways to appeal to a social network crowd.
To sustain momentum around the brand area, companies need to dedicate staff to respond to visitors’ queries, lead and participate in conversations. They also need to have a graceful exit strategy, knowing when and how those conversations with the social network audience will reach a meaningful conclusion.
It’s not a push strategy. It’s not a pitch. It’s an ongoing relationship.