Sonia Holland, social media manager for Rent-a-Center, speaks with Erica Morris about marketing and monitoring, and how to present a consistent message across a variety of media channels.
PRWeek: What are some of your tips on how to create a consumer dialogue using social media?
Holland: We are in the beginning stages of creating relationships via social media. Currently, we are actively listening, participating in conversations and beginning to create a social media brand presence. That said, I think that from a corporate perspective, there can be a tendency toward pushing messaging which results in a monologue rather than a conversation and a relationship. To encourage dialogue, try to ask questions first… get as much information as possible prior to providing an answer. Why does a customer feel a certain way? What's been their experience? First, get that understanding, then respond.
PRWeek: How do you make sure your company's message gets across while using a number of media outlets?
Holland: Again, we're just setting out on our social media journey but what will be key as we move forward is consistency across all channels, making sure our messaging is aligned. By starting out with a good understanding of what people are saying, it will guide our efforts to ensure that the aligned messaging speaks in a way that resonates with our audience.
PRWeek: How important is it to use monitoring tools in this economy?
Holland: When consumers are especially discriminating about where to spend their money, it's even more important to know and understand their viewpoints. Every conversation matters. When we treat people with respect online by taking the time to understand their issue, or to answer their question, it not only provides the opportunity to improve that individual relationship, but over time, hundreds or thousands of people can see the interaction. That kind of dialogue has the potential to be very positive and powerful.
PRWeek: Rent-a-Center is using Alterian SM2 for social media marketing and monitoring. What benefits does this type of software have from a PR standpoint?
Holland: SM2 enables us to listen to what people say about our company on the Web, helping us understand what people really think so we can develop content that respects and speaks to their points of view. Knowing where online conversations are taking place empowers us to actively participate in those conversations whether that means jumping in to help set a customer's experience right, or providing accurate information where rumors or speculation exist.