This week's news analysis examines the Catholic Church's use of social media. Yes, that's right; the Pope is now available as a Facebook and iPhone application. If ever there were a client that needed convincing of the ubiquity of social media, this news just might do the trick. While the Church's move into the social media space is a good step toward reaching a younger audience with its message, it also provides an important lesson for marketers.
Social media tools are no longer novel or unique. Nearly every company or organization today has a blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. That means that the competition for getting noticed in this space has become absolutely fierce. This requires much more strategic thinking from both clients and PR agencies about how to best use social media to accomplish overall marketing goals, while also standing out from the rest of the pack. While it can be tempting to make many social media tools a standard part of every campaign, the reality is that this is often not a logical or productive move. Getting involved in social media just for the sake of it offers little value to a company or the audiences it is trying to reach. Though it is clear that most companies should be involved in social media in some way, the involvement has to align with the brand's overall image and messaging.
Like any other marketing tactic, the key to successfully utilizing social media tools is consistency. A few years ago, CEO blogs were all the rage. It seemed as though every week PRWeek was writing about another corporation, or even agency, that had launched a blog for its CEO. The problem was that very few of these CEOs updated their blogs more often than once a month, a frequency which does not provide any real value. Similarly, launching a company Twitter feed that is updated once a day will not resonate with an audience that relies on constant feedback from the people and companies it follows. Carefully considering all of the social media tools available, and then choosing only those that can be best executed, is the only way to truly be part of the crowded social media conversation.