Week 1 Guest Speaker Roundup by Kimberly Alves

A Conversation with Melissa Robinson of Weber Shandwick and Green Dot’s Chris Lam

By UCLA X425 Student Kimberly Alves

Our instructor, @ErikDeutsch, kicked off the first #UCLAx425 class with two social media mavens: Melissa Robinson (@herword), Senior VP of Consumer Marketing and Digital Communications at Weber Shandwick, and Chris Lam (@theChrisLam), Social Media Marketing Manager at Green Dot Corporation.

While the speakers varied in terms of client rosters, social media budgets and the individual tactics they employed for their respective brands, both offered similar advice for new companies working to build their online communities:

1. Know your Audience
2. Find Your Voice

These may seem obvious now that you read it, but failing to take these initial steps is a sure way to run even the most inventive social media plan into the ground. If you don’t know who you are speaking to, how do you know where to find them or what their interests are? If your customers are senior citizens, they are not likely going to read your Twitter posts, no matter how witty and compelling those posts may be.

Once you know who and where your target audience is in cyberspace, keep your online voice and brand messaging consistent in order to build a loyal and authentic social media following that is genuinely interested in your brand and has the ability to influence business.

Only NOW can you really engage your audience through social media in an impactful way. One suggestion that Chris Lam made was to incorporate what’s hot and interesting to your audience through reoccurring themed posts. For example, if you handle social media for a grocery store and your key customers are moms with young kids, try posting a weekly recipe recommendation for fast, affordable snacks on the go.

Whatever your social media plan, don’t forget that the goal is to create a community and start an ongoing conversation, not just push ad messages. The first step is to understand and speak to your customer. After all, you can’t effectively provide a “solution” (the goal of PR) if you don’t fully understand your target market’s “problem.”

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