Week 2 Guest Speaker Roundup – by Cynthia Copeland

A Conversation with Serena Ehrlich, Executive Director, Attention

By UCLA X425 Student Cynthia Copeland

“Fishing Where the Fish Are”

Serena Ehrlich built her brand and career on social media. The executive director at Attention – the social media marketing and communications firm based in NY and LA – suggested that while many agencies treat social media as just blogger outreach, Attention believes it is much more, and involves the process of developing an entirely new approach to marketing and PR.

Serena dove into how social media has grown, and what communications pros should include in a basic social media toolkit. There are many free tools available, including resources to mine information without a research budget. She began by saying, “Social media is really about plumbing,” and involves interacting based on behavior (which doesn’t change that much). The first question to ask is, “Whom are you targeting?” The first task is to dig into the blogs. AllTop.com is the aggregation site for blogs that Serena prefers, because it displays the last five stories on each topic, and you can immediately see if the blog is relevant. This kind of research is what Serena describes as the “low-hanging fruit.” From there, you can begin to narrow the category by gender, lifestyle, and sometimes, location. Look for what Serena refers to as the “core,” or the natural affinity of the audience, and think about who else is relevant to that audience so you can then figure out how to “fish where the fish are.” Serena suggested searching Twitter for social media trends for 2012, so you can start to follow now what’s going to be popular next year. She added that it’s a great idea to track as many relevant brands as possible, and to use free tools to engage your audience with relevant content. As Serena commented, “Nobody reads a magazine that’s not interesting.”

According to Serena, content aggregation is the wave of the future, and we’ll see audiences borrowing and building on one another.

Here’s a short list of the online tools Serena mentioned and recommended:

  • Technorati.com; another great site for blog lists (aggregated by post).
  • Klout.com; while not hugely reliable as a list of influencers, it does help brands determine the clout of someone’s online footprint.
  • Muck Rack.com; online directory of journalists on Twitter.
  • Kred.ly; another way to measure online influence.
  • hootSuite.com; a social media dashboard that enables you to post, as well as track responses and results.
  • Storify.com; a place to aggregate interesting social media content. Be sure to be polite and thank everyone you pull content from, so it can all be reciprocal.
  • Paper.li; another aggregation tool that culls everything your friends are reading into one newspaper-like page.
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