Are we at a social media ‘inflection point?’

I must say one of the best parts of doing this blog is learning.  Without fail, the post subject always gives me something to think about, and I hope the same goes for you.  This time Rick Liebling with Coyne PR sat me back on “I think we’ve reached an inflection point.”

Rick was answering a question about where he sees social media going.  Now, when I hear “inflection point” from someone I trust and find credible, I tend to pay attention because, if they’re right, it means we’ve reached a multi-pronged fork in the road.  We, as a team or an industry, have an opportunity to shape and define a new direction.  In short, we have an opportunity to lead.

So, assuming we’re at an inflection point, who is going to step up and lead?  What does the next 5 years look like?  Will you sit back and wait for someone else to make the decision and then follow, or will you connect the right dots and lead the tribe?

McDonald’s and Target didn’t happen by accident.  Google and Facebook didn’t happen by accident.  And neither will the next wave of mega-successful brands and approaches to professional communication, to bring it back to the focus of this blog.

See!  I ask some simple questions and look what happens!  You get dragged into my mental mess.  So, if I haven’t already lost you, without further ado, here’s my chat with Rick on how PR and Marketing has changed in recent years, the future of social media (hello, inflection point), how students should be preppin’ for careerin’ and why Yoda is better than Optimus Prime.

1. As the Director of Digital Strategy at Coyne PR, what does your average day look like?

Rick Liebling

It usually starts around 8 a.m. The first thing I do is open about 1/2 dozen tabs in Google Chrome: Gmail, Google+, Facebook, Tweetdeck, PSFK, LinkedIn. Then it’s on to work email and firing up Tweetdeck. For the next hour I’ll read, do research, share content, answer emails and take care of admin items. By 9 a.m. I’m ready to tackle a whole host of to-do items. In my role I work with all 10 practice groups at the agency (plus new business and internal needs) so every day is different in terms of the subject matter. I’m helping to write decks, respond to RFPs, provide counsel to teams and clients work with outside partners like Badgeville or Traackr, and of course, meetings. Lots of meetings.

2. Since beginning your career, how has the PR and Marketing profession changed?

Immeasurably. Twelve years ago PR was really focused on generating “media impressions” and getting placements in “key outlets.” It was very tactically focused. Now, it’s much more about having a strategy that ladders up to business objectives, having a sound measurement methodology, and creating ideas that can be activated across a broad marketing mix. And of course social media now plays a significant role in what we do. From community management to leveraging mobile platforms, those are offerings we now bring to our clients. But ultimately, it’s about content – creating compelling, informative or entertaining content that helps our clients engage with the people they want to reach.

3. Did Coyne PR embrace social media quickly or was it slowly introduced as an offering to clients?

I’ve only been at Coyne since last fall, but I would say that it really differs from client to client. Some are more eager, willing or able, to engage than others. There’s really no ‘one size fits all’ approach, every client has different objectives and resources. As an agency, we try to use as many of the tools out there as we can. Whether that’s monitoring tools like Radian6, new platforms and services like Percolate and Google+, or innovative tactics like Game Mechanics.

4. Where do you see the social media world going?

I think we’ve reached an inflection point. Brands no longer can derive value from the first mover advantage of being on Facebook before their competitors. I think we’re going to see companies need to adopt a “social business” strategy that connects several areas of their brand to their customers, clients and the public. Marketing or sales or customer service isn’t enough. R&D, the man on the assembly line, everyone who is part of the process will be connected.

5. What’s your advice to peers who have clients who could benefit from social marketing and networking but are hesitant?

Don’t push them to jump in if they are hesitant. Build programs that address key business issues and that integrate very measurable social media elements.

6. What should today’s college students be focusing on to best prepare for the real world?

Being flexible, adaptable and agile. Be prepared to do understand not just PR, but all aspects of the marketing mix and how they can work together. Get comfortable with analytics. Learn how to tease insights from data and turn that into actionable strategies.

7. If you had to choose between Yoda and Optimus Prime as a partner in battle, who would you choose and why?

I was never a Transformers guy, so I’m going with Yoda. Plus, the way he pulled Luke’s X-Wing out of the swamp on Dagobah, I think he could do some damage to Optimus Prime.

I agree with, Rick.  I mean look at that little guy! Focused intensity! ————————>

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2 thoughts on “Are we at a social media ‘inflection point?’

  1. Great interview Joel! Rick makes a good point about businesses needing to adopt a “social business” strategy that connects several areas of their brand to their customers, clients and the public. Everyone in the company who is part of the process needs to be connected if customer satisfaction is to be the goal.

    Quite nice to see Radian6 received a mention as well.

    Best wishes,
    Trish, Community Manager at Radian6

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