To get straight to the point, the biggest missed opportunity for organizations in utilizing social media is they don’t put themselves in the shoes of an editor.

PR professionals have traditionally played the role of ambassador between clients and the media.  Every media outlet has its own specific audience and the journalist’s goal is to meet the needs of that audience as best as possible.  For example, Wired Magazine knows exactly what its audience wants and does an amazing job of creating content to match.  The result is a well-read, powerful and influential magazine (and one I know several of our clients would kill to be featured in).

The role of PR folks is to take our clients’ messages and shape them into appealing, topical, and timely stories and news. Then we tailor those messages for the journalist and his/her specific audience.  When we do our jobs well, the idea sells and our clients’ messages make it into the media and in front of the readers they want to influence.

The challenge with social media is that organizations control their own Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging pages.  Who is the gatekeeper with independent power to shoot down story ideas or edit articles to make them a better fit for the audience?  I think you know where I’m going with all of this.  Not surprisingly, lots of folks miss this step or do a poor job of it.

Want another way to think about all of this?

Your Facebook page doesn’t belong to you.  Neither does your blog or any of your other social media properties.  They belong to your audience.  And if you are not giving your audience what they want or need, they won’t pay attention to you.  However, figuring out what they want and need is a completely different subject.  A good starting point is realizing that pushing every boring morsel of information about your company’s product or service is not a great idea.

Just remember: it isn’t all about you or your organization.  The sooner you start thinking about the needs of your audience instead of the needs of your own marketing department, the better off you will be.

Matt Smedley

Matt Smedley is a Senior Account Executive at Frause, our PROI partner in Seattle and

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