Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Joining the Social Media Club

The Social Media Panel from the 2011 WCAA Conference
Day one of the 61 Annual WCAA Conference concluded with Getting Social, a panel of industry experts sharing their strategies for monetizing social media.

Day one of the 61 Annual WCAA Conference concluded with Getting Social, a panel of industry experts sharing their strategies for monetizing social media. First and foremost, get on Facebook. There was unanimous agreement among the panelist and audience members that every sales rep should have a Facebook presence that is professional. Many encouraged having a separate Facebook account for strictly business purposes, even though this goes against Facebook regulations. The panel went on to showcase how to use social media as a sales tool as well as how advertisers should be using it and how newspapers can monetize it.

Social Media as a Sales Tool

Duby Petit, Director of Digital Audience Development at Schurz Communications, opened the panel with thoughts on how to use social media as a sales tool. This afternoon panel followed a motivating lunch with Mr. Schmooze, and while Petit agreed with the necessity to build relationships, she encouraged newspapers to take a new approach. “We need to find other ways to form relationships,” Petit said, “not just drinks, lunches and dinners. These are no longer in the budget.” She also said associations and clubs were good, but there was a new club newspapers need to focus on, and that’s social media.

• Reputation management
• Leads
• Relationship building
• Communication

Social media is a great tool for building and maintaining a sales rep’s reputation. Petit and the rest of the Getting Social panel said it was integral for reps to have professional Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr and Twitter accounts (adding that Facebook and LinkedIn were the most important). Petit likened Facebook to a digital Rolodex — it keeps you in communication with clients and prospects and helps build leads. Karen Hogan, Recruitment Sales Manager at the Orange County Register, said that she requires her reps to have a professional Facebook page and to keep it interactive. To aid in keeping everything professional, she encourages everyone to set up their Facebook accounts to approve all tags.

Social Media for Advertisers

Social media isn’t just about relationship building and finding leads. It’s something that newspapers can utilize to garner new revenue. Petit said, have a social media plan: listen, prepare and join in! Look at your clients’ and prospects’ competition, what are they utilizing? Provide your clients with social media advice and suggestions and become the social media consultant for local businesses.

Brandy Luscalzo-Stemen, Emerging Media Product Manager for the San Diego Union Tribune, encouraged classified departments to take full advantage of social media. She said that instead of simply posting new classified listings, give success stories and “talk about how your real estate guide helped them buy a home.”

Know your objectives

Develop a strategy and tell your people

Social media must be a part of your sales campaigns, promotional and advertising platforms

Can’t be managed by one person

Needs to engage others

Luscalzo-Stemen said that with social media, revenue is important — but there are other ways to measure success, like traffic, likes, etc. As such, you need to draw attention to your client’s social media page. As Hogan also said, reps often hear “I have a Facebook page, so I don’t have to run in print.” But that page isn’t helpful or successful unless people know about it. Show your clients the importance of advertising their social media pages.

We’ve seen sales as a direct result from Facebook.” ~ Michelle Ackerman, The Colorado Springs Gazette

As everyone agreed, it’s a challenge to sell social media. Reps need to be trained on it, as do local businesses. Make sure your clients know what the expectations are, so they’re not disappointed. Make sure your clients and prospects are on Facebook, and then have all of your reps “like” these businesses. Social media can be successful and generate a new source of revenue for your newspaper. As audience member Michelle Ackerman (The Colorado Springs Gazette) said, through the help of their social media manager, “we’ve seen sales as a direct result from Facebook.”