Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment in Social Media

By Debbie Friez

BurrellsLuce and Capitol Communicator

The only way to succeed in social media is to experiment a LOT! One out of 10 tries will be successful and two-three will be somewhat successful says Garrett Graff, Editor-in-Chief, Washingtonian. A panel speaking at the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America at the Hamilton, Washington, D.C. on Sept. 18 confirmed his statement. All the panelists look for ways to communicate the experience, especially in relation to food.
Carlisle Campbell, Vice President, Ketchum, speaking about the Thoth Award winning Double Tree by Hilton Cookie CAREavan Across America campaign, said they focused on three key ways to connect to the public: a cookie confessional (video of consumers discussing cookie or Double Tree experiences), swarm car (a Twitter contest for an office cookie party) and an online sweepstakes. The swarm car originally left executives nervous, but eventually showed to provide additional opportunities – like when the Atlanta Associated Press office won, and tweeted their happiness.

With the implementation of the Facebook timeline, Vanessa French, Co-Founder, Pivot Point Communications, advocates using a lot of pictures. She also said Facebook users do not like shortened links, unless they are coming from an established media company. Speaking of pictures, everyone agreed “food porn” is irresistible to the consumer. People love to post food pictures, so organizations should take the lead and post photos to their media properties.

French advocated outreach to local bloggers about events, which she finds can often lead to their blogs becoming testimonials. But, as with all campaigns, the key is to knowing what platforms your audience is using. In reviewing Facebook and Twitter, Graff commented Facebook is for following friends who are strangers and Twitter is for following strangers who are friends.

Amy McKeever, Editor, EaterDC says she stays in-touch with many smaller restaurants through Facebook and Twitter, and she finds Twitter to be a good way to gather news. She doesn’t post news to social media until it is posted to Eater, because her goal is to drive traffic to her site.
Campbell says the debate over creating a website versus a Facebook page is often discussed in their office. Many of his younger colleagues advocate for the Facebook page. French says if you do choose a website, be sure to advocate for a blog, which will help with SEO.

The panel considers Pinterest the new bright shiny tool, and brands need to evaluate it for usefulness for their campaigns. Graff says it is especially useful if you are targeting young women looking to get married, even if the wedding is not imminent. French commented on several non-profits, like the World Wildlife Federation, using it successfully. She also said many men are on Pinterest talking about technology.

An audience member wanted to know if the panelists are using QR codes? French said she pitches them to clients, but they are often not included in the final campaign. Graff feels we are at a low point for QR codes, right now. They are not easy to use, so he says a simple link works just as well. But, he thinks a more advanced universal QR code might be on the horizon?

Debbie Friez can be reached at

2 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment in Social Media

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