Guest Post: Collaboration Should Be Part of Your Facebook Strategy

We’re going to say it, although it goes without saying: Facebook has become a critical component of most, if not all, PR campaigns. Still, there are other parts of a brand’s marketing team that can become involved with the Facebook portion of the campaign. The key to interacting successfully with audiences and customers on Facebook starts with interacting successfully with other parts of the brand’s marketing team.

In today’s guest post, Vitrue CEO Reggie Bradford tackles the questions of how and why collaboration among marketers is so important. Vitrue’s publishing software platforms helps clients manage, measure, and create their Facebook and Twitter campaigns.

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According to a recent eMarketer research report, U.S. marketers will spend $3.08 billion to advertise on social networking sites in 2011, much of which will go to Facebook. In 2010, Facebook generated $1.86 billion in advertising.

These figures certainly don’t surprise us, especially with Facebook’s growth and continual emergence as a mainstream communications vehicle.  And we believe a healthy social strategy blends both paid and earned media. But as Facebook continues to grow, and more content—both sponsored and organic—fill the environment, a brand must continue to develop a relevant and authentic relationship with its fans. Brands must provide valuable content that keeps the two-way conversations going and cuts through the noise. The principles of listen, learn, and engage are extremely crucial for your social strategy, especially in an increasingly crowded space.

Facebook users will endure advertisements—albeit not excessive—in turn for the free service of Facebook. They get it. But brands will have to keep those relationships authentic and of value to fans. If they feel your Facebook page is becoming a mere sales channel, you might just lose them.

Creating engaging content on Facebook must be a balance controlled by both the PR and marketing teams. (Actually all departments need to be interconnected. Hello, customer service? But we’ll stick to PR and marketing for this column.) There are clever ways to present content, news, and information that creates interest and engagement while pushing your brand’s message. PR folks do it every day with the media. We find companies that have truly integrated their departments at all levels, especially surrounding social media, enjoy the highest rewards of brand loyalty and awareness.

One of our clients—who has successfully integrated their departments—keeps PR involved in all marketing-communications efforts. PR helps craft promotional extensions around campaigns, especially digital/social extensions. The PR team also helps with the messaging to ensure clarity to consumers. And they provide insight on promotions that could best create media interest.  PR then generates media coverage to share via social networks, providing content that positively promotes your company through a validated third party.

Increasingly, it’ll be crucial that all communication parties are sitting at the table to be certain you are putting the best public face forward. PR practitioners are the public voice to a brand’s many audiences: honest, authentic, and informative. To do this, they should know everything happening in the company and how it could affect their brand. PR can prepare top executives to participate on Facebook and Twitter. And PR professionals can craft personalized, authentic, real-time responses to information gathered from monitoring Facebook and other social networks.

Drop the walls between “departments,” especially PR and marketing, and come together to develop an authentic, relevant, and valuable relationship with your consumers across all touch points, especially on Facebook.