A few months ago, Jack Monson, who is the programming chair (and good friend) of the Chicago chapter of PRSA, asked me to do something that hadn’t yet been done at one of their monthly lunches: Take questions from the audience the entire hour.

At the time I said, “Sure!” without really thinking it through. All I thought was, “Great! I won’t have to prepare a speech two weeks before we launch Spin Sucks Pro.”

But taking questions from an audience, for an entire hour, is pretty nerve-wracking because you have NO idea what is coming and you have zero time to prepare. It’s completely on the fly and, I learned yesterday, that you have to have a whole bunch of confidence (which began to diminish the closer to 12:30 we got) in order to do that.

Afterwards, I was scrolling through the Twitter feed to see what people tweeted the most, in order to give you some of the key points. I don’t know what we did before Twitter. I guess we didn’t blog about it the next day!

The Q&A

Q: There are many different agencies a business can hire, and they all seem to be converging on this concept of digital marketing and social media. When should a business hire a PR agency to handle digital marketing or social media rather than a more specialized digital agency that specializes in the digital space?

A: If you’re looking to hire an agency that focuses solely on social media, you won’t have an agency to work with in two years. My reasoning being that social media is a TOOL and agencies should not be specializing in tools. Social media should be a part of what they offer, including traditional communication, some basic search, some marketing communication, and reputation management.

Q: How do I know how much I can promote myself online?

A: We have the 80/20 rule: Eighty percent of what we distribute online is about someone else (their blog posts, their videos, their content, etc.) and only 20 percent is about us. We liken this to going to a networking event and meeting, what Lisa Gerber calls, Type OO (output only). Just like you’re searching for someone else to talk to when Type OO is chatting your ear off about how great they are, the same thing happens online. The companies who use the tools only to promote themselves will fail.

Q: How many tweets should you send in a day?

A: I don’t think there is a one-size fits all for how many tweets you send in a day. For instance, I schedule my tweets to go out once an hour, from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., every day. Those tweets fit the 80/20 rule. Then, when I’m on Twitter, I’m engaging, I’m reading, and I’m having conversations. So I could easily send 200 tweets in a day. Or more.

Q: What’s the difference between social media for consumer or B2B brands?

A: Consumer brands are much easier to promote, using the social tools, because the audience is everyone. There is a lot of talk about it not working for B2B brands, which is baloney. If you know where your customer is participating online (and they are participating online), you can know which online tools to use to reach them. Free tools such as Google Alerts and Socialmention will give you a good understanding of where they are participating. Then you can move to paid tools such as Engage 121, Spiral16, Radian6 for monitoring where your prospects are and what they’re saying and Flowtown (which is my favorite), Gist, and Xobni for your current customers habits.

Q: There was an article a couple of months ago about blogs trending downwards and seemingly going away. What do you think about that?

I think blogs are trending downwards because a whole bunch of people jumped on the blogging bandwagon when it was the shiny, new penny. But they are hard work. Super hard work. And people don’t have the time or patience to put into a blog what it takes to have some semblance of success. For instance, between Lisa and me, we spend a good 40 hours or more on Spin Sucks a week. It’s a full-time job and it’s not something you an say, “Oh, I don’t really want to do that today” if you’ve built the expectation that you ARE going to blog every day. So I don’t think blogs are trending downwards because they’re going out of style, so to speak. Rather, it’s because they take a lot of care to maintain.

Q: How often should you blog?

If I’d been asked that question three years ago, I would have said three times a week, definitively. But now I think it’s more about consistency. If you are going to blog every Monday at 9 a.m., but darn, you’d better blog every Monday at 9 a.m. Just set the expectation and deliver…consistently.

There were a ton more questions, but those are the ones I can remember from reading the Twitter stream. And, I’m getting dangerously close to a blog the length that Ingrid Abboud writes so I’ll stop now.

How would you have answered these questions? Do my answers lead to more questions? The comments are yours.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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