Brian Solis PR 2.0 | Social Media Conference Keynotes

This post is one in a series from Ragan’s Social Media Revolution Conference, which took place in Chicago on June 24-26.
Browse my social media conference coverage.

So, what’s with the Clydesdale video? Brian Solis, who keynoted Ragan’s recent social media conference, covered online PR strategies and tactics that work. Towards the end of his talk, Brian mentioned this project he created for his client. Watch the video for a behind-the-scenes look at how Anheuser-Busch’s commercial talent gets trained. Here’s a copy of the press social media news release embedded from DocStoc – the YouTube of documents [Brian’s term] and released via PitchEngine.

It’s always great to see Brian – especially when he’s speaking here in Chicago. Brian’s talk was a mix of motivation, reflection, sociology, stats and calls to action. The first time I saw Brian speak was at BlogWorld in November 2007 and I’ve been a fan ever since.

“A press release has no real business in the blog world. It’s about community, ranking, participating. Until you’re engaged at that level, you really have no clue.” Brian Solis at BlogWorld 2007

@briansolis – pr/marketing definitely fusing, pr will be storytelling, search, CRM market analyst, #pr2, #bwe08  – from BlogWorld 2008 Bloggers and PR Strategies Panel

Brian’s new book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations is a must read for anyone wanting to learn about how we got here, why we need to change and where PR is going.

This was the first time I got to Brian keynote. Given that he finally landed and checked into his hotel after a day of travel delays and a post-midnight arrival, he was amazingly calm, graceful and focused.

Notes from Brian Solis Keynote

Big believer in every single one of us becoming the experts we’re looking to follow.

Is PR Dead?

Yes, it is dead, changing, evolving and going through a Renaissance.

Social media didn’t invent conversations, but there is a fundamental shift in how we communicate and how we perceive people.

You are not in control . . . we pushed more in the attempts to try and steer it. We are in control of going to more places where communities are active.

It all begins with where we start. Problem with PR as it is now: Starts at the top and rolls down.

Social media is forcing the direction going the other way.

Companies are hiring “twinterns” because they believe the younger people get the tools. Sometimes in social media, silence is golden.

Before going in, answer this: What is it about it and about you that makes it that you should absolutely be there?

PR is experiencing a branding crisis. FTC going after bloggers and considering them to be liable.

The industry of PR is yet to hire someone to save us.

The new worlds of “public” relations is about a new generation of influence and being able to match the story to the people it’s connected to. The difference now: PR is now going to be more like empathetic customer service that it’s ever been. It takes us from behind the cloak and brings us to the front line. It’s community management agencies. Everybody is now an expert in the tools.

Qualifications to participate: empathy, market expertise, start to embody all the things that need to be contagious to somebody else. Get a taste of the customer service experience to get genuine, have passion.

Very few of us can profess to be experts – we were handlers, pushers, broadcasters and publishers. Need to expand our role from within.

Are you a publicist or a communications expert?

Led by customer service – not PR or marketing – best two examples: Comcast and Dell.

It’s about fixing the company on the back end.

You should be writing for the people you report to: the customers. This changes how you write a press release and how you approach the process.

Adapt so it’s more meaningful.

Big news for all of us – it’s about going to where they’re already looking for information. Docstoc and Scribd are the YouTube of documents. Search on delicious, you’ll come back with some really useful information. Tag and upload documents – Brian’s had some documents with over 100,000 views. He can trace it all the way through based on links and calls to actions. Same thing with YouTube, had 70,000 views within a week of Brian’s video because it was tagged. YouTube is the number two search engine in the world – more people going to YouTube than to Yahoo.

But, just because we have access to these tools doesn’t mean we need to go there.

There is a human attention dashboard in social media – your job is to get on the dashboard and get them to click on something.

You have to realize that people believe that they are broadcasters as well. To earn their attention now takes a lot more than it used to.

Social Media is about Sociology NOT Technology

The culture on each platform is different, they all bolster different communities. Twitter is technically not a conversation – the conversations are not threaded.

The Conversation Prism shows that the world is bigger than Facebook and twitter.


Twitter has the worst retention rate of any social network ever, 90% of all tweets come from 10% of people on twitter. Point: your customers are elsewhere as well. Many places are walled gardens. Each has a search box and you can come up with the information necessary to search. Yahoo and Google groups still come up as the number one place to engage conversation.

Social maps will always be unique to the company. Backtype searches blog comments – if you’re only searching blog posts you’re missing out.

Creating the Conversation Index

Create indexes across the platforms with company name, competitor, “your company sucks.”

Establish an index now and update it once a month. Technically, numbers are supposed to go up and sentiment is supposed to be more positive.

The “magic middle” is the most ignored opportunity in the blogosphere. If you get a hit on A-list blog, that’s good for 10-20,000 unique visits. You get a lot of traffic, buzz and then it’s gone. It’s happening so fast on these sites, step aside where it’s slower and more meaningful. “Magic middle” bloggers probably have 10-20,000 readers, but their readers are highly qualified and influential. Your list of targets is endless. Communications pros often overlook these guys, but you can trace the magic middle all the way to sales. You can reach out to them, and work on a story that will be important to their audience.

Point: could talk all day about numbers, but it’s not going to matter if you don’t believe you’re in charge. With every tweet, post, comment it collectively tells who you are. It establishes your credibility online. How do you define yourself? Influence isn’t for the other people. Now, we can become influential. What are you going to do to establish your own authority to build up your own digital profile?

How do I participate on social networks? As me? As the company?

Who do you want to read what? Friends and family versus business connections? Tacos versus conferences.

On the business side of things, you want to establish influence. People believe that you are part of the community. We are bound and connected to people that share the same interests. You are defined by the company you keep. Try establishing a social graph. It’s portable.

You can then become influential because you’ve earned it.

The most effective people are those who can adapt to how it’s been perceived.

You have to become believable to be accepted. Communities want answers and direction, they don’t want to be sold.

Apple did such a great job of building community that they don’t have to be on social media.

You have to ask yourself – what’s the impression you want people to walk away with? Sometimes these conversations take away from the brand. The answer will be different for each one of you. Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you want people to know about you? Are you reinforcing or taking away from the goals? Make sure your company has guidelines and policies.

People trust people more than they trust brands.

Is it about trust and credibility – who has it and who needs to earn it.

Action speaks louder than words. If it’s only avatar relations, you’re not getting any deeper. Who are you going to invest all of this in for the long term? It’s not about today, it’s about tomorrow.

Attention dashboard – the only reason that Motrin Moms is still being discussed is that we’re keeping it alive. Have to establish and define what you want to earn. You can humanize the company a million ways – have to define the actions you take.

When we define influence we look at numbers, we tend to forget how many people actually do something with that information. You’re not hitting the masses like you think you are. the only way to make this scalable is to create an empowered community. And, you, in a sense, are the trusted ringmaster.

The harmony of concentric conversations happens when the conversations start to carry over to different networks.

Influence is the ability to inspire action and measure it.

Guide that experience – have pages created so that when you do send them something you’re in control of what they see at that point. AnheuserBusch’s instead of releasing commercials, turned the camera around and talked to people behind the scenes and hosted on a site.

Brian did it on his own – happened so fast it was beautiful.

Become an expert on your product, service and industry.

Become a resource.

Become the “expert” you sought in the first place, you become the authority and influencer.


How do you reach teens?

It’s psychographics, not demographics. Just because MySpace is slowing down, it doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable to your company. Twitter is the next MySpace. There’s also ning – one of the biggest goldmines for artists and movies. Dipdive, another new network that’s attracting a lot of teens. Can start to do analysis. The answer is yes, but more as well.

Tools that graph out images?

Whole movement called infographics – go to .

How do we manage content across all the platforms?

If you can pile in a couple of 12 hour days of participating, you’ll start to realize that spending your time there is much more valuable than what you’re doing now. It’s going this way – the point is how do we adapt to it. You don’t have to be everywhere – you only have to be where your communities are highly active. A lot of us are spending way too much time tweeting.

Classis case studies?

Brian’s written about what they did and what they didn’t do right at  and has case studies for download

Note: Lightly edited transcript based on Barbara Rozgonyi’s reporting. May include inaccuracies and typos – missing other opinions. Please add yours.

Thanks to Ragan Communications for the ticket and to CME Group for hosting!

Read #ragansocmed, @wiredprworks twitter coverage or browse all #ragansocmed coverage.

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