:: shine online ::
christine kirk | social muse communications

Hello Sweetline friends! Hard to believe it's nearing the end of July?! There have been a lot of neat things happening at Sweetline and quite a busy summer. It's good to be back on the blog and I'll be sharing all of these events with you. I also am happy to present a pretty amazing and fab SHINE ONLINE interview with the savvy, smart and lovely Christine Kirk, owner and visionary of Social Muse Communications. Christine runs a one-stop shop for PR and online communications 3.0. With years of lifestyle and brand experience, Christine can shape and extend your brand to the masses with elegance and style. Let's hear what she has to say about social media, authenticity and encouraging companies to jump into the social media mix.

You are the owner of Social Muse Communications, a social media/PR company that consults luxury travel, restaurant, technology and lifestyle brands looking to extend beyond traditional PR efforts and embrace and engage in social media tools and communities. What was the inspiration behind your company?

My clients are the inspiration for my company. New technologies, social media, and the recent economic downturn, have changed the face of the media landscape for good. Social media isn’t just a fad, it’s the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution. Over the years, I have heard complaints from many clients that a traditional public relations campaign just isn’t cutting it for them anymore. There is no one way to reach your target audience. Simply securing a placement in a glossy magazine is not going to cut it anymore. A brand must get in front of consumers through many different channels of media – print, broadcast, online, blogs, and social networking sites. Social Muse Communications provides the ultimate in PR and Online Communications 3.0 – a unique blend of traditional media relations, online marketing, online advertising, and social media strategy.

Social media has grown rapidly in the last year and is an important role in a company's brand. What would you say to companies that are hesitant to getting into the social media mix?

A brand doesn’t have a choice whether or not to get involved in social media. If your brands not already engaging in social media, I guarantee that your customers and consumers are already engaging on your behalf. People are talking about your brand online whether you like it or not. What are they saying about you? The choice a brand has, is how well it engages with those people online, how it propels positive conversations forward, and how it responds to negative feedback. An expert online communications professional can help a brand navigate all that and more. If a brand is not actively engaging in social media, they are giving up control over conversations consumers are already having. By participating, you can help steer the perception, and make sure that your competitors aren’t swooping in and engaging with your customers…and ultimately stealing them away.

Many smaller companies and brands feel overwhelmed when it comes to engaging in social media - there's so much going on…all the time. What advice would you give for cutting through the "noise" and really connecting and e-relating to like-minded people?

Engaging with the public online requires a certain amount of finesse, and even a level of psychology, to be effective. Taking old PR and advertising messages and applying them to social media is not going to work. You’ll be ignored or even deleted from a user’s lifestream. It’s important to work with an online communications professional who understands how to be conversational with a brand’s fans while maintaining the brand’s integrity, and how to be engaging by being an excellent content producer, and creating online videos, photos, blog posts, etc. on behalf of your brand.

Authenticity and keeping it real are key elements for successful + quality social media. Like any relationship, being sincere is important. Many people want to share their products/services with their communities without coming off as pitching or salesy. What are tips for balancing messaging - personal and pitch?

I always recommend looking at the content a brand posts online in increments of 25%:
  • 25% of the time: Provide information completely unrelated to the brand but that is relevant to the overall industry the brand is in
  • 25% of the time: Respond directly to incoming comments and feedback from your fans
  • 25% of the time: Post engaging content that fans can relate to – online videos, photos, blog posts, etc.
  • 25% of the time: Announce company news. Yes, you can use more formal sales tactics here. If you’re doing all the other parts 75% of the time, users won’t mind being pitched once in a while.

Time management is a big challenge for many small business owners. People often want to just connect all of their social media platforms for efficiency. What are do you think about this and what are some tips for making this happen?
I dissuade anyone from doing this. Each social network is different and how you use Facebook vs. Twitter vs. LinkedIn vs. MySpace should thus be different. To sync them all together (meaning where you update one to update all the others) is missing the point of social media. Your Twitter followers might be a different demographic that your Facebook fans – they don’t want to hear the same things. Also, on Twitter, it’s acceptable and even encouraged to Tweet multiple times a day. On Facebook, most people don’t care to hear from a brand multiple times in the same day. Treat each social media tool and its users with respect, and learn what works, and what doesn’t work for each. Or, just hire an expert! Brand’s have dedicated staff for all sorts of positions, and social media is now one of the most significant forms of communications that spans across advertising, marketing, customer service, and brand reputation management. Doesn’t that deserve specific attention? It’s not about if you participate in social media, it’s about how well you’re doing it.

Thank you, Christine!

Click here to check out Social Muse Communications and to contact Christine. There are tons of goodies on her site. Christine also has a fabulous twitter community - you must follow her @luxuryprgal

Want to read more interviews from digitally savvy folks?
Click here for a full list of past SHINE ONLINE interviews on the Sweetline blog.


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