The proliferation of owned media. The democratization of voice through social. Media’s evolving landscape. New ways to accurately measure and track PR’s value.

The PR and social media landscapes have changed so much in such a short period of time. While some may see that as daunting, many have relished the new opportunities it presents and innovated methods for connecting with target audiences.

Mari Smith - Social Media InnovatorTo celebrate the launch of two innovative products Cision Social Edition and Cision PR Edition, we have scheduled a series of Q&As featuring some of the finest innovators in our field. Up next is Mari Smith.

A top 10 social media power influencer according to Forbes, Mari is considered one of the world’s foremost Facebook marketing and social media experts. Mari consults with businesses of all sizes around the world to help accelerate their profits through the use of Facebook and social media marketing.

Without further ado, here are Mari’s answers to how social media has changed and how she has innovated in this space:

How has social changed over the last five years?

The focus has shifted from amassing huge numbers of fans and followers to focusing on providing highly relevant content, quality experiences and exemplary customer service. To that end, more and more businesses are waking up to the power of proper training of their staff, integrating social across all departments and not putting social into a silo.

What are the biggest trends in the industry today? How do they help you innovate?

The massive rise of video on Facebook is a wonderful trend this year. With super short attention spans and limited real estate in the News Feed, we need to focus on concise, impactful messaging that educates, entertains or does both.

In my company, we take clips of my speaking engagements, for example, and splice down into 30- to 120-second clips for sharing across Facebook primarily. I also love recording short educational screencast videos. I’m a big believer in sharing informal smartphone videos to provide that more personal touch.

Another trend in 2015 is, “service is the new social” — more companies are realizing the powerful impact of wooing customers and how that can turn into evangelists and word of mouth marketing.

​​How do you innovate PR? Tell us in our #InnovateNow Hashtag Sweepstakes. (Deadline May 12) Click here for details!

Can you tell us about the most innovative social project you’ve worked on?

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) (clients) recently created a fabulous music video project as its annual PSA, entitled “The Original Social Network.”

In collaboration with NPR Music and the band Red Baraat, 350 total strangers gathered for the first time to play a specially written song together. No one in the crowd had performed the song before, nor had they ever played together before. No one knew if people would show up or how it would sound. The joy, community and energy arose from an authentic experience showing people truly connecting through music. When people play together they share, comment, connect, like and friend in real life!

The result was NAMM was able to create a variety of video clips for sharing across various channels: FacebookYouTube, and the organization’s website.

What are some lessons or best practices social media pros can take away from your most innovative campaign?

i) Include and involve your audience in creating the content – along with major partners. You’ll then have more of a buy in when the campaign launches, and a built-in team of supporters ready to share with their networks. As Brian Solis says, you want to identify and reach out to your “audiences with audiences of audiences.”

ii) Choose a set date to launch and have every component lined up, then flip the switch. Your social and PR buzz will gather more momentum and you can then continue to ride the wave of the heightened visibility. (See this handy promotional launch calendar here.)

iii) Focus on creating more evergreen content and content that can be produced one time and then repurposed in a multitude of ways, including cutting up video clips.

About Annemaria Nicholson

I drive go-to-market content, SEO and social strategy for multiple brands at Cision, an earned media software intelligence company.

Your content program is only as good as the stories you are telling. I engage and inspire audiences with interactive and multimedia projects that serve all areas of the funnel and have experience scaling content programs globally to drive brand awareness, leads and revenue for the business. I own our keyword strategy and non-technical SEO for the business.

I revolutionized Cision’s outbound promotion efforts to amplify its inbound lead generation results by creating a multichannel campaign strategy that promotes discoverability, search rank, audience awareness, credibility, and ultimately more topline revenue growth. I also helped with our rebrand and watched Cision go public in 2017.