Think Before You Tweet: Ten Guidelines for Social Media Marketing and Public Relations

Mike Smiley, vice president of PAPA Advertising, weighs in on the basics for social media marketing and public relations.

Erie, PA, November 06, 2010 --( The landscape of public relations and marketing is becoming increasingly populated with social media outlets. Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare have become more than just past-times; social media venues present significant opportunities for businesses to connect with, and engage, their audience.

With so much emphasis on building an online presence, public relations professionals are eager to log on and tweet out. There are, however, some important things to keep in mind before crafting those 140 characters.

With 30 years of experience in advertising, corporate communications and marketing, Mike Smiley, vice president of PAPA Advertising, outlines 10 things to keep in mind when initiating a social media campaign. “Social media is a great, low-cost tool for marketing and pr professionals. It does, however, present some challenges when it comes to what is and what isn’t acceptable.”

Here are Smiley’s 10 guidelines for social media marketing and public relations:

1. Be transparent - State where you work and who you are. Honesty is essential in the social media environment. “When writing about your company or a competitor, use your real name, identify who you work for and be clear about your role,” said Smiley. “Be sure to admit when you have a special interest in the topic of discussion.”

2. Be honest –As with all public statements, never represent yourself or your company in a false or misleading way. Each statement must be true and concise, never misleading. Smiley added, “This may sound similar to the transparency policy; however, this guideline pertains specifically to content rather than personal disclosure.”

3. Be a contributor – Use social media as a tool to open up dialogue, not as a way of bombarding people with ads.

4. Be compliant – Before posting, ensure that your efforts to be transparent don't violate your company's privacy, confidentiality and legal policies.

5. Be the expert - Stick to your area of expertise and feel free to provide unique, individual perspectives on non-confidential activities at your company.

6. Be civil – Opinions differ, however, it is essential to keep the discussion polite, especially if you find yourself in a situation online that looks as if it’s becoming hostile. “Remember not to get overly defensive and don’t abruptly disengage from the conversation,” said Smiley. “Ask your PR Director for advice and/or disengage from the dialogue in a polite manner that reflects well on your company.”

7. Be diplomatic – When writing about the competition, make sure you behave diplomatically. Have all facts correct and make sure you have the appropriate permission.

8. Be discreet - Never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or related parties.

9. Be cognizant – Keep abreast of situations within your company. Never participate in an online conversation when the topic being discussed may be considered a crisis situation. Even anonymous comments may be traced back to you or your company.

10. Be cautious – Always protect yourself, your privacy and you company’s confidential information. “Anything you publish is widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider all content carefully,” said Smiley.

As you embark on your journey through the social media landscape, remember that social media is all about personality. Personalizing these guidelines to your organization’s needs can be an integral part of your campaigns success. “These 10 guidelines are just the beginning,” said Smiley. “They can be used as a starting point for your social media campaign, but remember it’s all about what’s right for you and your company.”

About PAPA: Serving clients throughout the United States and Canada, PAPA Advertising. provides results-oriented, converged marketing solutions, including advertising, brand development, media planning, public relations and web marketing. Learn more at

PAPA Advertising
Mike Smiley
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