PR-Squared's Social Media Tactics Series: PR & "Edgework" Via Facebook

IStock_000004356705XSmallOne of our stars recently developed a presentation on how her team has been participating directly with consumers, on behalf of clients, via Facebook. 


I just want to share some of the key points from her presentation.

First off, some of the Facebook groups that she recommends PR pros check out, to increase (and share!) their general knowledge, include:

She also pointed out some of the many mainstream publications with a Facebook presence, including their own private networks:

  • NY Times – 778 members in network
  • USA Today – 335 members in network
  • WSJ – 356 members in network
  • LA Times – 338 members in network
  • BusinessWeek – 121 members in network
  • Associated Press – 840 members in network
  • Reuters – 4,120 members in network

And reporters who are on Facebook?  They include heavy hitters such as:


Ed Baig, USA Today

Peter Burrows, BusinessWeek

Melanie Wells, Forbes

David Kirkpatrick, Fortune

Jon Fine, BusinessWeek


In other words, whether you’re reaching out to bloggers, consumers or mainstream media, Facebook probably should be a consideration. 


However, in the case of these top-shelf business writers, you shouldn’t try to “friend” them if you don’t already have a relationship of some sort.  Spam is spam, folks, whether in email or in the form of a “Super Poke.”  


But let’s talk about “edgework.”  Forget about the biz press.  How should you reach out directly to Facebook users?


At SHIFT, one approach we’re fond of can be summed up in a few sentences:


Identify appropriate groups.  This is easily accomplished via Facebook’s search engine (which, by the way, handles over 600 million searches per month!)


Are there enough members to make outreach worthwhile?  Are they active?  We define “active” by the frequency of new-member sign-ups, the volume and recency of discussions on the group’s Wall and Discussion Board, the volume and recency of uploads and shared posts, etc.  So many Facebook Groups were started and abandoned on a lark (i.e., a waste of your time); this part is critical.


Research the Group Type.  Is it an “Open Group”? If so it tends to allow for more, and more diverse, users.  Closed groups tend to be insular and neutral/hostile to outsiders.  Leave ‘em be.


Befriend the Admins.  Too many PR pros simply join an Open Group and post their items for all its members.  This is spam, in my book.  We prefer to respectfully approach the Facebook Group Admins.  It was their passion that started the group; they use their personal time to administer the community.  Respect them like you’d respect a business reporter.  For our outreach, we explain to them who we are, who we represent, what we’d like to share with their community members. 


If we’ve done our job right, our content is totally appropriate for their group.  We ask if we can share/post our content to the Facebook Group, and, very often, these admins either agree or even volunteer to do it for us!  This latter approach not only provides instant credibility, but also means that the content is “pushed” to all Group members’ Facebook in-boxes.


Here’s a handy slide to remind you of what to look for when considering the appropriate Facebook Groups for your pitch (it’s linked to a Flickr jpeg):


SHIFT - Facebook slide


If I am counting right this is the 9th installment of PR-Squared’s Social Media Tactics Series.  Do you dig it?  Do you digg it?  (Actually, I prefer a save to Magnolia or StumbleUpon, if you care to share the love.)  In any case, as always I love your feedback. 

Posted on: March 14, 2008 at 10:57 am By Todd Defren
8 Responses to “PR-Squared's Social Media Tactics Series: PR & "Edgework" Via Facebook”


  • Thanks for the post!
    Could you tell more about reaching FaceBook administrators? What kind of letter I can right to introduse myself?

  • Carolyn says:

    Thanks for the valuable AND concise info. Newbies like myself also appreciate the JPG – great touch. :) Thanks Todd!

  • Todd Defren says:

    I hear ya, Mike, and where appropriate either an agency rep and/or (better) a client contact does engage in longer-term conversations.

    Where that’s not feasible or appropriate, all the more reason for the group admin to “make that call.”

  • Mark Johnson says:

    Is this that much different than in the old days when we used to troll newsgroups, posted a few times, and then approached the moderators? To me it still seems slimy, spammy, and/or fake to join groups with the intention of pushing product. If that’s your goal and you don’t intend to share in the conversation, probably best to state it up front. Oh, such an idealist, am I =)

  • nicole says:

    this is an excellent post…i didnt even think of half of this information….thanks!

  • Staci says:

    Thank you for the information! I think the new “pages” application on Facebook will help better target members. Another great way for a company to utilize Facebook is to create a “sponsored” group, which allows the company to advertise on Facebook with a link to their group.

  • Todd,

    What are your opinions on Facebook “Pages” (specifically geared toward businesses)? Do you think they are more or less valuable than groups?


  • Brian B says:

    This is great info. I had created a Facebook group for a client program a year ago only to learn that fans of the program would rather manage their own group. We wanted to create a place for them to congregate and share, but they were already doing it.

    This year, we’ll be offering tagable content and information (such as correct spelling of client program for better searching) to help fuel their individual FB groups. All the groups had over a combined 5,000 followers across 4 cities at least. This year we’re expanding the program to 6 cities. Very exciting.

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