Note:  This post also appears on Waggener Edstrom’s Thinkers & Doers blog.

You’ve spent endless hours researching your target audience.

Your campaign objectives are in place and you’ve pieced together a fine-tuned strategy and supporting tactics to make your public relations campaign a glowing success.

It’s time to kick things into action, except you realize you’ve forgotten one last ingredient to top off your campaign. What might that be?? A little sprinkle of social media, of course.

How about some Facebook here? A dash of Twitter there? Sure, why not, clients will love that. Heck, let’s even throw in one of those blog things people seem to like. If this approach sounds familiar, it’s time to tear up that old 3×5 recipe card, head back to the kitchen and start putting some more digital oomph behind the foundation for your next PR feast.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial for communications professionals to ensure that overarching digital strategies are integrated into initial project and campaign planning. A social media strategy should not be perceived as a mere “add-on” and only applicable to specific online communications projects.

The way in which we all interact and discover information online is constantly fluctuating but one constant remains – the space between our own social networks continues to decrease. As such, it’s important that you keep online communications at the forefront of your mind as you’re planning your overall strategy.

If you’re struggling to identify items to consider in your planning, here are a few back-to-basics reminders to get you started in making “social” a main ingredient:

1. Audience – Figure out where they are hanging out. If you’re not already actively listening to online conversations, you should be. A solid listening strategy will assist you in determining where and how to connect with your key audience? Are Twitter and Facebook the only important hubs? What about community discussion boards or within Ning communities? Don’t forget the niche online spaces, they’re often the most influential.

2. Objectives – Why do these conversations matter? Can you clearly identify the value of engaging with this audience in helping achieve your campaign objectives? Map it out as it ties in with your offline strategy.

3. Content – Which online channels will be most effective in helping you communicate your message, share content and engage with your target audience in ways you haven’t previously tried? Go ahead, take a risk and expand that palate.

The next time you randomly reach for that social media shaker to satisfy your client’s digital taste buds, step back and reassess the basis of your online efforts and how to integrate communications efforts as a whole.

Note: Kudos to digital chef and Studio D social media strategy guru Tac Anderson for coining the term “sprinkle a little social.” Be sure to check out Tac’s full digital cookbook at

Image by Muy Yum

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