Why Companies Should Use Social Media - Public Relations Part 2
Written by Mark Michalek | Published on July 11, 2012
Tagged in Social Media
In part 1 we discussed some of the benefits of using social media along with some do's and don'ts. We specifically talked about the role of social media in crisis situations and reputation management. Social media is used far beyond crisis situations. One aspect that separates social media from other forms of public relations is the role the audience plays. Traditional forms of public relations such as events, demonstrations, or brochures give the audience a relatively small role. Social media allows audiences to play a significant role in the public relations process and nowhere can this been seen more than viral videos.
Viral promotional campaigns can explode in the form of a YouTube video in a matter of days. One definition of viral campaigns suggests “Viral advertising is unpaid peer-to-peer communication of [provocative] content originating from an identified sponsor using the Internet to persuade or influence an audience to pass along the content to others” (Southgate, 2010). The first advantage is that audiences are “passing along” free advertising for a company to their peers. This allows content to be spread very quickly especially if embraced by an opinion leader in a group. These videos are more likely watched and viewed favourably upon if suggested by a friend (Southgate, 2010). For the PR professional it is important to note what makes these videos successful. Southgate found that videos containing novelty and uniqueness played a large role in popularity. Examples such as the Old Spice – What a man should smell like ad (2010). Additionally, celebrity endorsements, or presence within an ad tend to become more viral (2010). As repetition has been proven to be essential to successful message delivery the more the video is viewed and passed on, the more successful the campaign can be considered. Repetition helps the audiences remember as well as add to the credibility of the message (Wilcox et. all, 141, 2011). Now whether a company releases a video or starts Facebook page there are some key aspects to being successful in the social media world that differs from the typical marketing world.
How Social Media Differs From Traditional Marketing
Ramsey suggests developing a style, creating a balance between sales and talk, as well as avoiding business-to-business communication very important in social media communications (259, 2011). Ramsey also outlines some rules for specific outlets. For Facebook; frequent but relevant updates, acknowledging positive comments and responding to questions. For Twitter; trying to keep messages as short as possible, trying to shorten links, answering all questions to those whom specifically asked using the @username protocol. For YouTube; not taking comments to heart, as commenters can be particularly vicious. One should use video replies when possible, and acknowledge positive comments. Also noting one should follow all platforms’ rules and regulations (260, 2011). The tactics Ramsey outlines are necessary for companies to consider when wanting to be successful in the social media realm. Viral campaigns can be incredibly powerful and persuasive therefore it is essential to use the best tactics possible to ensure audiences respond to social media efforts.
Who Is The Audience?
An interesting aspect to consider with social media is the age group of the target market. There is a general perception that the Generation X, and Millenials groups are the most attracted to social media. While younger users are certainly heavy users of social media sites a recent study conducted by The Research Intelligence Group and WIN indicates that older users are also now increasingly using these websites(Stuth, 2010). The study found that “almost half of adults online and older than the age of 55 have posted messages on social networking sites. Two-thirds of these older adults go online to review postings on social networking sites, with one-quarter of them logging in multiple times per day” (Stuth, 2010). This is an incredibly important trend for organizations to be aware of so that an appropriate communication strategy can be formulated for the "new" target audience in the social media realm. The job of a PR professional using social media will continue to get more difficult and specialized as this new web demographic grows.
The Next Generation of PR Professionals
Social media is still a relatively new platform for PR professionals yet it is becoming increasingly significant to an organizations communications strategy. Many organizations are jumping on board without considering the many strategies necessary to have a successful social media initiative. It is not enough to simply have a Facebook account, or enter the social media world simply because it is what a modern organization should do. Like other forms of public relations social media requires research, planning, successful execution and evaluation.
Wilcox, D. e. (2011). Think Public Relations. Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.
Filisko, G. (2011). Social Media or Snake Oil. ABA Journal , 97 (1).
Jina, Y. e. (2010). The Blog-Mediated Crisis Communication Model: Recommendations for Responding to Influential External Blogs. Journal of Public Relations Research , 22 (4).
Southgate, D. e. (2010). Creative Determinants of Viral Video Viewing. International Journal of Advertising , 29 (3).
Stuth, K. (2010). How current are your beliefs about social media? Marketing Research: A Magazine of Management & Application , 22 (3).
Ramsey, M. (2010). Social Media Etiquette: A Guide and Checklist to the Benefits and Perils of Social Marketing. Marketing & Customer Strategy Management , 17 (3/4).
About the Author
While at University he spent his exam study time combing through Facebook pages and correcting people's typos with the accidental inclusion of the #number sign in their online posts. An avid photographer, video maker, and nacho enthusiast, Mark's passion for new media and traditional marketing make him the ultimate social media specialist.