Social networks are a mainstay in Public Relations today because of their unique ability to host interactive communications as well as allowing us to connect with our target audiences directly (its true two-way communication.) It is becoming the way to communicate with consumers. We can communicate directly with target audiences and learn the industry trends and consumer habits.
Sometimes senior management hesitates to spend the money on social networks because it’s a non-traditional method of marketing. It’s a mistake to overlook it because if used correctly it can accomplish so much more than traditional methods. It’s only one tool in the PR box, but it’s an extremely important one. We need to learn how to use social networks to our advantage.
Participating in social media will increase visibility, increase customer loyalty, will give you the ability to watch your customer’s behaviors and then allow you to respond quickly. (And it is also a lot cheaper than a focus group!)
In Delta’s PR fight against a proposed takeover by US Airways they hosted a pro-active PR campaign centered around a website called “keepdeltamydelta.org”, and when they generated supporters through this site and those supporters attended rally’s, they posted video footage of the rally’s on YouTube. Obviously their unlikely campaign was a huge success.
Dos and Don’ts of Social Media in Public Relations
- Use social media in PR. We can’t claim to know anything about it if we aren’t using it ourselves. (We can’t suggest our clients use it without knowing how to use it ourselves.)
- Introduce your clients to the benefits of going online. The web is a great platform for businesses to market their services and communicate with customers.
- Think about audience first and message second. (This may sounds backwards) because there is a huge range of audiences available through social networks and you must cater who you are targeting before you put a message out there.
- Consider the context of digital give-and-take conversations. When using social media networks, you can’t tightly control messages because the consumer has a voice, and they will speak up if they aren’t in favor.
- Find your customers. Before jumping in, find out where your customers are, are they blogging? Are they on twitter? Then write up a detailed strategy and make sure you’re using the right social media platform.
- Be authentic. You must be yourself, customers can see right through fakeness.
- Be prepared to receive negative feedback. Be prepared to fix customer-related problems and have a code of conduct. Someone should have the responsibility to monitor the content of the blog or independent site.
- Be prepared to respond quickly. Respond quickly to all customer complaints and questions.
- Don’t be scared to use social media because it’s new. Older forms of advertisement are becoming outdated. Internet advertising and communication is a much more financially efficient way to reach target audiences.
- Don’t abuse social media.If we abuse the use of social media, for example: using fake on-line user profiles as part of a campaign, or using without understanding, PR could be rejected by Social Media communities. We need to take time to know these communities so that we can operate well within them.
- Don’t just do it to do it. Have a strategic plan, and use social media as a strategic tool.
- Don’t just sell. Traditional advertising campaigns won’t work. Customers don’t want to be sold to, but rather engaged and listened to.
- Don’t be reluctant to participate in other social media. Participating in another company’s (or individual’s) blog, Website, etc., can actually benefit your company. The whole point of social media is to establish a community. If you link to them, they’ll link to you and you’ll see more customers on your site.
Think about it:
How can you be using social media in your public relations work place? How can you suggest the use of social networks to your clients?