Social Media: An Essential Item in the PR Toolkit
Updated: Jan 25
Do you have an account on any social network? If you answered yes, then you are a part of about 3.5 billion social media users worldwide that constitute around 45% of the current population. Considering users spend close to three hours on them, it is not surprising that for most brands, reaching their customers through social media is one of the most favored forms of communication.
What began as a way for people to share their life and connect has become much more complex in functionality. The changing dynamics of how we communicate online, coupled with newer features that the social networks keep adding has led to people using social media for more than talking to a friend now. Over time, more and more brands have realized that social media is integral to their survival because that’s where the people are. Such is its importance that, it even created the need for new job roles. But most importantly, it has become a tool for marketers and PR professionals to engage audiences in novel ways.
How exactly has it transformed PR?
Social media has opened the path for round the clock engagement. As brands started connecting with their customer, it also allowed the customers, in turn, to voice out their opinions and complaints for all to see. A single negative conversation directed at a brand can cause a stir of emotions amongst people and they can fuel it with their own negative experiences. Hence, the concern over how to manage a brand’s image and its reputation on social media platforms started growing as well.
Its unpredictability and volatile nature are the very reasons that have necessitated that PR professionals turn to social monitoring and listening to keep a tab on the activities in the social space online. From the kind of sentiments to the degree of their strength, it is now possible to find accurate data and tackle any online conversation that is on the brink of turning into a PR crisis. As digital PR gained prominence, PR professionals understood how integral online reputation management and online crisis management are to the practice of PR.
Storytelling through social media
It all started when social media was just considered a medium for advertisement. But brands soon realized their folly and started using it more strategically by telling engaging and shareable stories. From just focusing on sales and trying to get people to use their product/service to giving people a chance to understand them and their ideologies, they have come a long way. Building relationships, finding ways to connect and hook the audience to win hearts is now the ultimate goal for brands navigating social media. The scope of using it for effective storytelling is immense and integrating PR with marketing efforts can take any campaign to newer heights.
A view of the networks
The kind of accessibility social media gives to PR and marketers is unmatchable. Whether it’s product launches or award updates, Twitter has become the choice for brands to make announcements. From online activism to brands engaging with other brands for a battle of wits, it sees it all. LinkedIn, on the other hand, has established itself to be the top professional network and is being used as a medium for thought leadership, influencing the audience and maintaining a strong professional front. In fact, PR professionals are now using LinkedIn focused strategies for brand building. From amplifying media coverage, finding media opportunities to sharing business insights and connecting with media professionals, it has become more than just a professional networking site. Instagram, being a visual-heavy medium is immensely popular with the masses and has given rise to a different set of content creators. These ‘influencers’ in turn have given way to a new method of marketing called ‘influencer marketing’. If used strategically, it can create visibility for any brand and can even push sales.
From merely a social tool for individuals, social media has become a medium through which brands build loyalty and improve brand recognition. It demands a large part of all public relations efforts and has firmly established itself as a force that can make or break brands.
This article first appeared on Reputation Today.