Be social or don’t be anything at all

There are many social platforms available.

There are many social platforms available.

If you go to Google and search for “quotes about the importance of social media” no less than 13,600,000 results come up. Anyone who has recently studied PR or has joined its professional ranks understands the crucial need for navigating and using social platforms efficiently, as this determines whether their clients have a thriving online presence or merely exist as Internet lumps. It is becoming standard practice to include a detailed look of clients’ social media presence when preparing a pitch. Not surprisingly, many organizations can make improvements in this regard, which indicates that either not all PR practitioners or not all organizations have  realized what social media can do for them and how important it is that it be used properly. These are a few things they should remember.

Social media can help raise awareness about all types of issues, brands and companies and motivate people to take action. Different platforms use different tools and cater to different tastes. We can engage with our audience through images, words, videos, music and even games, polls and contests. Use them wisely (as did the “Dumb ways to die campaign”) and you’ll ensure that people know who your client is and what it does, and like it as well.

Consumers want to be entertained by the brands they buy. You’ve probably read about content creation and curation (if not, follow the link provided to catch up) for which the basis is to give the audience something interesting to read or watch so that they keep coming back to your site for more and engage in online conversations with us, and tell others to do so as well. In the words of Ryan Bowling, a spokesperson for Mars Inc. says, the idea is that “When you hit the ‘product’ button on a typical Web site, it usually takes you to an information page. Now, instead of us telling it, the consumers are telling what the product is about”.

It allows us to measure engagement (whether people are taking part in the conversations we’re creating and ultimately doing what we would like them to, whether it’s donating money, buying our brand or voting for a political candidate), segmentation (whether we’re actually reaching our target audience), resonation (whether our messages are having a ripple effect and are spreading), tone and sentiment (whether our audience is reacting favorably towards the content we post). And yes, there are tools out there which do all of this automatically.

It can help us increase visits to our website. If you make your social content interesting and link it to your website, chances are that your audience will go from one to the other in search of additional appealing content.

It’s the best way to reach a younger audience. 18-30 year olds in particular are big fans of social media and, according to Forrester Research, they very active online, not only consuming content, but also creating it by taking part in conversations or expressing their approval or disapproval of messages posted on social platforms.

Forrester Research Ladder, which classifies online audiences according to what they do online.

Forrester Research Ladder, which classifies online audiences according to what they do online.

 

It can get us traditional media coverage. If we make enough noise online, traditional media will pick up on it. We can also use the results of online polls to create interesting press releases which might call their attention.

And if this isn’t enough to motivate you, remember just one of those millions of quotes I mentioned: “Social media allows us to behave in ways that we are hardwired for in the first place – as humans. We can get frank recommendations from other humans instead of from faceless companies”.

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