Is Social Media the New PR?
Social Media and terms like SEO are relatively new to most individuals, and this includes the business world. The novelty of these ideas create trepidation with many executives and managers to be weary of the effectiveness of these resources. The truth is that having a social presence can really help your company, whether it is a large publicly traded company or a local start up. You have the ability to act as a Marketing Communications Specialist, and as is often seen now, your own PR firm. Social media gives you complete control over your branding efforts, and can in many ways make it easier. Most of this comes from the fact that having a social presence makes companies more “human” and relatable, and is slowly becoming the new form of PR.
This is maybe the most important aspect of social media, especially as it relates to PR. For decades, businesses you PR, either outsourced or internally, to take care of branding and public image. It was extremely effective, and traditional PR firms still thrive. PR firms also use social media campaigns to help companies image. A lot of this is now referred to as internet marketing, but the idea is the same; how to use online and social resources to promote a company. When your business has social accounts, you can directly control every message that comes out, as well as send that message out more frequently. By incorporating social media, your branding also takes another step, and that is connecting on a human level with customers. You can directly respond to messages, share information about the company that might not be suitable for a commercial, etc. Your audience will see you less as a company selling a service or product, but rather someone they can see putting regular content out like every other social user.
This is something that is overlooked, but customer service has the potential to improve with the use of social media as well. While you can’t respond to every question or concern, there are many circumstances where businesses have resolved issues over Twitter or another outlet. People feel companies that have a social presence take more personal accountability because they open themselves up to public scrutiny. If you’re a good company, the scrutiny won’t bother you, but the perception of accountability will attract customers. Along with customer service, companies use these platforms to promote specials and deals. For instance, cable providers like DirecTV use their Twitter accounts to promote specials, ask the public if they are excited about upcoming shows (that’s right, the exact same shows the provide!), and it culminates in a conversation between company and customer; a valuable connection.
Affordability of Service
These social accounts are free, and unless you are trying to get paid promotion, your accounts stay free. This is a huge benefit to small companies that might not be able to pay for or hire a PR specialist. By having access to the online resources, you can do your own PR for little cost to you. It is important, however, to pay attention to best practices, as you don’t want to hurt your social campaigns. But being a small company, you can really tap into local networks, followers, etc., and really build a solid following. In turn, your presence goes up, and that converts to business.
So in many ways, Social Media is standing in as PR for many businesses. You will see this more in smaller businesses, but it is a trend that is growing. Having complete control over your companies image while being able to send out multiple messages is priceless for any group. There are certain limitations, but nothing that a little extra work on your social outreach can’t remedy. If you utilize these tools appropriately, you’ll be on your way to growing a more solid customer base, while always being in contact with a larger potential audience.
Jordan Mendys is a social media and SEO blogger, and is currently working on his Masters in Film and Video. He lives with his wife in North Carolina.