robinsonk26 / Pixabay

Social media is no longer just a part of your business’s public relations (PR) strategy. It’s now the single-most important part, especially in a world where people have very little trust in traditional media.

To get the best PR results, you need to stay informed on the developments in the rapidly changing world of social media. Here are five new ways social media will factor into PR in 2018.

  1. Getting in Touch with Your Audience through Live Video

Live video content is taking off. Snapchat was instrumental in starting the trend, and Instagram took it a step further with Instagram Stories, which quickly grew to over 250-million daily users.

With live video, your business can build a stronger connection with the public. People enjoy live videos because it helps them build rapport with the person or business that’s streaming and because they can interact while it’s in progress.

  1. Providing Content Across Multiple Platforms

It’s no secret that content is key when it comes to PR. When your business provides high-quality content, it attracts a larger audience and builds your business’s reputation. People begin to see it as an expert figure in its industry.

Your content needs will likely increase in 2018 as more social media networks offer their own content publishing options. Facebook has been leading the charge here with its Instant Articles feature.

Dan Lobring of rEvolution elaborates, “With increased media consolidation as well as media fragmentation, what is thought of as traditional PR) will continue to evolve to an even more broader communications approach. Social media influencers, hyper-local bloggers, , will grow in prominence, and PR professionals will have to hustle harder to their messages out there… Expect social media to grow as an engagement platform, but also play an important role in distribution, and amplifying messaging, which will then lead to an increased need for custom content designed for specific and emerging social media platforms.”

  1. Building Brand Awareness with Influencers

With consumers consistently tuning out traditional media and advertising methods, influencer marketing has become a popular way to build brand awareness. The challenge is in choosing the right influencers.

The public has grown wise to standard influencer marketing efforts, and for influencer marketing to really benefit your brand, it needs to look natural and the influencer must fit your industry. One potential alternative to choosing those influencers with major followings is choosing actual customers as your influencers and incentivizing them to promote your brand across social media.

What will happen in 2018 and beyond is that brands and PR teams will become more savvy in evaluating influencers. Why is follower count the only important metric? What about engagement rate, growth of followers over time, or the account’s engagement with other accounts ? These are the types of questions marketers and PR professionals will need to ask more often next year as both media outlets and influencers become more sophisticated and complex,” explains Bilal Kaiser of Agency Guacamole.

  1. Expanding to Messaging Apps

Although companies have primarily focused on social media networks, messaging apps are becoming too big to ignore. WhatsApp is approaching 1-billion users, and Facebook Messenger and Kik are two other popular choices.

These apps provide another avenue where your business can connect with people. When the public can reach your business through convenient messaging apps instead of needing to call or email, it gives them a more positive view of your brand.

  1. Using Social Media for Reputation Management

Reputation is everything for a business, as one PR issue can spread rapidly and harm your brand for years to come. And you’re fighting an uphill battle to begin with, as 42 percent of consumers distrust brands.

Social media is where negative comments about brands spread the most, especially as the line blurs between social media networks and review sites. Facebook has had a business review feature for years, and Yelp has a social component with its user profiles.

Since social media provides the best opportunity to connect with the public, it allows you to build and protect your business’s reputation. You can jump on potential PR disasters immediately with social media to limit the damage done to your brand.

You can’t get complacent with your PR efforts, as what worked in the past won’t work today. Understanding the changing social media landscape will help you keep your PR efforts on point.