Fifteen years ago, if you had told me that PR and social media were going to work together and that we would use social media for PR, I may have chuckled.
After all, social media was initially created to connect family and friends, not brands. At least, that’s how it was in the beginning.
But how things have changed…for the better. Social media has blossomed into an exciting, vibrant tool that can be used across many industries. For the purposes of today’s post, we’re going to discuss how social media can empower both B2C and B2B PR strategy.
PR for Social Media: An Exciting Opportunity
It’s an exciting time to be in PR — especially with the integration of social media strategy within PR strategy.
Social media has become a substantial part of every day life — with an average of 3.48 billion users. It has also been found that an average user spends around 2.5 hours per day on social networks.
More specifically as to the impact of social media on the PR industry, public relations people have started to view social media as an integral part of their strategy. According to one study, 81% of PR pros and 78% of journalists said they can no longer do their job effectively without social media.
This shows the growing importance of social media strategy for B2B and B2C business.
Just as with any strategy, social media continues to evolve and morph in exciting ways — and PR along with it. Read on to learn how social media and PR are changing and what this means for your public relations strategy.
PR and Social Media: 5 Ways That Social Media is Changing PR
1. Niche Influencers
Influencers continue to be a reliable bridge between brands and their target audience. These influencers have worked hard to build trust with their audiences on social media — so much trust, in fact, that their recommendations often lead to purchases.
One study found that for every dollar a brand spent on influencer marketing, it had an ROI of $6.50. This shows just how powerful influencers can be for the bottom line.
While some lean toward larger-name influencers with audiences in the 100,000-range, there has also been a movement toward micro-influencers, those considered “niche”, with around 10,000 followers. Why? Because these niche influencers, although they have a smaller following, tend to have more loyal and engaged followers.
Social media has created the perfect ecosystem for influencers and is a great place for brands to vet potential influencers. Look at what influencers have posted on social media, how engaged their audience is, and how they interact with their audience. This will tell you whether their method is a good fit for your brand and messaging.
2. New Technologies
Social media is constantly creating new, innovative ways to interact with audiences. A few years ago, live video was the new “it” thing, and in many ways, it still is.
This past year, virtual reality (VR) has stolen some well-deserved limelight as the new technology of choice. This cool technology helps to engage and stimulate audiences, both intellectually and emotionally. Some brands have used VR to give a tour of their facility, immerse audiences in a hands-on product experience, or add an exciting element to their campaign.
Expect to see even more innovations via social media in the future.
The lesson here is not to be afraid to embrace new technologies, especially when you can use them on social media. When you see a new tool, ask yourself how you might use it to better engage your social media audience.
3. Two-Way Conversations
Public relations has also been known as communications — and for good reason. PR people often organize campaigns in order to communicate a brand’s message to an audience. But now that audience is able to communicate back to the brand as well, through social media.
Through such networks as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, audiences can now share their feedback instantaneously with a brand. This is done with the use of comments or, in some cases, direct messages.
It’s exciting to get direct audience feedback, but it also raises some questions. For instance, does this blur the lines between PR and customer service? Should customer service be consulted on such comments and feedback? These are questions that each brand needs to ask and possibly create policies for reference.
4. Faster News Cycle
With so many people getting their news on social media, feeds are constantly refreshing with the newest and latest story. It is estimated that there are some 6,000 tweets every second on Twitter and over 54,000 posts per second on Facebook. These rates are dizzying, to say the least.
Let’s think for a moment about the implication for journalists and PR people. For one thing, this information gives us a level of understanding for what journalists are going through — i.e., the pressure to continually create new stories to engage their audience and fill the social void.
What can we do as PR people? First of all, recognize the stress that this rapid news cycle causes and adapt your story pitches to help journalists. Get to the point quickly and give journalists all the information they need to turn your story around in the fastest time possible.
5. Easier Access to Journalists
With so many journalists on social media nowadays, access to them has never been easier. But this doesn’t mean that journalists are automatically at your disposal. Even with easier access, brands still need to approach them with respect and skill.
First, don’t just jump in head first. Sit back and observe the journalist for a little while. Ask yourself: What kinds of stories do they post? How do they engage with their audience? Get to know the person behind the posts a little more before you move in to engage.
When you have a story that falls into a journalist’s beat, approach him or her respectfully.
Keep in mind that while some journalists prefer to be approached on social media, there are still those who prefer to be reached through an email pitch. PR databases like Cision will often let you know a journalist’s preference. If you don’t know, start with email. You can then always ask the journalist’s preference.
Social media has grown into a robust strategy that all PR pros would do well to use. When you do, you’ll quickly find that PR and social media are a powerful combination.
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