In today’s online environment, having a strong understanding of social media and how it works as a communications tool is not only important, but vital to success. Due to the rapid growth of online communication across social networking sites, PR pros simply cannot afford to give social media a miss. Here are some benefits it brings to PR practice.
Dialogue. Social media’s ease of access makes sharing content and information across numerous platforms simpler than ever before. Social media not only amplifies the customer’s voice, but empowers them to interact with brands. In the same way, PR practitioners can use social media to post information, questions and ideas, and engage with their stakeholders in a conversational manner. This direct two-way dialogue is priceless when developing relationships with target audiences.
Variety of content. Social media combines high-quality content in the form of posts, images, videos, infographics and links. This variety of content, when integrated correctly, can do wonders in improving public awareness of important issues. With approximately 1.86 billion monthly active users on Facebook alone, there certainly is an audience out there for PR practitioners. The challenge is, however, in identifying the people they want to talk to, pinpointing the social networking sites they use, and cutting through the clutter with the right combination of content and frequency.
Stronger listening capability. Traditional media is all about broadcasting your message and getting as many people as possible to hear it. Social media flips this idea on its head by giving PR practitioners an accessible avenue for listening to their customers. With social media, practitioners can monitor public opinion and learn about their stakeholders’ preferences and needs to better connect with them and tailor a more appealing approach. For example, many PR practitioners use social media to reach out to journalists, find out their ‘beat’, and monitor the stories they have or are currently covering. This gives the practitioner a better understanding of the journalist, increasing their chances of securing media coverage in the future.
The extensive use of social media has drastically changed the way people communicate and share information. Understanding this change is key to PR success, giving practitioners, their organisations and clients a personality and voice in a very public sphere.