4 Reasons Proves Why Social Media is New Age Public Relations
Before social media became popular, public relations was a passive role.
PR teams tracked events that damaged reputation, publish statements on industry news and sent releases about new product offerings.
With the arrival of social, that has changed. Many firms believe and implement the ideology that PR and social are now inseparable.
The idea makes sense as well. There is a great overlap between the functions of PR team and a social media team.
is social media the new PR?
Here are 4 reasons why social media is the new age PR.
1. Social Media Is Real Time
The goal of any good PR campaign is reaching the right people with the right message at the right time.
Earlier, PR firms would reach out to journalists to either pitch or comment on a story.
Social media has made the communication world flat. Instead of communicating with the public via a channel, firms can now use social media to communicate with the public.
Every day, hundreds of events happen. These events are an opportunity for brands to generate positive PR. Social media is the only channel that allows brands to take part in the dialogue in real time.
Without social media, this massive opportunity wouldn’t exist. some brands are already leveraging it. Here are some well-known examples.
Ben and Jerry’s
The popular ice cream brand took a simple story and timed it well for excellent results. The event was marijuana legalization in Colorado.
Here is what they posted:
Here is the link to the tweet as well.
They received over 5500 likes and 9000 retweets. All that was great PR for the brand.
Oreo is another great example of quick thinking by a brand to get some amazing PR.
In Feb 2013, the Superbowl was on. Unfortunately, a power outage happened that lead to a blackout.
Within minutes, Oreo Cookies posted this on twitter.
The post instantly went viral with over 15 thousand retweets. It’s a great example of how quick thinking can be a great PR win for a business.
In a more recent example, Samsung was promoting the newly launched Samsung phones, the S8 and the S8 plus.
On Twitter, the company asked their followers to share the first pictures they took with their new device.
As a joke, a guy named Edward replied, “It was a d**k pic”. Here is what Samsung replied with.
That single reply got the over 17.5 thousand retweets with all positive coverage. This was the first time a single emoji reply created such a buzz.
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2. Social Media Is Direct
Social media has broken barriers of communication between consumers and brands. It’s easier for brands to communicate to their users one on one.
Depending on the social channel, brands and celebrities are using social media to generate awareness and positive PR.
Every social media channel has distinct characteristics. It’s important to take advantage of the capabilities the platform provides.
Facebook and Twitter work great for most brands. For individuals and public figures, you need to look beyond those.
Two social networks that are immensely popular for individuals are Quora and Reddit.
A popular format for Reddit engagement is the AMA (ask me anything). It’s session where Reddit users can ask literally anything to the one holding the AMA.
It’s a great way to get in front of your target audience, answer questions and hone your image.
The AMA is extremely popular. It is so popular that even Barack Obama did an AMA in 2012. It was very successful. In fact, it’s the most upvoted AMA of all time.
But, a warning!
Getting access to your target audience is one thing, but making the interaction successful is other. Jumping into a PR activity on social media without understanding how the platform works is a crisis waiting to happen.
As expected, all is not roses in the social media world. Blunders do happen.
As many have been successful on Reddit, many have failed.
Some of the biggest Reddit fails belong to celerbrities as well. Notably the AMAs by Priyanka Chopra, Steven Segal, Jared Leto and Morgan Freemanhave been a PR failure. These AMAs accomplished exactly opposite results of what they were intended for.
Apart from Reddit, a popular social channel with a question and answer format is Quora.
Unlike Reddit, Quora is a question and answer social network. People ask questions and other people answer them.
Quora also holds sessions.
A session is very similar to an AMA on reddit. The difference between an AMA and a session is that sessions are dedicated to topics first, people second.
In a session, people ask the questions and subject matter experts answer the questions.
It’s a direct way to reach the perfect audience.
Influences are already seizing the opportunity. Influential people from a variety of areas are coming on the platform and answering questions.
For example, have a look at the session conducted by Jonathan Badeen, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Tinder
Sessions aren’t the only way to interact with people on Quora. You can also answer any questions that are asked on the network.
3. Social media is quantifiable
The inherent trouble with traditional PR is that it is difficult to measure ROI. It’s not easy to measure the value of great reputation of a brand or a CEO who is considered a subject matter expert.
The digital nature of social media and the tools associated with it make it easy to understand how much is your business benefiting from all the effort being put in.
Here are some ways to understand the results of your PR efforts.
- Track online mentions
You can obviously measure retweets, likes and shares. But mentions of your brand online should also be tracked.
- Track website visits
- An important metric within Google Analytics is referral source. Using this you can track which sources resulted in how many website visits.
- Analyze the competition
- Using the same tools mentioned above, you can also track a competitor’s PR efforts. Track their mentions and compare them to your own to get insights about how your efforts line up compared to your own.
4. Listening Is easy On Social Media
Traditional PR was much more cumbersome and time consuming compared to PR of today.
Traditionally, PR executives would keep a record of individual journalists. Specific topics which the journalists covered was also recorded.
As soon a story broke out that presented a PR opportunity, PR executives would pitch to them.
Social media eliminates that process entirely. Not only can you research potential journalists, but you can pitch to them via social media as well.
The 3 dominant social media channels that journalists use are Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
The first part would be research. Then comes the pitch.
Researching the journalists on social media is easy.
On Facebook, there are many groups that are full of journalists. Apart from that, you can use hashtags to find them.
On twitter, the primary way to research a journalist would be hashtags. It’s important to note the specific topics that the journalists are posting and writing about. You don’t want to pitch a sports journalist a political story.
On Linkedin, connections are key. I would recommend that you find journalists via twitter and connect with them on LinkedIn as well.
Many journalists still prefer email for communication. If you are connected on LinkedIn, email is just a step away.
When the opportunity arises, contact your preferred journalists and pitch them your story.
Before going further, here are few things that you should keep in mind while pitching journalists over social media.
- Do not use Facebook for pitching stories. Most journalists use Facebook as a way to stay in touch with friends and family and not for business.
- Build relationships first. Your chances of success are much higher if the journalist knows who you are.
- Remember that you are on a public platform. Your pitch should be crafted keeping this in mind.
- When pitching to multiple journalists, make sure that your communication is not robotic. Any communication that starts with “Dead Journalist” would be trashed or ignored.
- Pitch the right person the right story. I mentioned this above as well.
Social media has been a boon and a curse for public relations. While it allows for direct and real time communications with your potential customers, its like a double edged sword.
Brands have to be proactive with their efforts in the social media world. People are using social media not only for communication but for many customers, it is the preferred method to communicate with a brand.
Every new change brings opportunity. Those who master the art of PR with social media will thrive in this brave, real time world.