I am currently applying for internships for this upcoming summer, and a lot of the applications require an essay about the implications of social media within the last few years or since about 2000. It has led me to think about a lot of the changes that my generation has been through but thought as normal. I always hear from my parents and grandparents that they cannot believe how technology has changed, and while writing these essays, I started to see things for their perspective.
The adoption of social media tools and networks in the public relations industry has transformed the meaning of communications. Companies need to take the extra step to strategically utilize social media instead of just having accounts on various websites. The majority of companies are using social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, andYouTube, but it is vital to the company’s success to use these mediums strategically to be effective.
For example, companies including JetBlue, Dell, Starbucks, andComcast began using social media as a way to offer customer service. When a person complains about one of these companies’ products or services on Twitter, the company often sends them a message on Twitter offering their help. This technique allows the companies to reach more customers quickly, for greater customer satisfaction and increased revenues. In the first six months of 2009, Dell reported $1 million in revenue from customers on Twitter.
Social media provides the opportunity to start discussions about products, services, and even people. In addition to the customer service example, people interested in causes, products, and services can connect with others who are interested in the same topics. For social advocacy causes, this strategy has proven successful. When the earthquake in Haiti occurred, blog posts and tweets gathered a lot of support and ways to donate time and money to the victims.
During the primaries in 2008, President Barack Obama found much success by connecting to citizens via social media. For example, his Twitter account had tweets about his stance and policies but also responses to some people who send messages to him. Senator Hillary Clinton’s Twitter page did not follow any constituents or engage in discussion with potential voters. Even though there were other reasons behind Obama’s victory, the concept of interacting with others through a two-way dialogue was key in Obama’s strategy.
However, there are other forms of digital media necessary for integrated communications practices besides Twitter. These practices focus on releasing content into the blogosphere and ensuring that it reaches the right audiences. Whether this technique means pitching to bloggers, creating podcasts and videos on YouTube, or networking with people through Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, the content needs to be created to start the necessary discussions that empower social media practices. Gathering the attention of the public and stakeholders bring positive results to all promotional campaigns.
Nevertheless, it is vital that there is transparency when connecting with others over the Internet. For example, if a public relations practitioner publishes content about his or her client, it is crucial to disclose any connection with this client for ethical purposes. Even though the public may not think as highly of the content posted, it may still start a discussion that will lead to positive reviews by the public. It is critical to avoid situations that companies such as FEMA have run into by not revealing important details during media interactions.
Having the ability to create discussions about a product or service is the greatest asset for a company. Even though these dialogues continue 24/7 and can produce negative coverage, the benefits still outweigh the risks. Public relations campaigns that incorporate social media will have lasting effects for the clients.