Social media has exploded in popularity over the past decade, and every day billions of people share everything from their work life to pictures of their cats at the touch of a button. For many people, social media is a vital part of their social interactions, meaning they spend hours a day scrolling through these sites. How can businesses harness this new social frontier?
The new connected generation
Social media enables businesses large and small to interact with customers in a far more personal manner than ever before. They can gauge public reaction to their business, creating customer awareness and loyalty in a matter of clicks. However, this can be a double-edged sword as customers can also reach you. Criticism and vitriol can also be thrown in a matter of seconds and may very well overwhelm unprepared businesses.
Managing reputation online
PR skills are invaluable for managing social media platforms, from content creation to handling negative feedback in a public arena. The potential for everyone to be a publisher at any time means a seemingly harmless post could turn into a public relations disaster in the blink of an eye. This positions social media platforms as the potential source of reputation risk as well as meaningful channels of communication.
Does this mean companies are better off steering clear of social media and sticking to traditional PR activity such as press releases? Although this will always be a vital part of PR, companies may be missing out on great brand exposure by ignoring the value ‘going viral’ can present. Storytelling is a fundamental part of PR and social media allows a campaign to be shared with a much larger and wider audience than ever before. Where you are speaking directly to your audience, rather than through a journalist, the tone and message will differ in order to be appropriate. PR expertise ensures you tailor your tone of voice and content to suit each platform and audience.
Going viral done right
Brand social media campaigns have the power to go big. Take Weetabix’s controversial baked beans serving suggestion, which was released earlier this year. The brand received a lot of backlash but was mostly good mannered and meant that millions were talking about their product. Even MPs in the House of Commons were giving their view! However, BrewDog’s ‘Strike Gold’ campaign, which promised lucky customers solid gold beer cans, was less well received. One winner used social media to point out that the can consisted of far more nickel than gold and was worth far less than the value the brewer had said, which led to media furore. Social media campaigns live and die on public reaction – Weetabix used humourous debate to spark conversation, whereas BrewDog was scrutinised by disgruntled customers.
How social media can save the day
Social media, when properly used alongside a PR campaign, can have tremendous results, making a greater impact. Trying to sell more of a product? Post eye-catching pictures on Instagram and use hashtags to draw in interested customers! Excited for an announcement? Show that excitement in a more personal way directly to the customers through dedicated posts! Social media doesn’t replace traditional PR but rather amplifies it and strengthens marketing campaigns as a whole, providing brands with an additional communication channel. It is a marriage made in heaven for earned and owned brand activity.
To see just how effective social media can be for you, contact Caroline Walker on 01732 779 087.