It’s hard to think of a time when social media was just for people, and not organizations. Nowadays, it’s practically unthinkable for a business not to be on social media. Organizations of all types and sizes recognize the ways in which social media can help them better understand, respond to, and attract the attention of their target audience. It’s not just social media businesses have embraced at a rapid pace, but also blogs, social networks, wikis, and other vehicles to achieve their marketing and public relations goals. What types of benefits can companies achieve with an effective social media strategy?
Get the Message Out Faster – and to More People
Social media enables more rapid sharing of information. It may take hours, or even days, for a new announcement to reach the end consumer through traditional channels. Why? Because when a press release is issued, a journalist or writer must first wade through all the sales and marketing lingo to find the key points. Then, the content must be re-purposed in article format, and sent to an editor or proofreader before it is published.
Social media channels, on the other hand, allow for instantaneous dissemination of not just news, but images, audio, video, and other multimedia content as well. And because releases geared toward social media outlets contain only key highlights, pertinent facts, and links to related statistics and quotes, the information they contain can be immediately picked up and posted by bloggers and other online journalists. Ask any major news outlet how often they’ve been scooped by Twitter, from Supreme Court decisions to election coverage to local news events.
Need further proof? Turn on any cable news channel and see how often social media is being referenced, if not directly imported into the shows themselves.
Social media also provides more widespread coverage, enabling breaking news to reach a much larger and broader reader base than standard media outlets alone. While magazine readership and the number of available print publications continue to decline, the number of consumers using the Internet to access and share information continues to rise sharply. Facebook now sports over a billion users who are logging in and reading, sharing, and talking daily.
Social media, including blogs, can be a highly useful tool for enhancing both awareness and image. Blogging can help “spread the word” about a company, its products, and its services to more people, dramatically increasing brand recognition and awareness. 74% of consumers stated that they used social media to make purchasing decisions!
Additionally, social media can enable executives to gather input and feedback directly from their target audience, and use that intelligence for more effective reputation management. Insight into why people like – or hate – a brand is needed to help change and control audience perceptions and preferences.
Boost the Impact of Digital Marketing
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key component of today’s direct marketing and lead generation strategies, and social media has proven its ability to significantly complement SEO initiatives. Many social media techniques – such as frequent use of common jargon and key phrases, title tags, ticker symbols, and links to blogs and other relevant Web content – can dramatically improve search engine rankings. Additionally, while SEO relies on just a handful of popular search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo to drive target prospects to a site, social media expands the potential audience by creating alternate channels.
For example, when content is published to a site, and that content is then linked to from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or reddit, it can generate a tremendous boost in Web traffic. Why? Because social signals are an integral part of SEO these days. Bing, Google, and dozens of other search engines look to social media to see what people are sharing. Not only that, but Facebook shares can actually have a greater influence on Google search rankings than backlinks.
Times have changed. Whether you’re looking for enterprise technology Public Relations or consumer PR, the techniques of participation in the social media sphere are as critical to success as traditional media and analyst relations. Sure, we still write press releases and pitch reporters – we just do it differently: more effectively and more broadly. It’s not just about media relations anymore; it’s not about pitching the top 50 contacts off a musty list. PR today is about content creation and community relations. You need a public relations firm that lives and breathes social media, and knows how to interact with the blogosphere just as well as with the traditional media players.
SHIFT doesn’t just use social media tools, we innovate them. They’re in our DNA, and they’re fast becoming the lifeblood of our clients’ public relations success. Coupled with a solid public relations strategy and tenacious execution, social media can be a game changer. Our PR staff knows social media cold, because they live it. Are there mistakes to be made in this bold new world? You bet. But to borrow a phrase from Chaucer, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Whether you need a New York high-tech PR firm, a San Francisco consumer PR agency, an Austin blog management group, or a Boston security public relations firm, SHIFT has the right mix of traditional and social media public relations chops. Let’s get busy.
CEO, SHIFT Communications