web analytics

October 19, 2019

The Importance of Social Media in Public Relations

Guest Blog by Camille McClane

 

Public relations, like all other types of communication, needs a medium.

For many years the media was simple: Word of mouth, the newspaper, phone calls and the occasional public forum. Not only has social media upended those platforms, but they now depend heavily on social media for their distribution.

Additionally, the use of social media as a PR tool is far more complex and effective than previous systems.

The connectedness and the speed with which the Internet makes information available has given those who work in PR far more platforms and methods by which to reach their target audience and the public at large.

Now the task is to understand which mediums to target and how to effectively use them.

pr keyboard

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Understanding Where Your Target Audience Hangs Out

Social media has grown to the point where there are more than just a few options available, with each platform having its own strengths and weaknesses that a smart PR representative will know how to optimize.

Twitter and Facebook are still primary, covering a broad range of people and age groups.

But if you can narrow down your target audience, you might want to consider targeting different social media platform based on the following factors:

  • The age range of your audience.
  • The shared interests of your audience.
  • Where your audience spends the bulk of their time online.

A lot of this will depend on what you know about the people you’re trying to target; so it stands to reason that the more you know and the better you understand them, the more productive and efficient you can be in terms of which social media accounts to use.

SM user ages

Image Courtesy of http://optimiseblog.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/ukstats3-550×507.png

When You Should and Should Not Use Certain Platforms

For example, if you’re targeting middle aged folks in the business community, LinkedIn might be a better focus than Google+. At the same time, if you’re targeting a female audience primarily in their 20s and 30s, Pinterest might be a better choice.

You simply can’t target all of the social media platforms in existence. There are just too many of them, so you’re way better off figuring out which demographic you’re targeting and communicate with that audience on their preferred platform.

Besides, you wouldn’t want to target all social media platforms if you have a specific audience in mind, because as the graphs show us, different people tend to congregate within different platforms.

It may take time to narrow down your targeted audience, but in the long run it will make your marketing more effective.

What Platform for What Brand?

If you’re working for a particular brand, you need to be aware of not only an optimal platform choice, but also be ready and able to choose the correct tools within each platform.

For example, do you need to use Facebook ads or simply status updates on a fan page? How about StumbleUpon campaigns or conventional curating?

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/campalyst-infographic-facebook.png

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/campalyst-infographic-facebook.png

A more obvious way to answer that question is whether or not the company you’re doing PR for (yours or someone else’s) has money in the budget to spend on advertising and social media. If not, then ads quickly become a poor suggestion, but this is something that needs to be established up front so you know your options.

Determining if a particular brand can utilize a platform should consider the following:

  • Does the brand have a preexisting, established presence on certain social media accounts?
  • Does the company intend to spend money on the campaign?
  • Where does the brand’s typical audience tend to congregate?
  • The brand’s reputation (Organic business methods, personal, known for their blog, etc.).

The Importance of Strategy

PR campaigns certainly involve an element of luck, but a good campaign manager knows how to plan, strategize and set themselves up to have the best luck possible. Make sure that you don’t leave things to chance but take the time to understand the basics of your brand and target audience, in order to roll out the optimal social media PR strategy.

camilleCamille McClane is a content creator and marketer who enjoys blogging in her spare time. She particularly enjoys writing about social media, infographic design and online marketing.