In defense of social media
In the PR world, social media can sometimes get a bad rap. But at its core, social media is really just another medium for communicating different types of information in different ways with different audiences. Here are the top five concerns we hear about social media – and why you should still use it.
“On social media, everyone’s a journalist.” The very nature of social media means that anyone can post anything. Of course, this has its drawbacks – there’s no guarantee that the information is factual. There is still a very real need for ethical, fact-checking journalists who make up a free (print and online) press. That won’t change. But journalists themselves have embraced social media, using it as a way to source story ideas, engage with others, and even promote their own stories.
“Something can go viral in seconds.” And that’s not always a bad thing. Sure, businesses have to be prepared for crisis communication more than ever before, making proactive PR plans and strategic communication even more critical for every business. But going viral doesn’t always mean negative coverage. The right video going viral could help your company reach millions of new audience members who have a very real need for your product or service.
“I don’t know how to respond to comments or posts directed to my organization.” Really, it’s just a conversation. You want to encourage “user engagement” – a fancy term for interaction between you and your audience – by responding quickly and thoroughly to each post. If it’s a compliment, say thank you. If it’s a question, answer it. If it’s a general comment, respond. If it’s a complaint, investigate the matter and provide a thoughtful response. Remaining silent is the worst thing you can do – it gives the appearance that you don’t care, on a public platform. (The only exception would be when a post is purposefully vulgar, hateful or inappropriate, in which case report the post to the social media website to be removed.)
“We already publish news releases – why do we need social media?” Social media is your opportunity to engage with a much broader audience in a different way. This is your chance to build a real and authentic relationship with your consumers, and you can communicate in ways you just can’t with traditional news media. Gone are the days when businesses talk to their consumers in a one-sided conversation. Social media enables your consumers to ask questions and receive answers in real time. So establish your brand voice as approachable and genuine. Share personal information, like staff members’ favorite movies or Donut Day at the office, along with other relevant content.
“My posts don’t get any attention.” The whole point of social media is that users get to control their experience. No one wants to scroll through a newsfeed filled with self-promotions and glorified advertisements. You can humblebrag about your accomplishments, but you should also generate useful, industry-related content to the general public, through blog posts and other informative posts. Remember to engage with other users and businesses on social media, too – if you want people to read your content, show them you’re reading theirs!
So don’t be threatened. Social media isn’t going to destroy traditional journalism. But it has changed the way we communicate, and it’s here to stay.
We’re in public relations – we get why many companies are wary of using social media after hearing horror stories of social media gone wrong. We understand why those fears exist, and we can help. But in the meantime, embrace everything social media can offer.