In public relations, if you want to be successful, you’re going to have to become familiar with social media. When you’re asked, ‘what is social media,’ your response will probably be limited to websites such as Twitter and Facebook. If this were a test, your answer wouldn’t be completely wrong–but it wouldn’t be completely correct either.
Some might argue that social media is a multi-dimensional means of communication, connecting one person to many. Others might say that ‘social media’ is a term that currently describes user-generated content but will soon become obsolete when the entire Internet becomes social. The point is that we don’t want to limit our definition of social media to a couple of social networking websites. There are hundreds of social media tools available to everybody that help define what social media is. Some of these tools are free, while others require monthly fees. Every tool can work to your advantage, however, if used properly.
I’ve done a little research and found information on five social media tools that I can’t wait to utilize as I grow in my career.
The website does just as it states: it helps your social media productivity. This tool allows users to schedule tweets in advance that will appear on your Twitter account when you schedule it. You also are given the option to post recurring tweets or one-time posts.
There are two types of accounts that you can develop with socialoomph.com: the free or the professional. While the professional offers a few additional features, the free account will still help you get your job done.
On May 5, 2010, Twitter released a new tool that helps enhance the use of your tweets (or the tweets of others). Blackbird Pie is a tool that allows you to easily embed tweets into websites or blog posts.
The methodology is simple:
– Copy the URL of the tweet that you want to embed.
– Go to Blackbird Pie and paste it into the white box on their site.
– Hit “bake it” to process the URL and you’ll be given an HTML code.
Here’s the catch: it only works well with WordPress.org users and is not too pretty with WordPress.com users.
If you’re a WordPress.com user (like I am), and that second social media tool upset you, I apologize. For now, we can still use screenshots to embed tweets into our posts. Kwout.com is a very simple way to allow us to embed tweets for emphasis.
The steps are quite simple with Kwout–simply take the URL of the tweet you want to embed and paste it onto Kwout’s “demo” bar. After you hit the “kwout” button, it will guide you through how to edit the screenshot. The website will produce an HTML code that you can use to embed the image of the tweet into your blog.
Not only do embedded tweets make for a nice visual component to your blog post, they also can emphasize a certain point you’re trying to convey. Here’s a simple tweet I took from my Twitter account.
These five tools that I researched are only a tiny piece of the larger picture of social media. Don’t be intimidated or reluctant to try something new. The fact is: if you engage in social media, you’re more likely to succeed in the industry.
I recently had the opportunity to interview one of the professors in the Mass Communication and Journalism Department at California State University, Fresno. Professor Betsy A. Hays sat down with me last week and discussed her view on how the public relations industry is evolving with the developing world of social media.
In her 11 years working with Fresno State, Professor Hays believes that we now live in a world where communication channels are practically endless. She believes that the media needs public relations professionals more than ever, as a means to receive information.
The most important thing, however, is content. If you don’t provide the world with valuable content, nobody is going to care.
Throughout the course of her interview, Professor Hays discussed the following topics:
– How has the field of public relations evolved since the development of social media?
– Should social media be incorporated into the classroom setting?
– What are some good ways to utilize social media to promote one’s own personal brand?
– Should teachers and students interact on social networking websites?
The video is only a five-minute clip of a 30-minute interview, displaying only some of her responses. Other portions of the interview will be posted at a later time.
I’ve heard it argued that the Internet and technology is going to “kill” mainstream media. We live in a world where people don’t “talk” with one another, they “tweet.” Our society has accepted “Facebook messages” as a means of “contacting.” Technology, however, doesn’t “kill” the media–it evolves the media and the processes that go along with it.
The Internet has changed the rules of public relations. What was once traditional media contact, is now virtual. While some traditional methods still exist, there are more ways to communicate with the public through the use of technology and social media.
Press releases, for example, are now being delivered via social media and no longer offered solely by mail. How do we develop a proper social media press release? Let’s first look at why some of the old rules of press releases fail in social media:
1) The online world is full of millions of people. The traditional press release focuses solely on the company that is issuing the release. The appeal is narrow–only for the business.
2) The news releases issued are full of jargon that only professionals might understand. Your online audience isn’t going to always understand the terms you throw out in the middle of the release.
How do we develop a successful social media press release? Simple.
1) Consider your audience. You’re now delivering a message to millions of people–write the release in a way they will understand. You want to appeal directly to your audience.
2) Provide useful links. Using links in your press release will do a lot of good for both you and your audience. Firstly, place links in releases to allow readers to potentially land on other pages you’re delivering (e.g. your own personal blog). You have a greater chance of strength your search engine optimization by including more useful links in your release.
3) Choose your words wisely. Don’t use fancy language. Our society is busy and doesn’t have the time to read extra words. Keep your release clear and concise.
4) Make your release social. Embrace the social side of social media and promote conversations within your release. Include a link (See Tip #2) that leads readers directly to a forum that allows comments and feedback. Involving your readers can do wonders for your client or your business. This promotes a positive perception about who you are when you involve yourself with your audience.
Social media press releases are intimidating for some, but are a fundamental change that many businesses need to make if they wish to continue to compete in this field. By developing a strong online press release, you will realize how important these tools are to reaching your audience.
In a social world that is moving faster than we can imagine, it’s difficult to stay relevant for any person or company. In a recent video developed by Social Media Energy, it states that their research has found 83 percent of all businesses utilize Facebook. Over 700,000 businesses actively use Facebook pages.
For businesses to remain profitable, they need to maintain their relevance in their field. In my interview with Peter Lang, social media strategist and CEO of Peter Lang International, he compared relevancy to life in the ocean: “The most successful sharks in the ocean can follow their prey and keep up with it.”
There are many businesses that create things that are flawed due to their inability to keep up with the ever-changing trends and they simply don’t have the learning capacity, according to Lang.
Lang offered his top three reasons he believes WHY BUSINESSES FAIL to properly represent themselves online:
1. The business does not know that new social tools exist.
A lot of businesses, surprisingly, do not realize that there are many new team collaboration tools online for their benefit. OnePlace, however, is a website that offers organizational and productivity tools for personal and professional use.
Most businesses don’t utilize these proactive tools; they build themselves on retention. The company will retain old communication tactics because they feel they are not broken. While they might not be broken, they aren’t optimal in today’s society.
As the video itself showed, social media can deliver “great value” to any company, as 41 percent of business owners will testify.
2. The business refuses to adapt to change.
Think of the time you last heard from a business that they will “reply to your e-mail within five to seven business days.” Fairly recent, I’d assume? Think of the time you last saw a business reply to you within the hour on Twitter. Not too recent, I’d assume?
Take the example of Tony Bosco: after having a bad experience at Wow Bao, a restaurant in Chicago, Bosco tweeted about it. The owner of the restaurant read the tweet and responded immediately, offering Bosco promotions and special discounts to try the food again. Bosco complied because of the “immediate interaction” he received, he said.
As in the case of Wow Bao, it’s the simple ideas of listening, responding and problem solving that will really create an adaptive organization.
3. The business has interns represent its brand.
Imagine letting a high school freshman teach a graduate course at a university—this almost never happens. In today’s market, according to Lang, many businesses are hiring interns to develop the company’s social media pages. The interns are representing the company’s brand.
In many cases, the intern doesn’t know how to properly use social media to represent the company. Even if the intern is capable, he or she will still become a liability to the company–this new student has become the voice of a company to an entire online universe.
In this case, you’re putting your company at risk by allowing an inexperienced inter represent the company through social media.
As I learned from my discussion with Peter Lang: stay relevant, don’t be afraid to adapt to change. Develop your online presence wisely. Everybody is watching, listening and perceiving you.
Don’t forget: perception is reality.