In the last two decades, social media and technological advancements have changed the modern public relations industry. It has changed how people exchange information, perceive business, influence customers, and communicate. According to a Pew Research Centre Survey, covering the period between 2005 and 2015, more than two-thirds of Americans visit social networking sites regularly. Because of its reach, public relations officers employ different strategies in social media usage to reach their target groups. They include mobile engagement, search engine optimization, and content marketing. In this study, I will evaluate the social media effects on public relations, and discuss various tactics that professionals use for optimum results.
Public Relations relates to how business firms are able to conduct the spread of information between individuals and the organization (Safko, 2010). It is important for institutions, including governments, to disseminate information properly and efficiently for them to be able to reach large audiences. For them to be able to do this, they have to adapt techniques that correspond to the shifting tide of technology hence the need to embrace social media in their PR techniques. In relation to that, the aim of this paper will be to look at some examples of tactics used by PR officers in social media. Some of the tactics used by PR officers in social media are content marketing, mobile engagement, Search Engine optimization, blogging, offering Expert Opinion in real time, and Executive Publication in sites like LinkedIn. Other tactics include, PR-in your PR, research and information gathering, and pitching journalists (Safko, 2010).
Social Media Role in Public Relations
The primary role of PR officers is to communicate with the public about their product brand and business. However, because of the technological advancement and the surge in social media usage, PR officers must understand the transformation for effectiveness in their communication. Therefore, the various social media sites offer PR officers opportunities to reach their target audience. Some of the effects, which social media has on public relations are:
From previous researchers, large social media networks, such as Facebook have a daily usage of more than one billion people. The high scope captures all ages, which is appropriate for public relations officer because it includes their target. Therefore, social media reach has permitted the PR officer to reach a greater multitude with their messages across the globe. One aspect of social media that makes it possible for the vast global reach is the allowance for re-posting. Therefore, it allows PR content posted to be re-posted without limitations, which favors the primary goal of the public relations officer: to reach the public (Kumar, Bezawada, Rishika, Janakiraman, & Kannan, 2015).
Because of the increase in the reach of the PR message, most brands that have a social media presence have higher sales. Researchers have evaluated the social media on customer behavior and found it to have positive impacts. For example, in a study to assess how social model altered Firm Generate Content, researchers discovered that it increased cross-buying, customer spending, and profitability (Kumar et al., 2015).According to the authors, use of social media increases customer valency, susceptibility, and receptivity, which are essential in persuading them to buy products. Therefore, a greater reach coupled with a higher usage of social media has relatively increased sales, which are directly related to PR’s Firms generated content. One of the primary ways that social media has boosted sales is through the Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The tool allows customers to aces the content from the PR officer because of the ability to concentrate on a few key words and essential phrases.
Customer Satisfaction Metric
Moreover, social media has altered the means through which public relations officers gauge the level of customer satisfaction. Some of the most common aspects of measuring the satisfaction of clients include surveys, loyalty measurements, and evaluating customer effort. With the hike in social media usage, PR officers have an opportunity to employ it to evaluate the satisfaction level of their clients. For example, most online sites keep data on the number of visitors per day. They also allow for review. Moreover, new inventions enable customers to download specific Apps for evaluating certain brands. In social media, for example, different platforms are available to help public relations officer monitor the reaction of customers to their brands (Safko, 2010). They include Google alerts and social mention on Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, social media allows the PR officers to monitor the reactions, review of their customers to their products, and interact with them, which is essential in correcting the marketing errors. It allows them to formulate their public messages appeal according to the customer needs and preferences.
Determinant of Brand Reputation and Recognition
Conventionally, the most popular brands on sales and marketing were the big firms. The size of a company, its production capacity, and to some extent its physical space determined its reputation. However, since the integration of social media to public relations, small forms are competition successfully with big ones on the internet (Waters, Tindall, & Morton, 2010). The ability to influence customers is not primarily a function of size but of social media presence. Firms that have little physical space might have a large following in social media because of their tactics. An example of a company that has grown primarily because of its social media presence is Amazon (Solis & Breakenridge, 2009). Therefore, most public relations officers have to understand the power of the internet in either boosting their reputation or destroying it for example, because customers are a large part of determining that status, a wrong hashtag re-post of a company review as the potential to damage adversely the reputation of the firm.
The essence of hashtag (#)
Social media, especially Twitter users popularized Hashtag in 2007 with the symbol # to prefix their words. It has since then become a symbol of headlines that capture masses in all social networking sites. The reason hashtag is so popular, and a tactic that public relations managers use to capture their audience is its ability to create linkages. For example, clicking on a hashtag allows the user to see automatically other public posts, which are related to its content (Briones, Kuch, Liu, & Jin, 2011). Therefore, public relations managers can create a single hashtag and use it to express related ideas from a variety of goods in the same brands. It makes their work easier and us more attractive and memorable to the customers. For the small business, for instance, the hashtag is a great PR tool. It allows the managers to expose their content to a global audience and increases the discovery of their business and products.
PR firms and business have come to understand that social media has the greats following in the world. As such, they have devised techniques on how to leverage their press releases on social site so as to gather more following. It is important that business firm use the internet in a way that allows customer an opportunity to know more information that relates to their products(Briones, Kuch, Liu, & Jin, 2011). By posting the contents of you products on the internet, it allows people to gain access to the contents of once product. Such information should also be linked to a company’s main website so as which helps to increase the number of website visitors, page viewers, and website’s search engine visibility and ranking. By so doing, the most important contents that needs to be seen by customers in increased. The main advantage of social media is that it allows PR officers to create good relationships with brand influencers since it allows them optimized access to such content like news, video, and links which can be used online (Safko, 2010). The use of information portals alongside sites like blog and tweeter helps to even spread the message faster.
This tactic is useful in ascertaining the number of people who closely interact with the product. It is done by engaging the users through messaging channels found inside and outsid a given app. Through this service, companies can deliver positive brand experiences, and building long-term engagements with customers. The ability to engage customers over the phone or through social media in real time helps PR officers save the company both financially and in terms of time (Briones, Kuch, Liu, & Jin, 2011). Push notifications are the best examples of achievement posted by mobile engagement. One does not really have to travel to a given location or organize events for them to respond to consumer needs or concerns. All they have to do is gain access to the intern. Having a company’s business name and logo in social media pages helps boost its reputation and the products it sales (Safko, 2010). This can be measured by looking at the number of likes, comments, and followings that a company’s page has.
Search Engine Optimization
This is basically the ability to impact on the visibility of a website or a page in its organic results. It is presumed that the frequency of appearance of a given page has a great bearing on the number of visitors who can then be lured into becoming loyal customers of a company. PR can use SEO in boost the brand awareness and encourage people to share what they have read on the internet about a given product (Rampton, 2014). Joining the strategies used in PR and those of SEO will be useful in developing strong digital markets that are crucial in ensuring that there is brand visibility hence boosting company’s sales and general reputation. Activities such as blogging, PR Stunts, Event, and content calendar are among the ways in which SEO can benefit PR. PR use SEO tactics of locating better links on sites to ensure that content they need can be seen (Rampton, 2014). Tweeter, Facebook, and Instagram have proved useful in ensuring that links that rely on organic interest are in a company’s website hence making it easier for the users to access information on the company. Furthermore, SEO is crucial to PR because by developing trust based on the prominence of certain sites and websites like blogs, an individual PR is able to disseminate more information to the content consumers.
Research and Information gathering
Social media has proved to be a great host of information needed by companies to boost and their reputation and product sales. Sites like Tweeter can be good research tools. One can check information that relates to what might be some of the trending items on the market and some of the strategies other firms are using to capture the attention of user (Leiter, 2016). Using a hashtag, one gains access to a host of information on what has been covered and what may be some of the workable techniques to use in the promotion of your product. Journalists are of high value to anyone in the PR business (Leiter, 2016). Through social sites, one will be able to find a lot of information on who may be the best journalist according to the public view. By so doing, one develops high profile information on the credibility of such a journalist and they by establish relationship that can help in the promotion their product in other media services.
In conclusion, the growth of social media and its usage offers a unique opportunity for public relations strategists and managers to reach greater audiences and increase sales. However, because of the high rate of adoption, the public relations managers must strategize and use different tactics to ensure a competitive advantage in social media. Tactics such as customized content, SEO, and mobile engagements increase their ability to reach many customers and boost sales.
- Andrew Perrin. (2015, October 8). Social Media Usage: 2005-2015. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org
- Briones, R. L., Kuch, B., Liu, B. F., & Jin, Y. (2011). Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 37–43. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com
- DiStaso, M. W., McCorkindale, T., & Wright, D. K. (2011). How public relations executives perceive and measure the impact of social media in their organizations. Public Relations Review, 37(3), 325–328. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com
- Khang, H., Ki, E.-J., & Ye, L. (2012). Social media research in advertising, communication, marketing, and public relations, 1997–2010. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 89(2), 279–298. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com
- Kumar, A., Bezawada, R., Rishika, R., Janakiraman, R., & Kannan, P. k. (2015). From Social to Sale: The Effects of Firm-Generated Content in Social Media on Customer Behavior. Journal of Marketing, 80(1), 7–25
- Leiter, A. (2016). Four Social Media Tactics for Public Relations Professionals. ab+c | Creative Intelligence. Retrieved 10 April 2017, from http://blog.a-b-c.com
- Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Harvard Business Press.
- Rampton, J. (2014). How PR and SEO Work Together. Forbes.com. Retrieved 10 April 2017, from https://www.forbes.com
- Safko, L. (2010). The social media bible: tactics, tools, and strategies for business success. John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from https://books.google.com
- Solis, B., & Breakenridge, D. (2009). Putting the public back in public relations: How social media is reinventing the aging business of PR. FT Press. Retrieved from https://books.google.com
- Taylor, M., & Kent, M. L. (2010). Anticipatory socialization in the use of social media in public relations: A content analysis of PRSA’s Public Relations Tactics. Public Relations Review, 36(3), 207–214. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com
- Waters, R. D., Tindall, N. T., & Morton, T. S. (2010). Media catching and the journalist–public relations practitioner relationship: How social media are changing the practice of media relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 22(3), 241–264. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/