Social media increasingly plays a strategic role in not just marketing, but public relations as well. In today’s digital world, it’s virtually impossible to reach customers, get the word out, and maintain a youthful image without social media. Everyone’s online — young and old — though different demographics gravitate towards different social media platforms.
Yet some businesses, especially local successes, seem to get by without being active on social media at all. They’ve carved out their section of the market through word of mouth and a long, established history in their area. For some, simply maintaining a presence in a small town is enough. So is social media always necessary for public relations? Perhaps not in all aspects, but it certainly plays a role in crisis management, branding, customer service, and media relations. Here’s why.
Partially as a result of social media, consumers no longer relate to brands in the way they once did. Brands are like any other friend, celebrity, or follower in their feeds now. They expect interesting and engaging status updates, and even a little personal and relatable posting with a meme or two from time to time.
Social media humanizes companies, making them more accessible to the public, journalists, and consumers. This gives brands the opportunity to build relationships with customers in a way they could not do before. It also helps them get feedback and tackle grievances before they spiral out of control.
Today, when someone has a problem, they do an online search, which then brings up solutions in the form of businesses, or even blogs mentioning businesses. No one just picks up an old directory and looks for a doctor’s office anymore, or drives aimlessly down the street until they find something to eat. Thus, social media and an overall online presence help businesses to boost discoverability.
This brings in new customers through the door while also providing a place online where customers can leave feedback. This feedback provides more information for potential customers looking to get the best dim sum, steak, or sushi in town. Better a deterred customer than an unsatisfied one.
Distributing Press Releases
The argument stands that with the dynamic changes taking place in media, press releases are no longer important in public relations. However, what better place to distribute press releases than on social media, where consumers already go to soak up world news and celebrity drama?
A lot of brands post press releases on the company’s website and share them on their social media pages with followers. This eliminates the need to deal with media companies who see little value in distributing press releases, especially when they do not cover sensational topics. Of course, it also eliminates the associated cost.
Personal Branding of Key Employees
In any business, customers judge the quality of the business by the people behind it. For instance, you may eat at a local restaurant because you know the chef makes good food. Or you may purchase Apple’s products because you’re fascinated by Steve Jobs and all he stood for.
Social media helps organizations to brand the key people behind them, from MySpace’s Tom, to the President’s Twitter account, to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. This in turn helps to boost the brand’s image by providing the occasional honorable mention, and by showing that the employees are brilliant and talented in their own right and, more importantly, human.