Why Social Media Is the New Face of PR [and How to Use It Effectively]
In the past, when a corporation or celebrity had something to say, it took time. From working with a publicist to craft a carefully researched statement to finding the right channels and gathering the right media insiders for press releases and conferences, spreading a message took time and effort.
Today? Not so much. Times have changed, as made evident than through the recent string of social media posts from global soccer stars participating in the World Cup. How has social media changed the way messages are spread? How can your brand use this to your advantage? What pitfalls should be avoided?
The World Cup Goes Social
While there are many examples of soccer stars using social media during this year's World Cup, the most striking recent example came from the Brazil-Colombia match. During the game, Neymar - Brazil's star striker - was kneed in the lower back late in the second half. He was removed from the playing field via stretcher and suffered a fractured vertebra, rendering him incapacitated for the remainder of the tournament.
While fans mourned the temporary loss of their star, Neymar wasted no time posting a video to YouTube where he shared that his "dream has not ended yet" and that he would rejoice if his teammates would continue in the tournament to win the World Cup without him. Fans rallied in support.
At the same time, Juan Camilo Zúñiga, the player responsible for injuring Neymar, began to receive death threats and other malicious comments from Brazilian fans, especially on Twitter. Zúñiga took to twitter himself, thanking his family and friends and posting photos. He also used Facebook to post a letter where he reached out to Neymar, saying, "I admire you, respect you and consider you one of the best players in the world. I hope you recover and return quickly."
The end result has yet to be seen, but the fact is clear based on the millions of responses, views and shares: there has never been an easier, more effective way to reach a large target audience in a short amount of time.
Using Social Media to Your Advantage
While you may not be a global soccer star, chances are high that, as a business, you're interested in quickly communicating messages to your target market. You may have a social media presence already. If so, are you using it to its fullest potential? A few steps to improve include:
Your potential clients want to connect with more than a screen name. By using video, sharing photos and using your personality, you'll work to connect with your followers on an emotional level.
Emotions go a long way when it comes to building business relationships. Looking to advance a website like MilitaryResumeWriters.com, a resume resource for veterans? Sharing post-combat success stories and video testimonials will go further than a post promoting a new offer or service.
If a story is posted that is topical, newsworthy and engaging, your audience is more likely to be interested and ready to respond than if you write about something that happened 3 weeks ago. Take the time to follow the news and to stay current.
Using the Right Network
Who is part of your target audience? Are you using the social network that's best for that demographic? If you're looking to reach males age 50-65, Pinterest probably isn't a great starting point. At the same time, if you're looking to target teens and you're not on Vine, you are missing the mark. Past general demographics, if you have a long message to share, Twitter's character limit may be detrimental. Likewise, if you want to post a photo but don't have an Instagram account linked to Facebook, your potential viewer base could be limited.
Just as important as the actions you are taking to create positive, instant publicity are the actions you should avoid. These include:
- Not thinking through the implications of what you're saying. What's posted on social media, even if deleted, is generally still searchable.
- Not rehearsing. It's just like the press conferences of the past; if a message is thrown together hastily, followers and viewers will take notice.
- Responding in anger. Emotions are easy to read (and misread) online and even easier to share. Don't fall victim to social media's viral potential because of failing to think through an idea or message.
The World Cup has brought social media public messaging to a new level. There's no reason your brand cannot become a part of the trend. Follow the steps above and avoid the pitfalls mentioned for best results.
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Follow Kayla Minguez on Twitter