by Christopher Zahn
The world of social media has undergone a significant transition from its conception nearly two decades ago. The online networking platform has gone from a purely personal method of communication and social interaction to a multi-billion pound commercial platform. Corporations now have huge amounts of interactive media which is integral to their communication with existing and potential customers and stakeholders.
If done well, corporate social media can enhance marketing operations to make the difference between successfully defining your brand image and communicating this to a vast audience, or remaining commercially stagnate.
The key takeaway that marketing managers need to understand and appreciate is that social media campaigns should not be viewed as being purely transactional. Establishing a social media presence is a long but rewarding climb, and the return on investment can be extraordinary. Followers who consume social media campaigns build familiarity and trust in a brand through social media engagement– this can be a slow process but, if sustained, pays off substantially in the long-term.
Given this, businesses need to recognise the immense value in hiring public relations experts who are competent in social media strategy. Consider the reach of any given piece of social media content; this could stretch into the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions if your organisation operates on a global scale. Social media experts manage the face of your brand, and in the age where losing a customer in a public domain can be disastrous, it’s crucial to get social media engagements right.
However, public relations managers need be mindful not to make social media content overtly advertorial. Online recipients of social media have become highly adept at detecting and filtering out any content they consider advertorial. Any effort to use social media to enhance exposure should be carried out strategically. Organisations may wish to consider the 4-1-1 rule. This rule dictates that for successful social media promotions, organisations should post 4 pieces of original content, share 1 piece of original content and post 1 piece of content that is more overtly sales-related.
Overall, the majority of organisations recognise and appreciate the value that social media brings to any PR campaign. It allows a great breadth of exposure without the associated, and often prohibitively expensive, costs associated with advertising in traditional mediums of media. We live in the age of the customer, and aside from the tremendous exposure social media affords, the chance to interact with customers and attend to their needs is an invaluable tool that companies cannot afford to ignore.
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