Brands Need to Engage With Audiences on Social Media

Two weeks ago, I sent a tweet to the PRWeek twitter account asking if they had plans to improve the sound quality of their weekly podcasts. Weeks went by with no reply, and my inquiry remained unanswered. We work in an industry that stresses the importance of audience engagement and participation, and as a fan of PRWeek’s content I felt unimportant when my simple question went unanswered.

Social media transformed the PR industry in many unique ways. Never before have we been able to reach audiences in a space where everyone can share content, ideas and opinions with friends, family and complete strangers.

It’s been an absolute game changer in this profession. This experience made me realize that some companies and organizations don’t place enough value on social media and how a short response can create a lasting impression on someone. It’s time consuming for social media managers to sift through each individual twitter mention and send replies, but going the extra mile ensures people will remain loyal to your brand and feel valued as a fan and consumer.

What people want is a sense of belonging and knowing their concerns are being heard. Social media is an effective customer service tool, and brands need to effectively moderate their channels to participate in discussions, answer questions and remain engaged with your brand and its fans online.

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Digital Media and Its Influence in Public Relations

Social media users have seen a significant change in the way they are able to carry out public relations practices. Social media outlets are interactive and two-way; two important characteristics of effective communication between a client and the public.

Organizations use social media to increase interactions with publics through a steady flow of inputs and outputs (Sundar, 2007) toward mutually beneficial relationships (Yang and Lim, 2009 S.-U. Yang and S. Lim, The effects of blog-mediated public relations (BMPR) on relational trust, Journal of Public Relations Research 21 (2009), pp. 341–359. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (5)Yang & Lim, 2009).

The profession of public relations strives on truthful communication and a conversational atmosphere. This is what social media outlets provide. Users can talk business while being able to communicate in a manner that is less formal. Jargon and formal conversation may suggest to a client that there may be a motive involved.

A study that was conducted mentioned the impact that Twitter had on relief efforts after a massive earthquake in the country of Haiti. Many of the Twitter posts relayed a powerful, personal message. They were not even promotional or financially motivated but inspiring posts that brought our country to Haiti’s aid.

Social media outlets like Twitter are being commonly used in public relations practices. The posts are short and very personal, which give the public a sense of commitment and human interaction. Twitter is more than a message engine—it is a platform for social connection and promotion. It’s interactive and conversational which are driving forces in public relations.

Socially distributing public relations: Twitter, Haiti, and interactivity in social media Original Research Article
Public Relations Review, Volume 36, Issue 4, November 2010, Pages 329-335
Brian G. Smith
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