When social media first became popular about 10 years ago, sceptics claimed the platforms were a ‘fad’ and the trend would die down. Social media has now become apart our lives, being used everyday by people from all different age demographics. There is now a common knowledge among businesses that having a social media presence alone just isn’t enough to create awareness and generate business for the company. Companies will continue to take advantage of these platforms, while consumers will continue to use social media to “amplify their voices to their own networks”. Key predictions of the future of social media include:
– Organisations cashing in on ‘big data’ and generating interactive marketing communications with consumers that are customised more so than ever before
– Mobile technology with internet capabilities built into cars
– Organisations listening to the consumers more than ever through social media platforms and using this customer input to create and improve products and services
Pic source: http://www.mytubedesign.com/how-the-social-media-helps-the-bright-future-of-global-business/
Even though Facebook’s popularity has declined by 6% in recent months and Twitter’s popularity falling by 3%, Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone believes that social media networks are only “just getting starting”. Stone said social media platforms are still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and that any negative criticism against the platforms is far outweighed by the benefits.
Pic source: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2012/8840/facebook-views-on-timeline-the-ipo-and-how-long-the-social-network-will-last
While it is easy to assume that international companies like Facebook and YouTube determine the fate of social media, the future lies on what the users what and what the consumers need. Love it or loath it, social media networks are here to stay.
Traditional crisis communication plans are designed so companies have structured statements, points on anticipated issues and other messages in place that are ready to go in such times of a crisis. As with any crisis, it is important for companies to remain transparent and honest in all of their communication. This transparency and honesty must be carried through all Facebook posts, blogs and Tweets that published during times of a crisis. As Tegan Ford discusses in her thesis featured on PR Conversations, companies must use social media as a tool to respond to a crisis immediately. Other tips for using social media during such times include:
– Two-way communication with publics
– Listening and responding to the audience
– Holding accountability (if necessary)
– Using compassion
– Continuously monitoring all social media platforms
Pic source: http://tcapushnpull.com/crisis-communication/social-media-crisis-communication-best-practices/
An example of how social media crisis communication management can go wrong is Carnival’s attempt at managing the 2012 Costa Concordia disaster. The Costa Concordia cruise ship tragically capsized after striking rocky seawalls off the cost of Italy. The disaster claimed the lives of 32 passengers and injured a total of 64 people. Carnival’s CEO at the time Micky Arison limited his crisis communications to a handful of tweets on his Twitter account. Arison did not promptly visit the scene, nor did any of his senior executives. The response to the crisis was issued through a crafted PR statement, with Arison waiting a week before visiting the disaster. It was also noted that Carnival copied and pasted their responses to commenters on Facebook, showing no compassion to families or people who suffered from the disaster.
Pic source: http://allisonmatherly.com/2013/02/floating-at-sea-carnival-triumph-and-crisis-communications/
Social media management is simply a service or an individual that manages all the social media accounts for a particular brand or organisation. Some organisations may hire a Social Media Manager, while other companies may outsource a social media management company like Social Media Mansion to take care of various social media platforms. The Search Engine Journal features a list of the top 10 apps that can be used to manage social media accounts. A key favourite is HootSuite, which has the ability to execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one web-based dashboard. Tools like HootSuite allow Social Media Managers to track conversations, measure campaign results and schedule direct content-posting times.
A company’s social media platforms are not the only aspect of social media that need to be managed. With social media being widely popular and common among now many demographics, it is highly important that organisations develop a social media policy to implement across staff members. It may seem difficult and tedious for companies to develop such a policy, however, PR Daily noted 3 recommendations taken from the National Labor Relations Board:
– Employers cannot restrict anyone from commenting on his or her work life
– Employers can make sure employees sign confidentiality provisions
– Employees can’t lie
Pic Source: http://donordreams.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/creating-a-social-media-policy-for-your-nonprofit/
If it is still not entirely clear about what to include in a social media policy, Marketing website Inbound Hub notes five significant examples of corporate social media policies.
Google+ is an online social networking platform owned by Google Inc. In January 2013, Forbes announced Google+ as the world’s second largest social network in terms of active users, following closely behind Facebook. Even with statistics reporting 343 million active users, there has been recent speculation of Google+ slowly dying. PR Daily recently described the future of Google+ in a blog published in June, however still highlighted 3 key reasons as to why businesses should still have a Google+ profile:
– For Search Engine Optimisation; Since Google owns the social networking site, it provides key advantages for SEO. The content that is posted to your Google+ profile, can rank significantly in search results where the company’s website may not
– No paid posts; Unlike its rivalry Facebook, content posted to Google+ is free and does not have to deal with picky algorithms
– High levels of Engagement; Google+ has the second-highest social media post-click engagement, behind YouTube. Google+ also provides excellent opportunities to engage with Google+ Communities
LinkedIn is a professional social networking site known as ‘Facebook for white-collar professionals’. According to The Social Media Examiner, over 3 million companies have a LinkedIn company page, with 148 different industries represented on company pages. LinkedIn company pages are essential for brand visibility and for building a sustainable, engaged community around the products and services that an organisation offers. And if you’re still not 100% convinced, PR Daily also featured an insightful infographic about LinkedIn’s extensive business potential to really enforce the reasons as to why businesses should make the most of the professional networking site.
Pinterest and Instagram have revolutionised the idea of photo sharing and taken traditional social media to whole new level. These ultra-creative image-sharing platforms, give users a whole new realm to socialise and captivate a story simply through the use of photos and captions. Instagram is an app that allows users to upload and edit their photos with various different filters. Users have the choice to add a caption, or simply let the photo do the talking by provoking likes and comments from followers. While Pinterest is similar in regards to the photo-sharing aspect, this platform can be accessed online or via the Pinterest app. Users upload photos and can include a hyperlink for viewers to click-through to (especially handy for businesses to pin products with links to purchase!). Followers can then ‘pin’ the photo to one of their inspiration boards for their followers to see. Photography lovers rejoice!
Pic Source: Pinterest
Pinterest and Instagram can be used as highly effective communication tactics for brands and organisations. PR Daily features an informative infographic about how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to and generate sales from your website. The Social Media Examiner also outlines 26 helpful tips for businesses using Instagram, which include tips about posting photos that represent brand image, and not just simply photos of the products.
Pic Source: FrankBod via Instagram
Palm Beach Collection has engaged a niche audience to post photos of their empty candle jars and reuse them as a foundation for floral arrangements. The campaign, which is still running, uses the hashtag ‘makingoldnewagain’ and engages publics to post their creations on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Melbourne start-up Frank Body uses a vicious and highly effective marketing strategy through Instagram to generate sales and awareness. The body-scrub company encourages those who use the product to post naked selfies covered in coffee scrub using the hastag ‘thefrankeffect’. This strategy proved to be highly successful, with the Frank Body Instagram profile having over 340,000 followers at the time of publication.
Who would have thought a message of 140 characters would become the essence of how we communicate through social media? Thanks to Twitter, the idea of microblogging has become the ideal way to share information and communicate. According to The Social Media Bible, tweets generally have a ‘lifespan’ of about 24 hours to make an impression. Twitter is very much an uncontrolled communication platform, where people can contact high profile brands and organisations, simply through the use of an ‘@’ sign. A key benefit of Twitter for businesses is the ability for businesses to be able to search for keywords about the brand, products or competing products, through the use of hashtags. Information can be sought instantly in real time, and is often the best way to be updated, especially during breaking news and events.
PR Daily often blogs about ways optimise Twitter use for businesses. There are apps such as HootSuite, which allow businesses to post automatic updates during busy times or during times of travel. Other useful tips include reducing tweets to 120 characters, to allow for fans to add in a comment when they retweet. The best times to tweet include from 1pm – 4pm during weekdays, except on Fridays where the cut off is 3pm. Marketing Mag also suggests for businesses to avoid posting tweets on weekends, so they don’t run the risk of low engagement on the post.
Pic Source: http://www.techwyse.com/blog/social-media-marketing/how-business-and-organizations-can-leverage-twitter-guide/
With various ways to maximise the use of Twitter, there should be no reason why businesses and brands do not make the most of the fast-paced, short and sweet, Twitterverse!
In 2005, three former PayPal employees discovered how they could make money off people’s love for user-generated content. Video-sharing site YouTube is the second-largest search engine and the third-most visited website in the world, behind Google and Facebook. The site receives more than 1 billion unique monthly visitors, with roughly 6 billion hours worth of videos viewed each month. While it can be easy to assume the site is only home to vloggers trying to make a name for themselves and build a fanbase, YouTube remains as an excellent communication tactic for marketing and public relations practitioners to create brand awareness and build an online community.
Pic Source: We Heart It
YouTube is an extremely useful communication and marketing tool, that many businesses underestimate. Harley-Davidson’s YouTube channel creates a storytelling presence through its regular video uploads, which keep fans engaged through commenting, subscribing, sharing and always coming back for more updates. Online blog Social Media Today outlines 8 effective ways to use YouTube for business, starting with ensuring the company has a branded YouTube channel. Content marketing agency Brafton has also included their top 10 ways to optimise your business with YouTube, through a clever infographic available here.
As with blogging and Facebook pages, it is important to remember that an online fanbase does happen overnight. The key to YouTube success is to post regularly and ensure the storytelling videos truly represent the brand and aligns with the organisation’s overall, long-term marketing strategy.
A decade after being launched, Facebook is the world’s largest social networking site, with 10 million Australians logging on to the platform every day. Facebook has become a profitable marketing tool to reach target demographics. Since conventional advertising methods operate using a one-way asymmetrical model, social media platforms like Facebook, allow for two-way symmetrical communication between an organisation and its publics. Facebook should be included as an important marketing tool in every company’s integrated marketing strategy, as it has the ability to use people’s personal data to target very specific demographics on behalf on the advertiser.
Pic Source: http://www.thefunnyblog.org/tag/funny-facebook/
Due to Facebook’s ability to allow brands to communicate directly with fans, an organisation’s Facebook page must be continually monitored and updated to keep fans engaged. The PR Pro’s Guide to Facebook outlines a few tips for companies to use to manage their page:
– Ask tons of questions
– Incorporate upcoming events, product launches and other happenings into the ‘content calendar’
– Use third-party apps to build out tabs
– Let fans know about new contests, events and other tabbed content by posting regularly
– Even with multiple admins having access to the account, assign one primary manager to ensure the ‘content calendar’ is being followed and the main posts are in harmony with the voice and the values of the brand
– Ensure you are familiar with Facebook’s promotional guidelines, pages guidelines and brand resources page
– Make sure people have to ‘like’ the page before they get to enter a contest or get access to a promotion. ShortStack and other third-party apps offer this option
– Give fans a bit of power. Consider posting pictures of new products and letting the community decide on what to name it
– Let fans know that you’re listening. Always make sure there is someone there to monitor comments and respond to them fast
Gone are the days of a dusty, old encyclopaedia being the go-to guide for facts and information. With thanks to new media, information can now be searched, accessed and edited all in a matter of seconds. The evolution of online wikis has encouraged the sharing of information between online communities. According to The Social Media Bible, the original term ‘Wiki’ means ‘quick’ and refers to the rate that a wiki can be made. The largest online encyclopaedia is Wikipedia, which is a non-profit organisation that contains over “30 million articles in 287 languages” (Wikipedia, 2014). Since Wikipedia allows anyone to edit and contribute to the articles, the site experiences a constant struggle with vandalism and inaccurate information being entered.
PR Daily reported back in 2012, that 60% of organisations with Wikipedia articles contain factual errors. This can be particularly frustrating for public relations agencies, which want to present the most truthful and accurate information to the public on behalf of their respective client. The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) outlines Wikipedia guidance for PR professionals, highlighting that they “should not directly edit Wikipedia pages relating to their organisation or brand”. The guidelines suggest for PR practitioners to suggest any amendments to Wikipedians, which is the name for the community of Wikipedia editors.
While it is not recommended to cite information from Wikipedia in essays and assignments, many academics still suggest to visit the online encyclopaedic as a first source, to gain an overall understanding of the topic. With over 30 million different articles to choose from, the amount of information available is almost limitless making Wikipedia the perfect go-to source for knowledge.
Blogging creates opportunities for individuals and businesses to connect to customers through two-way conversation. Blogs provide a convenient online outlet for anyone to share their individual thoughts and activities, as Safko highlights in the book The Social Media Bible. Over the past few years, fashion blogging has become increasingly popular, with readers looking to bloggers as a trusted source for recommendations. According to Social Media Revolution 2011, 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertising. Online lifestyle blogs are available for a worldwide audience to read and look to the blogs for recommendations on the latest trends, products, services and brands. Bloggers with a large following are able to make blogging a full-time job, like Tash Sefton and Elle Ferguson from They All Hate Us.
Tash Sefton and Elle Ferguson from They All Hate Us (Pic source: TheyAllHateUs)
An important aspect of blogging is to ensure there are regular posts uploaded to keep readers and customers engaged. Fashion blogger Rumi Neely has built a successful brand around her style blog Fashion Toast. Rumi has been posting since 2008 and regularly shares her latest outfits, clothing items, beauty products and travel photo diaries with her readers. Fashion Toast features high-quality photos, accompanied with short musings about her adventures, which keeps readers engaged and wanting to come back for more.
Starting up a new blog may feel daunting at first, and you may not know where to begin. PR Daily recently posted a helpful advice-list for new bloggers, which describes what to expect when first starting a new blog. The most important thing to remember is to be patient, as it takes time to build an audience and to really see the benefits and two-way communication that can occur between the blogger and intended audience.