With a global user-ship in the billions, social media is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and it’s reshaping public relations. Its influence is simply too large to ignore. A recent survey from Cumulus Media shows that users accomplish the following on social media in just one minute:
- 4 million Snapchat messages
- 973,000 Facebook logins
- 481,000 Tweets
- 174,000 Instagram posts
While social media is now woven into just about every industry in some capacity, it’s impact on the public relations industry is tremendous. It has forced PR professionals to adapt to the way people consume their news. It’s also opened up a growing landscape of citizen journalists with a smartphone.
Five Ways Social Media Is Influencing Public Relations
Here are five ways social media is reshaping public relations and why PR professionals need to be on board with the latest trends.
1. News stories have a shorter lifespan, but their reach is astronomical
Social media is an immediate outlet. On average, people send 8,000 tweets on Twitter per second. That means that per day, people share nearly 700 million thoughts, ideas or stories. And that’s just one social media outlet.
What makes social media a highly effective tool is its ability to instantly communicate breaking news coverage. However, it’s lifespan is drastically shorter with the next viral story sitting on the horizon. For this reason, journalists are constantly searching for the next big thing and PR professionals need to be ready. Although stories’ ‘lives’ are shorter, they reach a broader audience than ever before.
2. Crisis communication has become more crucial than ever
As if PR pros needed another thing to keep them up at night, social media allows a whole new way for brands to “mess up” in front of their audience. Recently, Buffalo Wild Wings had to issue an apology following a malicious hack of its Twitter account. Along with scheduling interviews and pitching stories, PR professionals must now manage brand voice, protect the organization’s online reputation, and promote additional content and community engagement.
It’s essential that companies monitor social media for brand mentions. Not having a plan for responding to customer feedback can lead to a missed opportunity at best or a full-scale crisis at worst.
3. Public relations professionals have increased access to journalists
Social media helps public relations professionals get closer to reporters. You can follow a journalist on social media to learn their tone of voice, opinions and recent work. Applications like Muck Rack make it easier to find publications and journalists that meet the criteria you’re seeking and get instantly connected. But while social media is a great place to research reporters and make connections, direct messaging or tweeting your pitch directly to a reporter is considered bad form.
4. Public relations professionals find themselves in the customer service trenches
Social media interactions happen in real time. Users expect immediate responses from brands when they voice a concern, complaint or question. Traditionally, PR teams’ primary responsibility was to secure media placements for their client or company. Now, they also have to be much more customer-focused. Building your brand community on social media is just as important as booking an interview for your CEO, and it might be even more influential than traditional media coverage.
5. Social media introduced the influencer phenomenon
Social media doesn’t just provide an outlet for trained journalists to share breaking news; it’s also created a new type of citizen journalist: the influencer. From a vlogger with 3 million subscribers on YouTube to a travel blogger with 200k Instagram followers, influencers can attract new customers to a brand. A 2016 poll showed that 71 percent of American consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference. Social media influencers can mean big public relations opportunities for the brands they represent.
You may feel like you’re ready to begin your social media campaign on your own, but mishandling it can alienate customers and create bad PR. At Market Mentors, we stay on top of the trends and can help you build a social media strategy that works with your public relations strategy. Contact us today to get started.