The Importance of Social Media in Communications

  1. How has social media impacted the traditional communications industry?

The Internet has heralded many societal innovations over the last two decades. It has revolutionized information sharing in a way that can be compared to the first printing press and mass produced periodical. In recent years it has proven that it is the glue that holds our global society together and further to the point social media has had a tremendous impact on all our lives and also traditional communications. Print journalism, public relations, telecommunications etc have all seen dramatic adaptations. Here are some ways in which social media has impacted traditional communications;

  • Social Media has changed the old one-way model of newspapers, corporations, governments, or other types of leading organizations giving out information as they saw fit at times they saw fit. Social media has given rise to audience participation and readers choice. It has given more power to the audience in what they see, how they see it and when they see it. Organizations are compelled to seek an audience based on what they think the audience wants versus what they want the audience to see.
  • Traditional news sources and digital marketers must link to social networking sites in order to remain viable both financially and through audience numbers.
  • The traditional communications industry focused on a one way model of information transformation. Social media is a two way model. Further it is two way communication in real time. Again, this is a representation of the target audience driving the conversation as opposed to the messenger.
  • Now everyone with a message can be heard. Social media gives the individual the power to reach the masses in the same way an international media conglomerate does. There is no restricting the participants or censoring and filtering the message.
  • Instant feedback means the speed of business, the speed of communications has reached a real time status.
  • Advertising budgets are shrinking as businesses can steer away from traditional forms of communicating messages through print, television and radio. They can now push their message on social media properties and potentially reach many more clients that way.
  • Communications between audience/customer and business/government can now be a conversation in real time. A results based system not relying on tedious and outdated methods.
  1. What about social media has been a positive influence for communications?
  • Increasing the speed of communications to a real time environment has had benefits for people’s personal time. We are a busy culture/people and time is important, and we require information and communication to accommodate us in this fashion. Communication can be tailored to deliver the best and shortest message to one or any number of potential viewers as required quickly and efficiently.
  • The world is a smaller place figuratively speaking due to social media and this has a positive influence on how business is done and how people interact. There are few industrialized places around the globe that cannot be reached by the Internet and subsequently social media sites. Friends who have moved away, family living in another country, businesses requiring up to the second stock information from other countries are just a few examples highlighting the need for social media and the positive effects these properties have on business and on the individual. Distance and time are issues social media sites are continually working to overcome.

3.  What should a social communications plan include?

A good social communications plan should include:

  • A purpose for your social media strategy at the outset. A collections of requirements and values designed to give your social communications plan a viable direction. What goals do you want achieve with it? What content you will share? What social media properties do you want your audience driven toward? Who is your audience?
  • A viable scheduling format. Being aware of a global presence on your social media platforms requires an organization/individual  to be time sensitive about their offerings to said audience. Time differences in different countries for example. Topical and appropriate content aimed to engage and compel the audience to participate and share.
  • A solid plan for customer interaction. Those in different locations may have different needs, speak different languages, or follow different trends. “You’re going to want to optimize your searches and filter them by language to help you curate relevant content for different demographics.”
  • A well defined keyword list to maximize the organizations SEO.
  • Clear expectations for what your social media campaigns will be and then solicit aid from your team of people. The idea being a collaborative effort will be much more effective than a single person offloading content.
  • A strategy for gathering viable metrics must be in place as well. An organization can benefit greatly from information and feedback about social media strategies and whether or not they are working properly. Determine what analytics software will be the best fit for the business. Use it to drive future budgets and plans.
  • Keeping apprised of changes in the social media universe. What’s new on the horizon? What social media platforms best work with the organizations needs?
  1. How has social media changed the press-to-PR professional dynamic?

Public relations is an industry that has had to adapt its practices to match the changes in social media. Practitioners seek to communicate with, and hear from consumers, as well as using social channels to share information with key audiences.

  • Public relations pros can no longer simply trumpet a message out to the masses. Social media has paved the way for two-way communication directly with the consumer. Real-time feedback is a by product of two way. The live interaction allows for ongoing refinement and improvement to make a deeper connection with the target audience. A human connection is made and the customer feels less like a sales target.
  •  The speed of information sharing is faster than ever before and PR professionals have access to a wealth of content that can be shared with consumers seeking solutions to a problem. This forces them to be even more proactive in developing ways to reach the audience they are targeting.
  • Social media has also positively changed long-standing dynamics of the PR/Journalist relationship. Journalists seek information and sources online and PR professionals have benefited from the added access available thanks to social media. Some reporters maintain blogs and others are active on Twitter but gathering information about potential stories is significantly easier than the days of heavy, out-of-date media guides.
  • With the advance of social media, there is an expectation from consumers that they will not be subjected to mass, non-targeted information and any concerns will be addressed quickly and personally. In essence the focus has pivoted from the source to the audience and both the press and PR professionals must be adept at managing expectations directly from the consumers of content.





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