Let’s Get Social

One of the best things about working in PR is the opportunity to meet a wide range of interesting people, and listen to them talk about some extraordinary things. A case in point was the astounding presentation by Mark Stewart from Microsoft that I was lucky enough to sit in on at a recent client conference, and which revealed a tantalising glimpse into their vision for the future of technology in further and higher education.

As you’d expect from Microsoft, their ideas really push the boundaries of what might one day be achievable. Augmented realities, natural user interfaces and extremely advanced mobile technologies all seems perfectly possible once they iron out a few ‘minor’ details.

It was inspirational stuff, and it brought home to me how important it is to really embrace all the communication methods we already have at our fingertips. The world moves fast!  Yet while Microsoft might have already have moved past Twitter, blogs and Facebook in terms of technology, there are still plenty of companies confused about how basic social media can be advantageous in communicating with their customers.

The worst reason I can think of for a company to use social media is to ‘jump on the bandwagon’, and do it because everyone else is. From a PR and marketing point of view, social media should be tightly integrated with a ‘traditional’ strategy, and business objectives should remain consistent. After all, social media is simply a communication channel, but one that allows companies and individuals to truly engage with their target audiences.

The primary purpose of social media is interaction. People can speak in real-time and actively participate in current conversations. In other words, social media is supposed to be ‘social’, so companies using Twitter or Facebook as a broadcast tool to talk ‘at’ people aren’t going to get very far.

On the other hand, companies that take the time to get to know their online communities, that listen to their target audience and then engage in multi-way dialogues will reap the rewards. Used properly social media can give a face to brands, adding personality that could have otherwise been difficult – and costly – to get across.

People that engage with you on any social media platform are essentially giving you permission to talk to them and the opportunity to build a rapport. So companies shouldn’t blow it by making them feel they are being sold to. The best use of social media will focus on content, not marketing – because If you get the content right, the marketing will look after itself.

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  • About the Author

    After more than 10 years working in PR and media planning, providing clients with great PR and delivering tangible results still brings a smile to my face! Before joining CLPR, I worked across a variety of sectors including lifestyle and finance, and my wider experience in marketing means I understand just how PR fits into the mix. Outside of work, I play with my children, read obsessively, talk myself out of going to the gym and cook huge quantities of food for friends.

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