Social Media: What Do You Have In Your Toolbox?

(courtesy of marketwire.com)

Over the next six weeks, I will be making a weekly post discussing parts of Brian Solis’ book Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web.

In my first post, I will discuss the power of social media and it’s applications in public relations and marketing.

Solis defines social media as:

  • A platform for the socialization of media.
  • The online tools that facilitate conversations.
  • Connections between friends, peers and influencers.
  • Collaborations.
  • The redistribution of influence.
  • A call for humanizing personas and audiences, and the stories that link them together.
  • Compassionate.
  • Words, pictures, video, chatter, audio, and also experiences, observations, opinions, news and insights.
  • An opportunity and a privilege.

More concisely, Solis says that social media is any tool or service that uses the Internet to facilitate conversations. 

In public relations, creating buzz about your organization or product is an absolute must and social media is now the best way to facilitate the conversation.  Don’t believe me? Check out this video to discover some facts that should change your mind.

So using social media as a tool to create conversation about who you represent isn’t just a bonus, it’s now critical as we are now in a new age of the Internet.  Although it’s constantly evolving, social media has moved our society from a 24 hour news cycle to a 24 hour conversation cycle.

In other words, organizations not only have to think about being reported on at anytime, but now they must think about engaging the public and steering conversation about their organization at all times.

With a constant conversation occurring online, Solis talks about the importance of transparency and authenticity.

Without these two requirements, an individual or organization will lose credibility with its peers.  So when engaging your publics via social media, being open and genuine is a must to build these key relationships.

Social media isn’t just Facebook and Twitter.  In chapter three, Solis lists several social media sites and groups them into categories such as blogs, social networks, microcommunities, forums, video, pictures, etc.

Here is a comparable list that I found online.  It’s important as a PR practitioner to stay on top of the sites that could be relevant to who you represent.  This means learning the sites’ functionality and maintaining active participation in the online conversation.

Although staying active in every single site may be nearly impossible, discovering the handful of sites that are most applicable to who you represent is essential.  Another thing to remember is that since social media is always evolving, the discovery process never really ends.

In public relations, social media sites are becoming some of the most important tools for practitioners.  So for students going into PR it’s important to remember one thing.  You will always and forever be a student of new media.

Sam Plymale
Editor-in-Chief
EMU PRSSA
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