Is social media use in public relations effective?

courtesy of

courtesy of

Today, social media dominates the channels of our lives.

With technology like iPads, smart phones and the ever shrinking laptop it’s becoming easier and easier to stay plugged in to what everyone in our lives, brands included, is doing.

As a recreational user of these devices it never would have occurred to me that businesses use social networking in an entirely different way.

As a consumer, it’s only been just recently that I’ve started to follow some of my choice brands on social media.

 I’m beginning to realize the difference between which brands maintain their social media well, and who is causing their brands to end up dead in the water.

With sites like Facebook and Twitter, businesses have a whole new channel to reach their consumers and can start conversations about their brand.

Consumers are becoming ever more interactive and aren’t just taking what information is spoon fed to them anymore.

The new consumer asks: “Why do I want to buy your brand?” “Is this good for my family?” “What does this stand for?”

It’s about time.

If consumers had been asking this years ago than Edward Bernays’ “Torches of Freedom” campaign may not have had the effect that it did. This is only half of the work. The other half of the job is done by the company. To have a successful social media campaign that reaches your consumers and builds a positive PR reputation, the brand must be on top of their social media networks.

Consumers want to be heard.starbucks

Brands like Starbucks and Chobani are examples of interactive brands that do a great job supporting their consumers on social media.

Starbucks makes sure to cause outreach for their customers by talking about new deals or products but also asks consumers to post pictures and retweet their followers’ posts.

Chobani starts conversations that have nothing to do with their yogurt brand.

They want to hear what their consumers are talking about.

With brands reaching consumers in new ways every day there’s no limitation to how social media can be prosperous to businesses and consumers if done well.chobani

With brands tweeting and posting all about themselves and what they offer, but with no response to the consumer, brands can hurt the essence of what social media is about, which is engaging with your audience.

It’s important that college students looking to enter the field and practicing PR professionals have knowledge of how to manage social media because it is quickly becoming one of PR’s greatest assets.

If a consumer posts something that is potentially a great conversation starter, WRITE BACK.

Chances are that if one customer says it, one hundred others want to read it.

Stephanie Woolford
Guest Blogger, Student
Eastern Michigan University

5 responses to “Is social media use in public relations effective?

  1. Stephanie, I started following some of my favorite brands on twitter and facebook after Intro to PR. Now I pay attention to everything they do and see how effective it is for their company. But overall, I think SM is wonderful for a company’s PR.

    • I agree, I like following the brands that are rather creative…. Following brands that are not active, or that are only trying to sell to customers is not entertaining, or a good use of social media.

    • I agree, I like following the brands that are rather creative…. Following brands that are not active, or that are only trying to sell to customers is not entertaining, nor is it a good use of social media.

  2. Great post. Before taking this class, I was aware that many, or most, companies have a large online presence but I never really paid much attention to what they were using it for. I figured it was just to spread their message of what they’re doing and get people to buy their product, but now I know that it is more than just that. They can use it to receive feedback from consumers or create a discussion with them, which in turn could create a positive relationship between the two.

    A few weeks ago, I wrote a message on Redbox’s Facebook wall asking about a game that hasn’t yet shown up in any of the locations close to me and whether or not it would be available soon because I saw others asking similar questions on their wall. They never responded, and while it didn’t affect my opinion on them too much (I still use their machines because they are quicker and more convenient than going to Blockbuster), it did give me a little bit of a negative impression. Maybe if I had tried tweeting to them in addition to writing on their wall I would’ve had more luck?

  3. Social Media is so huge today in PR. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to reach out to many demographics, and it allows you to be creative. I think creativity is key as well, because audience love experiencing new things..

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