Before the rise of the Internet and social media, there were far fewer paths to reach the public. Most public relations campaigns stuck to traditional forms of communication such as TV, radio and print. Social media can make or break a brand. If used properly, it can make a brand thrive and stand out from the rest. Consumer engagement has changed the game for public relations, and it is here to stay.
Social media allows brands to respond to customer complaints in a matter of seconds. This is something that was not possible before its birth. For example, I complained on Twitter about my drumstick ice cream cone that was lacking caramel filling and tagged Nestle just to see what would happen. Within an hour or so, both Nestle and Drumstick Twitter accounts responded to my complaint. I told them that it was still delicious and did not need to go through the trouble. That’s pretty awesome, right? In addition, social media is now the quickest way to relay news or information to the world.
Consumer contact plays a heavy hand in the success of a public relations campaign. Social media has made once distant or detached brands much more personable. There is now direct human interaction with the brand itself. This can drastically affect the consumer’s perspective of a particular brand. But more importantly, it gives the consumer’s voice, needs and wants much more pull than ever before.
I think this one is a given. Can anyone say viral? Media can spread through all outlets of the Internet with the assistance of social media. Before you know it, more than half of the United States could have seen a video posted less than 24 hours ago, or even a picture of a mystifying dress. According to statista.com, there are 1.4 billion active users on Facebook, 347 million on LinkedIn, 300 million on Instagram, and 288 million on Twitter. A brand has a variety tools to spread its message to many people, and in a short period of time.
Some social media sites allow one to target a specific location, gender, age group, education, groups, connections, interests, behaviors, etc. With such precise targeting, a brand can send a message to only a select segment. Soon enough, consumers will receive posts or notifications based on proximity to a specific location. So, someone walking into a grocery store can get deals sent to them upon entering.
You cannot label a campaign as successful unless there were measurable results. Many track social media results through Google Analytics. It provides all the information needed for proper evaluation: page views, actions, demographics, cost data, reports, etc. This gives a brand the ability to track campaign ROI in real-time in order to maximize profits.
This goes to show how the emergence of social media has changed public relations. It is a powerful tool, that when utilized accordingly, can position your brand above others. A strategic social media plan is essential for the success of any type of campaign today.