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The Vortex of Communication and the Value of Social Media


I’m a PR professional in a world where public relations, marketing, social media and search engines are all morphing into a huge mess of interconnected tactics that impact reputation and lead generation. Twenty years ago, when I started in this field, they were very distinct and separate. Today, you can’t tell when one ends and the other begins. And it is very common, almost a daily occurrence actually, for an executive or a fellow PR practitioner to ask about the value of social media in relation to the overall PR of a company or organization.

Ultimately, the value in social media is the ability to give a larger voice to your advocates in order to reach potential customers with both branded and unbranded messages. It’s also an incredible tool to take the large investment your company has made at a trade show or a presentation, and expand that investment “beyond the room” using social media. It’s just as important to potential and current customers that your company and leaders are engaging in social media, as it is that you win industry awards and speak at industry events. A company’s brand is not only what it says it is, but also what consumers say it is.

If we look at user patterns online, we see that:

 

And when you talk to professionals using social media to reach customers, whether individuals or companies, some rather interesting statistics surface.

 

On the business-to-consumer (B2C) front, the results are also quite impressive.

 

I’ve also seen, firsthand, reporters sourcing and developing stories on Twitter, the impact of a company’s Twitter usage on conference interactions with key customers and stakeholders, the impact of good social media strategy to maintain connectivity and message influence throughout a day long governmental meeting, and a campaign launch event where, through the effective use of Twitter, the audience for the launch was much larger than those who attended and a buzz of conversation was created online resulting in the campaign launch being the most talked about event on Twitter that day in the target region.

I’ve also seen the flip side. The “what happens if we don’t engage.” I’ve observed how a lack of engagement by a brand allows other to control the conversation and hurts brand perception, and how allowing others to control the conversation ensures your key messages are not heard. I’ve also seen how a lack of connectivity on social media is interpreted as “you have something to hide” and how a lack of responsiveness by a brand is considered a confirmation of any negative assertions.

Now, each company is different, and each company should have their own strategy and utilize effective tactics that support that strategy. But it is a very rare today to find a company that shouldn’t be on social media. There are still some, but they are few and far between.

For the most part, your company will benefit from a strategic approach to social media, and you will see a positive impact on your customers, whether individuals or other businesses.

Some additional interesting reading:

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