News, clients, opportunities… people typically spend hours upon hours searching to find these things, but now, with the advent of social media, you are able to customize the way you search and can let these things come to you.
In a recent conversation with Ken Lachlan, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, he noted that, “there’s a reason participatory media like Facebook and Twitter have exploded in popularity: people like it. You decide who you want to hear from. You tailor your media to your interests. Rather than having to seek out content from a myriad of sources, it just comes right to you.”
This is a good point, one which PR agencies can use to adapt their campaigns. Selecting specific media or journalists to follow or subscribe to for particular clients can be helpful by highlighting leads and relevant topics. Every outlet is not going to be ideal for each client, but whether it’s LinkedIn Q&As, Twitter tweets, or blog feeds, many opportunities can be found and leveraged on behalf of clients. For example, following@ProfNet or @helpareporter on Twitter can generate interesting leads from journalists looking for a story that might be a fit for one of your clients.
The following is an example of a query from a reporter listed by @helpareporter – one which would be great for a client already using social media to market their company:
Here’s another example of a LinkedIn query on a marketing group for book research that could be leveraged for a client who has had social media success:
Social media is not only helpful for the “following” aspect, but also to see whose following or subscribing to you and your content (or your clients’ content). This provides immediate insight into who is interested in what you have to say. Lachlan agrees that, “PR and Advertising agencies should tune in because with these technologies, your audience research is done for you. If you are trying to identify customers or stakeholders, if someone is following your RSS feed, it’s a safe bet they are interested. If you know you have audience interest, you can design more detailed, elaborate messages because you don’t have to worry about them changing the channel or turning the page. You know you have them. It’s always easier to persuade people who want to hear from you.”
This new mix of conversation and community through social media sites is contributing significantly to both these angles. An article on Compete.com by Andy Kazeniac about social networks ranked the top social sites and compared them to last year’s ranking. As you can see from the table below, Twitter moved from 22nd up to 3rd and LinkedIn moved from 9th to 5th, both with amazing unique visitor (UV) counts – and for good reason. These are two sites that can provide a means for both letting content come to you and seeing who’s interested in your content.
Leveraging opportunities and knowing your audience are two key aspects of public relations. Using social media sites to let these come to you is immensely beneficial for clients and agencies alike. Social media is changing the way public relations works, so agencies need to learn to change with the times and let social media tools work for them.