Social media marketing is fast becoming an important tool for public relations professionals to deliver a message to a receptive public. But do they know how to get the best, most appropriate leverage from popular social networking sites? Social media is driven by technology, and the primary purpose of such sites is for people to communicate with each other. It is important to become familiar with the technology and know how to navigate through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and others. But just knowing how to use the sites isn’t enough.
PR professionals must be not only technically savvy but also knowledgeable about communicating to a diverse audience. To use social media effectively, the key is communication. Social media efforts can be considered public relations for the online world. Whether using blogs, podcasts, microblogging, social networks, or a combination of approaches, social media outlets can all be used in some way as a component of traditional public relations strategies–media relations, corporate communications, event management, community relations, and so on.
A growing concern of the online community is that marketers have no place in social media sites. The concern is understandable if marketers treat the platform as a traditional place to hawk a product or service. But if you strip away the corporate jargon and sales-pitch oriented messages, what is left? We must learn to produce transparent communications strategies, respect the original intent of social media networking sites, and learn to speak to the audience as people to people, rather than salespeople talking to consumers. Social media is evolving to become a vital component of a sophisticated public relations campaign. But PR professionals must evolve as well, and learn to leverage social media by embracing it as it is, instead of trying to manipulate it.