5 ways social media has changed PR

social-media-poststamps In celebration of Social Media Day today, we decided to take a retrospective look at some of the ways social media has had an impact on the public relations industry. Not only has it changed the way we communicate with each other, but as it gains acceptance and usage among executives, it will play an increasingly-important role in our scope of work on a daily basis as PR professionals.

According to a report from eMarketer, a whopping 63.7 percent of internet users in the U.S. will use social networks in 2011, creating quite the desirable pool of prospective customers (and advocates, ideally). The firm also reported estimates that four in five U.S. businesses (with at least 100 employees) will take part in some sort of social media marketing this year, up from just 42 percent as recently as 2008. This number is expected to continue to rise, especially in light of related surveys that have revealed that as much as 63 percent of small businesses feel as though social networking makes a “significant” impact on their sales and revenue.

So what does this mean for us? Well, not only has social media infiltrated nearly every industry, but PR pros will be expected to ramp up their strategies in order to best engage audiences using the social web. And as much as the occasional rogue Facebook post or off-color Twitter rant from the public can keep us up at night, we’ll be seeking to embrace this form of communication more and more as a mechanism for not only sharing information with key audiences, but also listening to and connecting with them like never before.

Read on for our take on how social has already made its mark on PR:

  1. It’s a two-way street – Not that jumping on your soapbox and simply blasting a message via megaphone was ever effective, but now more so than ever, PR practitioners are connecting with audiences on a human level and inviting conversation. Receiving this invaluable feedback allows for real-time refinement of strategies and tactics, making brand connections with consumers and constituents that much deeper.
  2. 24/7 Engagement – Gone is the traditional 9-to-5 schedule because social media conversations never stop. Now that consumers can connect directly with a brand at any time, it’s up to us as PR pros to play host or hostess at the party, keeping the conversation going, encouraging a good back-and-forth and making new introductions to facilitate constant – and consistent – engagement.
  3. Increased demand for digital Pros – Forget about ‘keeping up with the Joneses’…if you’re in PR, you’re more concerned about keeping up with the latest Facebook feature or location-based app. The advent of social media has shown us that the most successful (and in-demand) PR people aren’t afraid to explore and embrace new technologies, continually adding all sorts of new technologies to their repertoire.
  4. Navigating the new landscape – As this article in Mashable points out, social media has blurred the line between paid, earned and owned media – not only altering their definitions, but also posing the PR challenge about how to integrate all three forms for the greatest success. By focusing on a balanced mix, PR professionals can help spread customer touch points across all functions within a company, and it’s this new approach that will have the greatest lasting impact.
  5. Evolving definition of success – Yes, some of us may have entered PR thinking it was the furthest field from anything math-related, but the fact remains that metrics have been – and continue to be – a PR pro’s best friend. And thanks to social media, we’re continually redefining the measure of success: Whether it’s friends on Facebook or daily of Tweets, we know that quality reigns over quantity, and that a long-term approach garners the most powerful return on investment when it comes to making connections.

What else would you add about how social media has changed the PR industry, and how do you expect it will further change our industry in the future?

The staff here at PerkettPR is also having some fun on Social Media Day by creating a series of videos explaining how Social Media has changed each of our lives and/or what our favorite social media tools are. We will be posting them to the PerkettPR Facebook page throughout the day, so be sure to check them out and leave us a comment!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 06/28/10

Why We Check In: The Reasons People Use Location-Based Social Networks
Is it for the colorful badges or the chance of a spontaneous meet-up with like-minded people? Marshall Kirkpatrick explores these and other reasons why people are becoming obsessed with “checking in” on location-based social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla.

Social networking sites: 10 mistakes organizations make
Steven Overly from the Washington Post provides these helpful “back-to-basics” tips that highlight many of the things organizations aren’t doing right when it comes to integrating social media with their online marketing strategies.

ROI: Marketing’s Best Frienemy
Helena Bouchez explores Christopher S. Penn’s statement on a Marketer’s accountability of their efforts and how it effects the success or failure of the bottom line.

Why Your Release Might Not Make It In to Google News
Business Wire’s Joseph Miller explores several reasons why the carefully crafted press release you worked so hard on might not show up on Google News, and he provides some helpful tips to ensure that it always does.

Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love

This Fast Company post explains how Neuroeconomist, Paul Zak has figured out that social networking releases a chemical in our brain that triggers “empathy, generosity, trust and more.” Click the link for the full read, or get the 50 second run-down via the video below.

Facebook and “Future Community”

Like many of you, we’ve been keeping an eye on the Facebook privacy issue. However, unless it’s central to your job (aka tech pundits), most people are way too busy to keep up with the changing features and policies from week to week, or all the particulars of the last brouhaha. Still, if you took the time to look closely enough to form an opinion, you may have found yourself being pulled in one direction or another – meaning the privacy camp or the open social graph camp.

When Facebook became available en masse, most of us made immediate connections to other early adopters and soon prodded colleagues, friends and family to join. For many, the next wave was locating people from our past – forging lost bonds with old flames, childhood friends, high school classmates and the like. Facebook soon became a part of our present and our past, with a constant stream of personal updates and suggestions to connect with new and/or old friends. For some, Facebook offered immersion in virtual worlds and, in essence, membership in new — and sometimes addicting — communities, created by social games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars.

Over time, our attachment to Facebook continued to become exceedingly more and more personal. Lest we forget, it’s a business. And so it goes – with more personal details come more opportunities for marketing and selling to your every interest. Being in a constant state of evolution to develop revenue streams and achieve profitability is as much a part of Facebook’s soul as the free services they provide to both you and me.

As we look more closely at the privacy issues and the idea of “future community” experiences, it’s easy to see that having a say when it comes to who you are connected to within the Facebook social graph is vital. While some users may have been gung-ho to share “Activities, Interests, Music, Movies, Books, Television” with “Friends” past and present; they don’t want to be connected to everyone else on Facebook who lists “Bossanova” and “Sublime” in the Music field of their Profile. The “disconnect” in this instance was between intention and execution. Similarly, most users intended to share favorite musical genres and artists, along with Interests like running, wine and yoga, with their present and past communities. Then, Facebook decided – without user consent – to connect us to new “future communities” of others on Facebook who listed the same information.

Thankfully, Facebook recently heeded the outcries of some of the public and rolled out new privacy controls (further explained here). But, it certainly sparks some thought… What community experiences do you seek in general? How are such experiences the same or different via Facebook?

A curious and social group, we thrive on interacting with new people, otherwise known as “future community.” So whether it’s the staff and patrons at local coffee shops, other parents and children at the playground, the checkers and baggers at our local markets, or strangers at the airport — these polite chats and sometimes surprising and inspired conversations comprise connections with others that nurture humanity and individual creativity and kindness. So back to the question: How are such experiences the same or different via Facebook?

Just like the offline examples above, certainly possibilities to make meaningful connections as part of a “future community” via Facebook do exist. Facebook sees these potential benefits whether it be connections with advertisers or other individuals. For now, I can accept the advertisements that key off some of my personal data (it’s a business after all), but I can also be at ease that who I count as part of my “future community” is up to me.

How does Facebook power community for you?

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/12/09

Verizon Integrates Twitter, Facebook into FiOS TV
Verizon helps consumers take another small step towards TV and online integration with the addition of Twitter and Facebook access via their set-top box.

Verizon FiOS and Twitter/Facebook

Box-Office Weekend: Brüno a One-Day Wonder?
Another example of how Twitter has changed the “product launch” game by accelerating the word-of-mouth process with potentially negative side-effects.

YouTube Will Be Next To Kiss IE6 Support Goodbye
Fans of Internet Explorer (do any really exist..?!) who frequent YouTube are now being notified that the platform will be dropping support for IE6 in the near future. Gone are the days where web app developers felt the need to continually support aging browser technology as to not “upset” the user base.

Can a Company Take Social Networking too Far?
Chris Pirillo shares this almost unbelievable news about retailer Best Buy’s odd move with their new “social networking requirements” for employees.

9 keys to the perfect corporate blog
Michael Estrin provides 9 tips to help companies to provide a more compelling corporate blog.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 08/25/08

The Best Practices In Social Media Marketing Writing Project
Mitch Joel from Twist Image has launched a writing project that encourages marketers to share their best tips for Social Media Marketing, and hopes to build contributions to the project into an ongoing organic resource for marketers to reference in the future. Mitch’s own best practice contribution revolves around consistency.

Before Consistency in Social Media Marketing
Bryan Eisenberg from the FutureNow blog contributes his Social Media Marketing best practices to Mitch Joel’s writing project – in the form of transparency, being social and communicating values. Make the jump to read more!

Three tips for “company blogging”
Google’s Matt Cutts shares three tips for those who blog for their company. Be sure to read through the 60+ comments for additional tips and points of view.

Community Manager Salary Report
Community Strategist Connie Bensen has touched on the subject of Community Manager salaries for almost a year now. This post is her latest entry on the subject and is a great starting point for companies looking to fill such a role in their organization.

Use Ning to Build a Community Around Your Personal Brand
Personal Branding expert Dan Schawbel expands on the power of using Ning to build an online community around your personal brand – and backs it up by highlighting two “big name personal brands” who are doing it successfully.