Why PR Should Take Social Media Seriously

Social Media CartoonThere are two parameters that help define PR, reach and influence and getting your corporate message out efficiently without filters is also vital in the age of digital media, where cynicism of the old methods is pervasive.

So why does Social Media need to be taken seriously?

  1. It’s more believeable and trustworthy than the filtered mainstream media that has many vested interests
  2. Its fast and effecient as it can be sent from smartphones before it even hits the traditional media channels (remember the Iranian Elections)
  3. It has leverage. (One Friend tells another, who tells many more, who then tell others.. its exponential,and  it helps to have great original content or a good story)

So what is the reach of Social Media? and which have the most Influence? When you look at the the players like Facebook and Twitter, and the other Social Media’s platforms numbers, the motivation for being involved becomes compelling and should negate any excuses about being engaged in Social Media.

Eight Major Social Media Channels

  1. Facebook: The Premier Social Networking Site where you can add friends, post photos, share your life and join groups
  2. Twitter: Share information, “follow” other people and get your information out as a “live” stream.
  3. YouTube: It is the Social media channel where you can upload and share Videos, subscribe to channels and again add friends
  4. LinkedIn: A social media site that operates primarily in the the professional networking and business relationships segment
  5. MySpace: A social networking platform that enables the easy sharing  of  multimedia nd works well as a multimedia aggregator
  6. Digg: A social platform that enables you to post your articles and others can vote on whther they like your story or not.
  7. Blogs: An interactive way of sharing content informally and receiving comments
  8. Wikipedia: The socially generated encyclopedia which is updated and edited constantly by the online community

Their Reach

  • Facebook: Over 200 million members and 80 billion monthly page views (Techcrunch)
  • Twitter: It now has over 44 Million unique visitors a month (according to Comscore)
  • YouTube: Over 100 Million visitors in March and over 13.8 Billion video views in March alone (YouTube report)
  • LinkedIn: Over 16 million unique visitors a month with a a very affluent demographic where the average user is 39 and makes $139K ayear and over 500,000 C-level members (Quantcast)
  • MySpace: Just under 100 million visitors a month and 43 Billion page views (Techcrunch)
  • Digg: More traffic than the New York Times with 23 million unique visitors a month and 4.5 billion pages views (Techcrunch)
  • Blogs: Over 5 million blogs are tracked by Technorati, the “Bible” of Blogs with 600,000 being corporate blogs (Technorati)
  • Wikipedia: Nearly 63 Million Unique visitors June 2009 (Compete)

Note: If you want to look at some really interesting numbers have a look at (Future Marketing Trends at FutureBuzz.com)

So what is the Reach of the Old Media? and what does that say about their influence.. is it growing or waning?

  • USA Today” (largest read newspaper in the USA)  2.1 Million a day (Audit Bureau of Circulations) which if it was unique views per month of 63.1 million (which it isn’t it.. would still be 3 x smaller than Facebook)
  • AARP is the most widely circulated magazine in the USA and reaches 24.5 million which is slightly more than Digg (Audit Bureau of Circulations) but still 8 times smaller than Facebook
  • Fox News Channel (highest rated news channel for 90 months) has 15.6 million viewers a day (Huffington Post)..The same as the number of unique LinkedIn vistors sees monthly.
  • Rush Limbaugh the largest talk radio in the States  has 14.75 million a day is less than half the 40 million unique visitors to Twitter each month (Talkers Magazine)

Note: 40 % of people blogged in 2008, 50% got their news online and 35% from print newspapers (Pew Research)

So what are some of the PR Values of the New Media?

  • Twitter: You are able to listen and to respond to what people are saying about your brand in the market place within seconds with worldwide reach
  • Blogs: Corporate blogs provide “recency” by allowing companies to provide the latest information delivered by RSS feeds to customers that postion your company as a thought leader in their industry and getting its message out without “corporate speak” making the corporation seem human rather than faceless.
  • Facebook allows you to improve customer satisfaction(thats good PR) by more than 17 times according to research done by the the Aberdeen Group
  • YouTube allows you take take control of your brands image on YouTube by creating an account and utilising its growing SEO priority in search engines , due to its increasing growth (over 53% last year) and growing importance as a Free Marketing, PR and branding medium, have a look at 5 reasons your company should be on YouTube in this Post by Small Biz Trends.
  • MySpace provides more chance of getting your page viewed as its viewers average over 20 minutes a day as compared to CNN that averages 5 and a half minutes.
  • Digg’s PR Values are to increase the visibility of your stories by having them voted on and increase your social networking opportunities
  • LinkedIn allows you to communicate with highly affluent people that have the greatest  capacity to directly impact your business.

So in when someone is searching for your company and you want your PR to get out rather than someone elses message about your brand you need to  be across a range of social media. This gives your company the best chance of having your message seen and heard. If you do not join in the Social Media conversation, “it will take place without you” and you might not like what is being said.

In Summary Social Media’s Role in PR is about

  • Efficient delivery of your message through ensuring that search engines find you easily (SEO..Search Engine Optimization), because you have optimised your Social Media (SMO… Social Media Optimization)
  • Maximizing the level of  control over your message by being so high up in the search engine that you are the first 7 or 8 on page one, because you are maximizing your SEO through great content and spanning multiple boundaries of Social Media.
  • Ensuring that peoples different preferences for hearing your message is maximized because you have it in audio text, image and video in social media

Comments

  • http://www.pr101.biz Jeff Cole

    As a former journalist and veteran public/relations practitioner, I agree that social media cannot be ignored. In fact, I feel that within 20 years, social media will have completely replaced traditional public relations and marketing.

    An excellent example of the effectiveness of social media is Australian businessman Simon U. Ford. Ford sold several thousand copies of a social Ebook in 24 hours. As befits a social media expert, Ford’s marketing efforts utilized only social media.

    Study after study of Gen Y has shown that social media is the best, and perhaps only, way to reach them. Any marketer who isn’t such sites as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Digg to reach those people doesn’t deserve to get paid.

  • http://neaglelawyers.wordpress.com Nick Ramage

    Jeff – 100% on the money – I am publicist in past life now legal marketer/writer/online publisher of Foolkit Legal for the Oz legal community and social/new media IS going to be the new internet and more.

    I am totally sold on Twitter as a promotions and networking/troubleshooting tool and more…I am growing followers every week steadily – nearly to 3,000 which is a sizeable specialised legal network that is global and of real value – and it cost only time really – *hat tip* to long my suffering wife – I predict we will be dumbing down the design elements to our sites in the next 12 months as the widgets and CMS apps get more and more amazing …. e.g. I love my Posterous – sheer genius if u think Tweetdeck is good.

  • http://www.faasai.com Bronwen Evans

    I agree that social media is important but beware of exaggerating its benefits as it will be to the detriment of your business/clients in the long run. For example Facebook may have more than 200 million users but your news may only reach a few hundred. On Twitter you may have thousands of followers but most of them will be screening you out or not in your target market.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshhedrick Josh Hedrick

    The PR industry needs to not only take social media seriously, they also need to own it before someone else does. Already there are social media agencies, marketers, gurus and mavens. What PR practitioners need to understand is that social media are a natural evolution of the public relations industry and a new set of communications tools at their disposal.

    Mr Bullas laid out the statistics and reasons for why PR pros need to take social media seriously in this excellent post. Now it’s time to step up and own it.

  • http://twitter.com/Banburyshire Ian Gentles

    Thanks Jeff, another useful read. I’m working towards that goal. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    A typically excellent post, Jeff. Very helpful in how you’ve distilled the business value of social media as part of the marketing mix (IMO, it goes way beyond “PR”). Even though this was written a while back, it’s still salient today.

    One area where I’d offer a bit of caution. Your comments about the number of participants on Facebook, Twitter, etc. do not equate to audience/circulation figures for “old media.” The fact that there are 500MM members on FB or 100MM on Twitter does not mean that your message reaches that huge number…it only means that’s how many people are using the service.

    A brand’s effective social reach starts with those who follow the brand, then is only extended should they share your messages with their broader network, creating the virality effect. That number could be huge. It could also be small if the brand’s social graph is not optimized and maximized.

    Put another way, looking at membership numbers of social media and comparing them to media audience/circulation figures are not the same thing. Each channel has a role to play, and it’s a marketer’s job to figure out the appropriate role for the brand they are marketing.

    Having said that, I’m a dedicated follower of your material…keep up the great work!

    Ted
    @tedlsimon

  • Anonymous

    A typically excellent post, Jeff. Very helpful in how you’ve distilled the business value of social media as part of the marketing mix (IMO, it goes way beyond “PR”). Even though this was written a while back, it’s still salient today.

    One area where I’d offer a bit of caution. Your comments about the number of participants on Facebook, Twitter, etc. do not equate to audience/circulation figures for “old media.” The fact that there are 500MM members on FB or 100MM on Twitter does not mean that your message reaches that huge number…it only means that’s how many people are using the service.

    A brand’s effective social reach starts with those who follow the brand, then is only extended should they share your messages with their broader network, creating the virality effect. That number could be huge. It could also be small if the brand’s social graph is not optimized and maximized.

    Put another way, looking at membership numbers of social media and comparing them to media audience/circulation figures are not the same thing. Each channel has a role to play, and it’s a marketer’s job to figure out the appropriate role for the brand they are marketing.

    Having said that, I’m a dedicated follower of your material…keep up the great work!

    Ted
    @tedlsimon

  • http://twitter.com/renepower Rene Power

    Great post as ever Jeff, super work!

    Working in b2b though, the tools are more ambiguious.

    Using Facebook for example if you make widgets that go into someone else’s larger widget simply because ‘everyone’ has an account feels a little indiscriminate and untargeted to me. Do business buyers really want companies badgering them in their downtime. Or do we assume that no-one has downtime anymore?

    There is a definate strategy in having active profiles on all the major sites you have cited but we come back to where your audience congregates online and how you serve content to them.

    This might include webinars, white papers, blogs, hosted presentations and scores of other content.
    There isn’t quite a one-size fits all for all sectors…yet.

  • http://twitter.com/bobbyisaacson Bobby Isaacson

    Amazing write up Jeff, nailed it. These are all the key points that we try stress at SocialChorus when we are talking to PR companies (we currently work with Weber, Edelman, Ketchum and Citizen Paine) and you just did a great job of summarizing, calling out the key points and putting it in easily digestible terms.

    Circulating to our team now, thanks!