The internet has 3.17 billion users, with 2.3 billion active social media users (Smith, 2016). Social media is a great way to reach a large population at a relatively low effort. By creating social media sites, anyone who is interested in the business can like or follow the page to receive updates. Social media is thought of as an inside look to a business. By following certain social media cites for a business they may offer their followers contests or special coupons (Smith, 2016). Through analytics the public relations can target very specific audiences with all of their social media posts and advertising. Social media also allows for a direct connection with the audience. It feels more personal because they can directly have their questions or concerns answered by the company (Smith, 2016). Social media sites are a channel through which a company can improve their reputation and their transparency with consumers (Charest, Bouffard, & Zajmovic, 2016). This allows for a business to seem relatable and available to consumers.
Which Sites to Use
There are many different social media sites to choose from, each company should choose the best sites for their business. Some of the most common sites include Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Facebook has 1.71 billion users and adds 500,000 new users everyday (Smith, 2016). Being that Facebook has the most users this would be a great social media site for a business to use. There are 40 million active small business pages on Facebook, of those only 2 million pay for advertising (Smith, 2016). Which means that even if your business isn’t to the point of being able to or wanting to pay for Facebook advertising, they should still create an account to reach their consumers who use this site. If a business has any form of video advertisement or video of their products and services it should be uploaded to YouTube. YouTube has over 1 billion users, so this is another great way to reach your audience (Smith, 2016). Many people use YouTube as a search engine, with only 9% of small businesses having a YouTube account they are missing the audience they could reach through this site (Smith, 2016). Another social media site companies could use is Twitter. While Twitter only has 320 million active users, they have over 500 million people visit each month without logging in (Smith, 2016). According to an article written by Kit Smith, 2016, 65.8% of US companies with 100+ employees use Twitter for marketing. Twitter is a quick way to interact with and respond to consumers. It was found that 77% of Twitter users felt more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been responded to (Smith, 2016). So, if this is a social media site that a company plans to use they should try to be as interactive with their followers as possible.
Challenges of Getting Started
There are some challenges when starting to develop a social media presence. Social media outreach does not present a direct return-on-investment outcome (Horton, 2009). When working with social media it is more important to reach the right audience than to reach a large audience. It is focused more on cost-per-influential terms (Horton, 2009). If there are only 100 views, but those views were all by the right people it will do a lot more for the company than 1000 views by people who are completely uninterested in the company. To go along with that its very difficult to know if the blog, tweet, or Facebook page has an influence on your target audience (Horton, 2009). Another challenge is time, it takes time to understand the social media source being uses and to develop trust among the followers. To successfully deliver a message they need to develop relationships and those relationships do not develop over night, they take time (Horton, 2009).
Why its important to have Social Media
Despite the challenges to face with social media, digital engagement with consumers is becoming increasingly important among companies. Over 56% of executives say that this is at least a top-ten priority within their company (Allagui & Breslow, 2016). There are many reasons a company is motivated to be digitally engaged. Social media can increase brand awareness, increase website traffic, improve a brand’s reputation, increase sales, and improve customer service (Allagui & Breslow, 2016). For many social media is becoming the preferred channel through which they wish to communicate. The goal is to develop two-way communication between the consumer and the company (Charest, Bouffard, & Zajmovic, 2016). “PR professionals use social media every single day to get the word out about clients, to communicate with customers and to respond to questions or problems (Warren, 2010, para 1).” Developing brand loyalty is a common goal for many companies. Social media can be used to foster this through special coupons, giveaways, and promotions for fans following social media (Warren, 2010).
Allagui, I., & Breslow, H. (2016, January 6). Social media for public relations: Lessons from four effective cases. Public Relations Review, 42(1), 20-30. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.12.001
Charest, F., Bouffard, J., & Zajmovic, E. (2016, April 7). Public relations and social media: Deliberate or creative strategic planning. Public Relations Review, 42(4), 530-538. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2016.03.008
Horton, J. (2009). PR and Social media. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from http://www.online-pr.com/Holding/PR_and_Social_media.pdf
Smith, K. (2016, March 7). 96 Amazing Social Media Statistics and Facts for 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/96-amazing-social-media-statistics-and-facts-for-2016/
Warren, C. (2010, March 16). How PR Pros Are Using Social Media for Real Results. Retrieved November 14, 2016, from http://mashable.com/2010/03/16/public-relations-social-media-results/#1.30z66cgkqr