Over the past five years a growing number of social media sites have sprung up, suggesting people are interested in sharing their experiences and linking with new found friends. But what benefits do networking tools like these give PR activity?
- Faster, widespread coverage: Social networking enables instant sharing of information and, as the number of people using the Internet continues to rise, with many blogging themselves, releases you post can be easily picked up and posted by other bloggers and online journalists. This offers you wider coverage of your news and ensures it reaches a larger target audience.
- Visibility: Social media can be used to help you improve the public’s awareness of your company and your overall business image as blogging and online mentions help to spread the word about your company. When your company establishes its presence online, it will become more visible which can be used to promote your business. The more readers you attract, the higher your number of followers will be and increasing your readership also increases the reach of your communications and how effective they are.
- Increased communication: With social media’s ease of use, everyday people can post their thoughts on a variety of topics. Social networking sites allow you to ask questions and get answers quickly from any number of readers, with varying enthusiasms and experience. By using these communications channels, you can develop relationships with readers, which you can then use in PR activity and stakeholder targeting to ensure your posts are relevant and of interest so more likely to be read. Building on this initial relationship to engage and keep readers, and anyone they forward your blog link to, increases traffic to your website, giving it a better standing on search engines and attracting even more readers. Companies are also able to know what people are saying about their business so they can respond quickly to anything that arises or use their followers to dispel bad ‘word of mouth’.
- Easy integration: Most people know how to use one or more social media tools so your company should aim to maximise its reader base by using your staff’s online connections to promote your business, giving you a bigger reader base. The more people who know about your company, and what it does, the more likely your business will succeed and attract loyal customers.
- Links and SEO: Including links to relevant info and supporting documentation within your online content gives your copy authority which, in turn, means search engines notice it. If you link to established and respected domains, your web ranking will increase and bloggers and online journalists will think it is worth checking out and may even include links to it – or a mention – within their own content. To ensure your website climbs the search rankings, make sure everything you write is strong, topical and has lots of good information in it that will continue to engage readers. There is some evidence that ‘likes’ and links in Twitter are recognised by search engines – potentially improving your search rankings.
Social media is a great way for companies to keep their finger on the pulse of public opinion, increasing your company’s customer base, learning about their preferences and then using this information to successfully tailor future PR activity. If you need a sense of the importance of social media channels remember that facebook accounts for nearly one in four of all web page views in the US. In conclusion, social media’s main benefit is keeping your company in the public spotlight, ensuring it is current and in touch with potential customers.