From a historical perspective, social media platforms are the new kid on the media block. Most of these interactive platforms cost nothing but time to leverage, but this can be a double-edged sword. With its inception, Social media fundamentally changed traditional advertising and public relations. Social media platforms ushered in an era of real-time audience management, real-time brand building, and constant conversation marketing. While first-wave social networks granted access to almost anyone, future social media platforms will likely target specific affinity groups to filter noise.
As media vehicles, social media platforms offer a variety of tactics for communicators to connect with target audiences. These tactics can fundamentally be categorized as either advertising (paid) or public relations (earned) tactics. Creating a fan page on a social media platform is fairly easy to accomplished. Shaping the perception of your brand, or business, over time by utilizing social media tools requires the finesse of a skilled communicator. As a potential advertiser, the self-service ad-serving tools of social media platforms can be very tempting, but there is a huge difference knowing how to use a media platform and actually communicating effectively with it. From a public relations perspective, social media platforms are invaluable. These platforms allow public relations professionals to interact directly with their most valued target audiences instantaneously.
Historically, traditional advertisers and public relations professionals spent weeks, if not months, crafting and planning campaigns to be run in newspapers, magazines, television stations, or otherwise. In crises management situations, these professionals didn’t have access to real-time media channels. With traditional media, brand interactions with the public were considered broadcast (one-way) forms of communication. Social media platforms give the “smallest” individual the same ability to broadcast a message as the largest corporation. The days of businesses building their brand image by broadcasting their message in an echo chamber are gone. With modern media, the perception of a business, or brand, is crafted by the input of the average individual as much as it is by the business.
For professionals, every detail of a communication effort is scrutinized for its ability to contribute to the communication goal. For these professionals, the copy, images, tone, slogans, colors, landing pages, calls-t0-action, fonts, layouts or otherwise, are chosen deliberately for every effort, whether it be a categorized as public relations or advertising. At Vagary, we understand that the professional skills that are required for running a business can be very different than the skills of building a brand with real-time social media platforms. In a relatively short amount of time, we’ve seen many high-profile brands and destroy the perception of their image on social media platforms by attempting to control public sentiment rather than engage the public with constructive dialog. Every situation has a silver lining!
Leveraging a Fan Page, or a Profile, on a site like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram or otherwise, can win an audience over, but it can also drive away contacts, valued customers, and leads. Crafting business communication is a form of art. Knowing how to hit speaking points while utilizing the correct tone, with the correct visuals, are just a few of the creative elements that communication professionals love to labor over.
Consider that many social media platforms now allow you to create and link your Fan Page, or profile, with your Fan Pages on other social media platforms. Not too long ago, communication professionals considered the company website to be the central hub in their “wheel” of digital media properties; in some cases, this may still be the case. For many small businesses, social media properties can be more valuable than a company website. You can’t build an audience with a company website. Ultimately, with social media, most businesses now create an ecosystem of branded web properties that includes their company website. Whether or not the company website sits as a “hub of a wheel” in this ecosystem depends on the communication goals of each organization. The amount of possibilities for a company media plan, a digital ecosystem, is dizzying, which is why the proactive discussion of strategic of communication objectives is so important. Which type of social media communities are appropriate for your business model?
Consider all of the free types interactive channels at your disposal:
- Instant Messaging
- Location and Status Network
- General Social Network
- Vertical Social Network
- Professional Social Network
- Video Sharing Network
- Photo Network
- Bookmarking Network
- Podcasting Network
- Crowdsourcing Network
Business and communication goals set the guidelines for the communication strategies for your organization. Yes, it is easy to create a profile account on a social network. But, what is the utility each social media platform and its ability to contribute to the high-level goals of the organization? How should it be integrated with your other social media profiles? How will your entire digital media ecosystem be managed, measured, and analyzed? If your media properties can’t be measured then how will you know if they are contributing to your goals? Without analytics, how will you know if your cross-platform social media efforts are contributing positively to the long-term goals of your organization.
Having real-time access to an organization’s target audience(s) by way of social media platforms is unprecedented. It is a privilege. There are pitfalls. Every “touchpoint” is valuable. It’s incredibly tempting to be busy and active with social media; it is much more difficult to be a wanted, relevant, voice in the social dialog about an industry. At Vagary, we understand that your high-level business goals, your communication goals, your budget, your personnel resources, your industry, your seasonality, and much more, are all considerations for the use of each social media platform. Creating a digital media ecosystem is easy. Creating the correct digital media ecosystem that your company can manage effectively, deliberately, with purpose, takes skill. Focus on your business. Let Vagary focus on your communication.
UTILITY: Cultivate target audiences. Expose your brand to prospective audiences.
DIFFICULTY: Easy to set up. Takes expertise to engage the correct audiences and contribute for long-term grow. Easy to run ads, but professionals should create the ad.
CLASSIFICATION: Public Relations. Social Media platforms are usually Advertising platforms as well. See Display Advertising.