As a PR student I have been trying to wrap my mind around the concept of social media. With so many definitions buzzing around I looked towards a blogging guru Adam Singer
. Singer has been integrated in social media since 2004.
“I would describe it as democratized media; a place to contribute digital content and receive feedback,” said Singer.
I think one of the biggest lessons about social media I have realized is that to learn social media you must use it. My style and design teacher, Robert French, has taken this approach by integrating his students into many social networking sites that we contribute to weekly.
Social media is changing the media landscape and it is being adopted as a record breaking rate.
This was the old equation:
Your message (Press release) + Reporter (gatekeeper) = Awareness (news coverage)
“Social media has reduced the role of the reporter, the gatekeeper,” said Singer. “Now you can wrap your promotion around a good hook, upload your story on the company blog and share your message with your network.”
Reporters are still important, but not vital. “Social media hasn’t quite replaced traditional media, but it supplements everything digitally,” said Singer. “For success you can’t ignore any channel.”
"Using social media, I don't necessarily need a reporter to take an interest in my news for it to spread."said Singer.
Some argue that blogging can’t be seen as reliable news, but how can you only consider traditional media more reliable when it is driven by advertisement sales. Blogging allows for a more honest platform that not only expresses your opinion, but keeps an open ear to hear others’ opinions and feedback. Web news is all about participating in the conversation to further understanding.
Social media is not for everybody, but if you are working in a consumer industry it ranks supreme because of instant consumer feedback. Happy customers will spread the word and drive sales.
So how does a business take the plunge into social media successfully? Adam Singer explains the process.
(1)The first and most important step is to LISTEN. This step requires persistence. Seek out ideas about your market, issues other companies are having and listen to the conversation. Consider this free market research.
(2)Next, see how you fit it. This is the analyzing step. Start joining in the conversation and participate in your industry.
“Make the choice. Do you want to be a leader in your industry or a follower?”
(3) Now is time to get creative. If your goal is to please your customers then ask them what they want and deliver.
(4) The last step for social media adoption is to find your niche and speak to them. While some target audiences aren’t found on the web, the adoption rate is growing quickly. The groups that are participating online are extremely responsive and ready to speak up.
Starbucks is a good example for how social media reaches the masses. Recently Starbuck created a free forum on their website for consumers to give ideas they want to see implemented in their local Starbucks. This free crowd sourcing garnished great feedback on improvements and promotional materials. Starbucks then took the ideas; let customers vote on their favorite improvements then delivered. This interactive campaign showed that Starbucks has concern as well as reliability.
So use all the tools and spread your brand. WARNING: you must be ready for honest feedback and be ready to adapt!
As we see social media playing a large role in consumer campaigns many people are noticing the potential social media has to change the role of government.
As Obama opened change.gov
within 24 hours after his win. Democratic hopefuls are tuning into to watch his weekly video addresses, review his agenda and discuss his administration while it is being built. These online addresses are coming at a time when our country is in need of these fireside chats and reform.
“I think it will be great as long as they listen,” said Singer. “If change.gov doesn’t deliver they will be called out and there will be intense backlash.”
This is the beauty of online bloggers. It’s all about open communication that works together to find problems, increase awareness and bring developmental change. I could not be more excited to participate and watch as this trend grows.