How to Survive the Social Media Shark Tank

Feb 20

Written by Andy Bates

As more turn to social media for news, companies need to revamp their PR strategies

Before the dawn of instant information via social media, companies could take roughly 24 hours to come up with a proper response to a given situation. That number today is closer to 24 seconds.

Over the years, the way people consumed news changed drastically, with recent data showing social media outpacing print media by a significant margin. The gap especially widened amongst the generation everyone loves talking about: millennials. For them, social media now serves as the most common source for news – more than news websites, TV, radio and print. This disruption forces entities to take more swift, proactive action if they want to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

Millennials have come of age in an era where they do not turn to traditional mediums, such as newspapers, for their information. They turn to social media for their news. This new media culture requires creative, outside the box thinking to garner positive attention from the general public, especially this generation that uses Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram apps throughout the day to consume information and share it with their followers. It is crucial for companies to adapt their public relations strategy to be effective on social media. Otherwise, your message could be lost to an entire generation.

Here are a few key strategies to adopt to ensure your organization can connect with Millennials.

Know What Works Best on Each Platform

Every social media platform operates differently. Knowing the distinctions between outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat goes a long way in leading to successful traction in the news, as opposed to a “one size fits all” brand of news breaking. Furthermore, people use different outlets for different reasons. Posting a picture of an in-depth expose article on Snapchat or Instagram would do virtually nothing for readership or consumption, but could take off on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Developing a good understanding as to which pieces of content will gain the most traction on which platforms takes some trial and error, but when a genuine effort is made, consumers reward those efforts in a big way.

Genuinely Listen to your Audience

Social media has opened doors for readers and consumers to easily offer direct feedback. It is important to take advantage of this.

In the restaurant business, they like to say that the “customer is always right.” While sometimes certain individuals may complain about news content for the sake of complaining, when trends emerge amongst the general comments from audience members, it is important to correct those mistakes and move on.

Readers and avid social media users respect organizations that know how to adapt to ever changing demands. They will reward those groups with greater readership, making your content far more sought after amongst consumers. Taking criticism can be difficult, especially given the nasty nature of the way certain members go about it, but responsiveness will demonstrate a genuine effort to serve your customers, and your social media audience will reward you by extending their relationship with you.

Pay Attention to Citizen Journalists

In 2019, studies show that 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, and that 77 percent of Americans own smartphones. A recent online study of adult Iowans found that only 96 of respondents said they use a smartphone at all to access social media.

The rise of social media usage and access to new technologies renders nearly anyone the ability to be a “citizen journalist.” Today, the average American can simply pull out their smartphone, film the scene in front of them, upload it to a social media site, and share it with the general public in a matter of minutes.

This means that public relations strategists, not just social media strategists, should be monitoring the digital sphere often, and be prepared to quickly respond and adapt. Remember: citizen journalists often do not have degrees or credentials and are not required to adhere to the same ethics as traditional journalists. With the rise of “fake news,” and a 24-hour news cycle, monitoring both traditional and digital media regularly is more important than ever.

As technologies advance and social media use continues to rise, the most important thing PR pros can takeaway is the promise the need to remain flexible and adaptable when implementing strategies to be effective in both the traditional and social media realms.