Common Questions On Social Media


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Common Questions On Social Media

  1. 1. What is social media and why is it called social media? Social media is a medium through which people can connect, access, share and engage. Millions of people are today connected online and have access to information online. They create and share content like reviews, ideas, opinions, thoughts, audio, videos, photos and presentations etc. with each other and engage in online conversations and discussions on issues and topics which interest them. Internet is a super express highway through which organisations can reach its stakeholders around the world on various common social media platforms like blogs and social networking websites. “Social” means interaction of organisms with other organisms and media can be defined as “means of communication”. Therefore, it is called social media because it is a means of communication through which people can interact with each other. Who is using social media? ANYONE AND EVERYONE Research shows that nearly four out of five US Internet users visited a social networking site in December 2009, there are 150 million people following Facebook, Twitter has nearly 20 million visitors, more than 170 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during November 2009. 70 percent of journalists said they use social networks to assist in reporting. (Source: ComScore's "The 2009 U.S. Digital Year in Review)
  2. 2. Why use social media? Here are some of the reasons why social media should be used: 1. Attract traffic: With the help of social media any business can attract lot of traffic and increase their online visibility. 2. Interact with audience: Businesses can engage in a dialogue with their stakeholders through social media and hence build relationships. This further enhances their brand image, reputation and loyalty. 3. Beat the competition: By using new ways of communicating with their customers, businesses can gain a competitive edge. 4. Cost effective: Using social media is quite cost effective and has greater impact in comparison to traditional media. 5. Innovation: Businesses can get useful customer feedback through social media and can innovate their products and services as per the needs and demands of consumers. 6. Collective Intelligence: Social media is a platform where people from various backgrounds collectively contribute to enhance existing knowledge. Every business can benefit from this pool of collective intelligence and can find whatever knowledge they need about any market, products or people. 7. Speed: With the help of social media, any business can now reach its stakeholders around the world with just a click of a button. Unlike traditional media, social media provides an opportunity for business to respond quickly and instantly.
  3. 3. Research A new study released by enterprise wiki provider Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group shows that the brands most engaged in social media saw their revenue grow over the past year by 18% while the least engaged brands saw losses of negative 6%. Here are two case studies of Starbucks and Dell. Starbucks through its website is trying to have a dialogue with its customers. Customers can submit their ideas on how to make the company better and can also see the most recent ideas submitted by other people and participate in the question of the day. This has helped Starbucks to engage their customers. Dell started using Twitter in March 2007. They now have several accounts on twitter like Dell Outlet, Direct2Dell, Studio Dell, Digital Nomads etc. Dell started offering special discounts to its twitter followers which resulted in the revenue generation of nearly $1million for the company. Hence, Dell found a way to use twitter to generate sales. Lesson to remember: Social media has fundamentally shifted the way business interacts with its stakeholders.
  4. 4. Issues and Concerns Although there are some issues and concerns associated with using social media, these issues if looked deeply offers some opportunities as well. 1. Lack of control: It is very hard to control communications in the digital social world. Since, everyone in the social sphere has a voice; it is a big challenge to exert control. However, with the help of effective monitoring and evaluation one can inspire and influence a conversation. Also, when businesses relinquish their control over social media, the conversations become more personal and thus, it gives an opportunity to get some real insights from stakeholders which can further enhance business value. 2. Lack of credibility: Social media still lags behind traditional media in terms of credibility but by creating and maintaining uniform brand identity and by being transparent and open, businesses can gain trust of their target audiences. 3. Negative publicity: Since businesses have very little control on the online conversations, businesses can attract some negative coverage from its stakeholders. However, if spotted and responded timely, social media can act as a great reputation management tool. Also, with the help of negative feedback and complaints, businesses can identify areas where they need to improve.
  5. 5. What are the sociological and cultural concepts behind social media and what is their relevance to PR? There are various sociological and cultural concepts behind social media and it becomes imperative for PR practitioners to develop an understanding of those concepts in order to create and implement effective social media plan for their clients. Some of the sociological concepts behind the popularity and growth of social media are 1. Meet new people: Human beings are social animals, they love meeting new people and social media fulfils this need. It acts as a platform to meet new people, connect with global audience and find people with similar interests and make communities. This gives users a sense of belonging and helps them to identify their place in the society. 2. Sense of identity: Social media provides an opportunity for individuals to create their identity. Social networking websites like Facebook enable users to create their profile. This profile helps people to make a statement about their personality. 3. Create, share, discover and participate: Social media is driven by people’s need to create, share, discover and participate. People can publish content on blogs, post their videos and pictures online and can share their story with other people in real time. Unlike traditional media, social media tools provide people with the means to participate in the society.
  6. 6. 4. Rise of influencers: Opinion leaders and thought leaders have played a major role in the adoption of new ideas and technologies in the societies since time immemorial. Similarly, social media provides an opportunity for people to become opinion leaders and influencers by having huge number of fans or followers. Also, established opinion leaders are able to influence masses to adopt new innovations. These sociological concepts help public relations practitioners to first, identify where their target audience would be, second, understand the social behaviour of their target audience, third, craft relevant messages for their target audience, fourth, provide their target audience with the relevant message at the right time and at the right place and last but not the least evaluate the effectiveness of the message. Cultural concepts Social media has given birth to a new global culture of convergence. People who live and breathe in this culture are called “Digital natives”, they come together from all parts of the world and use technology to access and share information and publish content in both audio and video format. This new culture is interactive, well connected, powerful, dynamic and fast. Although, social media has given birth to a new global culture but no business can implement the same social media strategy across countries. This is because each country has its own specific social
  7. 7. media culture. For this reason, companies need to go deep down into the roots of social media culture of a country to understand it better. For example, while Facebook is the most popular social networking website in U.S. and the UK, majority of the population in India use Orkut. On the other hand, there are some social networking websites which are banned in China due to government censorship. Therefore, it is vital for public relations practitioners to understand different social media cultures across different countries to formulate effective social media strategies for their clients. Any social network is a melting pot of various cultures. How social media can be used? 1. Identify objectives: Businesses need to know before hand their objective behind making a social media plan. Is it to increase brand awareness? Attract more traffic? Get some insights from consumers? Create buzz and get people talking about the brand? Also, decide which techniques will be used to measure the objectives for example, increase in number of hits on the websites or increase in sales. 2. Listen: Before jumping on to the bandwagon, businesses need to listen and immerse themselves in conversations. They need to know who are talking about their brands and what are they talking about. In order words, identify key influencers. 3. Participate: After listening to the bee’s conversations, John started participating in their discussion and his story of
  8. 8. producing different varieties of honey, got bees from other neighbourhood towns interested. Similarly, brands need to participate by telling their story to attract attention, generate interest and create brand associations. 4. Engage: By requesting his customers to recommend his honey to their family and friends, John engaged his customers with his brand. Similarly, businesses need to push their digital content, plan and work out to ensure that the story is seen by the target audience and that they participate. Also, once the community is formed, businesses need to feed their communities regularly to keep it active and alive. 5. Measure & Evaluate: At the end, businesses need to take a look back and see how far the social media plan was successful in achieving the objectives. Social media process OBJECTIVES LISTEN MEASURE & PARTICIPATE EVALUATE ENGAGE