LET’S GET SOCIAL

30 June 2017

Newsline’s new recruit, account manager Ian Gallagher, blogs on the importance of social media in PR – and beyond

 

I note with interest my new colleague Tom’s promise of irregular blog posts on the Newsline website, which is certainly something I’m happy to contribute to. So, in that spirit, here’s my first attempt at explaining the place of social media in what we do…

First, a little bit about me (I’ll keep this brief, don’t worry). I’ve landed at Newsline HQ after three years working in the social media team at Leicester City Council, and nearly 10 years in local newspapers. It’s a great opportunity for me to marry the two disciplines in a new career in PR. It’s immediately obvious there’s a great team here, one I can learn an awful lot from.

So, a simple question – what can social media offer PR clients?

There’s the temptation to see it as something of a ‘magic bullet’ (…stick it on Facebook and make it go viral…”) but once you see past that and think more tactically, it can be extremely powerful.

When you’re using social media, you’re talking directly to your audience on platforms they know, love and use every day. If your content is compelling and shareable, your audience will do your work for you.

You may remember the story of Lavender, the hapless hamster who got stuck behind her owners’ oven after escaping from her cage.

Newsline’s story about how our client Cherrydown Vets came to Lavender’s rescue received huge media coverage – including on The Dodo, a Facebook page with a whopping 13 million likes.

Simply by striking a chord with people on social, little Lavender’s story has been shared 863 times, with around 13,000 people hitting the ‘like’ or ‘love’ button. And that’s just the statistics for The Dodo, not to mention all the other media outlets who covered it. The power of social media means this story has reached thousands of people who may otherwise never have seen it.

Not all content on social warms the cockles of our hearts and goes viral like this story did, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less worthy. And that’s where the power of social media advertising comes in.

Thanks to the fiendishly clever data miners working for companies like Facebook, advertisers can now pay to put their messages in front of any audience, based on age, interests, location and much more.

Whether your audience is hyper-local or global, there’s a targeted advert which will work for you. The more you know about your target audiences, the more powerful the advertising tools are. The possibilities are almost endless, and it won’t break the bank either.

Social media is also one of the most powerful reputational tools you can own. Your audience may not engage with your business in any other way than on these platforms. And whether it’s praise or criticism they come armed with, your ability to speak to them quickly and openly can improve your standing in an instant.

And with the huge shift in our media consumption from TV, radio and newspapers to online, YOU can now be the broadcaster. Simply by starting a live video, posting a photo or announcing your new product on social media, you have the potential to reach as many people as traditional media outlets.

I’ve only scratched the surface here, and in the interests of brevity I will put a lid on it for now! But there will be plenty more to come.

The beauty of social media is that it’s constantly evolving, and as communications specialists we have to evolve with it. These are definitely exciting times at Newsline HQ!