(Note: This post was written by Ryan Chaffin as 100% original content for PR & New Media Today.)
“Social Media are the future of marketing, advertising and public relations.”
If you think this quote is true, you’re wrong; it’s false. If you’re confused right now, think about it. If you really think that’s true, you’re living in 2005 when most people thought that quote was wrong, and probably did not even understand what “social media” are, or would become. So again, if you think that quote is true, you’re behind! Let’s get you caught up!
If you are a regular here on the PR & New Media Today website, then you’ve probably noticed clickable “buttons” on the page with weird logos and designs on them accompanying every article. What are these buttons? Most of you probably already know exactly what they are. But in case you do not; they are buttons for sharing that article on other social media platforms.
So what is a social media platform? And which ones should you be using? I want to take a few minutes to answer these questions:
Question #1: “What is a social media platform?”
A social media platform (for the most part) is a website that allows you to quickly and easily share information with a network of people. Whether it is your personal network, or a network consisting of thousands, or even millions, of users depends on the platform and how you use it.
Question #2: “Which social media platforms should I be using?”
You have all heard of Facebook and Twitter by now, and hopefully StumbleUpon, Digg, and Delicious. These are all “social media platforms” available for your use. If you are not already using Facebook and Twitter, get with it! There are plenty of guides explaining those on the web (in fact, now that I think about it, I have one on my site you are more than welcome to see, titled “Twitter 101: How To Use Twitter”). The best way to get to know these platforms is to use them! Go to their sites, sign up, and start playing around with them!
Before I let you go, I want to quickly focus on a social media platform I have grown very fond of, and am beginning to absolutely love. I recommend you all use it, and I’ll tell you why in just a few seconds. The platform is StumbleUpon. It can be a bit difficult to figure out at first, and hard to get comfortable with. In fact, I still struggle with it a bit. But that is beside the point. In fact, I do not really care if you even use the site to discover cool articles (even though it is really cool!), but use it to promote your articles and own website!
I wrote an article and posted it on my website, and some loyal reader came a long and loved the article (which made me very happy)! It had not even crossed my mind to submit my article to StumbleUpon, but that reader of mine did. Within a few hours of my article being “stumbled” that article received 17 unique page visits via its link on StumbleUpon. Think about it. That’s easy, effortless traffic to your site. You never know how many new visitors and (hopefully loyal readers) will come to your site from StumbleUpon. It’s easy to submit your article. Do it!
What is your favorite social media platform and why? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author
Ryan Chaffin is currently a college student majoring in Business Marketing. He loves anything technology, Internet, and social media related along with sports and health & wellness. Ryan currently specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, and social media and believes in achieving your fullest potential on and off the web. You can also find Ryan on Twitter (@ryanchaffin).
Many public relations professionals worldwide dream of the day that they can successfully pitch their latest and greatest story with the world via ‘the little blue bird.’ And quite naturally so, after more than 20 billion tweets. The real-time social platform Twitter has firmly established itself as not only one of the largest online hubs of social activity, but also as a fairly ripe vehicle for media pitches, a realization that has PR professionals rejoicing. It can make your job much easier — if you do it right.
According to Twitter officials, there are more than 65 million tweets per day. If you hope for getting your message out, you have to distinguish yourself from the pack. To do this, try thinking like a journalist, rather than a press-starved PR person. This might sound a bit counter intuitive at first, but trust me, it’s crucial.
Think Like a Journalist
If you’re a PR professional looking to use social sites such as Twitter to engage journalists, it might be worth it to think like one. By understanding the journalist’s mindset, you gain a better idea of how and why they are using social media. If you can fit your pitches into that, you can better get the media on your side.
Become Familiar with Their Content and Style, and Get on Their Radar
Yes, I understand you’ve got that dynamite story you’ve just got to pitch. And I’m sure it’s wonderful.
But no one’s going to take you seriously if you don’t realize that journalists and bloggers are human beings. Just like traditional media (newspapers, radio, TV, etc.), you’ll have to get on their radar before you ever try to “pitch” anything. And by “get on their radar,” I mean “build relationships.” In many ways, Twitter (and other social media) mimic the real world.
The first step in establishing good relationships with journalists and bloggers is becoming familiar with their content. You need to become intimately familiar with the content they consistently post about, so that you can join their blog’s community of people who discuss what they post. Read their stuff, give your opinion, start and contribute to relevant, interesting discussions on a regular basis. This will help you to get on their radar.
You definitely want to cultivate a “relationship” with prominent journalists and bloggers (keep in mind that this means give-and-take; not only “reaching” them, but also providing value of your own that they may benefit from.
Find them, then follow them. Take note of those individuals and news organizations whom you believe may benefit from your tweets, and those whose tweets that you can learn from. And when they post good content, engage them.
How to Engage Them
You can follow someone on Twitter for ages, but it’s useless if they don’t know that you exist. So, you must engage them. An occasional thoughtful “@ mention” can do wonders.
Take a genuine interest in them as people, and show you have something to offer, and naturally they will take an interest in you and care about what you have to offer. After you’ve gotten on their radar, continue to stay in contact when they post new content, and hopefully by this point, they’re also following you and your content.
As a journalism major, I’ve learned that there are lots of ways to start conversations with news media via social networking sites. One such way is exploring the “unanswered.” In many breaking news stories, for example, there are lingering questions that have not been fully explored in the story, or sources who weren’t contacted, for whatever reason.
Many news sites also pose questions at the bottom of stories, inviting commentary. This is a perfect opportunity to contact the writers and create banter that establish report and a relationship. Take advantage and ask a thoughtful question, or share your informed opinion (respectfully).
Most good journalists are always looking for new contacts and sources of information, the key is getting on their radar. Through your social media profile and your contacts with these individuals and organizations, you’ve got to establish yourself as someone who consistently provides expertise, or an informed opinion. This will help build a mutually-beneficial relationship, as they will see that they have something to gain by keeping in contact with you as well.
Build Relationships When You Don’t Need a Favor
The trick is to get yourself established when you don’t need anything; that way, it’s not an uphill battle when you do. Just like building a 100% complete profile with lots of solid recommendations, answered Q&A, and more can take weeks or even months, the same thing goes for getting on the radar of news media and journalists using Twitter. In the beginning, a journalist may not respond to every one of your tweets, but if you keep posting good content and engaging him/her, most will.
Have Patience and Be Mindful
Like chess, strategic media relations can require a good deal of patience and tact. Realize that you are dealing with people.
Send them a thoughtful direct message occasionally, when you’ve got news of your own to share. But the key is to keep in mind the quantity of information coming their way on a daily basis.
You’ve got to be smart, or you will push the people you need away, with your lack of social media etiquette. Twitter, like every other social network out there, has an established site culture. You will have a hard time pitching your stories to journalists and bloggers if you don’t follow it.
The more that you do these things, the more success you will have with using Twitter for media relations.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Join the conversation below and share your thoughts.
I'm Robert - a Technology Underwriter at The Hartford Insurance Group, one of the nation's top 10 carriers. Having worked in the communications and risk management industries, I've become passionate about the fields of PR, tech and new media. Thanks for visiting my website!