Any good public relations professional or agency knows that good PR is not the result of media relations only, but also the result of building relationships with journalists and publishers, who in turn go on to build relationships with their readers.
Similarly, any reputable marketer knows that good marketing is a by-product of vertical and horizontal brand strategy and captivating calls to action. Combined, the two know that each relies on the other to be successful. It is usually these PR and marketing folk that understand that social media is not just about Facebook or YouTube, and as a result go on to adopt social media in their strategies — they understand how social media and technology (Web 2.0?) play a part in word of mouth and, more importantly, communications, which has a direct impact on business.
So, if social media can be used to introduce a product or service into the market, engage with people who have criticisms or problems with a company, and establish a community of brand supporters, why aren’t more companies using it? I blame this on one simple fact: they think social media is something new or different when, in fact, it’s not.
Social media is a communications strategy that extends what we as human beings have been doing for ages (communicating) to the digital arena. If used correctly, social media engage with a community using a combination of skills and disciplines, and that’s what communications is all about. Communications is not just PR, marketing or sales, or stakeholder relations. It’s all of them working together to deliver on the expectations of the business strategy.
The problem is that more often that not social media are seen as either youth-created content (such as the many bizarre YouTube videos we all fall prey to viewing), Facebook or blogs — mostly because this is what is reported in the media. However, the fact is that social media are made up of numerous tools, platforms and techniques that can and should work together to create an engaging communications portfolio for a brand. For companies and their agencies to truly believe the social media are indeed a viable communications discipline, much like ATL is seen today with its combination of facets (TV, print, radio, billboards), we need to stop focusing on one or two facets of social media and rather start focusing on multi-deliveries that not only tie in with, but also give value to what’s happening offline.
Anything less is not giving social media any justice.