The use of social media as a PR tool is growing in leaps and bounds.
Small businesses now include social media strategies as mandatory features of PR campaigns. But with all the hype surrounding social media, the real question is, "Does a tweet count as a legitimate PR placement or is social media just another passing PR fad?"
If your company chooses to ignore social media you do so at your own peril. The simple fact of today's PR climate is that social media isn't creating PR trends – it's giving business leaders tools to keep pace with trends that are redefining the way consumers relate to companies and the marketplace.
In recent years, social media marketing companies like Alterian have sprung up to help small and medium-sized businesses navigate the social media landscape.
However, to get the most impact from social media marketing provider you'll first need to understand some of the changes and shifts that have made social media PR placement such an integral part of the business landscape:
- From masses to individuals. Consumers are clearly changing the way they think about marketing and advertising. According to a recent Alterian survey, only 6% of U.S. consumers trust advertising. Instead of listening to ads that have been created for the masses, more and more consumers are interested in companies that speak to them as individuals and make an effort to engage them in opt-in relationships.
- From monologues to dialogues. Social media PR gives your company the ability to create dialogues – the preferred communication method for today's consumers. In the past, consumers were simply the recipients of information, whether it was presented to them via a print ad or commercial. Now, consumers expect to be able to participate in a conversation with your company and the conversational nature of social media makes it a perfect venue for dialogue between businesses and their customers.
- From market segments to online communities. PR and marketing professionals used to think in terms of strategies to reach targeted demographics and market segments. That kind of thinking is dead because consumers are much more relational these days. They don't think of themselves as purchasing units, but as members of online (and off-line) communities. Effective PR mobilizes social media strategies to engage online communities and initiate relationships with interconnected groups of online consumers.
The key takeaway here is that a tweet does indeed count as a PR placement. Just like a PR placement in the newspaper, a positive mention of your offerings via a tweet can result in lead generation opportunities and accelerate your selling cycles. It may also be viewed by a journalist who will then cover the story in traditional media.
So, even though it's only 140 characters long, you'd do well to treat a tweet as a legitimate PR placement and focus part of your PR efforts on raising your visibility in social media outlets such as Twitter.