Old Dogs, New Tricks

It is no stranger to anyone by now that social media has taken the world by storm. Names like YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and the entire Twitter vocabulary (Tweet, Twitterer, Twitterzine… ugh) are now household phrases. Its influence is so dominating that really, the world is slowly turning into Tweetaholics (A twitter-alcoholic, duh.) Unsurprisingly, it was not before long that social media started affecting the way people did business as well. Inspired by internet phenoms becoming overnight celebrities, these companies set out to emulate the “rags to riches” success stories creating what you see today as Social Media Marketing. Having recently completed my studies and freshly equipped with my new set of skills, I was ready to take the public relations world by storm! – Boy, couldn’t I be more wrong. None of this social media mumbo-jumbo was taught to me in class! But then again, neither was it taught to the many Public Relations professionals that have spent the past decade or so in the industry. See, the public relations industry is undoubtedly in a state of evolution. You can choose to sit on this revolution, and wait for all the great thinkers of the world to write books and create a Dummies guide, OR you can seize the day – “ carpe diem!”, and retain that competitive edge by accepting your place as a student of public relations. “But there aren’t any textbooks for me to study from!” Well, this is only partially true. Several publications have hit the shelves in the recent years, but this is the internet we are talking about. Do you really expect it to remain relevant in the next few years, or dare I say, months? Would you not want to be learning from a resource that is always fresh, always relevant? Then welcome to the world of “ Social Learning”. A world of give and take. Today, you want people to “plagiarize” your work wholesale, and tell everyone who and where they got it from. Gone are the days of taking control of your content, resorting to legal action when you don’t get your way. Social media embraces the sharing and thoughts and ideas. In put it in “old-school” PR terms, it’s kind of like a celebrity doing humanitarian work, so his popularity / image improves. With over 126 million blogs existing today (number keeps increasing!), it is no wonder that bloggers are being heralded as the journalists of tomorrow. They represent the democratization of media and equalization of influence – an equal opportunity platform to broadcast and publish at will, earning audiences and prominence that directly align with the level of individual participation and investment in engagement. Sounds like a massive feat to live up to, but in essence, it is really about being individualistic and getting involved. It isn’t called SOCIAL media if all you’re doing is hiding behind that computer screen! The best bloggers are not afraid be vocal about their opinions, avant garde or not, and they are always open to feedback, constantly building a relationship with its readers. Opinions generate buzz, and buzz is gold for your social networking. What does this really mean for businesses today? How can New PR be applied to you? Traditionally, a company approaches a PR company to leverage their existing network of journalists. This in turn increases your odds of getting coverage in a news paper or a blog. There will be tons of other press releases you are competing against, and ultimately, the editor decides if your news fits his agenda. New PR on the other hand, is all about convincing Google. Unlike the Editor of a magazine, Google accepts all kinds of information. This means for you, the client, is that Online PR will 100% get your news out there. The main challenge is making it easy to find. This is by manipulating the Google Gods to place your article in the first page. Once it’s easily accessible, this is where social media comes in. Your article should inspire people to share and comment – soon it will spread, just like a virus (but in a good way) – an infinite amount of reach. The best thing is that you retain the people you’ve reached, and this makes the next time you want to broadcast a message all the more easier. Does this mean Traditional PR is now obsolete and should be thrown out the window? Not necessarily. Here at EASTWEST Public Relations, we believe that it’s Yin and Yang – a symbiotic relationship that could only benefit from one another. (I’d use an East and West analogy but…) The beauty of it all is that you don’t need much to get started. With an account and a few friends on any social networking site, you can slowly build a following and with enough time and dedication (yes, it takes effort!) one day have people clinging on to your every 160 characters (See what I did there?). Treat social media as your platform and use it to propel your content forward. There is no need to overthink it. Don’t be afraid, just go out there and try it! You think the first internet phenom sat down and thought about how his YouTube video will forever impact the lives of others? Here are a few tricks to get you new-media-savvy in no time:

  1. Shorten the URL you share. Due to the character limitation on Twitter, you want to maximize the use of that space. Popular link shorteners are TinyUrl and bit.ly. Bit.Ly offers an extra analytics service for their links.
  2. The More the Merrier. More blogging platforms are offering “Lifestreaming” services. This basically means your 1 or 10 social networking accounts are integrated into your blog. This makes publishing announcements on multiple platforms at once a whiz to do. Popular services include Posterous and Tumblr. WordPress users can install a plugin to do so here.
  3. 3. It’s Nothing Personal, It’s Just Business. While I would encourage you to use a more personal tone while blogging, please for the love of god do not mix your personal networks with your business ones. There has been one too many cases like this. Oh and obviously pwned, lollerskates and roflcopters are inappropriate while doing business.

At the end of the day, Social Media is really a platform to aid your business in building and maintaining relationships –adding that extra personal touch between your customers and your business. It banks on you however, to make it happen, so don’t forget, participation is key! So what are you waiting for? Share this post!

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