Friday, October 17, 2008

Join the social network party!

Social networks have evolved and it is essential that PR professionals become aware of this evolution. These networks are no longer just for kids to play games on, teenagers to observe their crush, and adults to search for old friends. Social networks, like a faucet, were merely leaking into the professional field a few years ago. Now with the water streaming full force, businesses are joining these networks everyday; thus, public relations professionals must understand how and why to use these extremely beneficial tools.



How? A good place for novices to start is http://www.commoncraft.com/. This site offers simple guides for using social networks. Another option is for professionals to look at what other companies are doing. How are those in a similar field utilizing these tools? If you work in pr for a theme park check and see what other theme parks are doing. This is not to suggest you should model just what they have done, but it is a great way to start.

Why utilize these networks? Why not? Obviously they can cost money and time; however, not to join would be like seeing a huge party outside your house with lots of free prizes and choosing to stay inside. Maybe you don't go to the social network party because you are scared. Scared of doing or saying something wrong, or simply wasting your time (or someone else's). These are all logical thoughts; however, they are all preventable.



In order to prevent "saying something wrong", I would advise companies to take social networking seriously. Never say or imply something that you would not put on a billboard or in a magazine ad. Simply be aware that this is just another form of advertising. Social networks can be used in a variety of ways. They may offer surveys, videos, RSS feeds, discussions and more. The opportunities are endless. Take for example Pizza Hut's use of facebook. Customers are now able to order pizza via facebook! With over 307,000 friends, Pizza Hut is certainly making good use of social networking.



Do not waster your time or other's time. If your company's budget is tight, then limit the amount of time you spend working on these networks. Your company may choose to hire one person to devote all their time to this endeavor. If so, make certain they are aware of the message you want to send to publics. Not doing so, may lead to inconsistency and this is the last thing pr folks want to do. A company should have a single voice and that voice is lead by the public relations specialists. It is also important to remember to be honest in social networks, encourage interaction, and participate in other groups. This creates more links to your page; thus, more face time.



Utilizing social networks such as facebook, myspace, and twitter can be challenging, yet rewarding. At the end of the day, I am certain you will be glad you joined the networking party (it beats staying in!).

2 comments:

Margaret Orlando said...

"Never say or imply something that you would not put on a billboard or in a magazine ad."


What great advice!

Akwesi Antwi said...

I concur. I think we must all get involved. This "thing" is real and catching up so quick.