We are just starting to learn the impact of what social media can do for our profession and how it can help the company we will work for in the future. Some of us see it as a burden to be tweeting or writing a blog post, but at the end of the day, it may put us ahead in the game with our competition. A blog that supports social media, is “Communication Overtones,” written by Kami Huyse, PR professional in Houston, Texas. Huyse doesn’t just simple write that social media is great and you need to use it within your company, but instead she gives both sides, the negative and positive sides of using social media.
We hear the word “social media” all the time, but what is it? Why is it important to obtain the skills now while we are learning about our profession? Bryan Eisenberg, who is the co-founder of FutureNow, which according to their web site, is a “provider of the OnTarget™ software-as-a-service, which monitors your website 24/7. Eisenberg believes that social media” are platforms for interaction and relationships, not content and ads.” This makes sense because social media consist of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs. These tools all interact with the audiences and form relationships with more people. It allows for two-way communication by comments or emails. There is a constant flow of conversations through these forms of social media. However, content is important too. You must keep your audience interested and by doing so you continue with the content that they enjoy learning and interacting with.
In the article, from “Communication Overtones”, entitled “Building Buzz with Social Media Using Swarming and BEES,” Huyse relates social media as a beehive. The analogy works “from a communication perspective” as Huyse writes. So how can you be more efficient in your social media skills, Huyse uses this BEES analogy to explain.
B Build: You want to build content that is interesting and connected. Huyse says that a company may have all these accounts – Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, but they don’t connect and aren’t on the same page. Building them to be connected and work together, and have similar content, but distributes the information differently and yet builds an interest to each of the sources, is important and smart.
E Eavesdrop: You have to listen to the different communities for what kind of content is necessary and will allow the community to get the most from. Huyse writes, “Each community has a distinct culture, to be effective, one has to learn this culture and speak in its own language.”
E Echo: Make sure the content that you are sending out to these communities “echo” what the community finds important or “interesting.” Such as retweeting, linking to blogs, or other links in facebook posts. She writes that the content shouldn’t be all the same, but be on the same page and in communication with each other.
S Socialize: The content on these different communities much be able to allow the audience to socialize about it. Socializing means actually engaging conversation and that might even mean hiring someone to do the engaging and overall handling the social media, as Huyse put it.
I truly believe that companies that are hiring someone to handle the social media instead of actually just setting automatic adds on Twitter or automatic responses to comments, allows a company to gain a following. Social media creates a relationship with communities and even stakeholders in the PR world. I feel certain PR companies or even companies in general forget that interacting and engaging with the audience is important. That starting a blog and continuing with weekly updates or updating Facebook or Twitter can really create a following and get their name or accomplishment out there and may even help them in a crisis.
So is important to continue to teach these skills in journalism programs across the world? Should there be more courses for Public Relation majors that help develop this than just simply teaching a quick blog lesson or a Twitter lesson in an online media course? The web is changing so quickly, that Web 2.0 may quickly develop into Web 2.5 or Web 3.0. Is it important for companies to continue with social media or even find a way to develop it? If they decide to add it to their plan, how should they go about it?