January 1, 2016

Social media is rapidly becoming the public’s go to source for news, information, and opinion. Literally billions of people will like, share and comment on the vast amount of content being published on social media platforms every day. That’s why understanding how best to leverage these platforms for successful outreach should be at the center of any organization’s PR efforts.

One of the best things social media can give an organization’s PR efforts is third-party validation. While traditional platforms like radio, TV and print ads can quickly spread your message, they do little in the way of giving that message credibility. People will see the content you have put out in a vacuum, as just another ad, and take less away from it as a result. However, on social media, the content you produce reaches people through their social networks. Perhaps a person is seeing your content shared by a page that they frequent, or maybe a friend has commented on it. It could even be as simple as a like or a retweet from someone in that person’s network. This gives your content a veneer of peer-review and more importantly peer-approval. As such, people are more likely to understand and trust the PR message you are conveying.

Tapping into that organic peer-review process is made easier by the micro-targeting that social media allows. Rarely are PR campaigns designed to appeal to the “public” at large. Rather the purpose is to reach a target audience who is likely to be interested or invested in the message you are putting out. On Facebook and Twitter people quite readily provide the information you need to reach your target audience. Knowing everything from age and location to how many cat enthusiast pages people like helps you understand them, and it allows you to more finely select who will be seeing the content you publish on social media. The more relevant the information you put out is to the people viewing it, the more likely it is that they will like, comment and share it, thus providing that oh-so-crucial peer-approval.

Understanding these features of social media can prove crucial for your PR efforts. Finding the right audience through social media’s micro-targeting tools allows you to get your message to those who need to hear it most. This in turn builds momentum and trust among your audience, as your content is distributed and commented on within social network you are trying to reach. All of these elements can be leveraged for continued PR success.