“In the beginning Tom created the My and the space. Now Myspace was formless and empty, layouts were plain and boring, and Tom was surfing the internet for inspiration.
And Tom said, “Let there be friends,” and there were Myspace friends. Tom saw that friends were good, and separated a select few that he really liked from the others he just knew. Tom called the select few the “top 8” and the others simply remained friends.
And Tom said, “Let there be a bulletin so that we may view each other’s useless info and meaningless surveys.” So Tom made the bulletin and everyone started posting there answers to all of life’s most meaningful questions like the last time they talked on the phone with number 6 on their top 8. And it was so.
And on the 4th day Facebook opened up to all people and everyone forgot about Myspace. And public relations professionals looked upon new social media sites and saw that they were good.”
-Social Media Genesis 1:1-5
While social media started out as a way to connect with friends, it has evolved into much more. Individuals, companies, and organizations have a far greater reach. Communication can happen on a much larger scale at low costs.
Social media may present some challenges, for example having to respond quickly and wisely when negative information goes viral, there are many benefits to being able to use social media for public relations:
- New relationships can be formed and maintained with people all over who can also interact.
- It makes it easy to listen.
- It makes research easier. (Also, measurement tools may be useful.)
- It’s quick and easy to update.
- It is a cost-effective option
In “The Future of Public Relations and Social Media” Erica Swallow discusses how “niche, industry-specific networks will be of greater value in the future” than mass social platforms. While Facebook can filter through things like sex, age, location, and what pages people like, so far this is only accessible for advertising. If public relations professionals find different social media sites that are unique to certain demographics it could be very helpful to them.
Also, while a vast majority of the PR people out there are using social media as a broadcasting tool for sending out press releases and recent client news, it will make an even greater difference once PR professionals use social media as a listening and communicating tool.
There is power in social media and it is important for both marketing and public relations professionals to be aware of how social media influences people. The infographic below displays the affects social media has.