Monday, 18 April 2011

The Use of Social Networking Sites in PR

Recent years, social networking websites have become more and more popular all over the world.  Those websites are not only used by individuals for the purpose of  keeping in touch with friends, but also by companies for marketing/PR purposes. According to Harvard Business Review Analytic  Services Report, social networking sites are the most popular form of social media among all orgnizations, with the majority (87%) using sites like Facebook and twitter. The reason why social network sites are so popular is becausen practitioners can directly reach their target audiences in a cost effective way. There are four major uses of social networking websites when engaging in public relations.

1. Build your brand awareness
Social networking sites provide opportunities for both big companies and medium/small companies to publicize themselves in a cost effective way. Big companies with already popular brands could make the brands even popular; Medium/small companies could become more well –known by using those social networking websites through online PR campaigns. Moreover, a key feature of social network sites is its viral nature – because people like to share information which they find interesting and useful. When a company is carrying out an online PR campaign, someone mentions this campaign and your brand on a social network site, it is more likely other people pay attention on it and share it to their friends. It is much easier for companies to spread the messages and reach a much larger audiences.

2. Build relationships with your target audiences
It is essential for companies to build up good relationships with their target audiences. According to Grunig, two-way symmetric communication practices are a keystone for excellent PR. It is social networking websites that provide a platform for companies and their target audiences to communicate in an easier and more effective way.

3. Find the right channel
Different social network sites have different focuses, such as LinkedIn is a business oriented network websites; MySpace and are connecting music lovers, etc.. Also the use of social network websites varies from different countries and culture.  For example,  Mixi is the most popular social network sites in Japan, Facebook and Twitter can’t be used in China and so forth. Therefore, PR practitioners are able to carry out different PR campaigns with various focuses on the right networking websites all depending on who/where their target audiences are.

4. Monitor and analysis tool 
PR practitioners could monitor the progress by social network sites and react/respond at once. For example, just simply by monitoring the feedback, PR practitioners are able to know what people like or don't like about your product/service or how they feel about your campaign etc; also PR practitioners could monitor the number of people's participation and the number of groups or fan pages have been created.

Tench, R. & Yeomans, L (2009) Exploring Public Relations. 2nd ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.


  1. I agree with you that social networks are becoming more and more popular around the world with many businesses using them as a key tool for their performance. As Phillips and Young state (2009, p.106) in 'Online Public Relations: A Practical Guide to Devoloping an Online Strategy in the World of Social Media', social networks "are among the most used internet properties". The world "social" signifies relationships and since public relations role is to build relationships with its publics, it tries to enhance a two-way communication through social networks. If PR businesses select the appropriate channels and provide up-to-date information, they can get a significant feedback for their progress. I think social networks are one of the best ways to promote you business and organise a PR campaign.

  2. I agree with Eliza, social media is very useful in the promotion of brands and in the implementation of a PR campaign. However, as with all PR tactics social media is only useful if it is a channel frequently used by your target publics. I think that social media definitely has a place in the practice of public relations, but it should not be used as a replacement for traditional media. The two should complement each other.

  3. I agree with you Gillian that it can not be a replacement for traditional media and at the same time we cannot deny that for PR activities it prooves to be very useful in creating buzz regarding your topic of discussion and the best part it is it can help you monitor whatever is being said about you.

  4. It is essential to be 'connected' in today's world and make one's presence felt. But it has to be handled carefully from the beginning to the end. As a standalone, digital PR might not be able to add value. However, once it's integrated with social, search and overall digital marketing strategy, it has the potential to push the brand in the right direction.

  5. Totally agree with all your comments above. The fact remains that it has to be judicious & a balanced mix of all PR tools for promoting your brand. Only then, can you actually see substantial and both qualitative & quantitative results.

  6. I totally agree with your words hence social booking sites promote websites in a active way and it plays an major role in improving PR tools to the website.This is the right channel to guide the disciplines.

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