Social media… What is it? How does it work? Is it just a phase? Should every business have a social communications strategy? Can it be negative? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

Social media communications has gone mad, however, many companies have a presence in the social media realms, but are not using it properly. This is dangerous and can have a negative affect on their brand.

In this section, I will post advice on using social media effectively to benefit your brand and communicate with a diverse set of audiences.

Social networking to enhance your communications strategy

The nature of communications has undergone a substantial change in the past 20 years and everyday new media allows us to communicate in a different way, with a diverse audience.

The way organisations use technology to enhance their communications strategy has evolved exceptionally fast, with many including social networking or blogs in their communications campaigns.

It all started with email, which had a profound effect on the way people keep in touch. 

Email etiquette and everyday grammatical knowledge, were key priorities for all email users to learn when using the communications tool and many are still grasping the concept.

Even with some people still getting used to using email effectively, the nature of communication continues to change.

The ‘third place’ or ‘virtual world’ of social networking has opened doors for organisations or individuals to communicate their key messages to a new audience.

It is cost effective and easily implemented into a greater communications strategy.

Broadcast technologies like Twitter, Bebo, or Facebook; have closed the international marketing and communications gap, allowing marketers and communicators to communicate with potential stakeholders on the other side of the world.

Online communication tools also have the potential to increase our awareness of the movements of our professional or social contacts. Twitter, for instance, offers an at-a-glance update of things people we know happen to be doing: who is outside cleaning their gutters, who is writing a new blog post, who is about to have lunch with a friend.

However, as beneficial as social networking or blogging can be for an organisations or individuals image, if not maintained or implemented correctly, it can have negative effects on the brand or person involved.

The up to the minute and instant culture of social networking, means that it is not possible for the administrator of the site to effectively communicate messages, unless they are constantly updating, responding and maintaining their page.

If not managed properly and not properly planned, targeted and implemented, your company or personal messages, can be easily manipulated or misconstrued, with disastrous results.

Before implementing a social media strategy, consider some very important points: 

  • Ask yourself why you want to implement social media into your communications strategy and what you wish to achieve from creating a platform
  • Make the social networking elements, part of your communications strategy. Do not rely on social media networking solely in order to get your messages noticed. The virtual sphere does not appeal to all audiences and if you are relying only on this realm to communicate, you may be missing a broader potential market.
  • Know your brand and key messages and keep this consistent, throughout all your communications, including your social media tools.
  • Employ a professional communicator or online copywriter who knows what they are doing and knows your brand well. Make sure that you have someone in charge of your social networking, who can constantly update the information, monitor what is being said about you online, and communicate your messages effectively.
  • Link your social networking sites or blogs back to your website, this will increase you SEO’s and potentially bring your virtual audiences and those in the outside world together, therefore increasing your potential audience base and ensuring your messages are being communicated past the virtual world into the public sphere.

Following these basic principles will assist you in harnessing the power of online communications. This will help to ensure your social networking tools enhance and compliment your entire communications strategy.

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