A social networking panic recently arose when an article released by Weekly World News, reported that Facebook was shutting down. Mind you, this is a blog that regularly reports on aliens and mutants. That said, people panicked. Facebook representatives quickly squashed the rumors, and members’ blood pressure stabilized.
What if Facebook dissapeard forever? What would you do?
Lately, I have heard people say that social media is played out or that it is a passing fad. Yet I hear Twitter references in worship services. Students and faculty alike use the expression “Facebook me” on a regular basis; and “The Social Network,” the movie about the rise of Facebook, recently became a hit at the box office. These events lead me to believe that Facebook is, in fact, very important and not going anywhere.
So, why do some debate that social media isn’t here to stay? I think this can be answered with another question: is all social media fading, or is Facebook becoming less powerful?
I will be the first to say that Facebook is one of the most influential sites, not only for PR professionals, but also for anyone wanting to give or receive information – or just to kill time. There are some companies that rely solely on Facebook for their online presence, rather than having a website. Even with privacy settings, one can easily learn a lot about a person based on the information on their profile.
While Facebook is useful in many aspects, PR practitioners should also embrace the endless niche-specific social networking sites that can be used to our advantage.
Here is a list of some of my favorites:
– Twitter is great for self-promotion. It has become the new status update and is useful for business networking. However, it is easy to get lost. If you still have trouble navigating around Twitter, then try out a website such as TwitTip.
– Example: A small town Chick-fil-A restaurant has more than 100,000 followers. How? It’s all about the incentives. With all the money it saves by using free promotions, it can afford to give out discounted products to its followers.
– LinkedIn is another site that is great for business. However, you aren’t going to find someone talking about anything other than business. Use LinkedIn for your behind-the-scenes work. LinkedIn is great for networking, connections and, in some cases, self-promotion.
– Example: Skip Freeman, author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Change . . . Forever!, has more than 500 connections whom he uses to network and hire for his clients at the Hire to Win Group recruiting firm.
– There’s nothing better than an addictive viral video that makes your publics laugh while delivering a message. However, too many times a creative team creates a video without ensuring the desired message is delivered. That’s where YouTube comes in.
– Example: Trigon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s series of commercials featuring two small children discussing health topics has gathered more than 10 million views. Consequently, Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the first health insurance companies I think of when I think about going to the doctor.
– A growing hodge-podge of all things PR, this site is great for agency, in-house and consulting practitioners. PROpenMic is not new, but it is still gaining momentum. With 6,000+ members worldwide, it’s no small site. The social networking site is great for networking with other practitioners, as well as as keeping informed about some of the newest things happening in the field.
– Example: One of the main stories on the home page right now is called PR v. Marketing. Not only is there a video of two professors debating the subject, but there is also a blog with detailed information about each argument.
There are countless interest-focused and industry-focused social networking sites out there. The key is to remember that social media does not have to be the same as social networking. While the two are related, they are not always co-dependent.
So the next time you sit down and start planning your social media communications plan, remember: it’s not just Facebook anymore. And don’t be panicked about this either. This is a good thing — embrace it and try to keep up!
What are some of your favorite ways and places to use social media?