The use of social media has increased greatly over the past decade. It has been influenced greatly by the Internet whereby it is being used all around the world and hence improving social interaction. The number of people using social media, such as Facebook, is increasing exponentially, and hence this has caught the attention of critics and stakeholders around the world. Social media also promotes unlimited connectivity. This connectivity has influenced individuals in the society, in almost all aspects of their lives. This is through the conduction of business and how individuals interact with each other.
Social media has greatly affected public relations in the society. Public relations are used by individuals and organizations in the society to persuade the public to buy a certain idea or point of view. Public relations mostly incorporate the use of topics that are of interest to the public and news items which do not require payment. From a company’s point of view, the use public relations is to persuade stakeholders, employees, and investors to maintain a particular notion about the company and its products. The common activities associated with public relations include speaking at conferences, using the press and communication through the employees (Breakenridge, 2012).
Companies and organizations have come to the realization of the power that social media wields through the promotion of connectivity. Due to this fact, social media is being incorporated by companies as a strategy to increase their reach. Social media efforts come under the management of public relation in most companies. Social media is used in many communication channels and hence reaches all departments within an organization. Therefore, there is an inherent fit present between the use of public relations and social media. Social media and public relations complement each other (Sriramesh & Vercic, 2009).
Social media has changed the face of public relations through its functions, which have become synonymous with social medial, whereby public relations use social media to reach many people all over the world. The strategy of incorporating social media in public relations has proved to be beneficial owing to the fact that social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are ever growing. Another factor influencing the incorporation of social media in public relations is the fact that social media has the capacity to cut across channels whereby it engages individuals through holding conversations and does not rely on press launches and releases (Brown, 2009).
The use of social media comes along with huge opportunities because of the reach capacity. Hence, the use of social media alongside public relations requires careful planning where the use of strategy is recommended. This is because the huge opportunities that social media presents also have a downside with huge repercussions in the form of new forms of threats. Therefore, the key is to use a strategy where careful thought through tactics, such as brainstorming are necessary to ensure that conversations are kept under control. The upside with the use of social media in public relations is the fact that it will offer better business results in the case of a business strategy (Solis & Breakenridge, 2009).
Social media has influenced public relations agencies such that they have transformed to become more integrated. This is because of the reason that threats towards a particular consumer forum can be known to the world easily because of the easy and fast flow of information in social media. As a consequence, public relations professionals need a deep understanding of a particular brand reputation both online and offline. The role of public relations has also changed. This is evident whereby successful public relations campaigns are being used to provide engaging content that interests people online. This, consequently, feeds the media’s appetite for content that is engaging (CIPR, 2012).
Social media has driven public relations to become more transparent. Public relations have become more accountable in terms of measurement and also in terms of cross team working. This is due to reason that social media has a greater reach in terms of communication and hence the activities of public relations are known to the world. A lot of precautions are taken by public relations to ensure that they operate in the desired manner as their activities are visible to the world (Solis & Breakenridge, 2009).
Social media demands that a public relations person should think about the end users and less about intermediaries such as journalists. In effect, this translates into public relations catering for a broader spectrum of needs. Public relations that manage social media think about the responses from broader demographic rather than targeting efforts on a single individual with a particular idea. This forces the public relations industry to think on a wider scope. Arguably, this promotes robust thought and development in the public relations in terms of effectiveness and efficiency (Scott, 2009).
Social media has also had a great impact on the landscape of corporate communication. Social media promotes authenticity in corporate communications. This is where social media provides a platform through which the real voices of people come. Hence, authenticity is promoted where the message conveyed by a person on social media cannot be changed, and this eradicates bias in corporate communication. Social media also facilitates transparency in corporate communication. One of the types of transparency promoted by social media is the traditional financial transparency. Traditional financial transparency allows the regulators and stake holders to monitor the financial performance of a company. The other form of transparency promotes the activities of a particular company to be known to the public (Duhé, 2007).
Social media promotes immediacy in corporate communication. This is the ability of bloggers, companies, journalists, and the members of the public to communicate and participate in online conversations at speeds which are unprecedented. This is due to the fact that blogs can be written and formatted in a matter of minutes. Updates on social media such as Facebook and Twitter take place in a matter of minutes. This is possible through the use of cell or computers. Social media supports live video chats (Phillips, 2009).
Social media also supports participation in corporate communication. This is possible in cases whereby the domain in a particular company authorizes communication. Once authorization has taken place, anyone in the company can participate in conversations in the social media. Social media also promotes connectedness in corporate communications. This is through the provision of information sharing mechanisms which allows people to maintain connection. This greatly amplifies company communications. The information that is posted in one particular place is displayed in other numerous places (CIPR, 2012).
Social media also promotes accountability in corporate communications. People using social media are more accountable than they realize. This is due to the fact that any posts on social media such as Twitter and Facebook are traceable back to the source through IP addresses. Hence, corporate communication is monitored with ease, and as a consequence this promotes accountability. Social media has revolutionized the operation and functioning of public relations and corporate communication. This is mostly due to the unlimited range of communication that social media wields.