Top Skills for Public Relations Students Pt. 4: Social Media

Why Social Media Matters

The world of advertising, marketing and public relations was turned upside down by the rapid expansion of social media in the last decade.  Social media provides an effective way to communicate with a target audience with a level of interactivity that traditional media had never allowed before.  The benefits of social media can only be maximized when the individual responsible for social media understands how to properly use it, which is why having a thorough knowledge of social media can make you a valuable asset to a client. According to a study by Pew Research, more than 50 percent of people between the ages of 14 and 17 use social media at least once per day, and its use is constantly growing in the majority of demographics.  When a message of less than 140 characters has the potential to reach millions, the individual who understands how to achieve a high level of success brings significant value to a client.


How to Get Better At Social Media

Always stay up-to-date with trends in social media use and technological developments.  Online news sources such as Mashable and TechCrunch cover significant events and developments in social media and various related technology.  Staying informed about social media news that directly impacts the industry you are most interested in is also a helpful practice.  Regularly check the news sources that are most likely to have content relevant to the industry in which you are interested in working.  If you have difficulty finding a news source with stories that are germane to your area of interest, set a Google Alert for key words related to that area.


Learn how to understand and apply social media analytics.  Proper interpretation and application of analytics measured from social media activity is crucial to the successful use of social media. Knowing who is reached by which posts when and whether there is interaction with the primary target audience should inform the way future social media posts are composed, because it tells you what is working and what is not.  Certifications are also available for social media analytics and strategy. These can boost your resume and make you stand out among the crowd. 


Follow brands with an excellent social media presence.  Brands in a variety of industries, like National Geographic in publishing and Starbucks in the food and beverage, stand out among their competitors on social media.  By following brands that are successful in using social media well, you can learn about what sets their social media apart from the rest of the industry. Then, you can take away core principles that can be applied to the needs of clients in the future.


Social media has shaped the way businesses now operate, and having an expertise in social media allows you to bring considerable value to a company or client. Individuals who develop strong skills at utilizing social media for marketing purposes and stay informed about trends in the industry will be a desirable candidate for any marketing or public relations position. 


Posted in Public Relations, Self Improvement.

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