Business Communications Customer Engagement Internet Marketing Public Relations Social Media

Social media and small business

Social media today offers innumerable opportunities for entrepreneurs to grow small business and boost profits. Most social networks are designed to enhance the online community, exploiting inter-connectivity for better communication, relevance and user experience. A rapidly increasing number of businesses are choosing to deploy connection-based communications mechanisms to progress corporate business objectives.

LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are among the brands already widely recognised, but there are thousands of communities out there in cyberspace that have evolved into ideal platforms for small business. Whether it’s to provide customer care and support, forge new connections or just to get a corporate message circulated, social media and networking can help business gain exposure, achieving increased overall understanding of their audience, and vice versa, through direct engagement.

How 57% of Businesses use Social Media

A further function closely related to that of customer care is crisis management, especially true if email and website servers are non-operational. Social media sites can help make customers aware that a situation is acknowledged and is being addressed…unless you are really unlucky and the Twitter database servers are overloaded ^_^

Another area where business has shown to be effective using social media is public relations, advertising and marketing. No longer are companies forced to advertise through print and broadcast media, or even gain exposure on search engine results. Rhetorically, why did Google release a product based on these principles? Today, you can communicate your message directly with your audience as Facebook fans, Twitter followers, or YouTube views.

The benefit of higher conversion rates is of great significance to businesses using social media. It is a far easier task to convert a fan or follower into a paying client or customer. People who like your page and follow your Tweets are already interested in your company, products or services. The key point is that if you are already connected, your conversion ratio should be higher when converting a social connection.

Finally, ensure that you manage and conduct your social media presence in a professional manner, connect with your prospects keeping them up to date with company news, events and any latest offers.

Communications Customer Engagement Internet Marketing Marketing Public Relations Social Media

The convergence of Marketing and PR

Many people within the Marketing discipline regard Public Relations as subset, Public Relations is a function of Marketing. Marketing tends to be used as the umbrella term for all communications and planned activity between supplier and customer.

PR builds and cements relationships and reputations through two-way communications, not only existing relationships but with all potential audiences.

Information that an organisation communicates to its audience and the response from the audience becomes the brand image and reputation. Company employees – Sales, Marketing and Advertising personnel – all act as communicators to an audience and all need to move forward together with a coherent, co-ordinated message. PR and Marketing disciplines work well together to achieve this objective better now than ever before due to the current availability of new tools.

Marketing, when not trying to sell a product or service, is not usually involved in public affairs, influence Government or employee communications. However, as a result of convergence of disciplines – social media and communications technologies, Sales, Marketing, PR and media relations – all have co-ordinated goals in a common environment.

Evolution of the discipline of PR has developed over the last century – PR and Marketing layers have overlapped significantly in recent times. Today’s technology and its rapid integration into society, Social media has triggered the next phase of internet evolution; these branches of Marketing and PR have truly converged.

In conclusion, all those involved in Marketing and PR need to combine their intellectual efforts to ensure that the same co-ordinated message is engaged from all areas of the business to and from all potential audiences.

Source: Bill Sledzik, Associate Professor of PR & Bob Batchelor, Assistant Professor of PR

Source: Based on a video release from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, Kent State University, Ohio.

Public Relations

PR is evolving, but that’s nothing new.

Public relations has been evolving since at least the early 1900’s. For well over a century this contemporary multifaceted discipline├é enraptured followers wanting to delve deeper into the strategic management skills required for applied public relations.

‘Barclays New Futures’

One of the biggest commercial educational sponsorships to date in the UK is the Barclays New Futures initiative, sponsored by Barclays Bank. The New Futures scheme is designed to help young people in secondary education participate in community work and to encourage the training of socially useful skills among the young.

The initiative is of five years duration and makes available a total of £1m a year to successful applications received from schools to address issues such as truancy, care in the community, anorexia, bullying, vandalism, and alcohol and drug abuse. The main emphasis of the scheme is to provide professional support to teachers in implementing these schemes in order to avoid any potential controvert arising from a commercial sponsor being perceived as impelling teachers to carry out additional unpaid work.

The involvement of Barclays Bank as sponsors of the scheme (with a sponsorship team from the sponsorship consultant Kellaway) arose from a review of Barclays’ sponsorship activity and the inclusion of an explicit clause on social responsibility in the corporate mission statement. The Barclays New Futures initiative aims to emphasise Barclays’ role as a supporter of community-based social action projects and enhance the bank’s image as a socially responsible company. Initial results for Barclays appear to be encouraging with numerous favourable stories in national and regional print and broadcast media, with the Barclays involvement normally made clear in any editorial coverage.

Source: Based on Kavanagh, ‘Barclays looks into The Future’, PR Week, 27 October 1995.

Source: Public Relations: Principles and Practice By Philip J. Kitchen