How To Use “Social Media” As Your PR Toolkit
Social media is a powerful tool that can increase the scope of your network greatly. Understanding the various types of social media outlets will help you formulate a strategy that can employ one or more of these tools-
- Social bookmarks
- RSS feeds
Each tool brings its own unique advantages. We will begin with a common tool called a blog.
A blog is short for a weblog, which is a journal made available on the Internet. Blogging is the activity of updating the blog. The journal is in chronological order and the blog could contain pictures and other media for sharing. A blog is a powerful tool for networking. You can easily share your blog Website address with others and they can view your ideas in detail from the comfort of their computer.
The blog authoring is a relatively easy system to use. You can design the blog to take comments from your readers. You can also provide an email for your readers so they can contact you. Unlike a traditional Website, a blog uses very few pages. Instead, the author adds posts and the page becomes longer as the posts increase. Blogs can archive past posts into month categories or topics.
Blogs provide a way for a person with little technical skills to create a webpage and share information with little training and expense.
A wiki is a database that contains pages that a visitor can edit. The comments on a wiki build the page. It is a system of sharing an adapting the page as the comments are entered. Usually there is a moderator to a wiki. They approve the comments before they are added to the page.
For networking, wikis make it easy to exchange ideas and data on any topic, projects, etc. Wikis also provide a venue for those who are intimidated by speaking with others face-to-face. The drawback to wikis is the validity of some information. Since wikis are built on comments from virtually anyone, the information going into one may not be accurate.
Overtime, the more comments added to a wiki page, the more accurate a picture you get. Wikis are great for connecting with someone in your line of work or industry. There are large wiki communities out on the Web and they are mostly free to use. This is a great way to expand your network.
Podcasts are audio or video files that are to be viewed on your computer or downloaded onto a portable device. If you are able to create videos or audio files and make them downloadable files, then you can create podcasts.
Podcasts are usually series oriented, meaning they usually have several podcasts discussing one topic. The files are usually on a server or Webpage. The viewer or listener goes to the page, accesses the media, and downloads them to their computer for viewing or listening.
Podcasts are useful if you are comfortable talking into a microphone or a camera. Some communication experience is helpful in making your podcast look professional. In addition, you will need to plan the flow of you content before you record.
Many times, you may want to share great information found on Websites you encounter throughout your life. Social bookmarking is a way for you to organize these links onto a Webpage and share it with others.
The social bookmarking system allows you to save links to web pages for sharing with others. These bookmarking pages can be public or private. The latest version of bookmarking Website allows your visitors to rate your links and leave comments, giving you the ability to engage in virtual conversations with others. Sharing great information helps to build your network.
A Really Simple Syndication or RSS is a feed that transmits updates from subscribed Websites. This is a useful tool when a Website is constantly updated. Websites that offer this feature usually has the RSS symbol that when clicked adds it to your web browser as a feed.
For networking, you should add this feature to your web pages and blogs. This way your contacts will receive the latest updates on their computer and they do not have to navigate back to your page. Adding this feature usually involves a click of a button to add and it runs itself once installed.
This is a very powerful way of staying connected without having to push information out to others. Adding this feature will saves time, leaving you more time for other networking activities.
Always Show Respect
When deciding to post something online, sometimes the last thing on our minds is what others will think about it, or how it will affect us later. But when sharing our information, we must be respectful of our audience and refrain from using foul language or offensive material. Don’t use the material to argue or pick a fight with another user or member. While a little controversy or a friendly debate can attract a larger audience, if pushed too far it can have the opposite effect. You can end up alienating your viewers and driving them away. So before you post something online, whether a photo or an article, show respect to other users by considering how it would make them feel.
· Be polite
· Be aware of how your content makes others feel
· Don’t try to argue or fight on a social media site
· Anything you post can come back to you or the company
Stop and Think Before You Post
One of the best tools to prevent negative consequences to the company is to stop and think about something before you decide to post it. Before posting a photo or new article, think about how it will affect you and your employer. Will it appear negative or offensive? Is it something you should be sharing online? If there is any doubt in your mind, don’t post it.
When replying to a post, or making a follow-up remark, think twice before making angry comments or criticizing others. Take a moment to think about what you want to say, and repeat it to yourself over and over again. Does it still sound like a good idea? Again, if you have any doubt or second-thought in your mind, refrain from posting it.
Things to ask yourself before posting:
· How will this make me look?
· How will this look on the company?
· Will the breach company policy?
· Will this share any unnecessary information?
Always Be Honest
When you are posting as an employee, be honest about your identity and your purpose. Don’t try to post anonymously or pretend to be someone else just to try and to post something the company would not find acceptable. Make it clear that you are posting as a member or the company, but not as a formal representative since you do not speak for them. If you are posting an article or creating a webpage, it is usually advised to add some sort of disclaimer stating that you are the author or the page and are not under direction of the company.
When asked who you are or where you received your information, be honest and don’t hide behind a username. Don’t try to be a ‘mole’ that posts about their company anonymously, either in a positive or negative manner. These types of posts can usually be tracked to their original authors, and can be very embarrassing for you and the company.
Never Discredit or Talk Ill of Competitors
The main purpose of social media is to communicate and share ideas among people, not to use it for ill will or negative gain. When we see an ad or photo posted by a competitor, we may think we are doing ourselves a favour by posting negative reviews about them or discrediting any findings they may have published. A small part of us may even be convinced that our words will help navigate people to our business instead. But these thoughts couldn’t be more wrong. When we try to post something to discredit or speak badly about our competitors, it makes us look petty and cheap. The plan actually backfires and discredits ourselves and our employer, causing negative publicity.
· Keep negative comment to yourself
· Negative responses only generate more negativity
· Customers will not want to do business with mean employees
Being transparent on a social media site means that that you are open and honest about your identity and your purpose. If you try to post as someone else or under the assumption of another person, you are not being transparent about who you are, and it can cloud people’s judgment about you. By hiding behind a name or a label, it makes people questions why you are posting and what kind of image you are portraying for your company. Not being transparent will make your audience question what your company stands for or represents. So always post on a website clearly and with open intentions. Don’t try to be sneaky or sly – it can backfire and cause more damage.
Act Like You Would in Real Life
Social media is not meant to act as a cloak to hide behind and disguise ourselves when we communicate with other people. Social media should be treated no differently than if you were speaking with someone face to face. The words you choose to use online hold the same meaning as if you had said them in person. The actions you do online give a bigger impression than the actions or words you perform in real life. Don’t try to boost your ego or sound bigger than you are, because this will only lead customers on and give the wrong impressions to other users on the site. As we’ve said, be transparent and don’t try to disguise your identity or purpose.
· You are the same person online and off.
· Your words hold the same meaning in person and online.
· Your actions online speak louder than words said in person.
Grammar and Spelling Still Counts
The primary use of social media is through written communication, whether it is on a blog site, a written article or even just a personal webpage. Because millions of people can view your site at one time, it is very important to ensure that you are using the correct form of grammar and correct spelling. It may seem like a minor thing to remember, but bad grammar or incorrect spelling can cause a negative representation on not only you, but the company that employs you. It can misrepresent your education level and can discredit the knowledge you claim to possess. Don’t just rely on computer spell check systems, since they do not always pick up every mistake. Be aware that you should always check your spelling and grammar!
Never Post When You are Angry
A social media site is not a place for anger or negative emotions and feelings. When we are angry, we do not stop to think about our words or the effect they can have on people. This is because our anger makes us focus only on ourselves and our feelings, which has the ability to distort how we portray ourselves. This is why it is important that we do not post anything while we are angry or upset – it leads us to post things in haste and in a temper that we would not normally say, which can lead to negative impressions and improper communications. When we are angry, it is best to stay off of a social media site so we are not tempted to post anything without thoroughly thinking about it.
Tips to remember when angry:
· Before posting anything, take a deep breath and think about what it for several minutes.
· Say what you want to post out loud to yourself. How does it sound?
· Determine if the words have the same meanings when you are angry and when you are not.
· If you feel you will be angry for a while, do not log onto a site to avoid posting out of control.