The conversation is familiar: “I don’t really ‘get’ social media, what’s the point?”
Or almost as typically: “I think we ought to be doing it, but I’m not quite sure what, or why, or even how! Can you help?”
Social media has been around for nigh on twenty years but for many of us – particularly of a certain vintage – its purpose and benefits remain shrouded in mystery.
Most of us are at least aware of LinkedIn, we have a profile but don’t often have time to make the best use of it. Twitter asks one to take a walk on the less certain ground; Instagram is a catalyst for bafflement.
And when all is said and done, isn’t it just a little self-indulgent – even a trifle ‘un-British’ – to be telling the world about what we’re doing?
The answer, of course, is no. And more pointedly, by making the decision not to have a social media presence, you risk closing the door to new audiences and new business.
Statistics suggest that 65% of us are more likely to do business with you following a social recommendation. Failure to adopt social media could result in 34% of us choosing not to do any business with you at all. And why does that matter? There are in the region of 3.03 billion active social media users worldwide.
Traditional approaches to PR have been more easily understood; we work together to identify a decent tale to tell and then we, as PR professionals, go away and write it or interest a journalist enough to do so.
Yet the purpose of engaging an agency for social media expertise is broadly similar; it is just another way of telling your story.
The marked difference is that suddenly you are your own editor, connected directly with an audience. With each post comes the opportunity to reinforce who you are and what you stand for. Reach a bigger audience, better understand your customers and increase brand awareness in a cost-effective way.
With such power comes responsibility. Just like a typical arrangement with a PR agency, your business will need to be mindful of the ‘message’ it wishes to convey and the reputational risks involved.
With the right advice, you can be guided through the process of what to say, when to say it and – with an estimated 42 million UK social media users – how to get to the people that matter. Select the best channels to use, craft the most appropriate content and manage the response effectively.
And it’s not as though traditional PR and social have to be mutually exclusive. Content created for a given publication or feature can be sliced and diced for use across multiple channels, achieving a far higher return on investment.
Storytelling predates writing and in the digital age, where news is consumed at such a rapid rate, the need to tell good stories remains as great, if not greater than ever. The ways in which we do so continue to evolve.