When my grandma, who is 81 and has lived her whole life across the world in Vietnam, joined Facebook about two months ago, it occurred to me that social media has spread across all possible bounderies – namely, physical and generational. Even though my grandma was among the late adapters, it’s taken not even one decade for social media, with Facebook at the lead, to reach all the nooks and crannies of the world population,and furthermore become a prominent part in the social life of most users. I haven’t gone through a day in the past year without checking my Facebook or tweeting. Then there’s also checking in places, professional networking (connections are warmly welcomed!), pinning and repining, and now also blogging.
With the widespread and high engagement of the general population – especially the 18-to-30 age group – in social media, these new platforms have been the star of recent conversations in the public relations industry.
While I gladly embrace social media for its communicative and informational value, there is a downside to social media use in PR efforts. With all the buzz around these new outlets, it’s easy for overuse social media in PR efforts.Some companies or campaigns focus exclusively on social media and forgo other efforts like news platforms and direct communication. Others are present across all social media platforms, but are not actively engaging in all of them. It is important for young PR professionals and students to be careful of this easy mistake. We need to remember, social media is a part of the puzzle, not the whole picture in PR. Social media platforms are simply media or the means to reach our target audiences. Whether we should use social media, and which platforms would be most effective, all depend on where the target audiences are and how we want to craft our messages.
My colleagues and I at Prism Communications want to make sure we think bigger than social media for our client, the Louisiana Northshore Quitl Trail Association. Although one of our main efforts is to establish a virtual “trek” of the physical quilt trail with the geolocation app SCVNGR, we look to connect this social media effort with a live experience for our target audiences through a launch party for the treks. I am currently designing the flier for this event – to think my designs will be distributed around the northshore region and maybe even beyond! We have also discussed efforts in other media, such as a magazine feature story and a video of the uniqueness of the trail.
Things are starting to speed up at Prism as we prepare for these efforts and for the event, which will take place Sunday, Dec. 2, and is open to everyone – so check back often and keep updated with us.