Analyzing public relations and social media

Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Foursquare: A Mobile Approach to Social Media

I consider myself somewhat of a social-media fanatic; I spend large portions of my day reading blogs, tweets and other posts as a means of keeping myself up-to-date on current events. Recently, there has been a lot of chatter about a new social media platform called Foursquare. I finally had the time to discover what Foursquare is and why it is important to public relations.

CHECKING IN: WHAT IS FOURSQUARE?

 

A Mobile Approach to Social Media

A location-based social media site, Foursquare allows users to “check in” to their city through their cell-phones. For example, if I were to visit a Starbucks, I would use the Foursquare app on my phone to share my location with my friends. This makes it easier to see where your friends spend their time and to share with them where you spend your time. Over time, users earn badges rewarding active usage of the site, and if you “check in” to one location more than anyone else, the title of “The Mayor” is yours for the taking (at least until someone else “checks in” more than you).

Foursquare’s unique cellular platform makes perfect sense for the Millennials who can’t live without technology. An unfortunate downfall of Foursquare for those of us behind the times in cellular technology is that this site is made for smart phones. If you don’t have a smart phone, use text messaging instead. It’s not as much fun or visually appealing, but you can still get the gist of the site.

THE PR CONNECTION

 

How Foursquare Can Benefit PR Practitioners

There are several reasons a PR practitioner could use Foursquare. The first of them is how easy it is to identify target audiences using this social media platform. For example, if you are working on promoting a coffee shop in Eugene, you could use Foursquare to learn about the demographic of that particular business. The downside to this is that not everyone visiting the coffee shop is using Foursquare, but Foursquare will certainly help you hone in on the drinking habits of one particular demographic. Hopefully, the site will gain more recognition, which would make identifying these groups easier.

The second benefit of Foursquare for PR practitioners is instant notification. Recently, there was a bomb scare in Times Square, New York. As reported by Kim LaCapria of The Inquisitr, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) used its Foursquare account to share news of the Times Square evacuation on May 7, 2010, with everyone in the adjacent area. Although no incident occurred, this shows how we can use social media in our everyday lives. Pretend you’re still promoting the Eugene coffee shop from before; you could use Foursquare to notify users of daily drink specials or to tell users of a new product release. In fact, certain businesses give perks or coupons to “The Mayor” of their location.

A third benefit of Foursquare is keeping up with trends. Foursquare allows you to see the activity of other users at the same location, along with reading tips written by previous visitors about what to look for and what to avoid. Using the tips and trends section of Foursquare, a PR practitioner could discover the behavior of users including what they do and do not like about a specific place. Let’s go back to the coffee shop example again; as a PR practitioner, you could use Foursquare to read what users have written about your business and implementing any changes necessary to please your customers. Utilizing these tips shows your audience that you try to engage to them in new ways.

CHECKING OUT

Unfortunately, Foursquare present a new set of privacy issues surrounding social media. I recommend never checking in at your home and making sure to make your profile private to avoid unwanted friends. As with all social media, be careful about the information you put on the Internet. Enjoy earning your badges! I know Foursquare is the only way I’m going to become “The Mayor” of anything!

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PR Students: Use Social Media Effectively!

Experience with social media, if correctly applied, is beneficial when applying for positions in the public relations industry. Having knowledge of social media platforms prior to being hired means less time the employer spends training how to effectively use social media. The question is – what platforms will be most beneficial to up-and-coming public relations students? As a self-proclaimed social media junkie, I have analyzed the who’s who of social media.

1. Facebook – Facebook is used by more than 400 million to keep in contact with friends, both near and far. It is fairly simple to use and just as simple to use incorrectly. The most common mistake made by PR students using social media is that their pages lack professionalism. Their profiles are littered with drunken pictures and vulgar language, yet they are surprised when prospective employers don’t find them professional. I think the most effective way Facebook can be used by public relations students is to pause before you post. Ask yourself, “Would my mother approve of this post?” If the answer if no, edit your post until you would get a thumbs-up from mom. If you use this as a rule of thumb (pun intended), you will generally have an office-approved page. Don’t forget about grammar either! Just because it is Facebook (or any social media platform) doesn’t mean the AP Stylebook goes out the window.

2. Twitter Ah, Twitter. Twitter is slightly more limited than Facebook; you can only have 140 characters per post and don’t have things like photo albums like you would on Facebook or MySpace. This is where you can truly test your networking skills; the purpose of Twitter is sharing nuggets of information in a “tweet” so to have your followers “retweet” your post. It is a great way for PR students to dip their feet into the professional world of public relations and learn who the influential PR professionals are. The same rule of thumb applies here along with grammar. My advice is to follow a group of professionals; they post many great links to blog posts, articles, photos and more. I have a list on my Twitter that you are welcome to follow.

3. LinkedInHere is where we dive into the more professional world of social media. Facebook is used by countless businesses to promote their product or idea. LinkedIn is similar but more personal because its purpose is to promote an individual. LinkedIn is a website for those looking to find a job or network in any industry. You can post your resumé, list your skills and network with past or present colleagues along with possible employers. As a social media tool, LinkedIn is most beneficial to students looking for internships; however, networking is more difficult on this platform than on Twitter because many professionals don’t have a LinkedIn account because they are already established in a position. It is probably the most important social media platform to remember to revise, revise, revise!


4. MySpace Finally, MySpace. I would consider this one of the first social media platforms to really influence Millennials. Similar to Facebook, MySpace is all about sharing your life through multimedia whether that be photos, videos or music. MySpace is used most effectively by undiscovered musicians, not public relations students trying to network. I have recently decided to delete my MySpace; I have had a page for nearly six years. I decided that it was adding nothing to my personal “brand” that couldn’t be found on the other three platforms. Personally, MySpace adds little to social media in terms of helping to advance the social media skills of PR practitioners.


So, what should you do? You now have a basic understanding of what I consider to be the four most important social media platforms for public relations students. Think about what you want your personal “brand” to be and how you want to be portrayed. Then, decide which fits your needs best. You can always have more than one, too. Good luck!

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