Trial By Social Media

One of the most confronting aspects of social media is the instant criticism it can enable in reaction to posts and events worldwide. As social media is a very interactive community, sometimes it can prove itself challenging. However, it is also a platform to directly connect and interact with followers. This can prove to be a positive thing, as it gives influencers and role models over all different categories the opportunity to directly address and respond to criticism and events. A case in point would be that of Maria Sharapova, the world women’s tennis champion. Earlier this year, Sharapova failed a doping test that caused her to be banned from tennis for two years. Before facing the media in a press conference, she chose to release a statement on her Facebook page, addressing the scandal and using a personal tone to express her apologies and thanking her fans for support.

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This caused the public to have an expressed amount of sympathy for Sharapova regarding the situation, and resulted in hashtags such as #LetMariaPlay and #IStandWithMaria to trend worldwide on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This tactic of directly communicating with fans is essential in maintaining positive face with the community that supports you as it enables the person to dispel any negative criticism and essentially control the narrative of the situation. By interacting with followers, a sense of personality and intimacy is given to the community on social media, heightening sympathy and understanding for the situation.

Another clear example of why personal interaction with the online community is essential for successful social media use.

The Kardashian Kurse

The Kardashians have a combined following of 325.2 million people. That’s more than sixteen times the population of Australia, and just over the population of the whole of the United States of America. There is absolutely no doubt that this family, known as Reality TV’s ‘Royal Family’, has incredible influence over the social media community; they are unquestionably social media kweens (see what I did there).

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The Influencer market on social media is one of the largest advertising opportunities and investments companies make. With over 255 million dollars paid to influencers per month to promote products, I was only a matter of time before these sponsored posts stared to catch the eye of officials. As of now, the influencer market has largely remained unregulated due to it being fairly young in terms of advertising and social media tactics. However, the US Federal Trade Commission has started to crack down on posts, expressing the need for greater transparency to consumers.

With celebrities such as the Kardashians promoting products like gummy bear hair vitamins, fittea, and body creams, there is a huge opportunity to influence and promote products that could be potentially dangerous to consumers.

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Currently, hashtags such as #Spon and #Ad are only being used, but the FTC wants greater labelling so that consumers understand that the post is just like any other ad on TV or a billboard.

“If consumers don’t read the words, then there is no effective disclosure,” Michael Ostheimer, a deputy in the FTC Ad Practices division, told Bloomberg.

As social media is still such an unregulated market, maybe it’s time that other countries along with the FTC, start to regulate and monitor safe social media use.

 

We’re Engaged!

Engagement; an exciting time full of possibilities. A time where you feel supported, and cared for…

I’m talking about social media engagement.

While social media is largely about sharing and interaction, there is a surprising lack of the latter from brands wishing to promote their product.

Instead, there is an expectation of success without any hard work or personal communication, which is ultimately a new business’ Achilles Heel.

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One company that understands the value of direct, personal communication and fostering an online community is that of The Goulet Pen Company, a company specialising in ink, wax and fountain pens – an incredibly specific niche of the business market. A study conducted by Trevor Young, founder of the PR Warrior, shows that through the actions of founders Rachel and Brian Goulet, The Goulet Pen company has been incredibly successful due to their ability to personally connect not only with customers, but also social media enthusiasts. At only 6 years old, the company already has 30 people on their payroll, and continues to have a stead annual growth of 50-100% per year. Mr Young found that a bulk of their success is driven by their consistent social media use; a beautifully constructed blog with a steady following, expertly produced Youtube Videos that produce weekly videos that focus on answering their followers’ questions, as well as very responsive Facebook and Twitter pages. Rachel Goulet even goes as far as to answer questions on Reddit, a brutally honest and sometimes controversial social platform.

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Having direct interaction with customers and potential buyers over an array of social media platforms is so important in launching a business, and is essential in its success.

As Mr Young expresses, ‘There is just one silver bullet [when it comes to success on social media], albeit it’s coated in gold and it’s a longer term solution. It’s called humanity.’

HMV Faces the Music

Recently, social media has become the source for breaking news. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have become platforms for stories to break, as well as for company’s and brands to interact with consumers in a personal, instant setting.

However, what happens when this is used against the company?

In 2013, after experiencing financial difficulty, UK entertainment retailer HMV let go a number of employees, including social media representatives who had access to HMV’s Twitter account.

These social media representatives immediately took control, live tweeting the firing of over 60 employees publically venting their anger, also mentioning that the accounts were set up by an unpaid intern, as well as claiming that HMV was disloyal to its employees.

It took hours before HMV managers gained control of the account.

This situation highlights how important it is to take social media seriously, and to keep control over accounts when a crisis hits.

Posts on social media, especially on sites like Twitter, spread like wildfire and is consequently reported in mainstream media outlets. The situation had the potential to cause damage to HMV’s reputation as a company, as well as distrust from consumers and their employees. In a crisis, it is absolutely essential to try as hard as possible to maintain a trustworthy reputation, even if the crisis was damaging the company initially.

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It is also essential to have a clear crisis communication plan that indicates instructions if a crisis, such as the firing of 60 employees, happens. In this plan it is imperative that social media be taken into account, and that passwords to all platforms are quickly available so that they can either be reset immediately, or that statements can be released to the public as efficiently and effectively as possible.

It’s time for HMV to face the music, and start to implement effective social media tactics into their crisis communication plan.

 

The Art of Chain Giveaways

A social media tactic that had always intrigued me was the art of the ‘chain giveaway’. If you’re an avid social media user, the concept would be very familiar, as you may have experienced these giveaways very frequently popping up on your feed. But how effective are they, really?

Elle & Company, a web design and promotion company, recently revealed results from participating in their first ever chain giveaway, also including the breakdown and tactics that many brands utilize to ensure the best possible outcome in terms of visibility and gaining followers.

Firstly, the company chose to partner up with likeminded brands as to ensure that their target demographic was to reach its full potential. Secondly, they chose a prize that was specifically catered to this demographic as to ensure engagement. Thirdly, they posted the photo, with the conditions of entry being that participants follow all brands tagged in the post.

After the conclusion of the competition, Elle & Company looked extensively into their figures to determine their success. They expressed that it was hard to track exact figures due to the size of the competition and the fact that Instagram doesn’t use many tracking options to determine how far the post reached other than likes and followers.

In terms of followers, the brand gained 3,000 and at the conclusion of the competition, lost 900 once the prize was announced.

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So are chain giveaways a successful social media tactic?

In terms of gaining followers quickly, absolutely. However, there is no guarantee that these followers will continue to follow and engage in posts into the near future, let alome long term.

The brands visibility does increase, however as there is no definitive way to track exactly how much it increases, it’s difficult to determine if this visibility is beneficial in the long term.

“It’s perfectly orchestrated self absorbed judgement.”

500,000 Instagram followers? Check.

200,000 Youtube followers? Check.

60,000 Snapchat followers? Check.

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These are the statistics of an eighteen-year-old girls’ social media following, an impressive accumulation of followers that she influenced on a daily basis. However, one day all of her posts vanished into thin air with the exception of one bold, hard-hitting YouTube video: the up-and-coming social media star was quitting social media altogether.

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The concept was shocking for most of her generation. Becoming a social media star is a celebrated and sought after profession amongst young teenagers and adults in the digital age. Having the capacity to influence and generate an enviable income is considered the ultimate in the eyes of many young, impressionable people. However, quitting had never been an option, especially willingly giving up what was considered a charmed life.

 

The YouTube video posted by the girl, Essena O’Neil delivered some hard-hitting thoughts on what being an influencer really was like. She went into detail as to how life was really like beyond the bubble of carefully constructed pictures and posts, explaining how mentally draining and physically exhausting it really was, eventually exclaiming,

“Without realising, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media.”

 

Essena’s story brings to light the ethics of being and working with a social media influencer, and questions as to how much control brands should have promoting and sponsoring these influencers.

Should there be a background check into the influencers wellbeing? Should there be face to face meetings to determine as to whether the influencer in question has the ability mentally and physically to professionally handle the job in question, much like any other employee must go through? And if successful, does the brand have the responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the influencer through the time they are employed by them, just as they would to an employee in their office?

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It is important for brands and big corporations to realise that as perfect as an influencer’s life may seem, there is the strong possibility that it’s all just a methodically constructed faux-reality, and that when hiring these influencers, especially considering a great majority are under-age, that ethics are incorporated into the offers and opportunities of employment that are presented, and that it continues throughout employment.

In Ms. O’Neil’s own words, “Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real. It’s contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation in views, success in followers.”

 

 

Globalisation of Public Relations

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Public Relations is an industry that is constantly changing and expanding. It is an industry that has a lack of core structure due to the fact that it’s still considered a very localised practice. However, with the introduction of Web 2.0, subsequent social media platforms and its new publics, public relations has recently undergone a significant change in the way it operates. This change has resulted in the industry coming together to swap and exchange information to further evolve its practices to cater to the needs of the new generation of publics. The way this information is exchanged is also changing the way practitioners are communicating, essentially creating a structure to globalise the industry.

With the introduction of Web 2.0 and it’s corresponding flow of information to and from citizens all over the world, Public Relations suddenly had a new platform and subsequently new publics to take into consideration. Creedon and Al-Khaja, two PR practitioners comment on some of the effects globalisation had on the industry:

‘Globalisation coupled with advanced telecommunications technology has broadened the scope of news thereby increasing the need of viewers to cope with more concepts, issues, names, places and processes well beyond those traditionally presented in the national or local context,’ (Creedon & Al-Khaja, 2005)

Practitioners suddenly had the challenge and responsibility to take these new culturally diverse publics into account, creating a need to update and globalise the industry to make it relevant to today’s societies. This introduced an unquestionable need to fully understand and adapt to different cultures to improve skills and the public relations industry as a whole, a factor that will ultimately help the industry become more globalised (Gallagher, 2012). With this huge selection of publics, there were many potential problems the industry faced such as a range of diverse opinions and the potential of cross-cultural differences between publics (Valin, Gregory & Likely, 2014). Another factor to keep public relations globalized and consistently in tune with publics, was the realisation that the industry needed a solid structure to refer to and therefore reinforce cultural understanding to better the industry and create unity within all facets of Public Relations across a global scale. John Paulszek discusses the impact of Global Public Relations in this video and how it can help to bridge the cultural divide through the sharing and passing on of different information within the industry:

 

 

Another factor that can help globalise the industry is the creation of a global talent pool (Diamond, 2006). The introduction of certain activities and events such as worldwide conferences, either in a major city or across a technological platform such as Skype could be used to train and inform other members within the industry of methods and ideas that could potentially be utilized to evolve the public relations sector. Another contributing factor that would determine effective globalisation is the introduction of more culturally diverse literature when training future practitioners, due to the fact that a majority of Public Relations literature and information is westernised which can hinder practitioners and create bias within their companies, and subsequent campaigns (Sriramesh, 2008). There is also a need to create more effective representation from public relations firms as only half the word has adequate representation from major international public relations firm, which indicates there is still a long way to go in terms of globalization (Sriramesh, 2009).

Certain social platforms introduced by Web 2.0 can help implement all of these factors and potential activities through the ability to instantly communicate. This consistent communication through social media platforms such as Facebook is essential in creating an effective global structure to the industry as it helps practitioners keep up to date on techniques and innovations that can contribute to the effective globalisation of the industry (Lanre o, 2007). This ability to instantly communicate can only help evolve the industry and help it to become not only more culturally diverse but in tune with the world in an effortless and more convenient manner

In this video, Harold Burson and Mark Penn, two leading practitioners within the industry talk about the future of public relations, particularly on how instant communication is vital to keep the industry evolving and satisfy the growing number of publics due to globalisation

With the introduction of Web 2.0 and social media platforms, public relations has faced lots of challenges to evolve the industry on a global scale. With the suggestion of certain factors and activities and implementing these to the industry regardless of location, public relations has a chance at becoming an effective globalised practice. With constant communication between different national and international firms and the willingness to readily contribute only then can public relations have an innovative and lasting impact on globalisation.

 

References:
Burson Marsteller (2007, October 19). The Future of Public Relations [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjuO53VwRPU
Creedon, P & Al-khaja, M. (2005). Public Relations and Globalization: Building a Case for Cultural Competency in Public Relations Eduation. Public Relations Review, 31(1), 344-354.
Diamond, H. (2006, 13th November). The Globalization of PR: Myth or Reality?. [Weblog]. Retrieved 20 March 2016, from http://www.globalbydesign.com/2006/11/13/the-globalization-of-pr-myth-or-reality/
Flew, T. (2011). New Media: An Introduction. Melbourne: Oxford University Press
Gallagher, D. (2012, July 30th). Is PR A Globalized Business?. [Weblog]. Retrieved 20 March 2016, from http://blog.ketchum.com/is-pr-a-globalized-business/
Lanre o, A. (2007). Globalization: The Challenges of Public Relations in a Contracting World. International Journal of Communication, 6(1), 175-183.
PR Society of America (2010, December 6). John Paluszek on Global Public Relations [Video File]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rYWv8W2BeY
Sriramesh, K. (2008). Globalization and Public Relations. Public Relations Research, 5(1), 409-425.
Sriramesh, K. (2009). Globalisation and public relations: An overview looking into the future. PRism, 6(2), 1-11.
Sriramesh, K & Verčič, D. (2007). The Impact of Globalization on Public Relations. Public Relations Review, 33(1), 355-359.
Valin, J, Gregory, A & Likely, F. (2014). The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management: Origins, influences, issues and prospects. Public Relations Review, 40(1), 639-653.