The internet began changing the way people interact about 40 years ago, according to BBVA. Ten years later, the public and private sectors used the web to deliver interactive content. Then, in 2008, social media "revolutionized campaigning by altering the structure of political organizing."
As the digital revolution in politics continues, government and businesses — from the White House to local sandwich shops — are using social media as a public information platform for everything from notifying the public about global crises to advertising today's lunch specials.
What Are Common Strategies to Enhance and Improve Social Media Presence?
Smarsh, a social media advisor, notes that understanding the audience is the first step to creating an effective social strategy. The second is deciding what platforms are best suited for the chosen messaging format.
As marketers aim to get to know their audiences, they should consider audience members' average age. Snapchat and Instagram, whose prime demographics are teenagers, is not as good a platform to advertise no-interest credit-card balance transfers. However, Facebook might be more appropriate with 58.5 million U.S. users between 30 and 40 years old.
Facebook also supports the delivery of longer messaging and video, and the Facebook Live feature enables two-way streaming that supports transparency and engagement. On the other hand, Twitter is ideal for delivering time-sensitive community service updates, such as an "always-on" customer experience and service channel and video that teases viewers into clicking through to the organization's website.
Regardless of the platform, Smarsh says professionals should develop content as a collaboration of senior management and stakeholders to decide what information is relevant to the organization's mission as well as its audience.
"It doesn't have to be overly complex to be effective," Smarsh advises clients. "In fact, simple, straightforward messaging communication should be your ultimate goal."
What Are Effective Strategies for Social Media PR?
Hootsuite, another social media services provider, says the private and civic sectors are adopting innovative social strategies to:
- Manage crises: Oberlo, a small business consultancy, says 90% of social media users access platforms on mobile devices, making it ideal for first responders and emergency management officials to deliver authoritative, time-sensitive information and directions.
- Engage audiences: Social media enables organizations to monitor citizen and consumer sentiment on issues ranging from public safety to new product rollouts.
- Build trust: Organizations use social platforms to respond to audience demands for responsible, ethical governance by keeping them apprised of their environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities.
- Set the record straight: In an era of opposition research, organizations use social media to reach their constituent and consumer bases with messaging that refutes their competitors' statements and props up their positions on the issues.
"For any government body wanting to capture and maintain public sentiment and engagement, embracing the new era of social media discourse is critical," according to Hootsuite.
What Are Job Prospects for Social Media Managers?
As organizations continue to add social to their public relations strategies, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts demand for public information specialists will increase by 11% over the next decade (faster than average job growth for all employment categories).
Successful social media managers understand their organizations' missions, develop social media strategies to support that mission and ensure consistent, ongoing engagement and reputation management messaging.
"The more challenging aspect is the overall decision making about the program, how to manage it, how to evaluate performance, how to handle the challenges, where to take it as it evolves," according to Martin Brossman, a social media success coach.
Communications professionals pursuing a career in the public sector can earn a Master of Science in Media Management, Public Administration to prepare for roles in public service social media management.
For instance, Arkansas State University's online MS in Media Management program equips graduates with expertise and skills to meet the most challenging aspects of public information through studies in subjects such as:
- Administrative behavior, leadership and ethics
- Public information management
- Social media applications in strategic communication
"If your job involves communicating about your organization both internally and externally … masters-level coursework will help you learn how to do just that," according to The Muse, a career training and development provider.