Social media has become a driving force for building connections, brand awareness and customer loyalty. A Sprout Social consumer survey found that 76% of respondents choose to buy from companies they feel connected to (versus competitors). Respondents ranked social media above all other communication channels regarding connecting with customers.
These findings have many implications for communication professionals. The study of social media is central to the online Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Strategic Communication with Social Media Management Certification program from Arkansas State University (A-State). This program explores social media in the context of communication theory and practice in professional settings.
Here are five considerations for professional social media use that A-State’s program can help graduates address effectively:
1. Customer Care
Social media analytics help brands identify and target audiences effectively and maximize customer care. In addition, social media networks provide multimedia platforms for attracting consumers through engaging content and personalized messaging. These functions make social media an ideal marketing channel.
However, the authentic connections that drive buying decisions, reputation development and loyalty often have more to do with customer care and service than advertising campaigns. Front Page notes that customer care and customer service are two of the most critical areas of social media use for businesses.
Communication professionals are uniquely suited to help develop these authentic connections. This skill involves humanizing communication with consumers via social media while fostering direct, personal interactions through comments, messaging and more.
Ongoing, timely communication builds trust as these consumers continue their journey. Trust is key to building genuine, long-lasting relationships. These relationships form the bedrock of brand loyalty and a brand’s reputation for customer service.
2. Brand Reputation Management and Alignment
Ongoing brand reputation management in the social media environment is complex. It requires engaging consumers personally while remaining professional and ensuring all communication aligns with an organization’s goals, mission, vision and desired reputation.
Modern consumers have high expectations for the brands they support. They expect brands to demonstrate corporate responsibility, act ethically and address concerns rapidly. Brands that fail to respond to social issues or individual concerns can face backlash in the public sphere of social media.
Communication professionals must be vigilant in addressing issues and assessing and responding to public opinion. They clearly communicate their organization’s position, actions and reasoning.
3. Guiding Organization-Wide Social Media Use
An AICPA article highlights the challenges of social media use in an organizational setting. Employees all act as representatives of their organizations in the social media environment. Employees must self-police to a degree, ensuring their professional social media presence demonstrates organizational values and helps build a positive reputation for the organization.
Plus, all employees can support organizational goals using social media by sharing passions and posting engaging content. This commitment helps humanize a brand and build community. Sprout Social’s survey shows consumers respond well when employees at all levels are active and share information about a brand on social media.
As experts in this arena, communication professionals guide management and other employees in social media strategy, policy and best practices. Through a cohesive, professional and organization-wide approach to social media, companies can maximize the positive impact of social media efforts.
4. Time Management
The AICPA also points out the importance of time management for an effective social media strategy in professional settings. For all employees, setting short increments of time to engage in social media in a professional context can benefit companies. However, scrolling endlessly through feeds and personal accounts can waste employee time. Coaching employees on efficient, productive and professional social media use helps ensure appropriate and effective social media activity.
Communication professionals in roles like marketing and customer care often spend more time engaged with social media. Efficiently managing time spent on social media tasks is necessary in this case.
Professionals can use automated posts, AI-driven technologies and analytics to increase efficiency and focus efforts. These tools free up time for communication professionals to create engaging content, rapidly respond to issues and connect with consumers directly on a personal level.
5. Privacy and Security
Privacy and security in the social media domain are priorities for consumers, employees and businesses. Irresponsible use of customer information, privacy violations and data breaches can cause immense, long-lasting harm to a business’s reputation.
The diversification of businesses’ social media channels can also expose organizations, employees and their customers to increased security vulnerabilities. Yet, diversifying social media channel engagement is necessary to keep up with shifts in consumer social media habits.
Organizations rely on communication professionals to navigate these shifts. With expertise gained from the study of communication in programs like A-State’s online B.S. in Strategic Communication with Social Media Management Certification, professionals can help their companies address the challenges of social media while taking advantage of the opportunities it provides. Program courses like Social Media in Strategic Communications and Strategic Communications Case Studies provide relevant information for navigating social media professionally.