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Social media has fundamentally changed the way people relate to each other. Both at the personal and professional level, communication is now immediate and constant. This means small and large businesses can now share important information with customers and prospects anytime with just a few clicks.

Public relations and communications professionals now use social media regularly to help clients meet their communications and business objectives. But it has its own unique challenges and opportunities—which you need to think through before launching or improving your efforts.

Here are 5 ways social media is affecting public relations:

  1. People can reach out to you as easily as you can reach out to them. In the days before social media, it was much more difficult to stay connected to your different audiences. You had to search for the right contact information, wait for email replies, and schedule phone calls. But today, you can simply get on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, find the person you’re looking for, and start a conversation. This means you can listen to your audiences better—hearing both the positive and the negative. The best organizations leverage this interaction to improve their company.
  2. Social media is alive 24/7. People worldwide are engaging with your social profiles all day, every day. Unlike other public relations efforts that take time and planning, social media is almost instantaneous. You have to quickly respond to the good and the bad to maintain an active presence and reputation.
  3. Anyone can use it. Small businesses can use social media for free to reach potential customers. Still, you need to think through what you’re going to say and what you want people to do with the information you share. Social media is not a strategy—it’s simply another tool that helps you communicate so you can reach your business objectives.
  4. It is an appropriate tool for casual conversation. You don’t have to be formal with your communications on social media. That means you can create more meaningful and personal relationships with consumers.
  5. Targeting is simplified. Social platforms allow you to narrow the reach of your posts and send updates to those in specific demographic groups. You track the total number of people reached, and receive in-depth analytics about the audiences you are connecting with.

Social media has given marketers and PR professionals powerful tools, but you still need good strategic thinking to make your efforts effective. For more insight into digital PR and tips from the pros, check out more PR Resources from Tucker/Hall today.