Why comms professionals MUST use social media

I’m still coming across many colleagues in the communications field who haven’t used social media yet.

And by that I mean: don’t have a Facebook account.

Have never looked at Twitter.

Aren’t sure how to find a blog.

My first reaction is to struggle to keep my jaw from hitting the floor.

The second reaction is one of confusion. I usually ask them why they aren’t using social media, and the most frequent response is that they value their privacy or they prefer to communicate with friends by more traditional needs.

(Of course, that response underlies their lack of understanding. You can choose to have quite a private experience on social media. And using social media does not preclude you from maintaining your current communication habits when it comes to ‘real life friends’. But I digress.)

If you’re working in public relations, advertising, web design, marketing, what-have-you, it’s remiss of you not to be using social media and experiencing what it’s like to be part of an online community, over the long term. The reasons why include:

  • Sooner or later, you’ll be asked for your opinion on a social media idea. You better be ready to offer something realistic and not just unfair vague impressions of a platform that you’ve gained second-hand  from the traditional media and social media cynics.
  • Any morning now, your boss might storm into your office and cry “People are writing bad things about the company on Facebook and I want you to remove it now!” What will you do, if you don’t even have a Facebook account? If you don’t understand how to find things on Facebook? And whether in fact it’s possible / prudent to attempt to remove other people’s comments?
  • There are other, less-talented people than you in your field kicking arse right now because they’re promoting themselves on social media sites, networking the heck out of your industry and being seen to be a leader in their field. Whereas others have never even heard of  you.

So if you’re in communications, can I suggest, in the spirit of continual lifelong learning, that you bloody make sure you’ve got a Facebook account?

Social media is important to communications professionals
Social media is important to communications professionals

And when you have that Facebook account, follow brands there and watch the types of things they’re doing.

I also suggest you open a Twitter account and start interacting with your industry and keeping up with ideas from around the world.

You might even want to hang up on your shingle on LinkedIn, so that on the odd occasion people Google your name, a somewhat professional-looking summary of your career is returned in the search results.

Don’t have time? Suit yourself. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

11 thoughts on “Why comms professionals MUST use social media

  1. For people like you or I who are well-connected online, finding someone who is the exact opposite does seem strange. When that person is a communications professional it’s downright bizarre. I also have friends in recruitment, marketing and design who are similarly bereft of any presence online.

    Like you say, the fear of losing privacy is often a motivator for “hiding”. Even if I wasn’t so active, I’d rather have a profile I’m in control of than one that’s shaped by random Google results.

    The way to get these people to make the move to social media might very well be through verbal selling, emailed blog posts and what you might call “softer” social media like Instagram (or is that Facegram now).

    1. ‘Softer’ social media is a good way to look at introducing some people to social media, Mark. I see LinkedIn in a similar vein: you can connect and participate, but it doesn’t demand daily time from you, or a lot of content creation.

  2. I started on Facebook because a 20something friend said it was the way to keep in touch with her (ironically, she got off a couple of years later by which time I was hooked). It felt safe enough to me as I lock it down to real-life friends. Twitter took me a bit longer, partly because of it being so much more public (although I do know you can restrict your account…more on that next), and getting a smartphone is what made all the difference!

    To me the joy of Twitter now is the ‘eavesdropping’ (for want of a better analogy) and the shared conversations that can spring spontaneously. But to get to that space does take a step of courage and a certain sociability, I think. And for that reason I wouldn’t want to restrict my account. That’s what Facebook is for (for me).

    It also takes TIME! It’s part of my job, but gee….in the old days I’d send a media release and make a few phone calls perhaps. These days I send the release, schedule a Tweet, load something to the website, make a few phone calls and then keep checking what’s happening in the space, retweet, reply…. The time juggling is my biggest conundrum.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree: it does take time for some people to take the plunge. There seems to be a lot to learn, and there’s the concern over additional time that social media requires. But both are overcome if you take the plunge sooner rather than later, and learn ways to make social media suit you – as you have certainly done!

  3. Yes! A similar experience for me, working with librarians: while not comms experts, they are all about information sharing and delivery, so you’d think … but it has been an uphill struggle to get them interested in using Facebork and Twitter. As professionals, even if one’s personal view is that these things are trivial and silly, you have to be where the audience is. As for Privacy — the question is irrelevant, when the object is to be seen and heard.

  4. After I emailed this to a colleague, the response was – ah yes, but you EMAILED it to me. It shows almost conclusively, I don’t need to be connected-at-the-hip to social media!

    After rolling my eyes, I thought, considering the context of *this* blog post – it perhaps might have been a bit silly to suggest my colleague jump on board. Also, would there be any point in retweeting this, posting it to Facebook – or even better, Google Plus? (think about it). Those who NEED to read it are absent just like my socially recluse friend, right? …right?

    It HAS to be said, shared, and endorsed (by nature) so the message is spread by other users who also have friends who have ‘held off’. We share because we believe they’d be good at it, we believe in them, and we know how well it could work for them.

    1. I recognise the irony of where the post appeared Richard, but that’s my channel I guess! I’ll look into getting this into the mainstream media perhaps? Also, I did hope it would give ‘ammunition’ and ideas to readers, who could use it to continue to encourage colleagues to give social a chance.

  5. A 20’s something lass told me that Twitter is ‘old hat’ and and on a down hill slide. Is it worth initiating if it is to replaced with some other media pipeline?

    1. Hi Theresa, thanks for reading.
      I wouldn’t change habits after the comment of one 20 year old. A lot of people and brands are still gaining a lot from Twitter and investing money and resources into it, there’s no downhill slide evident. It may ‘trend’ amongst some audiences, as all platforms will.

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