Social Media Strategies

sm strategyBoth of the required readings for this week’s assignment, “Facebook’s ‘dark side’: study finds link to socially aggressive narcissism” authored by Damien Pearse and “Students Addicted to Social Media – New UM Study,” a press release from the University of Maryland Newsdesk offer negative perspectives of youthful users of social media.

The formative steps of any communications plan involve research into the organization and/or product along with an evaluation of stakeholders or intended audiences. A public relations practitioner can use the information by these two posts to gain insight as a communications strategy is developed which targets the age group.

The University of Maryland study provides valuable insights into the social media use by young adults. These findings include the following:

  • Few students watch/read traditional media such as television or newspapers
  • Students have no apparent brand loyalty to traditional media
  • Social media connectivity revolves around personal relationships

The Western Illinois University study cited by author Damien Pearse evaluated the personalities of the young adults who are the most prolific users of social media. This study found those users to be vain and self-absorbed. The young adults were characterized as the “all about me” generation. This useful information can help define key messages for a public relations communication outreach effort.

Buffalo State College Professor, Ron Smith, in his text book Strategic Planning for Public Relations, notes that a key maxim for organizational communications to live by is “know your audience.”

The Pew Research Center in its 2012 study, The Demographics of Social Media Users” helps to further define this audience.

The Pew Research reports the following:

  • Young adults are more likely than other to use major social media
  • Those between 18 – 29 are the most likely to use Twitter
  • Facebook remains the most used social networking site with two-thirds of online adults indicating they are Facebook users.

Communicators need to know more than the demographics of an audience. There needs to be an understanding of which communication tool is preferred and how that tool is used by a particular stakeholder. “Health Communicator’s Social Media Tool Kit”  from the Center for Disease Control is a substantive resource and offers some valuable insights into how and where to reach  young adults with its ‘Top Lessons learned from Using Social Media’. These include, among others: (a) go where the people are; (b) encourage participation (c) provide multiple formats and (d) consider mobile technologies.

The guide also suggests additional media resources for those evaluating the target audience of young adults. Sites offered include the Pew Research Center (cited above) and

  • Quantcast – a site which describes itself as one that “provides free, directly measured traffic and audience composition reports”
  • comScore – is a fee based service that “identify the web content that best reaches their target audiences”

There are a plethora of websites and a mountain of information for those who seek to reach young adults using social media.  A successful communications plan should narrow the focus to specific areas of interest; monitor the preferred communications channels and offer personalized messages that appeal to the self interests of young adults. Professional communicators will need to engage stakeholders on popular sites and established authentic relationships with young adults to maximize results, thus contributing to an overall communications initiative.

This week’s two assigned readings are only the beginning.


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