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Musings on PR and social media

By Mikela Dennison, The Clarity Business

I've been in my role as Senior Account Executive here at The Clarity Business for just over a year now and I thought it might be timely to do a few shorter posts in the coming weeks, reflecting on the lessons I have learned so far and what's been helpful along the way.

Social media: a brave new (professional) world?

Social media can seem like a whole new world once you start engaging online professionally rather than personally. From concerns around what to post, who to follow, and which content to like – there are so many questions once you are using online channels for work rather than your own private use.

But I think there is some real value in that fresh perspective. When you use social media personally, you innately understand the online space: how it works, who the influencers are and which the most relevant channels for different activities.

For example, I may share a photo on Instagram of a vintage water cooler I like, but I wouldn't share that same image on LinkedIn. And while I may share my latest blog post to PR and communications groups on LinkedIn and share the link to our company website via Twitter, I wouldn't ask my Facebook friends to like that same content.

Tracking results: analytics, measurements and reporting

Using social media as a communications tool means tracking results and seeing what works is more important than ever. I keep an eye on Google Analytics and am increasing my knowledge around how to apply the data to my online actions in a useful way. It is also pertinent to track how blog posts are being shared, and take note of where website traffic is coming from so you can focus your activity accordingly (here's a hint: LinkedIn is a really effective driver of traffic).

It's important to use these tools so you can demonstrate the value in what you are doing – remember it's no use blogging, tweeting, or joining LinkedIn groups if that effort isn't translating to more traffic to your company/client website and sparking discussion among the people, industries and companies you wish to engage with.

The professional purpose of social media is of course to generate leads, create more business, meet (and secure) prospective clients, and increase brand profile. However, it's also important to remember that you are curating and creating content for an online community of intelligent and engaged professionals and creative people - and that is what your social media activities should be centred around: connecting with interesting people, ideas and organisations while creating mutually beneficial business relationships for all parties.

Free to use, time consuming to do well

Something I learned early on when I started applying my social media skills at work, is that while channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest might be free to use, that doesn't by any means make them free to maintain, build and improve upon.

The key to using social media well in the workplace is to prioritise, plan and use tools to make it simple for yourself and others. Here are a few ways to simplify your social media processes:

- Save your login details so that you don't have to enter your email and password every time you access your social media accounts

- Download or buy apps for your smart phone or tablet so you can always be connected when you are on the go (there are great apps for LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Analytics and Pinterest)

- Explore social media management tools like Hootsuite or Tweet Deck, which allow you to manage and post to and from multiple accounts and maintain different lists and feeds on platforms like Twitter

By allocating time to developing your social media skills, you can grow your networks, raise your company profile and be able to engage in interesting, timely discussions and ultimately be more effective and successful as an individual, business or organisation.

I'd say that once you start really delving into the fascinating world of social media, you will soon see how effective and enjoyable it can be to add this platform to your professional and personal suite of communication and information tools.

Thanks for reading!