Tagged: #StudentBlog

TikTok and The Race to Join Emerging Social Platforms

By: Faith Ford

TikTok, is a massively popular app that lets users create and share videos up to 60 seconds long. At least that’s the Dictionary.com definition of the content creation app that started to gain social media users’ attention around 2018. So how did TikTok get to where it is today? And what does it mean for the future of social media, especially in the public relations, marketing and advertising industries? 

History 

TikTok, described as one of the fastest-growing social media platforms of 2020 – and all time, began as an app that most people had recognized as Musical.y after an acquisition in 2017 by a Chinese company called ByteDance. Due to this merger of brands, the app specialized in dancing clips which led to viral trends of dance-offs, lip syncs, and extensive use of hashtag challenges. The app today has grown into a hotspot for influencer marketing and as a medium for brands to use when sharing their messaging. In just four years, the social media site has reached 150 countries, has 2 billion downloads, and 1 billion active monthly users. All this activity puts TikTok ahead of business favorites like Facebook and Instagram

Growing Hesitations 

While TikTok has shown its tremendous growth and strengths within its use as a marketing and communications hub for businesses, the app has faced crises that have jeopardized usage rates in the business world. The biggest issue facing the platform is privacy. 

Concerns about privacy have been under the lens of the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission and were even highlighted in a late summer move toward a possible nationwide ban on the social networking site, and other actions by individual businesses. 

In a July NBC news article, reporter Kevin Collier states that, “The bank Wells Fargo told its workers to delete the app. Amazon ramped up the scrutiny of TikTok on Friday after a leaked internal email said company employees needed to remove the app from their phones. Amazon later clarified that no such edict had actually been issued.” 

It seems hard to imagine that employee internal conflict with this app would reflect positively on the company, when the company starts to use it for its own purposes, as employees are a primary public to keep in mind.

However, the hesitations to use the app for public external messaging also becomes easier to understand. Why would a business invest in positions to research, analyze and create when there’s a possibility of the app being removed from your consumers? 

With regard to these concerns, it seems that TikTok has outgrown its “he who cannot be trusted” description, as more and more businesses join the viral experience. 

Considerations for Businesses 

Of course, businesses shouldn’t just join in on the site just for the numbers and its popularity. There has to be some reason for their use or else the messaging seems forced, is lost, and won’t reach their intended audience. This is where PR comes in. Remember: “What or how you do something is not as important as the WHY.” 

So what does this mean for companies wanting to use TikTok as a social media platform? 

Do your research. Know who your audience is and what they are looking for. If you are a Senior Living facility, for example, trying to reach 65-year-olds, TikTok is probably not the place to reach your primary audience. 

Be engaging. The whole point of social networking sites is to connect you with people. The ability to engage with your audience will give you a better idea of who they are, what they are looking for, and their personality. The extra effort of responding to comments, “dueting” challenges that have helped your brand, and being conversational with influencers is valuable for your brand on the platform. 

Be aware. Look for opportunities that seem organic and authentic for your company. Is there a trend that fits your new launch? Act on it! TikTok trends move quickly, so being aware of the app’s climate is important to being up-to-date and creating new and unique ideas. 

Other Emerging Social Sites 

TikTok grew – fast. It was important for businesses to be aware of its presence, even if they were choosing not to be as active on the platform as their employees. While there still may be reservations about the site, here are some social media sites that public relations, advertising, and marketing professionals should keep their eyes on:

Clubhouse 

Twitter Spaces 

Caffeine 

Instagram Reels

Houseparty 

Social media, including TikTok, can be a powerful tool for businesses wanting to reach their audience. However, if you are considering including it in your communication strategy, don’t forget to do your research, and most importantly, don’t forget to answer the “Why?” if you want to maximize its effectiveness. 

Sources: 

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/new-social-media

https://revive.digital/blog/most-popular-social-media/

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/tiktok-privacy-threat-sure-so-are-most-your-sma rtphone-apps-n1233625 

https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/the-rapid-rise-of-tiktok

How COVID-19 is Causing Event Planning Evolution

By: April Wood

I hate to begin a blog post by talking about how COVID-19 has changed the communication industry, but to write a blog about “normal times” feels disingenuous. Public relations and other communication departments are rapidly adapting to communicating at a time of uncertainty and illness. A particularly challenging aspect of public relations during the pandemic has become apparent to me in the last few months: event planning. All of the relevant skills remain, and a new set of often unintuitive skills is becoming necessary for many event planners.  

As Important as Ever

  1. Writing and Design – The tone of writing you use and the style of design you implement depends on your audience. These are foundations of public relations. Writing and design will always be necessary skills in this field, even and especially in event planning. If you do not communicate your event and its intentions well, no one will participate. 
  2. Contingency Planning and Being Flexible – It is inevitable that something will go wrong the day of your event. Take time BEFORE the event to create a list of things that might possibly go awry and devise a contingency plan for each of them. If and when something doesn’t go as expected, you have a solid plan for how to handle it that can be tailored to fit the issue perfectly. A crisis that could spiral out of control is stopped with minimal damages. 
  3. Organization – Planning for a virtual event still requires careful organization using traditional event-planning measures. Guest lists need to be compiled, invitations sent out, registration organized, plans established and executed, and so much more. Do not assume that you can just hop in on a call and your event will go off without a hitch. That would be like assuming that if you give everyone a time and place to meet that the event will just happen naturally. “Planning” that way will only lead to disaster. 
  4. Event Scripting – I’ll admit that this one is more of a grey area. It is an old skill applied in a new way. Usually, you would have an itinerary in the program you hand out at the event that outlines the order of events, in addition to a more in-depth one that lays out the timeframe of each section of the event. When live video enters the mix, however, it gets a bit more complicated. Depending on the type of event,  you may want to play a number of videos, present a PowerPoint, and also have some live content. Your files need to be clearly named and ordered and a script should be developed to tell you exactly what order they are played and at what times. Delays in getting videos or presentations started will delay your whole event and throw off the schedule for the night. 

Skills of Emerging Necessity 

  1. An In-depth Knowledge of Your Broadcasting Program of Choice – The program you choose to host your meeting is a critical component of the event-planning process. It is like selecting your venue and support staff for an in-person event. Choose one that you are familiar with, has a good reputation, and is user-friendly. If you are not particularly adept at technology, take an online course on the program or try it out in advance to experiment and get comfortable with its use. Take the time to learn the program and host a dry-run with your fellow planners to locate any potential problems and resolve them before the event. 
  2. Troubleshooting – Be prepared to handle technical difficulties if they arise the day of the event. These problems will likely be both on the host’s side and on the virtual attendees’ side. This means doing research beforehand on possible technical issues and their solutions as well as having someone available on event day to monitor the chat, email, and social media pages for attendees who may report issues. They can only be swiftly resolved if they are swiftly identified. When it comes to event planning, today’s public relations professionals must  learn how to provide technical support in addition to their usual skills.

This is clearly not a comprehensive list – I’ll leave that for the academics -, but it serves to give you a realistic picture of what you can expect to undertake in order to get your event off the ground. 

Getting the Most Out of Hashtags

By: Armani Shumpert

Hashtags are important for success in supporting social media content. Appearing as a keyword or phrase with no spaces with the # (pound) symbol at the front of it, the hashtag is a way to make material easy to find, at least when used correctly.

Hashtags have been widely used on Twitter, but they are now popular on other social media platforms sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Understanding the difference in these platforms and how to use hashtags effectively is a great way for you to maximize your engagement with your followers.

The Basics

While a hashtag seems easy to place before keywords, some other specifics are important to note as you try to reap the greatest benefits of using hashtags. Here are some tips for general purposes:

  • Keep hashtags brief and unforgettable rather than attempting to include a variety of words with one tag.
  • Try not to pressure any post with hashtags. Use them only if they add importance to your post and are likely to encourage dialog and discussion
  • Do not overuse hashtags. The number of hashtags you use depends on which platform you are using, but in most cases, one or two hashtags work better than many.
  • The use of descriptive and unique hashtags can yield better results than widespread or generic ones.

Using hashtags is not a one-size-fits-all proposition that is the same for all social media. Here are a few ideas about how hashtags on specific social media platforms can be used properly.

Use Hashtags on Instagram

When it comes to Instagram, using more hashtags will lead to more engagement. Use up to 10 or 11 relevant and popular hashtags on this platform to get the most out of it. You probably do not need to use too many of them, but it is good to know that using more is good here, so you can experiment with what works for you.

Use the search box to see which hashtags are used by influencers or competition. Since this is the best forum for many hashtags, try various hashtags. For blogs, videos, and comments, use them.

Use Hashtags on Twitter

Using the appropriate Twitter hashtags will boost your participation. One or two hashtags on a tweet should be enough. If you use a few hashtags and explicitly ask your followers to retweet, this may result in more engagement.

Using Twitter hashtags can make your post available as people search for your tag. It can also help you locate conversations to get involved. To have even more effect on this forum, research hashtags are trending. Twitonomy is a good method specifically for studying Twitter patterns.

Use Hashtags of LinkedIN

On LinkedIn, people have not always stressed the use of hashtags, but they function on this site in the same way as any of the other social media sites. Using a couple of hashtags on your post if you are posting long-form material on LinkedIn. LinkedIn typically recommends one or three hashtags.

You can get your alerts outside of your network by using hashtags on LinkedIn. It is a perfect way to raise awareness about the brand.

The use of hashtags is an excellent tool for interacting with your followers as well as increasing interaction and attracting new target audiences. To be effective please keep in mind the social media platform you are using and best practices for best results.

The 4-Step Approach All PR Professionals Must Master

Written By: April Wood

Several guiding principles exist in the world of public relations. One message impressed upon students by professors and mentors in the industry that I strive to carry with me at all times is the statement, “Get the right message to the right audience at the right time and on the right platform.” Following this foundational statement can help you ensure that your efforts in executing tactics are not wasted. Let’s break it down together.

 

The Right Audience

I know this is not the first segment of the phrase, but I’m covering this segment first intentionally. Knowing your audience is of paramount importance. You cannot hope to know the right message, the right time, or the right platform without knowing to whom you are speaking. You must know your audience intimately, and this is not something that a public relations professional can afford to forget. Familiarize yourself with their beliefs, values, and interests. Learn who they are by building personas that can help you envision exactly to whom you are speaking. Furthermore, knowing your audience closely will give you nearly everything you need to know to reach them. 

 

The Right Message

If you know who your audience is, you know what they care about. If you can tap into this information, you can glean how to make them care about what you are saying. Craft your message with your audience in mind. Do not write something that sounds great to you, a city-dwelling millennial, when you are speaking to rural members of Generation X. Take the information you need to get across and translate it into terms that your audience can understand. A skilled communicator and writer can do this.  A message that is not properly crafted is a message that will be ignored. 

 

The Right Time

People are busy. You are a busy person too, I presume. People are full-time workers, or homemakers, or a combination of the two, or fill a million other roles. This is to say that your audience is not always listening. An enormous library of research has been conducted in order to discover when audiences are most reachable. It varies, of course, for each audience. Personally, I consume messages most devotedly at about 10 p.m. The same can not be said of my parents, who are most usually asleep by 9. Don’t waste your efforts by starting a conversation when no one is there to reply.

 

The Right Place

Let’s talk about my family again for a second. I am on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I do not watch cable (except when the Chiefs are playing). My parents, on the other hand, have no social media. They watch the news in the morning and evening. My dad listens to talk radio at work. This simple anecdote proves that not everyone collects their information from the same source. You cannot hope to reach your audience if you do not have a sense of where they engage. Just like research can inform you of “when” to reach your audience, research can also inform you of “where” to reach your audience. Familiarize yourself with the research surrounding your audience, or conduct your own if necessary.

 

Putting it Together

Everything I’ve covered ties directly back to one thing. I have relentlessly pounded this messaged in during the few hundred words preceding this: it all ties back to research. You cannot know anything about your audience if you do not take the time to learn about them. Nothing in public relations should be done thoughtlessly. Know your audience, know what they will listen to, know when they are listening, and know where they are listening and align this information and use it to communicate with them.