By Tracey Dunn, Managing Director of BlueSky PR

The advent of social media platforms has completely changed the PR landscape. No longer just the domain of newspapers, magazines and broadcast media, PR now encompasses a whole new range of channels.

For those who are unfamiliar with social media channels, the good news is that it can be a simple yet effective way of promoting your brand once you know the basics — you don’t need to be using every tool there is but it is a good idea to experiment so that you can see which is going to give you the most benefit.

What are people saying about your brand

Who is interested in what you have to say

Who is engaging with you

All the points above can be monitored and evaluated with social media tools - so the question you really should be asking yourself is: “What is the impact of NOT using social media to engage with stakeholders.

Blogging is big

Writing a blog is your chance to become the media yourself — it’s free and easy to set up through channels such as wordpress.com. It’s a way of becoming the media yourself and establishes you as a source of information and a thought leader. Flag up your posts to journalists in the sector — they may use the material in the future! Offer to guest blog for other bloggers and ask your clients or customers to guest blog on yours. Promote your blog on your e-mail signature and your website as well as through any other social media platforms that you use.

Twitter & Tweeting

Contrary to popular belief, this is not purely the domain of celebrities telling you what they have just had for breakfast. You can share links and information with your target audience and promote your blog. But the key with twitter is to engage — not just to promote. Once you have set up a profile, take some time to research people and organisations to start following — a good place to start is your competitors so you can see who they are following — and who is following them! See if any relevant journalists in your sector are on twitter and follow them too. Keep an eye on the feed and what is being talked about and join in the conversation! The more you engage, share information and comment- the more people will start to follow you. Again make sure links to your twitter account are promoted through your website and your e-mail signature.

Leveraging LinkedIn

Although a business networking tool, LinkedIn is seen very much as a social media platform. Your visibility on Linked In is determined by your network which in turn is determined by the number of connections you have. So make sure you Link In with every customer/client/business acquaintance and also look at the Linked In groups relevant to your business sector and join them. Linked In is a fantastic search tool not only for potential new business — but also for businesses to find you — hence the necessity for visibility. Optimise your profile with keywords that businesses may use when searching and use your status update to highlight new product launches, events special offers or service offerings. And again — promote your Linked in profile on your website and on your e-mail signature.

Facebook Fan?

A social media myth is that this is a site for students. The demographics say different — over half the users are between 24 and 44 years old and it is a great platform for building communities and brand loyalty. Sceptical? One of our clients set up a Facebook page three months ago and has seen a 152% increase in website traffic and has over 600 followers now engaging with the brand. And you only have to look at some of the big consumer brands to see the power of Facebook company pages — Kellogs Pop Tarts has over 2.7 million ‘likes’ - their page has competitions, videos — and they use to see what consumers think of their product — a lot less expensive then commissioning market research!

And finally....

There is no doubt that social media is here to stay. In a world that is becoming ever more web savvy and customers who are plugged into the web not just at their desk but through their ipads and smart phones, a social media strategy is no longer just a ‘nice to have’ - it’s a vital route to market.

Web: www.bluesky-pr.net

Twitter: @BlueSkyPR

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/traceymdunn

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/BlueSky-PR/113460545390024