December 26, 2012

The Connection Between Communications and Social Media

The following is a guest blog from my husband, Pete Strella. Media

You never know what to expect when you’re meeting with potential clients, and Rachel has recently fielded some surprising questions when discussing her experience in being qualified to provide social media services for certain companies.

When Rachel brought this to my attention, I didn’t know quite what to say because the relationship between communications and social media seems to be an obvious one. But for those who haven’t been immersed in the communications field for their entire career, it makes sense that the connection to social media would be less apparent.

So to help more people understand this important connection, here are my top five communications principles that can help in generating outstanding social media content:

1. Consider Your Audience – With any form of communication, you should first consider the audience that’s going to be receiving the message. If you know your audience, or target audience for marketing purposes, you can tailor the message to make it more relevant to that audience. For example, Rachel’s blog audience is interested in social media and small business topics, so I’m going to spare you my rant concerning my underachieving Pittsburgh Steelers.

2. Timeliness – In print journalism, when you release an article can effect whether or not the content resonates with your audience. A simplistic example: a story about Christmas in May wouldn’t be nearly as relevant as one released in November or December. Always have your eye on the calendar when planning your social media content.

3. Word economy – There’s a saying in my field that it’s more difficult to write a shorter story than a longer one. The goal is to convey a message in the fewest words possible so that you take less of the reader’s time while strengthening the overall message.

4. Make An Emotional Connection – I like to refer to the cliché that “people are more alike than different.” By relaying people’s experiences as they relate to larger, macro issue, you can effectively illustrate how a topic relates to the reader or allow the reader to experience the topic on a human level. This allows the content to become more than just information.

5. Help Your Audience – In all my years of writing, the story that garnered the biggest positive response was one that helped residents understand the charges on their municipal water and electric bills. Using your expertise to help your audience demonstrates your value to them.

The mechanics of social media are in constant transformation as popular sites like Facebook and Twitter change their rules, appearances and user functions. As the husband of a social media manager, I know how frustrating this can be. But the great thing about understanding these communications principles is that they will probably never change during our lifetimes. If you master them now, this knowledge will help you, again and again and again.

PetePete Strella is the managing editor of “The Rite Times, Rite Now,” a newsletter for Rite Aid Corporation employees. Pete's other blogs include The Ups & Downs of Supporting a Business-Owning Wife, Twitter: A Medium for the Anti-Social, and  Penn State Scandal: Conversation Should Shift to Helping Victims, Raising Awareness for Child Sex Abuse.

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