“There is no question, if you are not on Facebook and Twitter, you are not getting the full story” – (Lyse Doucet, BBC’s Chief International Correspondent.)
Now a day’s people from all spheres are severely dependent on the internet for ensuring their day to day activities. People’s personal life, professional life, family life and all other sections of human life are entangled in the network of internet. It gives us the latest news of our surroundings, our relationships and about our intended fields. Social media plays the accelerating role in these incidents. It is the gift of internet technology. According to Schein (2010), the growing popularity of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube also suggests that organizations can increase feelings of trust and loyalty through social media use.
Newman (2009) define Social media from Wikipedia and says, “At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information and content . It’s a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologue (one to many) into dialog (many to many) and is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM)”.
In this paper the writer will discuss about the role of social media for a successful campaign. It will also discuss the benefit of using social media for campaign, recommendations for effective social media campaign and finally the barriers of using social media in a campaign process. Here the experiences from building the site www.teeslove.wordpress.com will be the driving force for all the discussions in this paper.
2.0 Role of social media in campaign:
For any campaign, the prime objective is to create awareness among its target groups. Teeslove.wordpress.com was created for general public in Middlesbrough. The objective was to disseminate the information to the audience “Show love someone you care” on every 14th of a month. The site developers use Facebook page for the fastest dessimination of information. It is because with the aid of social media the dissemination of information is free of cost, fast and interactive.
In fact interactivity is the main reason for feeling inspire to use the Internet. More than 90 percent of people who used the Internet in a typical day during the year 2000 sent or received email (Kiesler etal 2002). People use more time on social media for communicating with others than before. Online facility encourages people to use the Internet for information, entertainment and shopping, and discourages them from leaving Internet service (Kraut et al. 2000). According to Diener et al (1999) online Communications, including contact with friends, family members, and participation in social groups has improved people’s level of social participation.
Due to the interactive role of social media, the practice of citizen journalism is increasing day by day. People are now used to with technologies and are more interested on social media. The sale of smart phone is increasing gradually and the demand for latest iphone is always sky touching. Various mobile apps have increased the communication scope. Huge options are available now for getting needful information and the preferable one in the online media due to its interactive facility. To catch a greater amount of public with minimum expenditure the social media is best option for PR professionals as well. Considering this reality White (2011) in the publication ‘PR 2020: The Future of Public Relations’ said, “Special efforts will have to be made to incorporate digital and social media, but by 2020 competence in use of these will be up across the board and there will be more competition with others using the same media to reach audiences”.
Through social media we can share our unedited ideas, important news and photos for constructing greater benefit of societies. The objective of any campaign is to share ideas and create opinion in favour of campaign objective. Social media plays this role free of cost. It also plays caring role in social crisis. According to Newman (2009) since the Asian Tsunami and the London bombings when audience footage led the main news bulletins for the first time, the BBC has invested heavily in encouraging audiences to contribute direct experiences of major events. It established a well-staffed user-generated hub, to process and to authenticate audience materials as well as to engage more deeply with audience members to co-create content, write articles and shoot photo series.
3.0 Benefits of using social media in campaign:
According to Gooltz (2007), social media is the vehicle, for performing online communication. Gooltz (2007) also added, internet is the “third place” (the first and second places being home and work) where people attach with friends, listen to music, watch television, build a sense of togetherness with people across the world.
According to Newman (2009, p-7) “Social media is constantly mutating and evolving; just when you think you have nailed it, a new combination emerges, changing perceptions again. But whatever the precise definition, there are three underlying reasons why journalists are taking social tools and networks increasingly seriously”. Newman’s three underlying reasons are also applicable for campaign programmes. Thus social media also helps campaign programmes as followed:
- Telling better stories: For covering a campaign programme there is always someone who knows more than you do, news organisations are crowd sourcing comments, pictures, videos insights and ideas. This supplements and complements their own newsgathering sources and enriches their output.
- Making better relationships: Social media allows users to be more loyal and spend more time on your site. This relationship can be boosted by making them more valuable for promoting and selling other social services.
- Getting new users in: Due to online connectivity the successful social media campaign helps to attract more and more users. With audiences spending more and more time with social networks, creates the opportunity to make a campaign a successful awareness event.
In real life, visit the page of Middesbrough council website (http://www.middlesbrough.gov.uk). This page is linked with Twitter, Flicker and youtube. In the Twitter page https://twitter.com/mbrocouncil of the council number of followers is 3698 and number of tweets is 1124 as on 8th May 2013. Thus users easily get important information from this page in a minute in their computer, laptop, mobile phone, tabs or in their net book. Like other social media Twitter is performing online PR role favouring Middlesbrough council. So, if the Middlesbrough council wants to start any campaign programme by default it will be tweeted in their twitter page. As a result 3698 members will be informed about it in a second. This is the greatest advantage of social media campaign.
Online communication tools have the potential to raise our awareness significantly about our social contacts. Facebook, for instances always updates us, who is writing a new blog post, who is about to have lunch with a friend. Technologies like Twitter, Flicker, Linkedin, youtube enable us to get fastest information about society even when the members of our community are not within sight.
4.0 Barriers of social media campaign:
The relationship among print media, campaign and social media are very complex. For instance if you pick up a piece of paper that has a message, you will see that message but on the internet the recipient of the message has to find that out for him or herself. According to Moloney (2004: p.76) “this is a common problem across all groups using the internet. Good website publicity and audience building depends on good traditional publicity in print and in the media. In the first instance, you have to get the campaign message onto paper, onto television screen or passing through word of mouth before you can have people to go to electronic with you. There is a self generating element after that and that has to do with the technology of linkages. The starting point in many cases is pre-electronic technology.”
5.0 Recommendations for social media use:
According to Owens (2004: p.156) “The internet has increased the speed of reaction and need and changed the way we communicate….Internet will develop more. It is developing. I think it will become more and more important. I’m sure we will see more reliance on online public relations because it is still the thing that makes most sense. It can reach out to people as individuals and it is the personal that people want”.
Chavez (2012) suggests for getting maximum benefit from social media campaign we must give emphasis on the following:
- Identify: To be successful at using social media in politics (and in marketing, PR, any field), you must put relationships front and centre and use social media to establish engagement, not just blast messages.
- Empower: Only by harnessing and effectively using data can you put the right tools in the right people’s hands. Capture data, structure it, leverage it.
- Ask For More: In social works, asking for more means orienting your campaigns around offline activity. If something does not have a link to more donations, or more volunteers, it may be a bad use of time. Use social media to ask your most passionate advocates to translate that passion into action.
For successful campaign journalism social media is not the revolution rather it is the evolution. New technology and the internet is reshaping campaign journalism but it does not mean that we do not need the traditional campaign journalism. Basically traditional and online campaign journalism reinforce each other and ultimately expedites the success of a campaign programme. Traditional campaign journalism ensures the fact checking, accuracy, objectivity and direction of communication process where as the social media ensures the wider spread of information, wider participation of community is a campaign process. Social media ensures the feelings of the users, creates empathy among the users where as traditional campaign journalism sets up the objective of campaign programme.
Social media do not need to be outsourced to a web team. It’s every reporter’s job. It needs to be a integral part of the daily routine of researching and communicating. Yet the importance of social media should not be overvalued either. The most important task of campaign journalist is to produce top quality TV, radio programmes and/or print news. After this social media can add value to those programmes and help campaign programmes to reach a larger audience. This way social media can bring success to a campaign programme.
*Writer of this essay Dewan Mohammad Ahsan Habib, is working as Deputy Director (Traffic) in the Head Office of Bangladesh Betar (Radio), Bangladesh.
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