Monday, November 20, 2017

YOUR Social Media Public Relations?


Earlier this year while doing a media tour for my new book on public relations at TV stations in Cincinnati, Sacramento and Las Vegas, all three hosts asked the same two questions:

1. Is social media more effective than traditional media?

2. Does the election of Donald Trump prove the superiority of social media?



The answers seemed to surprise them: No and No. Public relations is the Persuasion Business.

In the book and for this column, I focus on how PR can be used to influence the media, clients, employees and various audiences. In most cases, traditional media – along with third-party validation from experts – beats social media by a wide margin.

First, Trump.. Social media works great if you are already famous. The Top 10 Twitter Users this month on FanPage are:

Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga, YouTube, Cristiano Rinaldo and Justin Timberlake

The Most Influential Users from FanPage and Klout Are: YouTube, CNN, New York Times, National Football League, Associated Press, ESPN, The Guardian, TIME, Major League Baseball, and your cranky uncle who sends you political emails on his Facebook Page. Just kidding, #10 is actually USA Today. Barack Obama is #15, the highest ranking of anyone in the Top 10 Users list.



Claiming you can post something and watch it go viral because Taylor Swift or CNN can attract hundreds of thousands of likes is like trying to walk down the red carpet at the Academy Awards, get a great seat up front, and take home two gift bags packed with free watches and bags of jewelry. That party is closed for us regular folks.

Trump’s tactics on social media, ranging from insulting enemies to boasting to announcing major policies, are not usually successful for others, they only work for him. Like P.T. Barnum or Muhammad Ali, he’s a true original, an amazing promoter who obtains massive amounts of attention.

Second, Social Media. Why isn’t social media just as powerful as traditional media?

The main arguments in favor of social media from millennials concern usage and preference. Many young people believe some or most of these statements: “I like Instagram, SnapChat and Twitter. I’m on it all the time. I get my news from social media. I shop on social media. Social media gives me recommendations for restaurants and travel. Therefore, social media MUST be more influential than traditional media.”


All very valid arguments. Yes, it’s very prevalent. The platforms are popular. But overall popularity does not always equate to influence. As I noted in a previous column social media is very common. There are more than five billion pieces of content posted on Facebook every day, along with more than 500 million Tweets. In addition to competing with influencers and celebrities, you face off against other posters and citizens.

Sharad Goel and Ashton Anderson of Stanford University and Jake Hofman and Duncan Watts of Microsoft Research debunked viral media impact in their study in published in Management Science. “We find that structural virality is typically low, and remains so independent of size, suggesting that popularity is largely driven by the size of the largest broadcast,” Goel says. The “broadcast size” refers to the size of the audience, for example my 7000+ Twitter followers can’t compete with Cristiano Ronaldo or CNN. And Goel’s study determined the chance of something going viral on Twitter is about one in a million.





Related Article: The Exponential Growth Of Social Media?



But some companies and individuals utilize social media quite well.

Here are three examples in public relations and the persuasion business where social media influences mass audiences.

--Accelerating Traditional Media
--Responding to Crisis in Real Time
--Promoting Fake News and Conspiracies

The goal of any social media superstar is to create and grow their own brand, which means regular posts, finding and attracting audiences, and keeping them engaged. Hard work and without compelling content, not easy to do. Testing this theory showing social media is a great medium to accelerate, rather than originate content, is quite easy. Anyone can test it. For someone in the PR industry, here’s how. Post your own opinion on something. Now, post something on the same subject where your client is quoted or profiled in Forbes, the New York Times, or your local TV station. Wild guess which one will attract more attention. The third-party validation of major brands are much stronger, in most cases, than individual opinions.



Responding. During a crisis, new product announcements, breaking news, and other real-time events, publicists, companies and individuals can react in real time to explain their position, offer advice, lead people to safety and many other situations. Social media can be a boon to direct client-to-company conversations provided firms and PR pros are well educated and provide enough staff to respond quickly and professionally.

Fake News. Conspiracies and fake news are the sewer of the Internet. Everyone knows the quote by Mark Twain that “a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Unfortunately digital media has accelerated this process so lies travel around the world several times before the truth can find their shoes in the closet.

There are thousands of examples of fake news spreading through the digital wasteland, perhaps none better than a recent story in the New York Times, “How YouTube Shock Jocks Hijack News.” The reporter Kevin Rose followed a popular YouTube personality commenting about the shooting deaths in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Minutes after the news was reported, the poster claimed the gunman was either Black or Muslim (neither was true), then after the shooter was identified as White, predicted he was a Bernie Sanders supporter or a member of Antifa (again, not true.)



“YouTube has long been a haven for slapdash political punditry, but in recent months, a certain type of hyper-prolific conspiracist has emerged as a dominant force. By reacting quickly and voluminously to breaking news, these rapid-response pundits – the YouTube equivalent of talk radio shock jocks – have successfully climbed the site’s search results, and exposed legions of viewers to their far-fetched theories.”

A study in Nature () about “Limited individual attention and online virality of low-quality information” dissected the reasons why many people fall for incomplete and inaccurate data.

A story in Business Insider summed it up nicely: “Economists concluded that it comes down to two factors. First, each of us has limited attention. Second, at any given moment, we have access to a lot of information — arguably more than at any previous time in history. Together, that creates a scenario in which facts compete with falsehoods for finite mental space. Often, falsehoods win out.


And this doesn’t account for armies of bots and teams of programmers (hello Russia!) working 24-7 to spread their misinformation.

Clearly, persuasion and propaganda are produced faster than ever.

Social media isn’t going anywhere, it’s a permanent and expanding part of our culture and daily habits. By understanding where social media succeeds and fails, where it informs and deceives us, honest entrepreneurs, publicists, companies and individuals can ensure social media provides a platform for truth instead of lies. Now if only someone can come up with an algorithm that makes people’s thirst for the truth stronger than their urge for a really good rumor.

Guest Authored By Robert Wynne. Robert owns a public relations and events agency in Redondo Beach, CA. He is the author of the Amazon bestselling book, Straight Talk About Public Relations. Follow Robert on Twitter.



By understanding where social media succeeds and fails, where it informs and deceives us, honest entrepreneurs, publicists, companies and individuals can ensure social media provides a platform for truth instead of lies.

Now if only someone can come up with an algorithm that makes people’s thirst for the truth stronger than their urge for a really good rumor.."


    • Authored by:
      Fred Hansen Pied Piper of Social Media Marketing at GetMoreHere.com & CEO of Millennium 7 Publishing Co. in Loveland, Colorado. I work deep in the trenches of social media strategy, community management and trends.  My interests include; online business educator, social media marketing, new marketing technology, skiing, hunting, fishing and The Rolling Stones..-Not necessarily in that order ;)
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