Written on April 15, 2013
The advent and rising popularity of social media has caused those working in the media to adapt the way they do their jobs. Social media now serves as a vital tool for everything from promoting events to sharing a completed news story with a broad audience.
Social media, whether web-based or mobile-based, encourages two-way communication. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn facilitate interactive communication between celebrities, businesses, media professionals, organizations and everyday individuals. Through various social media platforms, media professionals now have a new way of sharing relevant and important information with the general public.
“Social media provides a platform that allows businesses to directly engage with their consumers,” said Mercedes Posey, a public relations major at Texas Southern University. “The instant communication channels allow for a seamless dissemination of information and an extended reach to a much broader audience.”
Facebook and Twitter are the two most commonly used social media platforms.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform, with over 133 million active users in the United States and over 400 million worldwide. It serves as an important and immediate tool for media professionals to reach others. Users have the option of posting their own updates to their news feed or replying to one posted by a friend or someone they follow.
Facebook is also a useful tool in finding sources due to its ability to connect people who would otherwise not interact. Each user is searchable by their name, location, occupation, network affiliations, etc. Through Facebook, journalists and other professionals are now able to instantaneously interact with a broad audience from their cell phone or computer.
With the rise of Twitter, the media are no longer telling stories and giving information once or twice a day. Through 140 characters or a tweet, media professionals can now provide a steady stream of information continuously throughout the day that can be on any topic.
Twitter has an almost instantaneous ability to spread information to an extremely wide audience. Through the use of a hashtag, which is an important word or phrase with no spaces prefixed by a number sign, a tweet can instantly be seen by a potentially worldwide audience.
No matter the platform, social media gives media professionals an opportunity to interact with the general public. Social media not only assists people in a professional capacity, but it also gives the general public and those who would not normally be heard a voice.