Learning to communicate with social media



The emergence of social media has transformed the communication strategies of public relations professionals. But are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram being used to their best advantage? 

In several cases, social media monitoring was limited to two or three months, rather than the optimal twelve-month period.

Based on a review of the literature, Francine Charest, researcher-professor and founder of the Observatoire des médias sociaux en relations publiques (OMSRP) at Université Laval, developed an optimal process for integrating social media in public relations. She then conducted some fifteen semi-structured interviews with public relations specialists which allowed her to identify a number of gaps between these best practices and the actual use of social media by PR professionals.

For example, in several cases, social media monitoring was limited to two or three months, rather than the optimal twelve-month period. Moreover, some participants overlooked the importance of properly identifying their target market on the various platforms. As a result, misidentification of the role that different social media could play in achieving their organizational goals made their use less effective.

The Observatoire used the results of this study to develop tools that many organizations use today. In addition to the 10-step process for social media integration and a comment management plan, the Observatoire developed "NETiquette" for the use and management of social media and wrote a social media vocabulary guide. These tools have contributed to the sound appropriation of social media in the public relations practices of many Québec organizations, in addition to making the OMSRP a reference on the subject. This is evidenced by the many scientific and professional papers published in Québec, North America and Europe.