UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE

MA MEDIA & PUBLIC RELATIONS

DISSERTATION FOR MA MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

An analysis of how the PR industry has adopted the latest social media in order to reach niche publics.

Candidate name: Rodrigo Gonzalez Module tutor: Laurel Hetherington Word count: 12,888

Date of submission: 31 August 2012

I certify that all material in this assignment, which is not my own work, has been identified and that no material is included which has been submitted for any other award or qualification.

I declare that this assignment is my own work and that I have correctly acknowledged the work of others. This assignment is in accordance with University and School guidance on good academic conduct (and how to avoid plagiarism and other assessment irregularities).

Signed: Rodrigo Gonzalez Date: 26 August 2012

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Abstract

Social media has established powerful channels of influence through peer networks and mutually beneficial relationships with organisations. With a growing number of niche social networks being developed, the main concern of this study dealt with the most effective platform for influencing online publics. Through a variety of research methods, primarily questionnaires, the purpose of this analysis is to review current PR social media efforts and determine the outlook of the industry based on the concept of next generation social media.

For quantitative research, three questionnaires were developed concentrating on the following topics: market research, marketing and PR campaigns and Facebook satisfaction. The qualitative research consisted of secondary research and semi-structured electronic questionnaires targeted at marketing professionals. Based on the research, specific online consumer behaviour was determined as well as the strengths and weaknesses of both mainstream and niche networks.

The findings of this research suggest mainstream and niche social networks will both prosper and PR practitioners would benefit from targeting multiple publics through various platforms. The most abundant theme found throughout the research concerns the significance of peer or opinion leader influence as the most effective form of influencing online users.

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Acknowledgements

If you ask anyone about my passion, they will most likely tell you it is social media. I have been addicted to Facebook since it was released, to high school students anyways, and I thought MySpace was the Holy Grail during my formative years. Clearly, my fascination with social media extends beyond the past and present. To me, social media is the future.

First, I would like to thank all the experts who took time out of their busy schedules to contribute to my dissertation. I would also like to thank Laurel Hetherington for motivating me and pushing me to get this dissertation done on time. I would like to thank my colleagues for their guidance and support throughout the research process. I am also very grateful for all my friends who went out of their way to promote my questionnaires on Facebook as well as the Reddit community for their positive feedback.

I would like to thank my brother Rene Xavier Gonzalez for helping me with edits and for referring me to one of the contributing marketing experts. Finally, I would like to thank the rest of my family for believing in me and for supporting my decision to embark on this crazy European adventure.

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Table of Contents
List of Figures Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Literature Review 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Defining PR in the Digital Age 2.3 Integrated Marketing Communications 2.4 Influence in the World of PR 2.0 2.5 Modern Communication and PR Theory Chapter 3: Secondary Research 3.1 Introduction 3.2 The Post-Facebook Era 3.3 Effective Pinterest Campaign Efforts 3.4 Instagram as a Marketing Tool 3.5 PR and Social Media Chapter 4: Methodology 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Secondary Data Research 4.3 Semi-Structured Electronic Questionnaires 4.4 Qualitative Data Analysis 4.5 Online Questionnaires 4.6 Piloting 4.7 Design 4.8 Quantitative Data Analysis 4.9 Ethics 4.10 Limitations Chapter 5: Qualitative Research Results and Analysis 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Influencing Publics 5.3 Marketing and PR 5.4 Next Generation Social Media Chapter 6: Quantitative Research Results and Analysis 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Market Research Sample Description 6.3 Facebook Market Research Behavioural Analysis 6.4 Facebook Market Research Brand Engagement Analysis 6.5 Facebook Satisfaction Sample Description 6.6 Facebook Satisfaction Behavioural Analysis 6.7 Pinterest Market Research Behavioural Analysis 6.8 Instagram Market Research Behavioural Analysis 6.9 Marketing and PR Digital Campaign Sample Description 6.10 Marketing and PR Digital Campaign Analysis Chapter 7: Conclusion References …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. 6 8 9 12 12 12 17 20 24 32 32 32 42 45 46 49 49 49 50 51 52 54 54 55 55 55 56 56 56 59 60 62 62 62 63 64 67 67 69 70 71 72 73 78

Appendices Appendix A Oscar Garza Electronic Questionnaire Appendix B Nancy Lim Electronic Questionnaire Appendix C Market Research Questionnaire Results Appendix D Facebook Satisfaction Questionnaire Results Appendix E Marketing and PR Digital Campaign Questionnaire Results

…………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. …………………………………………….. ……………………………………………..

82 82 86 90 91 92

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List of Figures
Figure 1 Sheldrake's Six Influence Flows Figure 2 Updated Lasswell's Communications Model Figure 3 Facebook Brand Awareness Graph Figure 4 Facebook Brand Engagement Graph Figure 5 Social Media Satisfaction Rating Figure 6 Frequency of Pinterett Usage Figure 7 Instagram Satisfaction Scores 16 29 65 66 68 69 71

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Chapter 1: Introduction

Without a doubt, the emergence of new media as a popular communications tool has redefined the media landscape. According to Phillips and Young (2009, p. 58), PR in its traditional role created understanding of the culture or context for an organisation but now PR is increasingly subsumed into an Internet-driven context. Theaker (2012, p. 15) summarises the current state of PR as a collaborative effort with marketing and advertising companies to create the most “buzz” around a new product or service through a mix of traditional media and word-of-mouth campaigns. Theaker’s summary oversimplifies the tremendous advances of social media in the industry plus the efforts PR practitioners undergo in order to create successful online campaigns. The truth of the matter is there are networks amongst networks of stakeholders available in cyberspace, and PR practitioners need to create elaborate strategies to find and reach these publics.

In hindsight, the media was not prepared for the digitalisation of news distribution. Along with the media’s late adoption of the digital format, the media now has to compete with active online users incorporating roles either as citizen journalists or opinion leaders. In response to the developments of Web 2.0, PR has also struggled but an increasing amount of digital natives entering the workforce has helped the industry move forward.

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The modern PR practitioner has experience in social media marketing, customer relationship management, graphic design, copywriting, editing and Web design. PR practitioners are now incorporating roles that were once left to marketers and IT, because reputation and other PR responsibilities are such a significant component of social media. If the PR practitioner is changing, then the industry must be changing as well. In reality, the recent technological advances have not dramatically altered PR in terms of theory or practice. The next shift in communications remains unseen, but experts have been speculating about the next generation of online content. By creating brand content on next generation social media, it benefits the organisations by giving the organisation an opportunity to influence early adopters and taste makers.

When launching a brand page on a new platform, it is important to consider the audiences the organisation is trying to reach. For example, PR practitioners in the fashion, lifestyle, arts and related sectors promoting visually stimulating content would consider joining Pinterest community for its niche community and functions. Pinterest and other popular social networking sites LinkedIn and Foursquare are known for catering to niche communities. In a time where Facebook has become more of a routine than a hobby, PR practitioners need to consider the next logical social media campaign based on current and expected trends.

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With more people relying on the Internet as a communications tool, the PR industry has faced several challenges adapting to technological advances as well as the constant flux of online trends. The adoption of social media has left many practitioners questioning the current state of PR in the digital age. Mainly, experts are concerned how social media will alter traditional communication models as well as how it affects conventional media. While the principles and aims of PR remain intact, PR practitioners need to realise these online advances, also known as Web 2.0, have revolutionised the way to reach potential publics as well as influence them.

This also raises the question about Facebook’s lifespan, and whether PR practitioners should move on to more prevalent social networks. This analysis will review PR’s adoption of contemporary social media and determine whether PR practitioners should concentrate on niche networks. The foundation of this analysis will be based on several academic texts on the subject of communication and influence theory. In addition to texts, this study will include secondary research from reputable online news sources providing the latest updates on social media and online trends. An important component of this study is to analyse PR’s response to new media and to disclose the best course of action in terms of social media strategies and measurement. Along with input from two marketing professionals, this study also consists of three in-depth questionnaires investigating both online consumer and industry-specific behaviour. The findings of this research will determine the value of niche social networking in relation to basic PR objectives and outcomes.

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Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This chapter discusses the relevant texts and theories used to support the basis of this analysis. The core component of the review will discuss the current state of the PR industry, including the effects of social media on traditional communication models and influence theories. This review will disclose the direction of the industry as well as the proper construction and measurement of effective online PR campaigns.

2.2 Defining PR in the Digital Age

Before analysing how PR professionals should utilise social media to influence online publics, it is important to clarify the role of PR in any organisation. Over the last year, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) strived to create a modern definition of PR. Through a collaborative effort with PR professionals from the US, the PRSA released the final definition earlier this year. According to the PRSA website (Anon 2012), ‘PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics.’

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With the increasing significance of social media as a communications channel, PR practitioners can now properly adopt two-way symmetrical communications practices as a viable option to reach stakeholders. The distinction of stating publics rather than media emphasises PR as more than just media relations.

Grunig and Hunt (1984 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 423) defined PR as ‘the management of communication between an organisation and its publics’. The four models of PR according to Grunig and Hunt (1984 cited in Earl et al. 2012 p. 95) are: publicity and press agentry, the public information model, asymmetric persuasion and the two-way symmetrical model. Ideally, PR practitioners should strive for the final model but many organisations continue to focus on one-way forms of communication. Even though Grunig and Hunt’s definition was released before the introduction of the Web, the significance of adopting two-way symmetrical communications has only been amplified by new media.

While social media has enhanced the potential for benefits along with contributing new tools for PR campaigns, Grunig (2009 cited in Earl et al. 2012 p. 97) argues most organisations have yet to properly utilise social media. This can be attributed to the failure by many PR practitioners to adhere to the two-way symmetrical model for social networking.

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When social media became prevalent in recent years, many organisations jumped on the bandwagon without considering a particular strategy for their online campaigns. In reference to the inefficiency of other communication models besides two-way symmetrical, Grunig argues (2009 cited in Earl et al. 2012 p. 97):

*…+ Digital media change*d+ the public relations theory needed to guide practice, especially our generic principles of public relations. Rather, the new media facilitate the application of the principles and, in future, will make it difficult for practitioners not to use the principles.

As mentioned before, media relations has never been the primary focus of PR but new media has paved the way for PR to become a more accepted practice in most organisations. According to Theaker (2012, p. 429), PR practitioners need to balance media relations with digital influencer relations due to the emergence of citizen journalists and bloggers.

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In order to understand the proper utilisation of new media to influence online publics, one would need to consider the primary influence flows. Sheldrake (2011 cited by Earl et al. 2012 p. 91) reframes organisation communication by identifying the following flows:

1. Our influence with our stakeholders. 2. Our stakeholders’ influence with each other with respect to us. 3. Our stakeholders’ influence with us. 4. Our competition’s influence with stakeholders. 5. Stakeholders’ influence with each other with respect to our competitors. 6. Stakeholders’ influence with our competition.

Sheldrake argues organisations tend to invest mainly in the first and third flow of influence, but technology has made the second flow as critical as the other two flows. As the representative of an organisation, it is a PR professional’s duty to find and monitor significant conversations online related to the organisation. By monitoring or even contributing to these conversations, the organisation can enquire about its reputation with its stakeholders. As for the other three flows, technology also makes it easier to monitor the reputation of your competitors as well. Refer to Figure 1, for more insight into Sheldrake’s model.

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1 2 5

4

3

6

ORGANISATION

STAKEHOLDERS

COMPETITORS

Figure 1: Sheldrake’s Six Influence Flows

In retrospect, Gruning and Hunt’s definition of PR communications fits well with Sheldrake’s model as both two-way symmetrical channels are utilised to influence stakeholders as well as competitors. Earl and Waddington (2012, p. 95) interlock Grunig and Hunt’s theory to Sheldrake’s influence theory by reasoning that relying solely on one-way communications only yields one flow of influence to the stakeholders.

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2.3 Integrated Marketing Communications

Even during the pinnacle of print media, the wrong message sent to the wrong audience had the potential of start a crisis. New media has exacerbated issues pertaining to news distribution. Misconstrued quotes from an executive could snowball into a crisis due to the vast reach and response rate of social media. Phillips and Young (2009, p.59) credit thirdparty programmes, such as web crawlers and search engines, as the reason messages can either get lost in the clutter or reach the wrong audience. Since most employees use social media, the potential for creating an online crisis is not limited to an organisation’s social media team or public figures.

The Internet now acts as a middleman between an organisation and its publics. In reference to the proper utilisation of online media, Phillips and Young (2009, p. 62) suggest organisations incorporate it into their value chain or risk complete obscurity from its stakeholders. News distribution has also been affected, as print media can no longer just distribute news to a mass readership. Today, news travels through social networks where individuals voluntary decide to pass the information to their followers or peers who present the information to their own established networks. While new media does extend the reach and speed in which news travels, it is by no means an indication that print media will cease to exist. In fact, Phillips and Young (2009, p. 63) argue utilising both mediums can sometimes complement each other or present different perspectives of the same story.

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While PR tools and strategies may have changed, the fundamentals of traditional PR remain intact. One of the primary differences between conventional and electronic media is the potential for consistent two-way communications between an organisation and a consumer. Social media and blogging allows PR practitioners to actually converse with their target publics. Social media has also bridged the gap between PR and marketing. According to Theaker (2012, p. 430), marketing handles paid media, such as advertising, direct mail and brochures, while PR works mainly with earned media and other non-consumer stakeholders. To differentiate between marketing and PR, Corcoran (2009 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 430) presents buzz, viral and word-of-mouth campaigns as primarily functions of earned media.

In terms of responsibilities, Hutton (2010 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 429) considers all matters related to investor relations, community relations, employee communication, public affairs/government relations, media relations, crisis communications and charitable donations related to PR and not marketing. With social media creating common aims and objectives between the two departments, many experts argue the overlap between marketing and PR has led to integrated marketing communications (IMC) practices.

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On the subject of IMC, Hutton (2010 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 430) argues PR has failed to clarify its definite role in social media marketing and risks being undermined by an organisation’s marketing department. With PR experts all over the world already creating principles and outcomes to differentiate the two fields, it is still critical to understand that technology has created a situation where online issues affect both the communications and marketing departments of an organisation.

In defence of the contribution of PR to social media marketing, Theaker argues:

*…+ PR’s expertise in developing corporative narrative, understanding news and developing credible communications that are not exclusively sales/marketing oriented means that the discipline is best placed to manage owned/created media.

Unlike marketing, the success of PR campaigns will be reflected by how a practitioner utilises strategic management systems to increase the organisation’s reputation or influence.

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2.4 Influence in the World of PR 2.0

While the industry continues to adapt to changing communications models, experts also predict that Web 2.0 has modified the method of targeting and acquiring publics. Anderson (2006 cited in Scott 2010 p. 17) has achieved worldwide recognition for creating The Long Tail theory in which he argues in favour of an economic shift from a mainstream market towards smaller niche products and services.

Even though Anderson attributes this theory to online selling models, Scott (2010, p. 17) applies the concept to marketing and PR as well. By monitoring online consumer behaviour, Scott (2010, p. 17) discovered consumers prefer easily accessible microsites with specific information or messages. Websites containing different messages may appear as clutter to a consumer who favours conciseness and transparency in his or her content.

Both Solis and Breakenridge (2009, p. xx) agree with Scott’s concept of the long tail theory, they argue:

[It is a combination of] the art of personalised mass marketing with the individualisation of distinct, vertical, and smaller markets. This is the socialisation of media, the amplification of word-of-mouth marketing, and the engagement between companies and people *…+
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By narrowing target publics, PR practitioners should expect to receive more prolific feedback from consumers as long as contributors perceive their input has a significant or enduring impact on the organisation. Social media also creates a direct connection for organisations and their audiences, and PR practitioners have the necessary skills, such as editorial, influence and engagement, to maintain those relationships. New media has only demonstrated how crucial PR contributions to an organisation will be in the future.

With PR engagement with consumers becoming more commonplace along with the adoption of new media, Solis (2010, p. xvii) termed the concept of the shift in PR communications as PR 2.0. This new manifestation of PR was not inspired but influenced by Web 2.0, and Breakenridge and Solis (2009, p. 40) argue, ‘New PR is driven by learning, practicing, and sharing, which alleviates and untangles the conflict between traditional, social, and new media as they wrestle with influence challenges.

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With the inclusion of new media as an effective PR tool, practitioners have questioned the exact benefits of the practice in today’s media landscape. Solis and Breakenridge (2009, p. 7) questioned several professionals in the industry, and came up with the following outcomes: PR provides third party endorsements, one of the most credible forms of marketing. PR leads to effective communication, which builds trust and strong relationships with media, bloggers, analysts, influencers, and customers. PR Influences and changes opinion, increases exposure, and builds a positive image and reputation. PR creates presence, enhances brand loyalty, and extends brand resonance. PR elicits response and action. In summary, new media facilitates the process of attaining these benefits through PR efforts by amplifying the reach and exposure of the brand.

PR 2.0 represents an evolution in the manner in which we interact with our stakeholders. Consider the following differences referenced by Breakenridge and Solis (2009, p. 35) between traditional PR and PR 2.0. Instead of relying on media relations, social media and online content allows PR practitioners to actually engage with their publics. PR is about relevance not spin. PR practitioners should not target the ideal audience but instead target the ideal individual. Wire services are a relic of the old PR, and practitioners should rely on building a network through online tools.

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Similar to offline stakeholder mapping, PR practitioners must first identify online communities frequented by an organisation’s desired publics. When it comes to appealing to online users, practitioners need to target significant individuals rather than entire audiences. Through social networks, online users establish connections based on specific content. Each established network has a different culture, so observation is a critical component in understanding and interacting with these publics. By solely relying on direct references to a brand or product, practitioners actually risk reducing the credibility of an organisation as an influencer. Instead, practitioners should post insightful, niche posts that will differentiate an organisation’s brand from others. Once you have reached your desired audience, users will recognise the organisation as providing thoughtful content instead of concentrating on promotions or profits. If handled properly, practitioners can expect to humanise the brand along while also increasing brand loyalty.

Organisations need to adopt social media now more than ever as more online users rely on social networking as a reliable news source. News outlets can now reach the consumer directly through feeds, alerts or streams instead of vice versa. Since most organisations are already online, the modern challenge for PR practitioners is setting a brand apart from the rest in order to gain an individual’s interest. PR practitioners should consider the publics they are trying to attain by incorporating a casual tone unless it does not appeal to a sector’s publics.

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PR practitioners concentrated primarily on top-ranked bloggers or influencers will not yield the most productive results. While still a priority for their opinion leader status along with their audience reach, Solis and Breakenridge (2009, p. 101) argue the “A-list” may do very little for generating new customers or enhancing brand loyalty. As mentioned before, influencers with small number of followers has the potential to create more online buzz. Solis and Breakenridge (2009, p. 101) refer to an ideal outcome of increased peer influence whenever online users start a discussion amongst his or her followers. This group of influencers, referred to as the magic middle, display authentic enthusiasm about a brand, product or service that cannot be replicated by an organisation’s social media team. By reaching out to the magic middle, these individuals act as agents of influence to their peers and have a greater chance of converting their follower’s awareness to interest.

2.5 Modern Communication and PR Theory

Phillips and Young (2009, p. 64) argue the Internet offers a range of communication interactions to publics including one-to-one, many-to-many and many-to-one

communication. Programmes, primarily emails, allow for one-to-one communication. New media also facilitates many-to-many communication, but a new form of communication has emerged proving to be one of the most popular methods of online communications. More and more users are utilising many-to-one communications on a daily basis.

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Unlike one-to-many communications, which is achieved through social networking, manyto-one communications, such as RSS feeds, news feeds or online directories, has proven to be one of the most effective and reliable methods of news distribution for online users. Users now have the option of customising all of their messages, and the inclusion of thirdparty software can even remove most of the clutter received through these channels.

Similar to traditional PR, Earl and Waddington (2012, p. 8) argue brand perception relies on positive media coverage reaffirming a customer’s decision to buy from an organisation. Through these efforts, the intended outcomes would consist of increased brand loyalty or support. The difference, as stated before, is that media relations only represents one component of PR responsibilities, and PR practitioners need to target multiple stakeholders through various media.

PR 2.0 still upholds many of the communication theories created in the 20th century, but Fawkes and Gregory (2000 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 423) argue ‘the multi-dimensional nature of online communications challenges the traditional idea of public relations involving a straightforward distribution of a message to a passive audience (through a compliant mediator)’.

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In reference to online communications, Fawkes and Gregory (2000 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 423) surmised there are three levels that reflect the nature of digital PR: inter-personal, or one-to-one communication, group communication, or interested individuals coming together to accomplish a common aim, and society-wide, as in corporate websites connecting with social networks to deliver a message to a general audience

Along with these levels of online communications, Fawkes and Gregory (2000 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 424) state new media has changed the simple transmission models of sender-message-receiver, as receivers are no longer passive elements in the communications process. Communication models have evolved to the point where one-way communication models usually adopted by PR practitioners, such as press agentry or public information, are no longer considered an effective method of creating awareness.

Grunig and Grunig (2010 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 424) clarified the function in the PR 2.0 realm by stating digital media allows for stronger relationships based on trust and mutual influence between the organisation and the individual. Even after almost a century, this has not changed as an ideal PR model but it has become more prevalent with the advent of Web 2.0.

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According to Grunig and Grunig (2010 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 424), social media emphasises the ‘two way balanced dialogue with publics’. Developing relationships based on the two-way symmetrical model takes time, as one has to engage in actual conversations using open and engaging online techniques. Phillips (2009 cited in Theaker et al. 2012 p. 426) adds that this particular communication model depends entirely on building trust with the receiver, and it is the best method for establishing credibility.

Grunig (2009 cited in Theaker 2012 p. 426) encourages PR practitioners to adopt this proactive approach when collaborating with online publics instead of only utilising the Internet for monitoring conversations about the organisation. Once an organisation adopts a two-way dialogic process, it is important to remember to customise the message or its content for interpersonal, group or society-wide communications.

Social media also has a positive effect on the impact of word-of-mouth campaigns. When it comes to building brand reputation through word-of-mouth, PR practitioners need to develop an organisational structure that allows for sound, quick decisions and a cultural adjustment for each medium chosen. Earl and Waddington (2012, p. 18) argue practitioners should keep in mind that the media cannot be controlled due to the pace of news distribution as well as the sheer scale and scope of the conversations it hosts.

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Word-of-mouth campaigns are the most powerful asset at a PR professional’s disposal especially in the realm of PR 2.0. Editorial influence remains prominent as well, and combining it with a word-of-mouth campaign promises both positive media coverage and prominence in the desired community.

Based on a popular propaganda communications model, Solis and Breakenridge updated Lasswell’s model (1948 cited in Solis et al. 2009 p. 189) to demonstrate the contrast from traditional media to new media. Lasswell’s (1948 cited in Solis et al. 2009 p. 189) model consists of the following five units:      ‘Who’ is the origin of the conversation. ‘Says what’ implies the message being distributed. ‘In which channel’ represents the location where information is found. ‘To whom’ refers to the people in the target market. ‘To what effect’ documents the outcome of the distributed message.

Solis and Breakenridge (2009, p. 190) have now updated Lasswell’s model to represent communication in the digital era:  Who > Says what > In which channel > To whom > To what effect > Then who > Hears what > Who shares what > With what intent > To what effect.

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According to Solis and Breakenridge (2009, p. 190), the updated model demonstrates ‘a cyclical process of listening, discovering, sharing and contributing personal or professional perspective.’ The new ‘who’ refers to a community, ‘hears what’ reflects active users monitoring online activity, ‘who shares what’ refers to influencers appealing to their niche audience and ‘with what intent’ refers to whether or not the message induced the desired effect. PR practitioners should utilise this communications model to monitor the success of a message being distributed online. For example, if a message fails to create buzz within the second ‘who’ portion of the model, improve the content of the message by reviewing what appeals to the target audience. Refer to Figure 2, for a visual aide of Lasswell’s model.

WHO
Origin

SAYS WHAT
Message WHAT INTENT
Impact

IN WHICH CHANNEL Source

TO WHOM
Receiver

TO WHAT EFFECT Outcome

SHARES WHAT
Influencers

HEARS WHAT
Active Users

WHO
Community

Figure 2: Updated Lasswell’s Communication Model

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Now that PR practitioners have seen the effects of social media on influence flows, buying decisions and communication models, the industry itself needs to be redefined. Solis and Breakenridge (2009, p. 31) argue PR 2.0 can be summarised through four basic models: PR through traditional media targeting customers, PR through new influencers targeting customers, PR directly targeting customers and customers responding to PR.

When designing a campaign, ensure to use all four approaches in order to successfully build brand reputation, awareness or loyalty. Traditional media still creates positive media coverage, which complements all online efforts to promote a campaign. New influencers help create online buzz that will lead interested users back to the source: the organisation’s website or social networking page. Upon receiving a response from potential consumers, create a conversation in order to attain brand loyalty. In PR 2.0, the ideal campaign will utilise all four approaches while incorporating all six influence flows through the two-way symmetric model.

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Sheldrake 1996 cited in Earl et al. 2012, p. 188) suggests PR practitioners should utilise the Balanced Scorecard, a strategic performance management tool devised by Kaplan and Norton. In reference to the Balanced Scorecard, Kaplan and Norton (1996 cited in Earl et al. 2012, p. 188) state:

The *…+ balanced scorecard transforms an organisation’s strategic plan from an attractive but passive document into the ‘marching orders for the organisation on a daily basis. The framework *…+ not only provides performance measures, but helps planners identify what should be done and measured.

Sheldrake (2011 cited in Earl et al. 2012 p. 189) customised the Balanced Scorecard into the Influence Scorecard built around ‘setting strategy against the six influence flows around an organisation and a set of checks and balances that demand the setting, scrutiny and reporting of progress against defined targets.’ The Influence Scorecard (2011 cited in Earl et al. 2012 p. 189) contains key performance indicators (KPIs) lacking from organisational structures built around silo departments, and it recognises modern factors, such as new media or disintermediation. By forming an evaluation based on these scorecards, organisations now have a more accurate measurement of influence or reputation outcomes. Along with the unique methods mentioned in organising, implementing and evaluating a campaign in PR 2.0, one now sees the relevance of social media in the industry and how it will continue to affect us in the future.

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Chapter 3: Secondary Research

3.1 Introduction

This chapter discusses media and online coverage of recent trends in social media and digital technology. The findings from this research will test the argument of this study by analysing marketing and PR efforts on Pinterest and Instagram. It will also provide a contemporary assessment of the PR industry and mainstream social networks.

3.2 The Post-Facebook Era

At this point in time, most PR and social media professionals cannot deny that Facebook reigns supreme as the primary form of social networking. Social networks, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, remain prevalent but Facebook’s audience of almost one billion active users trumps the audiences of other networks. Based on previous experience with other online juggernauts, such as Yahoo and MySpace, experts at this point have yet to determine whether Facebook will continue to grow, maintain its current position or begin its decline in popularity.

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After Facebook listed its IPO on the NASDAQ exchange, many analysts were underwhelmed by the major corporation’s performance. In fact, it was an indicator of the social network’s vulnerability in the current economy. By determining Facebook’s approximate position in the average brand lifespan, PR professionals may establish the appropriate online strategy for their brands on all social networks.

If Facebook ever does collapse, PR and digital market practitioners will just follow consumers to the next popular platform. There is little conclusive evidence that Facebook is decreasing in prominence, but speculation from experts predicts niche and mobile social media may eventually overthrow Facebook as the primary form of influencing online publics.

The official Facebook website (“Facebook Key Facts”, 2012) estimates it has about 955 million monthly active users. At this rate, experts predict the social media juggernaut will pass the one billion mark by the end of the year. In comparison to similar social networks, French social media intelligence company Semiocast (“Twitter reaches half a billion accounts”, 2012) deciphered Twitter has more than 500 million users. While the number may seem high, technology news website TechCrunch (Lunden, 2012) reveals Twitter has trouble retaining most users as it only has 170 million active users.

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The LinkedIn press centre page (“About Us”, 2012) states LinkedIn serves more than 175 million professionals, while business website Business Insider (Kovach, 2012) reports Google+ recently passed the 250 million user benchmark. Finally, the Tumblr statistics page (“About”, 2012) reports 70.5 million blogs have been created on the website.

Even though recent behavioural data on Facebook user engagement shows it has increased over the last year, recent data from business analytics website comScore (Lipsman, 2012) reveals there has been some concern that younger audiences are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the social networking service. USA Today, citing market research firm YPulse, (Foley, 2012) recently polled teenager’s social media interests and the results indicated 18 per cent of teens preferred to “check in” on Foursquare rather than Facebook, and 10 per cent preferred Pinterest for browsing content.

Findings from the same article (Foley, 2012) also indicate the next generation of consumers have a waning interest in Facebook’s features. That same research (Foley, 2012) also cites a decrease in annual growth with a slight increase of just five per cent in April in comparison to a massive 89 per cent from last year. The article also contributes the loss of interest to the increase in older users as parents and grandparents become more embroiled with social networking and to this generation’s mobile browsing preferences.

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While teenagers may be flocking to alternative social networks, networks such as Pinterest or Foursquare require Facebook integration in order to access its websites. This function signifies Facebook may have a different role in the near future. Facebook may incorporate the role of social media hub and become a necessity for online users similar to how people use email accounts. If this is the case, then Facebook is nowhere near the declining stage of its lifecycle.

Although Facebook remains popular as a social networking tool, reports find satisfaction levels low amongst younger audiences. The Wall Street Journal, citing market research agency Conquest, (The Anti-Social Network, 2012) found 30 per cent had enough of a bad experience on Facebook that they considered or succeeded in deleting their account. While the main concerns are associated with cyber-bullying, self-esteem issues and depression stemming from unfavourable comparisons to other users, David Penn MD of Conquest (The Anti-Social Network, 2012) attributes the growth of frustration and the inability of users to express themselves more freely through this medium. Niche networking seems to be catered to these youths who believe these mediums fairly represent their online persona more than the broad features of Facebook.

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While some expert’s predictions about Facebook range from a core network connecting various smaller social networks to a major obstacle to growth by attempting to monopolize the market, Eric Jackson, founder of investment firm Ironfire Capital, has a different opinion. According to the Huffington Post article (Gates, 2012), Jackson believes Facebook will slowly rise in obscurity just as its predecessors Yahoo and MySpace.

Jackson (Gates, 2012), citing previous trends of previous online juggernauts, argues “When you look over these three generations [from Web 1.0 to the next generation], no matter how successful you are in one generation, you don’t seem to be to translate that into success in the second generation *…+” He criticises Facebook’s attempt to embrace the mobile platform by acquiring other mobile apps, such as its recent purchase of Instagram for $1 billion, because he believes the public will never see it as a mobile platform. As mobile social networking becomes more prevalent, Facebook may risk losing users due to its primary method of access: its website.

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While Facebook and Twitter may have the most users, new figures indicate niche social networks are increasingly popular with today’s consumers. In order to see the exact impact of each social media platform, social media intelligence agency Ethority, (Buerk, 2012) recently published an infographic containing the top 20 most popular social media platforms in the world. Examples of niche social networks in the top 20 (Buerk, 2012) include: LinkedIn, targeted towards professionals; Badoo, a dating social network; MySpace, rebranded to target musicians and music fans; Pinterest, targeted towards graphic designers and lifestyle advocates; Scribd, can be used to target aspiring or accomplished writers, and TripAdvisor, targeted towards travel aficionados.

There has been one particular niche social network that has caught the eyes of most digital marketers this year. Pinterest is a social network that allows users to create virtual pinboards where they can post any of their visual content online as “pins”. The interface is simple and users just have to browse through all the images, and sometimes videos, posted by their friends and influencers. Pinterest relies on integration with Facebook or Twitter, so a person has the option to post the same visuals to various platforms. If the user enjoys an image he or she encounters online, he or she can just “Pin it” to one of their original, customisable pinboards. Through Pinterest, the user has the option of either liking an image or “repinning” it to one of their pinboards.

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Over the last few months, Pinterest has seen some significant increases in both exposure and activity. According to a PR Week blog article (Clawson, 2012), Pinterest has about 11 million users around the world with 5 million users based in the UK. This is a massive gain considering Pinterest only had 50,000 users in the UK only a year earlier. Marketers have also noticed how effective the platform has been in referring traffic to a personal or brand’s website. This February, digital news website Mashable, citing online content leader Shareaholic, (Fox, 2012) found that Pinterest accounted for 3.6 per cent of referral traffic besting the combined figures of Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Even though niche social networking presents opportunities for several communications and marketing professionals, it is still such a narrow network in comparison to Facebook’s general or LinkedIn’s professional network. While it may seem trivial to focus so much effort on these minor niche networks, these platforms do provide alternative methods of interacting with consumers. In a PR Week interview (Clawson, 2012) with Heather Healy, head of social media at digital agency Sticky eyes, Healy argues, ‘We work with a US-based fashion retailer that also has operations in the UK. In the US, Pinterest is the single largest driver of traffic to the site. In terms of encouraging product sales, Pinterest is more effective than Facebook or Twitter.’

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The problem with Pinterest is that most people have not heard of it yet but most analysts predict the benefits outweigh the risks unless the organisation’s content is not a right fit for Pinterest’s visual medium. Marketers creating campaigns on Pinterest or Instagram are hoping for the same brand loyalty gained by the early adopters of Facebook or Twitter. PR practitioners are still unsure of the publics to target through Pinterest, as it is still a relatively new platform. For example, Fox (2012) points out that most users in the US are adult women, while 56 per cent of users in the UK are male and tend to be younger.

The entire social media industry is seeing drastic changes over the last few months since Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. In order to find success in today’s social media market, a company would need to segment Facebook’s general network and not compete with its massive audience base. For example, users can now discover networks built around nearby neighbours through Nextdoor, around technology junkies through Quora or fitness gurus through Mightybell. According to an Ad Week article (Griffith, 2012), these are somewhat successful social networks for the segmented audiences they target. These startups have to convey a message to users persuading him or her that its niche network offers something you cannot find on Facebook, or else the user will decide to remain in his or her current general network.

Facebook has always been able to maintain its audience’s interests by updating its features based on consumer demand. Lately, Facebook has struggled to incorporate Pinterest and Instagram’s basic interface. When it launched Timeline, a more visual layout, it was met

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with generally negative reviews as it drastically changed the format many users have enjoyed over the years. While Facebook only wanted to create a more visual-based interface, many users felt dissatisfied with the complete overhaul and preferred it’s previous more familiar layout.

While image sharing has always been a vital part of social networking, new technology allows even mundane images, such as a person’s breakfast or trip to the mall, to appear edgy or stylish. Users posting visual content on their pages tend to yield more responses. Since Facebook is built around inciting a response from family and friends, more users have been assuming the role of amateur photographer.

Of course, PR practitioners and marketers are taking notice as they notice more of their brands appearing on Instagram or Pinterest. For example, an online article for Fortune magazine (Akitunde, 2012) cites Red Bull, which has more than 230,000 followers on Instagram and 87,000 user-submitted images tagged #redbull on the app, as one of the most effective companies utilising niche social media.

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In an interview with Red Bull’s digital marketing director for Fortune’s article (Akitunde, 2012), Warner states:

We saw a constant stream of people sharing their own images from our events as well as images pulled from [our] properties, or re-sharing images from Red Bull’s social media accounts. The ongoing growth validates this type of positive connection our fans feel with the brand.

In that same article (Akitunde, 2012), Vanessa Holden, creative director of West Elm, concurs with Warner’s comment by praising Pinterest for adding a visual flair to the conversation and believes all lifestyle brands need to consider these platforms as resourceful alternatives for raising brand awareness online.

In terms of measurement and evaluation, does the amount of photos tagged with a particular brand indicate the success of a campaign? According to Atikunde’s article (2012), those results remain inconclusive but Whole Food recently saw a 337 per cent increase in traffic referral from Pinterest to their website between December and March indicating these networks do have potential as profitable schemes.

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3.3 Effective Pinterest Campaign Efforts

While Pinterest and other niche social networks are fairly new, many brands have already started using these mediums as marketing and PR tools. In fact, these early adopters have already established pretty solid case studies depicting how organisations in the lifestyle, technology or fashion sector should use the network.

In a Mashable article (Wasserman, 2012) covering Pinterest campaigns, the most influential campaigns featured included Kotex, Peugeot, Guess and British Midland International. Kotex recently used Pinterest to promote Women’s Inspiration Day by approaching 50 of the most inspiring women on the network based on their pins by sending them virtual gifts. If the recipient pinned the gift, she would receive an actual gift in the mail based on the item pinned. According to the article (Wasserman, 2012), the campaign had an excellent turnout with 100 per cent of the women repinning not only on Pinterest but also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram totalling 2,200 interactions.

For their Pinterest campaign, Peugeot asked consumers to pin puzzles on their Pinterest board with missing pieces to promote their Panama line that was only available on its official website or on its Facebook page in order to ensure traffic referral between the integrated platforms. Guess implemented a “Colour Me Inspired” campaign in which the brand challenged fans to create boards based on four spring colours.

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On the other hand, British Midland International (BMI) rewarded fans with trips by posting photos from five destinations asking users to repin up to six images. Every week, the company chose a random number with users who repinned the corresponding number qualifying for a chance to win a free return flight to any BMI destination.

Honda also recently used Pinterest to promote their CR-V product line by offering $500 each to the most active Pinterest users if they took a 24-hour break from the social network and set about doing the activities they posted on their pinboards. Invites were sent by mentions and users who accepted would immediately earn the prize money allowing them to set up a #Pintermission board with photos from their 24-hour break. These in turn were repinned by Honda’s official Pinterest page.

In a similar Mashable article (Indvik, 2012) covering other cases of Pinterest campaign, clothing brand Lands’ End Canvas launched a promotion last December entitled “Lands’ End Canvas Pin It to Win It” where fans were asked to pin items from the company’s website onto the designated pinboards for a chance to win a prize. The article (Wasserman, 2012) concludes that lifestyle and fashion brands have more success launching competition-based campaigns on Pinterest, and all brands experienced significant increases in subscriptions and engagement.

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Rhianna Morton from Unique Home Stays tells PR Week (Clawson, 2012) she chose Pinterest as a marketing tool for its visual and viral appeal, since audiences on Pinterest tend to enjoy the lavish imagery produced by Unique Home Stays marketing team. In agreement with Morton’s statement from the PR Week article (Clawson, 2012), Printed.com manager Alex Harrington-Griffin believes Pinterest, at least for a niche community, serves as an excellent outlet for the design community.

Social media experts Shelby McLeod and Noah King both argue social media campaigns should focus on building a reputation as an online influencer rather than just on statistical gains. In a joint email to Mashable (Wasserman, 2012), they state:

The best practice is to think of each pin, each Like, each comment and each follow as a tiny gesture between two people building a relationship. Through many small interactions, a connection is fostered that is based on trust and loyalty. And those are the connections that make a single community member so valuable.

According to a Pauley Creative blog post (Mohamud, 2012), Pinterest allows businesses to upload case studies for consumers, sell products by using boards as catalogues, build brand personality through visuals, engage consumers with competitions, or increase attendance to upcoming events through event galleries.

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3.4 Instagram as a Marketing Tool

Recently, as part of an integrated social media campaign, Sharpie asked all of their followers on Twitter and their blog to post their best Sharpie artwork on Instagram The best artwork would then be posted on the brand’s main website. More marketers are incorporating similar strategies and tactics to promote their brands on Instagram.

Although TechCrunch (Burns, 2012) estimates Instagram has 40 million active users, the fete is impressive considering the network is not website-based and relies entirely on mobile apps. TechCrunch (Burns, 2012) also argues that positive media coverage from the Facebook acquisition and expanding to the Android market has significantly increased the former start-up’s exposure as it reported 10 million new accounts within 10 days of the merger.

Instagram mainly serves as a communications channel for lifestyle brands to demonstrate the best aspects of a brand’s product or service. According to a recent Mashable article (Klamm, 2012), Car manufacturer Ford recently used Instagram to launch their “Fiestagram” campaign, a six-week contest to promote the Ford Fiesta in which users throughout Europe could submit photos and win prizes.

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Ford used hashtags to promote the campaign on both Instagram and Twitter. Each week, Ford announced a new hashtag associated with one of the Fiesta’s high tech features, such as #entry, #music or #hidden. Users submitted their photos on Instagram with the #Fiestagram hashtag and the best photos were featured in real-life galleries and digital billboards. Aside with promoting these photographer’s works, the company gave away weekly prizes to the most striking images with a Ford Fiesta as the last week’s prize.

Ford and similar brands are aware how influential innovations such as Instagram can be to the fashion, style and technology sectors. Considering these sectors include most early adopters, Ford hopes to gain an advantage to competitors by dominating the nextgeneration social media market. The article (Klamm, 2012) reports that users submitted more than 16,000 photos, and about 120,000 users from across Europe joined the Facebook in a six-week timespan due to traffic referral from Instagram.

3.5 PR and Social Media

If there is any indication that social media is only a fad, there is none at the moment. In fact, more companies are relying on social media as a best method of creating two-way communication channels with consumers. In a recent joint report conducted by PR Week and The Group (Magee, 2012) to monitor social media efforts from FTSE companies, the results indicated 81 per cent of companies in the technology, media and telecommunications sector use social media.
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With such a significant number of companies using social media, it testifies to social media significance as a method of corporate reputation management. According to the report (Magee, 2012), other sectors heavily influenced by social media include travel and leisure (70 per cent), retail (64 per cent), banking (60 per cent) and utilities (57 per cent).

In a recent Mashable report, conducted by Allstate Corp. and National Journal (Despite popularity, Americans sceptical of social media, 2012), 64 per cent of online users said they still would like to see more companies use social media for customer service purposes and 59 per cent said corporate use of social media actually makes them seem more accessible and responsive.

Although the discipline and the practice remain the same, new media allows PR practitioners to explore different alternatives to reach target publics that they could not reach with traditional media. With this in mind, new skills in information technology have become almost a necessity for prospects in the industry.

In her PRSay post, Breakenridge (2012) actually argues that PR practitioners need to differentiate from marketers before social media completely bridges the gap between the two departments. With PR practitioners working closer with digital marketing professionals than ever, the principle of integrated marketing communications seems to have become more prominent in the current economy.

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Professionals in both industries should work towards integrated strategic communications instead of marketing. With that said, another report from the PRSA PRSay blog (“Beyond Integrated Marcomm”, 2012) reports businesses should begin to see the significance of a PR department in contrast to other marketing efforts as PR practitioners engage with publics, create awareness of an organisation and still manage to monitor trends or potential crises.

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Chapter 4: Methodology

4.1 Introduction

This chapter identifies the research methods utilised to discover the cultural significance of social media to the PR industry and the next generation of consumers. The topics discussed in this chapter include the process, selection, collection, ethical implications and limitations of all primary and secondary research data.

4.2 Secondary Data Research

In order to properly analyse Pinterest and Instagram, the niche social networks chosen for this study, secondary data from news articles and market research reports would need to be collected in order to properly assess the cultural impact of these networks. This analysis argues the current form of social networking, mainly website-based networking, will cease to be a lucrative form of influence in the near future. Due to this argument, organisations need to focus some of its social media efforts on niche-specific mobile social networks in order to attract early adopters and online opinion leaders.

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In terms of relevance to the PR industry, the strategies and outcomes from successful Pinterest and Instagram campaigns were discussed in order to reveal the advantages of these niche social networks. Finally, interviews from analysts, social media experts and journalists were gathered to depict not only the future of the industry but also of the next stage in online communications.

4.3 Semi-Structured Electronic Questionnaires

Even with the data collected from secondary research, it would not be sufficient evidence for the argument posted in this analysis. In order to increase the amount of responses from social media experts, structured electronic questionnaires were developed in order to gain a separate opinion on the validity of this study’s argument. In accordance with Peterson (2000 cited in Knight et al. 2010 p. 123), questionnaires would ‘provide both reliable and valid information at a reasonable cost,’ which was ideal for this research situation. In this instance, almost the entire questionnaire consisted of open questions. Based on Guthrie’s work (2010, p. 130), open questions were selected for being ‘high on validity because they get comprehensive answers in respondents’ own words, but are lower on reliability because interviewers might get different answers.’ While the responses did vary, they were similar enough to allow for a conclusion of this analysis.

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The specific population for this particular questionnaire was directed towards any social media expert or professional. In this instance, full-time professionals in either marketing or PR were asked to respond. Throughout the research timespan, four PR professionals in the UK, two PR professionals in the US and four marketing professionals in the US were contacted. Overall, two questionnaires were collected from marketing professionals in the US.

4.4 Qualitative Data Analysis

All structured questionnaires were sent and received by email. All individuals received similar questionnaires allowing for a more effective analysis of each piece based on comparisons to other questionnaires and the research question of this study. In terms of overall analysis, each respondent would be classified by their sector and experience. Also, their experience developing campaigns for niche social networks would be a contributing factor. Even though most questions were opened, the options for each question were limited to whether they agreed or disagreed with the concept posted in each question. Besides individual response analysis, the overall questionnaire was analysed in search of recurring themes or ideas.

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4.5 Online Questionnaires

Three questionnaires were developed for this analysis, which include a market research questionnaire, a marketing and PR digital campaign questionnaire and a Facebook satisfaction questionnaire. All three surveys were developed and hosted by

surveymonkey.com, which allowed for easy access, international reach and quick response rates. The market research and Facebook satisfaction questionnaire was aimed at a broad demographic. The only exclusions to the sample included those who are not active Internet users and minors. The industry-specific sample was aimed at PR and marketing professionals or students, but those who had not worked on a social media campaign were not excluded.

Responses were collected through various channels, including social media, email, web address links, and professional or community forums. The market research and digital campaign questionnaires were distributed separately, while the Facebook satisfaction questionnaire was attached as an option at the end of the market research questionnaire. On Facebook, an event was created inviting all users to both participate and share the web link for the market research questionnaire to others in their networks. On Twitter, there were daily postings of the market research questionnaire.

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In addition to promoting the market research questionnaire, assistance from major marketing and PR influencers was also used to promote the digital campaign questionnaire. This approach also worked by using industry-specific hashtags for PR professionals. There was a snowball effect after influencers retweeted the questionnaire. For example, retweets from CIPR North East and the VP of the PRSSA contributed to an increase in response rates.

Distribution for the market research questionnaire was successful due to postings on the popular online forum Reddit. The first post on the forum generated almost half of the responses. When there was a significant imbalance between genders, a second post on Reddit targeted towards male online users generated enough hits to exclude gender bias. For the digital campaign questionnaire, posts were created for several popular PR forums on LinkedIn including the PRSA, Help a PR Professional and CIPR forums.

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4.6 Piloting

A pilot test was utilised for the market research questionnaire. The factors of concern were the length of the questionnaire, the consistency of the topic, the relevance of the questions, the sequence of questions and the construction of questions. According to Knight and Ruddock (2008 p. 125), pilot testing process consists of ‘firstly piloting the questions and then the questionnaire’, but in this instance ‘it is more likely to be carried out in a single stage for most small to medium-sized studies.’ The pilot questionnaire was sent to a friend in the marketing industry, a friend in the PR industry and a friend in an unrelated industry. Afterwards, the feedback was positive with only a few grammatical corrections and sequence reviews.

4.7 Design

All three questionnaires adopted a similar style as they consisted only of multiple choice and scaling questions. The Likert scale was heavily utilised in all three questionnaires. Knight and Ruddock (2008) encourage the usage of the Likert scale as it allows respondents to provide more balanced responses rather than provide overwhelmingly positive or negative ones. For this particular analysis, the options range from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘neither agree nor disagree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.

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Although not employed for the digital campaign questionnaire, a 10-point continuous rating scale was implemented for the market research and Facebook satisfaction questionnaire. This was utilised to more accurately pinpoint user’s attitudes towards particular social networks. Many of the questions on all three questionnaires include the ‘other’ category. Guthrie (2010) argues the ‘other’ category allows for fixed choice response scales to have an increased validity to its claims.

4.8 Quantitative Data Analysis

To analyse the results of all three questionnaires, surveymonkey.com was utilised to gather and determine the outcomes of each response. The results from the market research and Facebook satisfaction questionnaire will determine whether consumers prefer niche social networking and it will determine how valuable these networks can be for PR professionals. The results from the digital campaign questionnaire will determine how vital social media, especially niche social networking, is to a particular industry or sector.

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4.9 Ethics

Each questionnaire disclosed the purpose of the research. Participants were aware the questionnaire was for academic purposes only. While the questionnaires for quantitative research guaranteed anonymity in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, the electronic questionnaires asked participants to disclose their name and profession. Their admission to list their name and profession was voluntary as disclosed in the questionnaire agreement. Along with the participants in the electronic questionnaire, all respondents from the quantitative questionnaires were made aware their participation was voluntary. All questions were in accordance with British laws and university guidelines.

4.10 Limitations

Besides the market research questionnaire, the rest of the questionnaires gathered insufficient responses. The market research questionnaire did well as it was not limited by demographic specifications. In hindsight, there should have been more promotions for the Facebook satisfaction questionnaire as a separate entity rather than an optional questionnaire for respondents filling out the market research one. The digital campaign questionnaire needed a much longer timespan as the specifications of the survey only gathered a couple hits every day. This applies to the electronic questionnaire as there was not sufficient time to find other experts. Ideally, the questionnaires could have been replaced with actual interviews.
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Chapter 5: Qualitative Research Results and Analysis

5.1 Introduction

This chapter provides the findings and analysis of the qualitative research of this study. The following data was acquired through semi-structured electronic questionnaires sent via email. Based on the responses provided by Nancy Lim, performance strategist for marketing agency 22squared, and Oscar J. Garza III, senior acquisitions manager for entertainment software company Electronic Arts, enough data was accumulated to form three general topics.

5.2 Influencing Publics

Both experts agreed social media is a crucial component of building awareness or managing corporate reputation for all businesses, especially for small-to-medium sized organisations. They also agreed most companies are not utilising social media to its full potential due to ineffective social media strategies and tactics. Lim argues companies need to humanise their business in order to influence online consumers.

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While she believes larger corporations do not allow for the humanisation of a brand due to strict social media guidelines, she considers developing a casual or conversational tone essential for smaller organisations. Garza agrees, and he credits social media’s greatest value comes from allowing publics to engage with the organisation.

In response to building mutually beneficial relationships, both participants agreed establishing two-way symmetrical communications with consumers is an important aspect of social media campaigns. According to Lim, two-way conversations allow organisations to thrive because it is the entire basis of social media. She goes on to say:

[Social media] is a place for a brand to get to know their audience and their audience to get to know the brand *…+ In the past, marketers use*d+ direct/one-way communications to reach their consumer – but social is allowing brands to create a more meaningful experience than a postcard in the mail or an email.

While Garza does not think maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with online opinion leaders and influencers can be done without the proper measurements in place, Lim does regard it as an important aspect of building an online audience. She credits these websites or pages as places where users can gather and thrive as an online community.

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In terms of the focus of social media marketing campaigns, Garza and Lim both agree practitioners need to envision the ideal individual rather than the target audience. Garza argues targeting the individual has always been the priority but social media has amplified the scale. Lim has a similar response arguing social media allows individuals to increase brand reputation or awareness through word-of-mouth marketing. She credits social media for creating an online environment that makes such a marketing campaign possible.

5.3 Marketing and PR

On the subject of integrated marketing communications, both experts felt social media was blurring the divisions between marketing and PR. Although they agree with the concept, Lim and Garza argue each department still retains distinct responsibilities in social media matters. In terms of social media responsibilities, Lim feels PR should manage crises but allow marketing to handle brand messaging and communications. She also argues PR and marketing need to collaborate in order to establish the right message and approach to reach stakeholders.

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On the other hand, Garza feels strongly that PR and marketing have the same objectives. He considers all disciplines need to work together because they all somewhat overlap. Garza argues PR should be concerned with other departments when it comes to matters related to media and reputation. He concludes that PR, along with the rest of organisation, are primarily concerned with increasing profits, increasing customer satisfaction, increasing corporate reputation and finding cost-effective solutions.

5.4 Next Generation Social Media

When asked how often these experts utilise Pinterest, Lim wrote she used it very often while Garza does not use it all. However, Garza believes Electronic Arts would benefit from incorporating a Pinterest page. Lim uses Pinterest as a niche social network to target publics interested in crafts, home improvement, cooking and fashion. On the strengths of Pinterest, Lim argues, ‘It definitely should not be ignored. Like any other network, it should be evaluated to see if its purpose aligns with the company’s goals and will help achieve them. Its strength is in the consumer created content and virality of content.’ Garza elaborates on the strengths and credits the user interface, mobile capabilities and engagement capabilities. He argues marketers need to follow consumers to popular platforms, in this case Pinterest, but they should not expect it to ever become nothing more than a niche social network for specific publics.

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According to both experts, Facebook will remain the predominate form of social networking. On the relevance of Facebook in the near future, Lim predicts:

I don’t think Facebook is going away anytime soon. This generation is a very narcissistic generation who likes to talk about themselves and share content with people for more attention. It’s created an opportunity for networks like Twitter and Pinterest but will continue to be the Hub where everyone goes to catch up on the latest with their friends and favourite brands.

Similar to one of the predictions stated in the secondary data, Facebook will eventually serve more as a basic online profile with niche social networks serving as outlets for communities with similar interests. Garza adds that Facebook and Twitter are nowhere near a declining phase but he does believe networks with mobile capabilities are more likely to strive in the near future. Lim does not believe the future is exactly mobile. Instead, she argues the next generation of social media has yet to be discovered and will come as a surprise to everyone.

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Chapter 6: Quantitative Research Results and Analysis

6.1 Introduction

This chapter provides the findings for all three questionnaires developed for this study. The findings included in this chapter only disclose relevant data pertaining to the hypothesis of the study. Exact data and figures can be found in the appendix.

6.2 Market Research Sample Description

According to survey host surveymonkey.com, 365 respondents took this questionnaire but only 297 actually finished it. There are three screening questions for this questionnaire that narrows down the population to Facebook users, Pinterest users and Instagram users. In terms of gender, 202 (55.3 per cent) of respondents were male while 163 (44.7 per cent) were female. The majority of respondents were young with 265 (72.6 per cent) identifying between the ages of 18 and 25. Most of the respondents currently reside in the United States of America with 234 (64.1 per cent) of the respondents selecting that category. Finally, about half of the sample was students with 185 (50.7 per cent) of respondents selecting that category.

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6.3 Facebook Market Research Behavioural Analysis

Nearly the majority, or 86.3 per cent, of respondents claimed they had a Facebook account. In a typical week, more than half of the respondents (57.7 per cent) stated they either log in very or extremely often. The results clarify Facebook can no longer be considered a fad, but has become a critical component of online browsing. The results also show the majority of users (27.8 per cent) have 151 to 300 friends. At the extremes, 6.3 per cent have below 50 friends and 4.8 per cent have more than 1,000 friends.

The majority of respondents claimed the following as the most functional features of Facebook: messaging friends or family (86.5 per cent), sharing images and videos (63.8 per cent), receiving or sharing news (62.8 per cent) and organising events (48.1 per cent). On the opposite spectrum, the following features were stated as the most neglected: virtual gaming (86.3 per cent), professional networking (84.6 per cent), niche networking (80.8 per cent) and location sharing (77.4 per cent). Based on these results, certain niche networks have managed to fill the gap in the market left void by Facebook. For example, users prefer LinkedIn for professional networking and Foursquare for location sharing.

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6.4 Facebook Market Research Brand Engagement Analysis

Out of 264 respondents, more than half (56.4 per cent) claimed they follow brands or organisations on Facebook. However, the results also indicate about half of the respondents (50.9 per cent) almost never interact with brand pages and 30.9 per cent stated they interact with brands slightly often. While user interaction is low, brand pages are still a critical part of influencing online publics. This analysis will suggest the most effective methods of raising brand awareness and brand loyalty on Facebook.

Most organisations have created a brand page in response to the popularity of social networking, but many have struggled to create awareness of its social media efforts. When asked how they usually hear about brand pages, 161 respondents chose these as the most popular categories: friend activity (63.6 per cent), website referral (60.4 per cent), online articles (38.8 per cent) and blog posts (32.9 per cent). The following were listed as the least popular methods: Facebook advertising (66.9 per cent), print article or advertisement (62.9 per cent), referral from other social networking pages (64.7 per cent) and viral video or online advertisement (52.6 per cent). Respondents also suggested search engine results, competitions and discount offers as incentives for liking a brand page. The pattern suggested by these results indicates paid media no longer interests the online consumer, and users are more likely to like a brand through peer influence. For more information on the results, refer to Figure 3.

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Figure 3: Effective Methods of Raising Facebook Brand Page Awareness

While gaining followers on a brand page enhances online visibility, building and maintaining relationships with the community is the most effective method of creating brand loyalty. According to 161 respondents, users prefer informative updates (85.7 per cent), individual feedback (76.6 per cent), news distribution (58.1 per cent) and image or video sharing (49.7 per cent) the most. For this question, respondents who follow brand pages felt mostly indifferent to other forms of brand updates rather than negatively.

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The results suggest the best strategy for building an online community is to maintain a channel of two-way communications, while keeping interested users informed about the organisation and its operations. For more information on the results, refer to Figure 4.

Figure 4: Effective Methods of Promoting Facebook Brand Page Engagement

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6.5 Facebook Satisfaction Sample Description

In total, 46 respondents took and completed this questionnaire with 24, or 52.2 per cent, of the population identifying as female. The majority of respondents identified as 18 to 25 years old (67.4 per cent) and resided in the United States of America (65.2 per cent). The same goes for the employment status with 65.2 per cent of respondents identifying as students. As the research was meant to analyse Facebook user satisfaction users, two users who do not have an account were screened from the rest of the questionnaire.

6.6 Facebook Satisfaction Behavioural Analysis

Most users who participated in this questionnaire claimed they spent an average of one to two hours a day on Facebook (40.9 per cent) meaning they are considerably active on the social network. Utilising a 10-point continuous rating scale, most users (22.7 per cent) scored the new Timeline feature as a 7 but the rating average of the scale (4.8) suggests most users still have mixed feelings about it. Many of the respondents felt Facebook was too invasive and had privacy concerns (29.5 per cent) while others felt the social network lacked innovation (29.5 per cent). One respondent posted that Facebook was better when it only targeted college students, while others posted they believe Facebook encourages narcissistic behaviour.

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Although many of the respondents were unhappy with certain aspects of Facebook’s services, 63.6 per cent stated they were either unlikely or very unlikely to terminate their account. Most users rated Facebook’s services at 6 suggesting only about half of the sample population actually enjoy their experience. In comparison to other social networks, most of the respondents do not use Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr or Google+. Twitter had the second highest rating average of 3.63 followed by Google+ at 2.63. The results suggest many people are unhappy with Facebook’s services and cultural impact, but it will remain the primary method of social networking for now. For more information on the results, refer to Figure 5.

Figure 5: Average Social Media Satisfaction Rating

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6.7 Pinterest Market Research Behavioural Analysis

Out of a population of 304 respondents, 27.6 per cent claim they use Pinterest. After the screening, 89 respondents stated they either almost never use Pinterest (33. 7 per cent) or only slightly often (30.3 per cent). For more information on the results, refer to Figure 6. As for their networks, most respondents stated they have 50 or less friends on Pinterest. According to the results, the average respondent primarily uses Pinterest to browse for food and drink recipes (74.4 per cent), home improvement or ‘do-it-yourself’ projects (72.1 per cent), arts and craft projects (68.6 per cent) and fashion and style images (58.4 per cent). Respondents also posted graphic design work, bookmarking service, viral content hub and fitness projects as reasons to use Pinterest.

Figure 6: Frequency of Pinterest Usage
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Similar to Facebook brand page awareness, most users discovered Pinterest through friend referrals (47.6 per cent), friend activity (19.5 per cent) or website referrals (11 per cent). The survey suggests only a few users actually repin images onto other social networks or follow referrals to other websites or Facebook pages. Similar to Facebook, most users scored Pinterest at 6 out of 10 with a rating average of 6.73. When asked why they liked Pinterest, most users felt indifferent to the network except for crediting its visual appeal (80 per cent) and simple interface (73.8 per cent).

6.8 Instagram Market Research Behavioural Analysis

As for Instagram, only 16.8 per cent of 297 respondents claimed they used it. Similar to Pinterest, the majority stated users only slightly often (34 per cent) or not at all often (38 per cent) use it. The vast majority, 78 per cent, also stated they have 50 or less friends in their Instagram network. Very few respondents admitted to engaging with brands or organisations on Instagram and only a few stated they post images on their Facebook and Twitter pages. In terms of satisfaction, Instagram scored a 5 with a rating average of 6.65. For more information on the results, refer to Figure 7. Most of the respondents felt indifferent to Instagram’s features or benefits, but they did credit its visual appeal (67.8 per cent) and simple interface (72.9 per cent). Because of its visual content, Pinterest and Instagram share very similar networks and yielded similar results.

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Figure 7: Instagram Satisfaction Scores

6.9 Marketing and PR Digital Campaign Sample Description

According to the results of this questionnaire, only 13 of the 34 respondents actually completed the questionnaire. This questionnaire only applied to individuals with social media campaign experience preferably marketing or PR professionals. According to the results, the majority of respondents were female and under the age of 25. Out of the 33 respondents, most of the respondents were students, full-time marketing professionals or full-time PR professionals. When asked about their specific profession, most respondents identified as either interns or social media practioners.

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6.10 Marketing and PR Digital Campaign Analysis

Out of 23 respondents, most claimed they have either contributed or developed a social media campaign. All respondents claimed they have included Facebook as a major tool in their last social media campaign, most of them stated Twitter and blogs as well. In terms of Pinterest, 10 per cent stated they used it as major tool, 20 per cent said they used it as a minor tool and 70 per cent said they never used it. As for Instagram, 30 per cent said they used it as a minor tool while 70 per cent never used it for a social media campaign. Most of the marketing and PR practitioners showed interest in using Pinterest and Instagram in their next social media campaign. They cited niche publics, brand humanisation, online portfolios and traffic referrals as some of the main reasons to promote through Pinterest and Instagram.

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Chapter 7: Conclusion

Although Facebook’s should remain the primary form of online influence, this analysis reveals niche social media does have potential as a PR tool for influencing online publics as well. While some experts disagree, the bulk of the qualitative and quantitative research suggests Facebook will remain the primary platform for social networking. Expert predictions and consumer behaviour do indicate niche social networking has the potential for growth but it will grow along with Facebook. Facebook now serves as the centre for online communications, and it appears these niche networks will revolve around it. PR practitioners should continue to use Facebook as a channel to exert influence, but they also need to create two-way communication channels from Facebook to all relevant niche networks in order to effectively reach the next generation consumer.

The literature review for this study revealed the exact impact of social media on the PR industry. Due to the direct connection from the consumer to the organisation established by social media, consumer relations have never been more important. With the emergence of new media, PR has incorporated more responsibilities including reputation management and strategic communications. The modern consumer, along with all other stakeholders, seeks a mutually-beneficial relationship with the organisation, and PR practitioners need to strive to build and maintain those relationships. Social media allows PR practitioners to not only influence stakeholders, but to monitor how competitors are influencing its publics and even discover new tools of influence.

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The secondary research envisions the state of social media in the near future and its impact on the PR industry. This year saw the increased demand of niche networks, such as Pinterest and Instagram, while Facebook struggled to remain innovative due to external and internal factors. Through cases studies, this study suggests how beneficial niche networking can be for PR practitioners. Facebook may have almost one billion users, but users are too preoccupied connecting on a more intimate level to engage with strangers and brands. Niche networking represents a community that shares common interests or attitudes allowing PR practitioners direct access to target audiences.

This study also included contributions from two accomplished marketing professionals. Although they have no experience in PR, these experts agree with modern PR principles and practices. In Web 2.0, marketing and PR may have different outcomes but they both strive to create the best message for the ideal consumer. Through their contributions, it became clear Facebook would remain a crucial component of social networking in the near future. This allowed for one of many conclusions that Facebook will most likely serve as a central hub for niche networks.

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The quantitative research for this project provided a successful profile of the modern online consumer. It also suggested a connection between unfavourable Facebook features and popular niche social networks. More importantly, it revealed the significance of peer influence. The results suggest users are not influenced by the brand but by their peers. Promoting a brand through traditional marketing, advertising or media relations efforts will not increase an organisation’s standing in the social media market. The best possible strategy is to engage with online opinion leaders who have considerable influence on a large or small number of followers. It may not even be direct influence, as in an online article or blog post, as suggested by the results of this questionnaire. Most Facebook users liked a brand page solely because one of their friends liked it. This supports the research arguing that a network consisting of two-way communication channels between an organisation and several influencers is the best approach to influence online publics.

The research also revealed active Internet users continue to access Facebook even though about half of them are unhappy with its services. This suggests users no longer view Facebook as a form of entertainment rather it has become a routine activity of online browsing. Data collected from the industry-specific and market research questionnaire indicates marketing and PR practitioners are already establishing networks through niche media even though Pinterest and Instagram have only attracted a limited audience.

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Throughout the study, the most concerning limitation was the scope of the analysis and should have been more specific in order to produce more effective results. For the quantitative data, larger sample populations would have been desirable. The same goes for the qualitative data especially in-depth interviews on the subject of next generation social media would have created more valid and sound evidence.

While this analysis only focused on the relationship between niche social media and the PR industry, further research could be arranged for many valid points discovered throughout the research process. In regards to niche social networking, it would be interesting to further investigate PR campaigns relying on those mediums. For this topic, content analysis or case studies on Pinterest or Instagram campaigns would reveal the positive outcomes of reaching out to niche publics. This would also reveal which sectors should rely on visualbased media. Also, focus groups, interviews and questionnaires could be utilised to further explore how organisations rely on opinion leader influence to manage brand awareness or reputation.

The overall findings of this analysis recommend PR practitioners utilise both mainstream social networks along with niche social networks. The findings also suggested the platform is not the priority, but the priority is to reach out to influential online users. The best approach for PR practitioners is to utilise Facebook along with niche networks but only when it is relevant to target audiences. This will not only increase the visibility of the brand, but it extends the reach and the impact of the campaign.

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However, to succeed in Web 2.0, it is necessary to monitor the channels of influence from opinion leaders who support your brand to the competitors and the influencers they are targeting. As technological advances continue to improve relationships between stakeholders and organisations, PR practitioners can anticipate a positive outlook for the industry as the world ventures into the next dynamic shift in communications.

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Appendices
Oscar Garza Electronic Questionnaire
Thank you for taking the time to complete this semi-structured electronic questionnaire. I am a Master's student at Newcastle University conducting research on the effects of social networking on the public relations industry. This is for academic purposes only, and I would like to remind all contributors that all responses will be disclosed to the universities’ media and cultural arts department. By request, I will send the methodologies portion of my dissertation for approval once it is complete.

If you are unable to contribute to this questionnaire, I would appreciate it if you could send this questionnaire to a colleague instead. Please send all responses to

r.gonzalez@ncl.ac.uk.

1. Please state your name and occupation.
Oscar J Garza III. Senior Acquisition Manager for Electronic Arts

2. How significant would you say social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, are for small-to-medium-sized businesses in today’s media landscape? _X_Extremely significant __Very significant __Moderately significant __Slightly significant __Not at all significant

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2. Do you think most organisations or companies are effectively using social media? Most? No. Although some companies are creating experiences that pivot on Social’s primary value proposition: engagement.

3. Do you think that most organisations or companies are not properly utilising the two-way symmetrical model of communications? I agree that most organizations are not properly utilising a the two-way symmetrical model of communications. The organisations that are able to establish a conversation and keep users engaged prevail.

4. Marketing and PR have different objectives but social media has blurred the division between departments. What responsibilities should marketing or PR practitioners undertake when it comes to social media marketing? I disagree that Marketing and PR have different objectives. Marketing divisions should be categorize by the audience that discipline interacts with. Examples: Acquisitions – Not-current Customers, PR – Media, Customer Relation Manement – Current Customers, Sales – Vendors, etc. There is considerable overlap between disciplines. Acquisition is interested in measuring what CRM can drive in virality from current customers. PR is concerned where CRM messaging effects media and perception, etc. All are concerned with increasing profit, high customer satisfaction, positive brand sentiment, and low costs.

5. How important is it to reach out to influential blogs or social networking pages? What would you suggest for influencing online publics? Impossible to say without measurement in place. Does that influential blog overlap with your target market or audience (easiest way is to use ComScore or other 3rd party web analytics product)? Do the visitors of that blog already consume your content elsewhere? Is the influential impact of that blog positive within your audience?

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7. How often have you used Pinterest in a social media campaign? __Extremely often __Very often __Moderately often __Slightly often _X_Not at all often

8. Do you think Pinterest is relevant to your particular sector or target audience? I believe it is. It is not core to my job responsibilities, however.

9. What do you think are the strengths or weaknesses of Pinterest in contrast to Facebook or Twitter? Should marketing or PR practitioners ignore it or do you think it should be integrated with the other two networks? Pros for Pinterest: Interesting UI, good mobile product, engaged users. Cons: Scale, ability for a brand to spend money. Pinterest will remain a steady 5th or 6th place social media outlet until they are able to scale up their user base to rival that of Twitter of Facebook, to do that brands need to be able to spend money to increase their engagements ala Sponsored Stories or Promoted Tweets. That said, marketers should be where the conversations are happening regardless of platform.

10. Facebook may have almost 1 billion active users, but do you think the negative response to the IPO or Timeline feature suggests users are increasingly dissatisfied with the social network’s services? They can always ask for their money back.

11. Do you believe the next popular social network already exists or do you think we have yet to find the next stage in online communications?

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Facebook and Twitter will never go away. Other social networks will rise and fall and the ones that master mobile will be positioned better until Goggles or some other interaction medium comes along.

12. In Web 2.0, many experts suggest we have to target the individual and not the audience. Do you agree with that statement? Please state the basis for your conclusion. Consumer first, regardless of channel. Acquisition marketing is able to serve hyper targeted messaging based on data. Email has been doing it for years. Social has the ability to communicate with individuals at scale and it’s not a matter of moving in that direction it is fact.

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Nancy Lim Electronic Questionnaire
Thank you for taking the time to complete this semi-structured electronic questionnaire. I am a Master's student at Newcastle University conducting research on the effects of social networking on the public relations industry. This is for academic purposes only, and I would like to remind all contributors that all responses will be disclosed to the universities’ media and cultural arts department. By request, I will send the methodologies portion of my dissertation for approval once it is complete.

If you are unable to contribute to this questionnaire, I would appreciate it if you could send this questionnaire to a colleague instead. Please send all responses to

r.gonzalez@ncl.ac.uk.

1. Please state your name and occupation. Nancy Lim, Performance Strategist

2. How significant would you say social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, are for small-to-medium-sized businesses in today’s media landscape? X Extremely significant __Very significant __Moderately significant __Slightly significant __Not at all significant

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3. Many companies and organisations are struggling to engage with their online audiences. What critiques or suggestions can you give to businesses with novice social media experience? The majority of the time, the obstacle is ―What should I post?‖. Humanize your business through social media. Consumers like to feel like they are talking to a person, not a robot. Unless you are a large corporation, a conversational tone is best. Larger corporations will typically have stricter guidelines for social media and not allow for a casual/conversational tone.

4. Many companies fail to utilise a two-way symmetrical model of communications when engaging with online users. Why would you stress this form of communication rather than relying on press agentry, public information or two-way asymmetrical models? Social media is where consumers come to play. They are there interacting with their friends and family in a very intimate setting- sharing photos of family, talking about life updates. A brand should invite 2-way conversations because that is how social media thrives. It is not a place for brands to heavily sell and promote themselves, it’s a place for a brand to get to know their audience and for their audience to get to know the brand. It is important for brands to build relationships with their consumers through social media. In the past, marketers use direct/one-way communications to reach their consumer—but social is allowing brands to create a more meaningful experience than a postcard in the mail or an email.

5. Marketing and PR have different desired outcomes but social media has blurred the division between departments. What responsibilities should marketing or PR practitioners undertake when it comes to social media marketing? With social media being so new, the line will continue to be blurry, especially in smaller organizations. Larger organizations have siloes where PR and social can be separate. But in smaller organizations, there usually isn’t a large enough headcount to separate them. Regardless of size, both PR and marketing must agree on the messaging and how to handle crisis. Crisis management should be left to PR, where brand messaging and communications should stay within marketing.

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6. How important is it to reach out to influential blogs or social networking pages? What would you suggest for influencing online audiences? It is very important to stay engaged in their online community through blogs and social networking, it is how the community thrives and grows. When influencing audiences, it is vital to stay authentic and human. Messaging shouldn’t be structured or automated. Keep it real.

7. How often have you used Pinterest in a social media campaign? __Extremely often X Very often __Moderately often __Slightly often __Not at all often

8. Do you think Pinterest is relevant to your particular sector or target audience? It is. While it is a new network that has gained a lot of popularity, it is a niche network that has a specific audience. It is popular those with interests in crafts, home improvement, food/cooking/baking and fashion.

9. What do you think are the strengths or weaknesses of Pinterest in contrast to Facebook or Twitter? Should marketing or PR practitioners ignore it or do you think it should be integrated with the other two networks? It definitely should not be ignored. Like any other network, it should be evaluated to see if it’s purpose aligns with the company’s goals and will help achieve them. It’s strength is in the consumer created content and virality of content.

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10. Facebook may have almost 1 billion active users, but do you think the negative response to the IPO or Timeline feature suggests users are increasingly dissatisfied with the social network’s services? If so, how will that affect Facebook’s position on its life cycle? I don’t think Facebook is going away anytime soon. This generation is a very narcissistic generation who likes to talk about themselves and share content with people for more attention. It’s created an opportunity for other networks like Twitter and Pinterest but will continue to be the Hub where everyone goes to catch up on the latest with their friends and favourite brands.

11. Do you believe the next popular social network already exists or do you think we have yet to find the next stage in online communications? As we’ve seen in the past, communications in general will continue to evolve and no one can predict what it will look like in the next 5, 10 or 15 years. The next popular thing may not even be a social network, no one knows. The next popular thing will come out of no where.

12. In Web 2.0, many experts suggest we have to target the individual and not the audience. Do you agree with that statement? Please state the basis for your conclusion. Yes. We have to target the individual AS A PART of the audience. Social media has enhanced something called ―Word of Mouth‖ marketing, which revolves around individuals telling other individuals about something. These ―other individuals‖ are who make up the audience as a whole. You target one, and their friends are sure to follow. Instead of targeting an audience, you create an audience with social media.

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Market Research Questionnaire Results

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Facebook Satisfaction Questionnaire Results

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Marketing and PR Digital Campaign Questionnaire Results

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