Matthew J. Kushin, Shepherd University
Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing
Author: Carolyn Mae Kim, Ph.D., APR, Associate Professor, Biola University
London, Routledge, 2017. 194 pages.
Suggested Retail: $72.70; Amazon: $33.12
The recent publication of the 2017 Commission on Public Relations Education report emphasized the importance of social media management skills among entry-level practitioners, while noting a gap between the skills entry-level practitioners should have and do have (O’Neil, Moreno, Rawlins, & Valentini, 2018). The rise of social media as a central component of many public relations efforts today necessitates that public relations students are taught the professional and strategic implementation of social media. While dedicated courses in social media exist, educators are also integrating social media into other classes, such as public relations principles, case studies, and campaigns courses. Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing is designed to educate readers about how to plan, organize, and execute a social media campaign. The text combines key terms, interviews with experts in the field, and case study examples, while teaching the reader how to apply knowledge gained within a campaign model. With an emphasis towards public relations and marketing applications, the text is well-suited for a university class setting, but it is also written with practitioners in mind.
The book is organized into five sections. First, Kim discusses social influence. The remaining four sections are organized around the four stages of a social media campaign: listening, strategic design, implementation and monitoring, and evaluation. Each chapter begins with a brief sentence that summarizes the main thrust of the chapter. Visuals and tables are used throughout, helping the reader identify important takeaways and see examples of social media posts. Within each chapter, Kim offers the reader a question-and-answer interview with an expert from academia or the field. At the end of each chapter, the reader will find a bulleted summary of key concepts, a list of suggested readings, and a list of references. The writing is clear and succinct, providing the reader valuable information while remaining approachable to a student population who is reading less and less (Hoeft, 2012).
Throughout the book, Kim emphasizes that a social mindset must permeate the culture and decision-making process of an organization in order to find success in the social media era. Kim’s approach is grounded in the bi-directional public relations model, urging readers to move beyond using social media simply as a uni-directional promotional tool. Instead, Kim advocates the two-way symmetrical model of public relations and emphasizes that social media practitioners should build and maintain understanding between the organization and its publics (Grunig & Hunt, 1984).
Chapter 1 places emphasis on the organization being a social organization, stating that such organizations “recognize social interaction as a core approach to business rather than social media as a tool to accomplish business, and thus experience the power of authentic relationships with key stakeholders” (Kim, 2017, p. 3). Kim discusses how online communities and brand communities relate to the rise of social media and how organizations might go about engaging with such communities while avoiding common pitfalls. To address these issues, Kim puts forth the central organizing feature of the remainder of the book: the four-step social media campaign model, offering a brief overview of each section.
Chapter 2 introduces the first stage of the campaign process: listening. The chapter focuses on two aspects of listening: foundational background research and listening to the social landscape. Foundational background research is grounded in a thorough understanding of the organization, its structure, culture, policies, and ways of communicating. Social landscape listening seeks to identify brand-relevant online conversations and those participating in them with the goal of identifying opportunities for the brand to participate. Upon introducing terms relevant to social listening, Kim explains how those terms are applied in practical settings through “Key Data Application” subsections. An overview of social media analytics is provided as it pertains to social listening, with a drill down into share of voice (SOV). A step-by-step demonstration with visuals helps the reader to see how SOV can be calculated in spreadsheet software. The chapter wraps up with a look at how to make sense of the listening efforts and perform a SWOT analysis.
Chapter 3 offers step 2A of the four-stage planning process: the social media strategic plan. The chapter covers common key aspects of developing a strategic plan offered in other texts such as identifying goals; defining the audience; creating SMART objectives; developing strategies, tactics, and key messages; and building a budget. Importantly, Kim also covers many aspects of strategy that are specific to social media, such as building a consistent online social profile and developing a social media voice and content plan. With helpful examples from companies such as Coca-Cola, Kim discusses social media community policies, employee social media policies, and the social media component of the organization’s crisis plan. Social media ethics are emphasized within a two-way, or dialogic, communication framework (Kent & Taylor, 1998) and the TARES ethics model (Baker & Martinson, 2001) .
Chapter 4 continues step 2 of the strategic planning process, focusing on designing brand community engagement. Several cases are covered of brands across different social media platforms, providing the reader with an array of creative ideas used to build brand value. A discussion of brand credibility, and media credibility more broadly, is woven into issues related to brand personality, access to decision-makers, and individualized social media communication. Kim discusses ways to create tactics that both support the campaign goals, align with the brand personality, and foster perceived credibility. Here, Kim is careful to remind the reader of common pitfalls in creating tactics, such as the desire to try something edgy or trendy.
Chapter 5 introduces the third step in the campaign planning process: implementation and monitoring. In this chapter, Kim provides several key resources and tools for executing a campaign, such as content calendars. In addition to covering pre-planned content, Kim discusses the role that monitoring plays in helping brands engage with their audience during a campaign, identify opportunities for real-time marketing, and surveil for potential crises.
Chapter 6 covers the fourth and final step in the campaign planning process: evaluation. Specifically, Kim breaks down measuring the effectiveness of social media campaigns into three parts: preparation, implementation, and impact. By dividing measurement into these three sections, the practitioner is able to assess the accuracy of formative research conducted, the effectiveness of information distribution, and the success rate of campaign objectives. In so doing, Kim provides ample discussion of social media analytics to elucidate understanding of key components, while offering tips for the application of common analytics metrics such as likes, reach, and visits. While the text is not meant to teach analytics in depth, it offers an insightful primer to help launch further inquiry and effectively teaches the reader about the application of metrics as a decision-making tool. The focus on actionable metrics across the three parts of evaluation is coupled with considerations of various social media platforms, as well as third-party analytics tools.
LEVEL OF READER KNOWLEDGE
To get the most out of this book, familiarity with social media is needed, but mastery is not required. The book effectively introduces key concepts and provides an inclusive summary of the strategic campaign planning process to someone not familiar with it. As a course text, this book is well suited for undergraduate juniors and seniors.
Social Media Campaigns: Strategies for Public Relations and Marketing is a cohesive, well-written, and efficient text for anyone seeking to understand how to effectively design a social media campaign. The text provides a roadmap for planning, executing, and evaluating a campaign while offering in-depth considerations of key concepts and issues relevant to both students and practitioners. Further, this book can help faculty strengthen their understanding of strategic social media. Given the book’s foundation in strategy, readers will find that this is a text that has longevity even as the social media landscape continues to change.
Baker, S., & Martinson, D. L. (2001). The TARES Test: Five principles for ethical persuasion. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 16, 148-175.
Grunig, J. E., & Hunt, T. (1984). Managing public relations. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Hoeft, M. E. (2012). Why university students don’t read: What professors can do to increase compliance. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 6(12), Article 12. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2012.060212
Kent, M. L., & Taylor, M. (1998). Building dialogic relationships through the worldwide web. Public Relations Review, 24, 321-334.
Kim, C. M. (2017). Social media campaigns: Strategies for public relations and marketing. New York, NY: Routledge.
O’Neil, J., Moreno, Á., Rawlins, B., & Valentini, C. (2018). Learning objectives: What do students need to know and be able to do for entry-level positions? In Fast Forward: Foundations and future state. Educators + practitioners. The Commission on Public Relations Education 2017 report on undergraduate education. (pp. 45-58). Retrieved from http://www.commissionpred.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/report6-full.pdf