How important has social media become? Well, Cincinnati State Technical & Community College just opened a Social Media Institute, following suit many communication programs across the globe. Given its influence and reach, it’s surprising that according to mashable.com, less than 40 percent of CEOs are engaging in social media.
When some CEOs think of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media engines, the idea of business strategy may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, these sites can be just the tools to strategically execute brand repositioning, philanthropic, and other positive agendas.
Case in point: When Panorama was hired during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to help reshape the image of a little fishing town on Alabama’s coast, leveraging Facebook as a communication tool was one of the first orders of business. The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate, as the town was under siege by the spill and still recovering from residual effects of Hurricane Katrina, and needed an online presence to increase visibility. Facebook was not only a means to gauge perception but a way to promote positivity near and far.
The city, which has a population barely beyond 2,700, has more than 600 Facebook fans (many
of whom live outside of the area—even as far away as European countries). It quickly became
an act of good faith in connecting citizens to city leaders (the page is accessible from the city’s main web site www.visitbayoulabatre.com).
When our firm posed the question, “What’s your favorite thing about Bayou La Batre?” there came a flood of responses from the food at local dives to the way the city’s name rolls off the tongue. All helped bolster a sense of community for the town.
Even more, statistics from the Facebook page could be a tool to prove there is a measurable level of investment in the community. In a public relations plan, this case is a true validation of the power of social media and proof that social media can turn a balk into a boon.