V. Hazleton, J. Harrison-Rexrode, W. Kennan
New technologies in the Formation of Personal and Public Relations
"Since individuals are changing the ways in which they communicate whith each other, correspondingly, the methods used in public relations to create, maintain, and utilize relationships are changing as well."
One of the most significant changes social media has brought on communication was in the network-building capabilities of an average user. In the word where everybody is connected, geographical boundaries have diminished and people began to build relationships based not on proximity, but on similarity. Whatever it is you are into, there's a good chance you can find a community of like-minded people somewhere on the web. And the harder it is for an individual to meet people he can relate to offline, the stronger his ties will be to his online community.
These affinity-based online relationships together with public availability of personal information have changed the way we think of strangers (at least strangers we meet online). We relate to those strangers on a more personal level, we feel for them, we even call some of them friends.
Some marketers make a mistake of thinking about social media as just another tool to reach the masses and broadcast messages. But times have changed and your consumer expects much more than an impersonal one-way message. She wants to get product recommendations based on her past purchases or personal style. She expects to see her name spelled out in the emails she receives from your company. She assumes you'll remember her baby's birthday. What's more, she expects you to reply to her tweets and posts on your Facebook fan page.
Not too long ago, corporate/institutional participation in social media was optional, and those who weren't ready refrained. Today, however, if you are not talking about your company online, someone else is. As a company owner/employee or a marketer, you have to be ready to represent your company online and invest a considerable amount of resources to connecting with your customers on a personal level.