Social media is a continually growing presence in companies and on the internet that holds serious influence over the graphic communications industry. Sean Valant, social media manager at HostGator, listed that 2.4 billion people use the internet worldwide and about 70 percent of them use the internet every day. Social networking users also spend an average of 3.2 hours a day on social networking websites according to Valant.

Because of the large amount of users on the internet it should come as no surprise that advertising agencies are devoting a larger amount of attention than ever before in placing ads on social media platforms. More than this, businesses and organizations are also compressing and becoming “one-stop shops” to cater to any need that a client might have for anything graphic communications-related through integrated effort among the advertisement, marketing and public relations departments.

Instead of conventional ways of advertising through paid product placement, companies and businesses are utilizing features that social media platforms have to offer to showcase their ads and attract customer interest. While Facebook mainly operates through a “pay to play” method to promote more posts and ads through more than just organic views, several businesses are utilizing Facebook Live to unconventionally promote products while interacting with their audience through their video live feed.

Instagram offers photo and video advertisements for businesses to place on their website, which has an algorithm that shows advertisements that might illustrate a higher rate of engagement from its users. It also offers carousel ads where people can swipe to see additional images and a call to action button that will take them to a website to learn more about what the advertisement demonstrates.

Youtube offers advertisers to place ads on partnered channels that will run anywhere from five seconds to two minutes; these ads are also specifically catered to the audience that is subscribed to that Youtube channel. If a Youtube channel is centered on makeup products, Loreal or Maybelline are companies that may pay for advertisements. If the channel is gaming oriented, Razer or GForce might place an advertisement. Companies will also sponsor Youtubers, who will offer price reductions if their subscribers or users utilize product codes when purchasing from their websites.

Snapchat is even more unique in the way that businesses are utilizing it to promote their brand via advertisement placement. IGN, ESPN, Cosmopolitan, and CNN all have stories that users can click on to see videos and photos that those organizations posted for the day. After eight or ten stories are played in Snapchat, an advertisement is briefly played that is centered on something related to those businesses. It’s unique in that the stories are almost laid out like someone reading a magazine, with an advertisement placed occasionally on its pages.

In Graphic Communications: the Printed Image “Zeke” Prust broke down the graphic communications workforce into seven general categories. These categories included skilled technical positions, creative positions, management, support, engineers and scientists, educators, and service operations positions (Prust 457). Some of these positions fall under the social media, marketing, advertising, and public relations fields, which need to work with one another to provide the essential services to fulfill the needs of any prospective client.

The graphic communications field is expanding with advances in technology. While it is crucial that the social media, marketing, advertising and public relations’ fields synergistically collaborate, they will continue to diverge from one another in the responsibilities and duties that they undertake. Despite this, these sub-branches of the graphic communications industry are combining their strengths to form a “one-stop shop” within the architecture of a company.

Luttrell makes the point in her book that one of the main objectives of the PR department is to drive social media strategies and synergize the marketing and advertising departments. “One might argue that in the not-so-distant future, social media will be a department unto itself, working harmoniously with public relations, marketing, and advertising,” (Luttrell 44). A common question that is brought up is if agencies should focus on targeted efforts within a specific field; agencies should instead focus on integrated efforts within a specific field. “By applying integrated efforts, a brand can successfully build an online presence that can resonate with the intended consumers” (Luttrell 45).

This may be difficult because the social web is comprised of a large group of people. While it has generally been believed that heavy consumers make up the most sales for a company, it is actually the light consumers that account for the most sales. However, many people do not want to be sold to and so it’s important to appeal to these consumers without solely implementing strategies to sell. Targeted efforts have merit, but in the grand scheme of the company it won’t expand their consumer base or drive sales.

A company needs to realize the strengths of each department and be able to effectively collaborate. By providing a clear and consistent message each department can use their strengths to aid in creating that message. “Choosing the best attributes from each function based on its strengths and weaknesses will result in a synergy throughout the campaign. When the individual pieces work together, the whole becomes greater than the sum.” (Luttrell 44). Once again departments must be able to align their synergies and work cohesively instead of attempting to drive or “own” the strategy by itself. “The marketing team believes it should lead the strategy, while advertising considers itself the proper proprietor. Neither is correct.” (p. 44).

The strengths integrated efforts include reaching a much larger audience by implementing the strengths of several fields. A rapport is built with consumers as the objective isn’t to sell, as many consumers don’t want to be sold to. A connection must be built between a company and its consumer base compared to heavy buyers who may not need that bond to buy a company’s products. “Products and services come second to sharing information, connecting with your online community, and telling your story through genuine interactions with consumers” (Luttrell 45).

Luttrell also wrote that creating content isn’t just about the brand; it also has to relate to topics an audience is interested in. Because of the collaboration between multiple departments to create a clear and cohesive message throughout a campaign, there is more room for error and miscommunication between departments, which can ultimately hurt a campaign. Despite this multiple departments are able to share their resources and create a smoother, more integrated campaign compared to a single department taking on a campaign.

The strengths of a targeted effort are that it may be easier for a department to realize its own image for a campaign. A clear audience is targeted with a higher projected rate for a successful campaign. However, a department isn’t able to synergistically collaborate with other departments; they are responsible for their strengths as well as their weaknesses, so their campaign may be more flawed than if multiple departments pooled resources to create a larger campaign. “Sharing resources, coordinating efforts, and offering a consistent and effective message can result in a smoother, more highly integrated effort spanning multiple departments” (Luttrell  48). A smaller audience is also reached because of a targeted approach, resulting in less potential for light consumers to purchase product from the company.

Beyond the graphic communications industry moving toward a “one-stop shop” approach social media has also allowed organizations to track how successful campaigns are through easily-viewable metrics. Advertising and marketing tactics have more meaning when the right metrics are tracked.

According to William Comcowich of PR Daily the most useful marketing metrics to track are web traffic, brand image, reach and engagement. Metrics can also be difficult to track, especially for larger brands or companies with multiple brands. A social media dashboard can save time and provide access to trends; marketers shouldn’t rely on their gut feeling instead of data to track what marketing tactics are effective.

Marketers should analyze web traffic by looking at posts by channels or time frame to show which posts perform best, looking for spikes on certain days or channels. While social media is crucial in building a brand, negativity can quickly damage a company’s image. Most social media platforms provide basic analytic tools but companies should establish a monitoring service to measure sentiment across networks, forums and online publishers.

Companies can analyze their reach based on the number of people who viewed their content, whether it’s the number of followers, blog visitors or the brand’s expansion. Brand managers need to be careful when evaluating the quality of their followers and make sure they’re part of the brand’s target audience.

Engagement should determine how worthwhile content is; if a company is lacking engagement they’re either not targeting the right community or generating enough interesting content. This metric is measured through online feedback, interactions and comments from consumers. Shares are more beneficial than other types of engagement as they can directly boost customer retention and increase the reach of their messages. However, it should be noted that some amplifications of social media can be negative.

Social media is an essential part in a company’s branding efforts; having said this, a lot of companies either don’t understand metrics or don’t know what metrics to track. A company needs to understand the audience they’re appealing to as well as the social media platforms that they post on.

Reach and shares are important, yet according to a study by BBDO Worldwide over 97 percent of companies still rely on organic branding via Facebook. Most social media platforms require companies to “pay to play” for maximum audience reach in their posts. Companies also need to engage with their audience using the two-way symmetrical model. They also need to use the 80/20 rule of social media marketing; 80 percent of social media posts should inform, educate and entertain an audience while 20 percent should aim to directly promote the business.

Because of the drastic expansion of social media
and the number of users on various social media platforms organizations and agencies are quickly changing their tactics to appeal to these audiences. More than this, fields that were once separate entities are now coming together to integrate their efforts in creating multi-level campaigns in the hopes that they go viral. Notably, the fields of advertising, marketing, social media, and public relations have been increasingly working together in their integrated efforts.

Social media also offers comprehensive metrics that help organizations monitor whether their campaigns were ultimately successful among their target audience. Because the world of social media is constantly changing and ad spending has drastically increased in the span of five years it marks a time of technological advancement and evolution in the graphic communications industry.