Social Media Research

Study: Social Media is Not a Trusted Media Source for PR Pros

badge-researchIn partnership with PR News, Cision polled the PR community on their social media usage to find out how they engage, which platforms they utilize, and where they spend ad dollars. 

Below, we dissect a few of the findings and what they mean for PR and marketing professionals.

Most and Least Used Platforms

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Twitter were the most widely used platforms by brands, with LinkedIn and YouTube following closely behind. Interestingly, however, Snapchat is the least-used platform, with only 2 percent of brands using it (also clocking in at 2 percent are brands that use no social channels).

What does this mean?

If your brand’s target demographic is female and under 25 years old, your audience is on the platform. And chances are, they’ll be more likely to engage with your message since the platform has less brand noise. Not sure where to begin? Jessica Gioglio offers 5 Ways Brands are Using Snapchat to get you started.

The Majority of PR Professionals are Not Using Paid Promotion

Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they are not using paid promotion as part of their overall strategy, and those that are use Facebook the most, at 36 percent. Facebook is also the most-used paid platform for PR’s counterpart — marketing — as 90 percent of respondents said they use Facebook ads in Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Industry Report

What does this mean?

PR is working hard to find placements and increase brand awareness, but they haven’t fully transitioned to using the tools that help them do this at-scale. Using paid media to promote earned and owned media will help brands reach people they wouldn’t typically engage with. Platforms like Cision’s Content Marketing Suite offer native advertising that delivers content to readers based on their viewing history. To get you started, 360i offers tips on Paid and Earned Media: Building an Integrated Strategy.

Social Media is Not a Trusted Media Source

Although 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, according to a Gallup survey, only 5 percent of consumers say social media has a great deal of influence on purchase decisions, and 62 percent say it has no influence at all. The PR professionals we polled felt similarly, with friends and family being the most trusted for recommendations, and online outlets of traditional publications and print outlets being the most trusted media sources.

What does this mean?

It doesn’t mean social media is dead, but it does mean that its focus should be to share industry articles from media outlets, build quality relationships with fans, and direct followers to other content in an effort to convert them and get them further down the funnel. Look at social media as the middle man: it’s linking your audience to the next big stepping stone in your integrated communications cycle.


Is there anything that surprises you about this study? Share in the comments below!

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  1. says

    I think Gallup’s study was interesting, especially as am objective 3rd party. However, I think we can all agree it had some big flaws (the age of the study is only one). I found two surprises here: the top measures of social media success and the details.

    The PR pros opinions of social’s influence were similar to the consumers in the Gallup study. How do we think those trusted friends and family share their opinions/recommendations? Consumers don’t call individual friends and poll them for their opinion. They don’t write them letters to get their recommendations. They don’t take out an ad in the paper for new friends with opinions. In social (much like a P2P real-life conversation) you don’t even have to ask for opinions. Talking about a bad experience, your friends/family are quick to tell you where you should have gone instead.

  2. says

    I feel like the smartest brands have already caught on that social media is not meant for direct advertising but rather to strengthen your brand image and engagement with fans. For example, Taco Bell, Nike, GoPro etc…

  3. says

    Seeing this surprised me but I think social media still is a good platform in doing business marketing. Facebook and Twitter are the biggest and they offer great opportunities for businesses. Social media tools like can also help.

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