Twitter and Facebook can both be extremely useful to journalists and their field of study.  Along with being a good way to reach their current audience, they can also be used as a great marketing and public relations tool.

Social networking can be a fantastic marketing instrument.  The consumers are already all there, so why not go where they are?  They can “like” a company’s facebook page, therefore voluntarily opening themselves up to ads and promotions.  A good way to get people to like a page is to offer a coupon every now and then (Jamba Juice does this on Facebook regularly).  Once someone has liked the page, the company can make announcements, get feedback, and talk about their products for everyone to see.  From a journalistic standpoint, Facebook is a great tool for breaking stories.  For many people, CNN or Fox 5 News isn’t a regular stop on their Internet browsing.  However, Facebook is, so linking to a brand-new article on their website can inform people instantaneously of what is going on, as well as raise the number of people who visit their website.

Twitter is used as a good public relations regulator.  People can @”Company Name” in their tweets, and the company will see all of those tweets and then can choose to respond accordingly.  Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) does a lot of customer service on Twitter: people are at the airport, complain about plane delays, cranky employees or lost luggage, and the Twitter administrator can take the initiative to find out what happened and smooth the ruffled feathers.  It’s worked many times.  It can give the company a broad sense of how they are coming across to their customers, which is extremely important.  For journalists, Twitter can be a good information-gathering tool in PR.  It can also help create a following for a specific journalist, which can up subscriptions and Internet statistics for the paper.