As a public relations (PR) professional employed by a well-renowned communications agency, I’ve learned a thing or two about using PR tactics to leverage a brand through social media. In marrying my PR profession with my love (and knowledge) of social media, I’ve had the opportunity to assist brands in increasing their online and public presence. A strategic PR campaign is an essential part of creating and maintaining a successful social media presence. In my experience, implementing PR tactics is the difference between whether or not you’ll garner the attention your brand needs in order to reach its utmost potential.
Many people (myself included) have a tough time explaining what exactly PR is. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), public relations is:
"a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics."
So basically, the practice of PR is the practice of holistically understanding your client (or your brand), knowing your key audiences, creating a concise message for your campaign and implementing strategic communication tactics to create mutually beneficial relationships between the client and the key audiences. This in turn will bring a greater return on investment. (p.s. ROI doesn’t necessarily always translate to, ‘likes’… more on that another time).
Word of mouth is of course your best route when it comes to marketing your company, and thus, you can totally thank technology for introducing social media as a way for companies and individuals to further harness this free, superpower. This newfound tool can be used within a larger PR campaign or on it’s own.
Now that you understand the importance of PR, it’s time to develop a strategic social media PR campaign for your company and/or personal brand! Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Understand who your target audience is and what they would want from your brand. Start by researching your current followers – Who are they? What are their passions? What are their dislikes? How are they similar? How are they the same? What would draw them to your brand? Then ask yourself what content your brand should be posting on social media to attract them – what would be most beneficial for them? How can you position your brand as a thought leader? It is also important to know who your competitors are. Ask yourself what you can do to position your brand authentically. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? What could you do to differentiate your brand from theirs?
Plan It Out
Start by creating a plan reviewing your company’s goals, creating objectives and a timeline for this campaign.
Aside from fully understanding your brand, it may also be helpful to ask yourself the following:
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- When would you like it accomplished by?
- What message would you like to convey throughout this campaign?
- What are your primary objectives (list 3-5)? What actions will you take to accomplish these objectives?
Then, determine which social media platforms best suit your brand’s audience. Here are 3 quick ways-
Pro Tip: If you plan to use Twitter and/or Instagram, make sure to create a personalized and relevant hashtag to use throughout your campaign. Check out this course on How to Plan a Successful Hashtag Strategy.
1. Marry Your Brand’s Stylebook
If you decide it’s in your brand’s best interest to maintain multiple social media platforms, you MUST ensure they are cohesive. This doesn’t mean you’re posting the same information at the same time on each of the platforms. (In fact, you should be creating authentic content for each platform based on why you’ve determined people would follow you on each one.) Instead, it means your voice, look and feel translate the same message across all platforms.
For example, you may choose Facebook because you feel that it relays your company culture or Twitter because you know people are visiting for your expert advice and blog links.
With that being said, it is also a good idea to set loose guidelines on how-to post and respond to comments and messages on your social media platform(s). It is most important to understand how to respond to negativity. Don’t let your brand become tarnished due to an unfortunate social media blunder. Instead, create a plan on how to deal with negativity if and when it occurs.
2. Create a Content Control System
Develop an editorial calendar for your campaign using a basic excel doc or calendar template. This will help you stay organized and ensure everyone knows when posts are scheduled to go out. Decide when and how often you will be posting on behalf of your brand. Then assign a checks-and-balance system to make sure posts are double-checked for political correctness and brand cohesion prior to being posted. (All spontaneous posts should also be double-checked by a second pair of eyes).
Next, agree on what content will be posted on your platforms. Ask yourself:
- Will you be curating your own content or linking to other's to showcase your company/self as a thought-leader?
- How will you obtain said content?
- Where will your images be from?
- Will they be edited? If so, how?
- How will you be reaching out to your audience and potential influencers on these platforms?
If you’ll be hosting giveaways as part of your campaign, you’ll need to figure out how winners will be fairly and legally drawn and notified. You’ll also have to choose prices and create messaging for posts.
Pro tip: use the calendar to track your social media analytics and ROI throughout the operation – keep track of engagement, impressions, items, mentions and reach.
3. Determine Appropriate Outreach Methods
Decide how many hours a day you’ll be using to reach out your audience and through which platforms you’ll be managing these relations. Remember, you can plug your social media accounts through other channels too. For example, mention your Twitter account on a Facebook page post that is discussing topics relevant to your brand. Those who are visiting that page are most likely looking for a site such as yours and may then follow your link to see what you’re all about. You could also link to one of your blog posts as well.
Another option to garner awareness is to promote your brand through paid social media marketing. A strategic social media PR campaign doesn’t have to involve paid marketing, however, it IS a great way to get your brand in front of more eyes and increase word of mouth. There are multiple, low-cost ways to do this on many popular social media accounts and most of them allow you to tailor your ads towards your brand’s desired geographic location, gender and age (creepy, but admittedly cool).
Okay babes, this is only a slice, but it’s a great place to start. Remember to keep current and desired audience and influencers in mind throughout the process and you’ll be set. You need to understand your target audience and what you can provide for them in order to create and maintain a successful social media PR campaign.
Good luck, you’ve got this!