Social media’s influence on modern PR

Branding and marketing experts should make their organizations’ presence felt beyond Facebook and Twitter. To that end, do not overlook LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. Here’s how marketers can use all these platforms advantageously: Facebook On Facebook, your brand must be conversational to build an audience. Once you’ve got the audience, it follows your page […]

Branding and marketing experts should make their organizations’ presence felt beyond Facebook and Twitter. To that end, do not overlook LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.

Here’s how marketers can use all these platforms advantageously:

Facebook

On Facebook, your brand must be conversational to build an audience. Once you’ve got the audience, it follows your page and receives brand updates as you post them.

PR practitioners can explore other Facebook features that engage audiences. These include Mentions (open only to public figures), Facebook’s improved search function that makes public posts more accessible, Facebook’s shopping tab (not available to all) to partner with marketers to get better sales, Instant Articles (for iOS) to offer valuable content to customers, and Facebook Events to manage events.

Twitter

Twitter is great for making announcements about businesses or clients, the launch of a new product, the winning of an award, a forthcoming event, introducing a new brand in a new market, or for keeping your audience updated in a crisis.

Let the hashtags talk for you. Use Twitter to keep tabs on what clients, competitors, friends, media or influencers tweet about. Twitter makes it easy to connect with new people, follow them and get them to follow you.

Instagram

Instagram’s success rests on its ease of use. All you do is click a photo and post it. Instagram’s search and explore features turn it into an easily navigable news source.

Photos often speak better than text. Instagram offers interesting accounts, photos and places. Its biggest benefit for PR pros: They get a ready-made source of influencers to investigate. Some of the most successful Instagram campaigns have capitalized on this.

In addition to showcasing their client’s offerings on Instagram, PR people can use visuals to create and raise awareness about issues and causes, take followers behind the company firewall to make a personal connection, and promote events before and while they are in progress. Features such as double-tapping and tagging people go a long way to raise user engagement.

Pinterest

On Pinterest, you can create value for your audience by curating content rather than creating it. You simply pin images and other content from Web sources on designated pages. Audiences can view these images for inspiration or entertainment or both.

If PR practitioners curate right, they’ll build an army of loyal audiences in no time.

Google+

The ability of Google+ to build avid communities of fans who support a cause or a person is tremendous. PR pros who explore Google+ will find many communities built to support causes, interests and people.

PR practitioners can use ‘Circles’ to create groups of targeted audiences and send them information that they know they will be interested in.

Face-to-face communication is a necessity in PR. This is where Hangouts comes into the picture. Google+ ensures that everything that is posted is out there for the world to see. This makes it an ideal platform to post media releases, announcements, podcasts and articles.

LinkedIn

Most people hold that LinkedIn is a professional rather than a social network. But that has changed with its new emphasis on publishing. LinkedIn is a blogging forum.

PR practitioners use LinkedIn to highlight their client’s experience, to disseminate content, find influencers, gain industry insights, connect with new clients, discover media opportunities, identify new business and amplify clients’ media coverage.

Networking is the biggest draw of LinkedIn. PR people also use it to establish their client’s company page. This page can be critical for a brand.

Further, there are tabs that allow you to emphasize key products and to support images and videos in the company’s offerings. Page admins can see the page activities with the help of analytics.

PR reps can increase their reach by joining LinkedIn groups formed by customers and prospects, or by creating one themselves. The focus should always be on quality not quantity. By contributing quality ideas to these groups, PR pros help businesses establish themselves as influencers or thought leaders.

LinkedIn groups are useful for market research. Marketers can create free polls and post them to LinkedIn Groups to collect feedback on a product or service.

Why hashtags matter

Hashtags are all over social media. They date back to 2007, when Twitter users began to prefix words and phrases with the ‘#’ symbol to create groups. Today all major social networks use hashtags.

The hashtag is important because when you click on one on any social network, you will automatically see all posts that contain the same hashtag.

It’s tremendously valuable for small businesses because hashtags expose their content to a wider, more targeted audience. They get businesses discovered.

Don’t use too many of them. When you use more than two hashtags , your engagement drops by 17 percent.

Continue to write your posts as you always have; only turn a couple of keywords into hashtags. Just prefix each keyword with the ‘#.’ When placing a hashtag before a phrase, don’t put spaces between the words of the phrase or you’ll break the hyperlink.

Running a social media campaign is no easy task. It requires planning and a potent strategy. Without these, the most experienced pro will falter.

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