Social media hasn’t just changed the way we think about marketing – it’s changed the way we think about PR, too.
Gone are the days when a successful PR strategy required armfuls of press releases and attending corporate events – and that means it’s a lot easier to take it into your own hands!
(After all, social media has kind of completely and utterly changed how, when, where, and with whom we communicate – more on that in our social media guides.)
So, how can you use social media to blow your PR efforts out of the water?
Let’s start with the heart and soul of PR – the people.
Your customers come first
Back in the day, when a company really ticked a customer off, the consequences typically involved a strongly-worded telegram or handwritten letter – perhaps threatening to expose the misdeed to an audience as big as the local country club’s membership.
Things are different now.
Thanks to the Twitters and Facebooks of the world, public shaming has taken on a whole new meaning (and one of disastrous consequence if handled poorly).
Sure, things go wrong, and people get upset. Even the most customer-centric companies will take a little heat from time to time.
But addressing customer service issues in a friendly, personal tone and with speed, tact, and clarity can make all the difference.
That means confronting problems instead of ignoring them – because on social media, ignoring a problem can make it grow.
That doesn’t mean social media should only be reserved for customer service and reputation management, though.
Your social channels should also be used to nurture, engage, and build relationships with customers.
Because hey, if you treat ‘em right, you might just have yourself a lifelong advocate!
Take Nevada teen Carter Wilkerson (aka the Chicken Nugget Kid) for example.
When he playfully Tweeted Wendy’s asking how many retweets he needed to get free nuggets for a year, Wendy’s responded.
And so did the internet.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) April 6, 2017
Actually, the internet straight-up exploded, rallying around #NuggsforCarter and ultimately breaking a world record.
In the end, Carter did score himself some nuggets – and Wendy’s won some solid PR by taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity.
But what other relationships should you be nurturing via social media?
Don’t forget about the big hitters
PR is all about getting your good word out to the people that care.
You should already be doing this on your own by sharing regular news updates, industry articles, and all-around valuable content – but pulling in help from trusted, powerful, and unbiased publications and influencers gives your efforts a little rocket fuel.
(Which translates into new and engaged audiences that might not otherwise have known about you.)
So, how do you make friends with the press and influencers using social media?
Well, remember to nurture your existing relationships, so you don’t lose momentum. If you’re working on making besties with some new press contacts or influencers, here are a few rules of engagement:
- Line up targets: Make a list of press contacts and the movers and shakers in your industry that might be interested in talking about your company. Focus your efforts on paying attention to the folks that actually talk about topics within your vertical.
- Lay the foundation: Share, like, @-mention, and comment on your target peeps’ posts. (In a non-obsessive sort of way.) The key to winning their attention and trust is to have authentic, meaningful conversations.
- Lead with value: Answer questions and supply interesting and useful information. Become a trusted resource. Reporters occasionally Tweet out requests for sources, so be there to lend a hand, even if you’re putting them in contact with someone else in your network.
- Help them help you: Pitch story ideas to journalists in a way that appeals to them and makes their life easier. If you’re recruiting influencers on social media to talk up your products or services, make sure they are true fans, so their endorsement doesn’t come off as inauthentic.
Take a compliment (and do something with it)
When journalists, influencers, and your customers advocate for your brand, products, or services, their words hold a lot more weight than yours.
That’s why you probably have a few solid testimonials strategically placed on your website, right?
(And if not, you can learn how to score share-worthy testimonials here!)
When other people say awesome things about your company, products, or services, share that coverage with your followers.
When journalists write articles about how your company is solving an industry-wide need, take that compliment and share that earned media – share it proud!
You’re automating your social media content distribution, right? (Remember, Edgar can help with this!) When you do, you can keep broadcasting that positive feedback at intervals, working solid press coverage and personal testimonials into the content you’re already sharing.
Be sure to strike a balance between promotional stuff and other content like educational posts, case studies, and infographics. Promotional materials should only make up about 20 percent-ish of your content distribution, so make it powerful!
Publish social-media friendly content
First off, include social share buttons on your content. If you make it easy for readers to share your content, they’ll be more inclined to do so.
The more shares you get, the more earned reach you’ll rake in, and the more you’ll be out in front of the public – including other leaders in your industry who’ll want to share your stuff with their audiences!
Try creating and sharing content that will appeal to readers at other companies and people in the media that report on your industry, in addition to your own fans.
There are loads of ways to do this, but here are a few ideas:
- Tell a story: Present your information as a story, and people will remember it. We love case studies (aka case stories) that wrap quantitative data into a clear and concise narrative.
- Appeal to the senses: Infographics, videos, visuals, GIFs, charts, and original images are easy to digest and fun to share. (If you’re looking for more turn-key ideas, check out our article about upcycling content here.)
- Be timely: Provide opinions, commentary, and valuable information about trending topics. When industry stories break, use social media to inject yourself into the conversation and make an immediate impact. (Tip: this is a lot easier to keep up with when your usual social content is being posted automatically.)
- #WorkThatHashtag: For your content to be shared or cited, people must be able to find it. Expand your audience by incorporating proprietary, trending, and content-specific hashtag strategies. (Have you tried hopping in on a Twitter chat?)
- Create gold nuggets: Share tidbits like tweetable stats, results from a study you conducted, compelling quotes, exclusive information, and thought leadership that can easily be cited or referenced by outside sources. Plus, all that backlink love will help your SEO!
(Keep in mind that before people will cite you, they need to trust you. We talk all about how to build link trust here.)
Alrighty, buckle your seat belts! It’s time to add little social pizzazz to the oldest PR tool in the belt: the press release.
Let’s redefine the press release
Are you blindly sending out press releases or media alerts and crossing your fingers hoping that you’ll get a response and some actual coverage?
Well, there’s a better strategy.
Use social media to tease and support your announcement in a creative way, adding a visual and social extension to every story.
Before your official press statement hits the wire, build some hype with your existing fans.
Let’s say you’re launching a new product. Tease the upcoming launch during your Facebook Live broadcasts, provide sneak-peak coverage during your Instagram Stories, or Tweet out access codes for a presale event.
— Ryan Penagos (@AgentM) July 23, 2016
Then, come announcement time, pull out all the stops!
Publish video announcements, blog posts with click-to-Tweet links, supporting charts, infographics, live product unveilings, and more.
Building awareness and hype doesn’t start with a press release – use social to get that conversation going on your own!
Get creative with formats of your press release, and people will take notice.
Your turn! How do you use social media for your PR efforts?
How do you ensure your customers ALWAYS know they come first?
How do you use social media to connect with the media and influencers?
Any companies that you think are totally rocking their social PR?
Share what you’ve seen in the comments below!