Social media is making the world smaller by making communication so quick and accessible. So much so that social media is changing the face of whole industries and PR is a great example. Even the most traditional PR agencies are having to adopt social media tactics to share stories with their audience but wouldn’t it be great if social media could lead public relations endeavours? Once only regarded as a small player in gaining brand exposure in local and national press, social media is fast becoming the weapon of choice for forward-thinking and tech-savvy brands.
Social media PR: what does it mean?
Let’s be honest, it all sounds like a bit of marketing jargon, but it’s about the best way we can describe it. Essentially, social media PR is using digital platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to contact journalists, publications and share the coverage achieved. The instant and viral nature of social media means stories that capture the imagination can generate huge reach and rapidly elevate your brand’s profile.
Social media has a number of benefits when it comes to an impressive PR strategy – let’s look at why it’s so important today.
The value of social media for PR
1. Finding journalists and influencers
Twitter search tools allow any company to find the journalists, reporters and experts in their sector very quickly. Use a Followerwonk bio search! Not only that, by utilising Twitter lists, it is easier than ever to keep up with them and build a relationship.
Finding out what certain journalists are interested in and writing about makes it easier for you to spot a PR opportunity. Stay in touch with them, retweet anything interesting they post and favourite them occasionally – stay in their mind!
2. Instant bio and personality
Providing your social media bios are up to scratch and you’ve been posting great value-adding content, anyone who comes across your material can get a snapshot of exactly who you are and what you do. You’ll also be demonstrating your knowledge and passion for your field as well as some character and personality. You’re instantly more likable to a journo or potential customer than a corporate email address or website!
Social media is the perfect way to portray yourself as an industry expert and get your brand’s personality across.
Focus on the ‘why’ in your Twitter bio.
3. Press releases and blogs
Social media is the perfect medium to both share and follow up your press releases. All self-respecting journalists are on Twitter and use it constantly to keep up with news and developments in their sector and geographical location. Sending a tweet is both less intrusive and more instant than having to construct follow-up email after email. Remember you can simply link the press release you have written as a PDF or web page in the tweet itself – utilise the functionality of these platforms! This is how to speak the language of the modern-day journalist by making everything fast and convenient.
4. Immediate coverage and reaction
Got something shareable? Nothing helps spread the word like a well-shared or even viral post. The perfect combination of an image and well-worded text can create shareable content that can be seen by thousands of people in an instant. There’s much less time spent putting something in a newspaper, magazine or webpage, all it takes is the click of the ‘share’ or ‘retweet’ button. I can guarantee you’ll have better engagement levels and reach than from traditional means. It also enables any interested parties to investigate immediately by clicking to your site and even through to your squeeze page – make sure your mobile site it up to scratch!
5. #journorequests and other hashtags
Another advantage of social media for PR are the features of social media platforms themselves. For example, hashtags are a great way to categorise your content as well as finding avenues to share your story. This makes you easy to find if you’ve got something interesting to share and helps others get in on the act. This is great for both spreading something newsworthy or publicising events locally and nationally.
Event hashtagging is crucial in social media PR. You’ve got a great event coming up and you’ve poured time and resources into it. Now’s the time to get people there and sharing their experiences. Make sure the hashtag is short and self-explanatory and that no one else uses it! This is a great way to compound all your publicity efforts and gives attendees the chance to shout about it too.
6. Cost efficiency
Traditional PR is not cheap, especially not good PR! Hundreds of the fastest growing startups of the 21st century have gained widespread exposure purely through the clever use of all of the above benefits. Many of these startups have taken the time to learn how to use social media for PR expertly and avoided shelling out four-figure monthly retainers. Social media PR should be very cost-effective given that social platforms are free to use whilst giving you instant access to the people you need.
7. Trackable ROI
But you can’t track the return on investment of social media?! Nuh uh. There are literally hundreds of tools out there to show exactly how many people are seeing your social content, clicking on your links, reading your web pages and buying your product or service. In fact, there are far more reliable way of tracking the ROI of social media PR than of traditional print PR. Just because a publication has a circulation of 100,000, how do you know if anyone actually read what your article or subsequently searched for you on the net? It’s all about engagement and interaction and social media PR trumps the lot.
PRO TIP: use ow.ly or bit.ly links to track where your web or page traffic is coming from. This way you can track exactly how much social media is contributing to your PR campaign.
Managed to get some coverage?
8. Share your stories
Got some great coverage in the local newspaper or online? Is it adding some real gravitas to your company and what’s it’s doing? Social media is the perfect way to share this success and reach a wider audience. Not only this, but you’re demonstrating to the publications you’re in that you’re going to do some of the work in spreading the story and generate more publicity for them!
Ask your industry influencers what they think, maybe they’ll share it too.
9. Increased brand recognition
Remember the old rule of needing to see a brand name or logo seven times before you registered it as a brand you could trust and buy from? Well, recent studies put this figure well into the 20s and even 30s because of the sheer volume of information and marketing us humans are subjected to! Remember that a strong online presence within your sector will help the individuals most important to you associate positively to your brand and be more likely to read anything they come across with your name in it.
KEY POINT: make sure whoever is looking after your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn knows how to create value-adding content! This is going to be absolutely crucial in getting in front of that engaged following and building brand trust. Remember that each platform has its own optimal content format and think about where your audience hangs out. Don’t ignore potential goldmines of interested parties on Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn (you can see why so many brands have succeeded by purely social means when it comes to PR campaigns!).
Will social media PR overtake traditional PR?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!
What’s clear is that social media adds a number of benefits to traditional PR but by no means is it going to completely overtake! Having PR professionals with great relationships with the media and who are brilliant on the phone will never be replaced by social media!
Social media in PR is becoming paramount to the success and scalability of both long-term and finite publicity campaigns across all sectors. The key is in making sure whoever is looking after the social media side is a social media expert, rather than simply dabbling in the art. Traditional marketers and PR experts don’t often specialise in social media (it’s a pretty different ballgame) so either use professionals or learn how to do it yourself. The last thing you need is to be pushing corporate messages into people’s social sphere, which risks giving them a negative impression of your brand.
We hope this has given you an insight into what social media PR actually is and why, for many modern-day companies, it is becoming to go-to route for generating brand awareness and affinity on local, national and international levels. Remember, we can train you up to be able to do all this a save yourself a money in the not-so-long run or look after your entire social media presence through our management packages.
Find out more about social media and digital PR services in Birmingham.