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Public relations is nothing new. For decades, PR has provided the means, outlets – tv, radio, newspapers, internet – and strategy companies need to manage messaging, perform damage control, and get ahead of crises. During that time, it’s been a must-have for anyone from startups to global conglomerates, an essential tool for shifting the narrative and making a positive brand impact on the public.
In comes social media. Since their emergence nearly 20 years ago, social media platforms have not only shaken up what it means to reach an audience; they’ve also taken over the public relations landscape. Now the go-to for sharing brand updates and product info, social media channels like Facebook and TikTok offer some of the best conduits for connecting with your target audience.
When properly aligned with your PR efforts, social media marketing can rocket your public relations strategy to the moon, turning your crisis management campaign into a powerfully effective branding opportunity.
Of course, getting there means knowing how to maximize your social media PR efforts and build a social media crisis plan that puts you over the top. Combining PR and social media effectively allows your PR professionals to cultivate trust and generate buzz in ways you never thought possible – without exploding your outreach budget.
How does social media affect public relations?
Social media marketing has changed the PR game for good. Whereas press releases and press conferences were once the norms for responding to crises, social media posts, hashtag campaigns, and direct customer engagement are now the go-to for reaching a much larger audience.
Consumer interaction and connection
As a business owner, you now have numerous options for connecting with consumers on social media. Sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok allow your business to carve out a unique brand that strikes a chord with consumers while cultivating a deeper personal connection with your desired audience.
Instead of traditional PR, which can sometimes seem distant and impersonal, social media PR allows for direct interaction between consumers and your brand. When utilized correctly, this connection can provide a huge advantage for your business.
Influencers are a uniquely social media phenomenon and can be a tremendously effective way to promote your brand and level up your public relations campaign.
Whether it’s industry experts, bloggers, video bloggers (vloggers), or celebrities, social influencers provide the content and followers many brands now rely on to boost credibility and visibility. Knowing how to leverage the impact and reach of these influencers can add a level of oomph to your PR strategy that’s hard to achieve elsewhere.
Endless news cycle
Social media platforms and the internet never shut down, making it easy for public relations professionals to share and promote brand news at any time. This makes it easier to reach consumers, but it also makes it easy for your PR messaging to get lost in the endless cycle of online information, creating a sometimes monumental challenge for marketers and PR pros alike.
The 24-7 nature of social media marketing and the digital world as a whole, especially these days, requires a savvy and proactive approach to manage crises before they spiral into a worst-case scenario.
How to Maximize Your Social Media PR Strategy
These days, building solid social media strategies that maximize brand reach and impact is key to harnessing crises and keeping your credibility above water. Achieving the right mix of PR and social media can provide an invaluable leg up when it comes to protecting your business and preventing even costlier issues down the road.
Here are a few tips for doing just that:
Make your messages easy to share
Giving your PR message the most traction on social media platforms starts with something easy but often overlooked: social buttons.
Adding social sharing buttons to your online PRs, blogs, and other digital marketing materials makes it super easy for consumers to instantly share that content across their Instagram and Facebook feeds. This gets those news releases in front of more eyeballs with minimal cost and effort, turning readers into brand ambassadors without increasing your spend on promotion.
And by sharing and promoting your messages across social media, your audience also helps increase consumer engagement with your brand, improving awareness and sentiment while (ideally) driving more traffic to your website.
Embedding social media links within your PR can have a similar effect, boosting engagement and connections with your business online.
Partner with social media influencers
Influencers can be a great addition to any social media PR plan, provided they are vetted carefully and align with your brand identity and values. Partnering with the right social media influencer not only helps expand your reach but provides your business the authenticity and credibility lift that sparks engagement and nurtures positive brand sentiment over the long run.
Effective influencers aren’t simply business partners or outside marketers paid to share an ad or deliver a boilerplate brand testimonial. Instead, they genuinely care about delivering real value to their followers, as much or even more than they do pointing their audience in your direction.
The best brand ambassadors deliver consistently compelling content because they feel a real connection to your product. This loyalty shines through in what they share and well-cultivated goodwill that burnishes credibility and trust in your business.
When choosing an influencer, it’s vital to look beyond the individual’s follower count and toward the type of value and content they provide their audience. If they lack authenticity and fail to connect with actual people, it’s probably time to move on.
Have a plan to tackle problems immediately
Before the internet, it would often take days or even weeks for a problem to climb into the public eye, providing more than enough time to craft a traditional media strategy that would mitigate fallout.
But in the time of social media, even the slightest mishap or negative interaction can generate significant brand issues in a matter of minutes. This makes proactive social media public relations a must.
To successfully defend your brand these days, you must always be ready to engage in real-time messaging and manage new problems immediately. This means having robust social media strategies in place whenever a new brand crisis pops its head over the horizon.
Having such a framework allows your PR professionals to take swift action and employ reputation management activities that isolate the issue and prevent things from getting worse.
Maintain a reliable social media presence
Consistency is key to an effective social media PR strategy.
From posting on a regular schedule to maintaining a familiar brand voice and tone across each social media profile, consistency is what ultimately anchors your social footprint. Being consistent ensures you’re always delivering relatable, value-add content your followers know and expect from your business. It generates a sense of reliability and stability at the heart of consumer trust, boosting your reputation and your image in the process.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t explore new ways to frame your brand or promote offerings on social. In fact, experimentation is often one of the best ways to stand out on social media and connect your brand with a wider audience.
But doing so without a reliable foundation can be highly detrimental, leaving your target audiences without the brand consistency to fall back on once the latest thing has gone away.
Engage with your audience (and journalists) on social media
Want to generate positive publicity? It’s important to remember that social media is all about interaction. And when you actively engage with followers across your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles, you have the opportunity to spark and drive conversations that build even more buzz around your business.
Social media interaction is visible and public, giving each Retweet and personal shoutout the power to shine a white-hot spotlight on your brand. Even responding to negative comments on social platforms has the potential to become something positive. Doing so can help take the wind out of complaints and negativity while showing consumers you value what they say.
When done right, social media can also be a great tool for improving your standing with local news organizations and journalists. While not ideal for contacting journalists outright, following, liking and even Rewteeing reporter posts and activities can help elevate your own brand profile.
In fact, announcing news about your brand at just the right time can often be a great way to catch that journalist’s eye and provide the lead they need to deliver before deadline.
Hype up the hashtag
Hashtag campaigns offer an excellent opportunity to share brand news and highlight accomplishments across social media. Beyond public relations, they also provide highly recognizable brand tags followers can share and help boost your brand awareness throughout the web.
Hashtags are easy to create and easier to remember, and can provide your PR efforts a boost by:
- Showcasing company benchmarks and achievements
- Tying your brand to industry news and workplace trends
- Cultivating a sense of connection among your target audience
- Improving brand relevance and authority
Need Help with Social Media PR?
When harnessed carefully, social media provides a powerful opportunity to supplement your PR strategy and grow your brand online. If you need help with social media public relations, my team is here to help. Give us a call or learn more by visiting NetReputation today.