There is no doubt that there is more to social media than creating content, scheduling your posts and listing hashtags. In a saturated market place, how do you make sure your posts count and get the attention they deserve? One of the many strengths of public relations is that it gets businesses noticed. And social media, in the form of outgoing communications, also falls under the banner of public relations. Public relations protects and grows the public face of your business, it controls and influences the brand image, and therefore the overall perception of your business. It’s what potential customers, suppliers and staff, in fact, anyone who comes across your business, sees, says or even thinks about your business. And in that respect, you want the best reputation possible. Social media and public relations go hand in hand and yet can still sometimes be regarded as completely separate entities.
An easy and cost-effective way to communicate with your customers and potential customers is to use social media. A social media campaign that works on the principle of bombarding a platform with ad hoc posts in the hope that it will attract new customers will fail. Using a planned approach with public relations principles will see brands strengthened, customers engaged and new customers attracted.
Social media is just that, it’s social, we all use it to engage and broaden our horizons, we want to be inspired and to read and see interesting content. Social media for your business is no different. It is about communicating, being social, creating engagement with your audience to build awareness and in turn trust. Once your followers know about you, you have built awareness, harness that to build engagement so they get to know you. Strengthen that reputation so that they get to trust you. When you have built a business which people know about, and like and trust, you are on the road to building customer loyalty and a much stronger and recognisable brand.
Apply these 10 PR tactics to your social media to get your social media community engaged with your brand. You’ll be building relationships with the right audience and hopefully gaining potential customers in no time.
1. Targeting – one size doesn’t fit all. Know who you are trying to attract and engage with. Understanding their interests and habits means you’ll have more in common with them therefore more to communicate with and about.
2. Know your audience and their preferred platform. Every platform has a personality type, just as you need to know your audience you need to know what platform they’re likely to be using. Don’t forget what times they’ll be likely to use each platform too. If you’re targeting parents of young children they’ll unlikely to be on Instagram during the early morning dash to school.
3. Gain a following. Connect and follow business and organisations, people and influencers you’d like your business to be associated with, that you share a common aim with. If you were visiting your social sites who would you like to see as a connection? Keep good company.
4. Become useful. Share your knowledge, or have an opinion on your industry. Keep it professional and always make sure you add value. Become known for your insights and helpfulness.
5. Small is beautiful – start small and grow your story and brand. Don’t expect an overnight sensation. Build your connections and followers organically. A high number of followers doesn’t mean that all of them are potential customers. Quality over quantity.
6. Follow trends and keep your finger on the pulse. Keep abreast of what is going on in your industry and get involved. You can inspire by being ahead of the curve.
7. Engage – invite questions and start conversations with your customers. Make sure you take the time to reply to any questions. People buy from people and what better way to show the human side to your business than to take the time to be social on your social media.
8. Use eye-catching visuals – tweets with images get 150% more retweets, Facebook posts receive 2.3 times more engagement than those without visuals. You can’t get more visual than Instagram, if this is the right platform for your brand then make sure you have beautiful pictures. They don’t have to be professional but do make sure they reflect your brand.
9. Use stories to relate to your customers. Storytelling is as old as the hills and is still a major force in content creation. Create interesting content, that is relatable and real. Think about any content you have shared in the past, what was it that made you want to share it with your followers.
10. Use third party endorsements to spread your message in the form of guest blogs, testimonials or IG stories. Run competitions, build relationships with suppliers and staff as well as customers.
Fiona Johnson is a reputation builder who draws upon her extensive 25-year experience having worked across marketing and PR, both for agencies and in house. Helping owner-run small and medium-sized businesses to gain visibility and create powerful communications both on-line and through traditional media. If your business has reached a plateau and you need help to take your reputation to the next level or to strengthen your brand and grow your customer base then get in touch.
Reputation Builder & PR Trainer