Next year will be my 25th year in business as a marketing and PR consultant. In that time, there have been a ton of changes in marketing. One that stands out is the impact of social media on public relations. Today, PR isn’t confined to just traditional media channels. Powerful social media platforms allow you to build relationships, handle crises, and share news in real time. The best part is when people jump on your brandwagon – in a good way – you gain social proof, and that’s what influences your target audience to like, know, trust, and want to learn more.
Why is Social Media Essential for PR?
Nearly every target audience is reachable by one social media platform or another – after all, we live boldly in the digital age. Love it, hate it, feel ‘meh’ about it? It’s OK. Social media is where your audience communicates, gathers information, and forms opinions. If you’re not tapping into these channels, you’re missing out. It’s here where you can listen, engage, and position your brand based on feedback, observations, and what’s happening in your world – and your competitor’s.
6 Ways Social PR Complements Your Marketing Plan
- Social PR Builds Brand Awareness
Hands down, social media (done right) helps you increase brand visibility. When you create engaging content that aligns with your brand personality, it’s easy to reach out to new audiences and keep your brand top-of-mind for existing customers. There are hundreds of ways — from sharing behind-the-scenes stories on Instagram, to videos on Threads, to discussing industry trends on LinkedIn. Each well-crafted post helps to shape public perception and reinforce your message or fulfill a call-to-action.
- Strategic PR Develops Thought Leadership
To outshine the competition and build credibility, you need to establish your brand as an authority in your field. Social PR demonstrates your expertise, knowledge – and showcases who you are, what you do, and why you’re worth knowing. Insightful articles, speaking engagements, webinars, LinkedIn newsletters, and thoughtful responses on social media work in tandem to position your brand as a go-to expert or resource. It’s not just one action that develops thought leadership, but a strategic mix of marketing and PR techniques and tactics, customized to meet your goals.
- Social PR Helps to Engage Your Target Market
Unlike traditional PR channels, social media offers a two-way communication street. Engaging directly with your audience lets you build deeper and more meaningful relationships. When you respond to comments, ask questions, host live Q&A events, and comment on collaborative articles – you’re more than a static brand. You are real and alive. Direct engagement personalizes your brand and your audience’s perception. You also get key information for targeting clients (who they are) and messaging (what they want to know).
- Social Media Allows You to Manage a PR Crisis
Inevitably, there will be a time of crisis in your business – and hopefully it’s short-lived. When and if this happens, social media serves as a real-time communication channel. You may not think you need a crisis management strategy, but don’t nix it just yet; social PR isn’t just for the “big boys.” How should you prepare? Monitor your social accounts for potential issues. Respond swiftly to negative posts. Be proactive and transparent in your communication to keep your audience informed. Remember, silence or delayed responses can escalate the situation.
- Use Social PR to Amplify Press Coverage
Want to share positive media coverage? Social media is the perfect channel to amplify press coverage. Sharing third-party endorsements not only extends your media coverage and good news — but also boosts your brand’s credibility and likeability. If you’ve followed your marketing plan’s guidelines to collaborate with influencers or brand advocates, that can lead to organic shares and help create a buzz about your brand.
- Pay Attention to Gain Attention
Social PR also allows you to pay attention through social listening. Tools like Buzzsumo let you track what’s being said about your brand, who’s sharing your posts, plus trends and metrics. Check out their 30-day trial. You might also like this list of Top 12 Social Media Listening Tools for 2023. There’s no reason not to know what’s going on in your industry, and what people are saying about you on multiple platforms.
What’s the Best Way to Create a Social PR Strategy?
Be Crystal Clear.
For any social PR or marketing strategy to work, you need clarity. Understand your audience and where they spend their time online. Identify your key messages and how to communicate with them on each platform. Remember you don’t need to be on every platform. And be sure that your tone is consistent with what your brand’s all about. Your audience can spot a phony a mile away – and a new writer.
Use Content Calendars.
One way to organize your social media PR strategy is with content calendars. They’re a must-have for keeping track of your posts and scheduling them. Our team uses an online parking lot for social media and PR ideas. To avoid being b-o-r-i-n-g, look for a mix of content types – images, videos, blog posts, infographics – to keep your feed interesting. I’m also a big fan of Canva to rev up your designs, formats, and graphics.
Make Time to Respond.
It’s easy to post and dash off to conquer the world. Dumb as it sounds, social media is about being social. Remember to engage with people who take the time to engage with you – and make it a priority to address negative or nasty comments without getting fired up or angry. Timely, thoughtful responses can go a long way to show your brand’s personality and commitment to do the right thing. You are your brand wherever you go!
Measure your results.
Most social media platforms offer analytics that let you track engagement, reach, and depending on the channel, metrics that you may not have time for. If you’re going to invest time and energy into social PR, use the data to identify what’s working and what isn’t. That way you can adjust or tweak your strategy for better results.
Bottomline: When you add social PR to your marketing plan and learn its nuances, you have an opportunity to directly connect with your audience and make them part of your journey. Always remember, you’re the conductor – so toot your own horn!