As a startup team did you paired your PR with your social media strategy?
Startups who fail to plan are doomed to fail. So why risk it? That’s why a well researched public relations strategy is vital to ensure the success of your startup idea.
When I say PR (public relations), probably the first thing that crosses your mind is writing press releases. You’re right.
Still, there is one thing you need to consider.
With the rise of digital marketing, public relations (PR) has changed a lot. Apart from publicists and spokespeople, a solid PR team should also include a copywriter and a social media manager.
The reason for that is simple – unlike traditional branding, online branding is not one-dimensional. The role of your PR team is to make your brand more relatable and nourish stronger customer relationships.
And, one of the key channels that may help you here is social networks.
As a member if the startup management team, do you want more brand awareness? You can do this by boosting your social media presence with PR. So let’s dig in.
The Strategic Use of Social Networks can Increase Brand Reach
Social networks are seeing steady growth in the number of users. In 2019, this figure has reached 3.484 billion. Most importantly, three-quarters of these users are publishing social media content every day, making these channels extremely noisy.
How noisy? For example, did you know that there are 60 million active business profiles on Facebook? 300 hours of video are published on YouTube every minute. Over 95 million photos are published on Instagram daily, while 500 million Tweets are posted each day.
These stats prove one thing – the social media landscape has become extremely competitive. With millions of social media posts posted each minute, the lifespan of your press releases will definitely be shorter.
Still, social media helps you boost the reach of your content.
By choosing the right social media channels to support your PR efforts, targeting the right audiences, and encouraging social sharing, you can help your content go viral and increase your brand exposure. Stats back me up on that. For example, did you know that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, contributed to 90% of social traffic to B2B websites?
Having a Crisis Management Plan is Crucial
Unfortunately, social is not all rainbows and butterflies. If they’re not careful, your social media strategy can turn to a full-scale crisis. Just remember Wendy’s that published the notorious Pepe the Frog meme or a U.S. Airways employee that accidentally uploaded an X-rated photo to their official Twitter account.
In both cases, the companies’ PR teams acted fast and took the right steps to minimize the damage.
When using social media, PR teams need to think beyond scheduling media interviews and pitching press releases. They’re also responsible for using the brand voice consistently and protecting a business’ image across multiple channels.
Above all, PR pros need to work closely with social media managers on creating a solid crisis management plan that will back them up on such situations.
Only this way will they be able to prepare for potential crisis situations and take the right steps to protect the company’s reputation. Most importantly, they need to test the crisis plan consistently to see whether their tactics hold up.
PR and Influencer Marketing Go Hand in Hand
Over the past few years, the power of branded content has plummeted. Following a multitude of brands on social networks, online consumers don’t know who to trust anymore.
They focus on reading online reviews and customer testimonials before making purchases. Stats say that 90% of customers claim that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions.
Precisely because of that, social media is not the place for journalists and professionally-trained social media managers only. The trends mentioned above have led to the rise of influencer marketing. Simply put, influencers have an extensive following and build strong relationships with their audiences.
Brands should choose influencers within the same niche, ones that align with their values and target the same audience segments. They should be authoritative people your customers appreciate. For example, let’s say you’re running a local, Sydney-based business.
Just like you will hire a PR from Sydney that understands your local market, you should also consider teaming with a local, micro-influencer whose messaging resonates with local audiences. Research says that non-celebrity influences are more relatable and that they have a 10x greater impact on purchasing decisions.
Social Media is all about Direct Interactions
In today’s hyper-connected age, customers use multiple social media platforms, channels, and apps when communicating with brands. Namely, an average customer expects brands to answer their questions within 30 minutes. Moreover, the majority of online consumers will unfollow brands that ignore their comments and messages.
This is where social networks shine, as they give brands an opportunity to communicate directly with their target audience, provide faster answers, and even gather feedback. Unlike traditional PR tactics that are focused on polished brand messaging, social networks are a two-way street.
The top social media marketers and PR professionals know that your social media strategy must be integrated with your PR plan. So you must align your startup’s business goals with your social media goals. Do you have any?
People will constantly send messages, upload user-generated content, and share their reviews of your business. Whether positive or negative, their feedback is an extremely valuable source of customer information and you just need to learn how to turn it to strengthen your PR efforts.
Use chatbots to engage them and inform them about the latest industry news. Also, social media monitoring tools and social media management tools will help you stay on top of both direct and indirect brand mentions, allowing you to participate in your customers’ discussions in real-time.
The purpose of aligning PR with social media is removing the barriers in brand-customer interactions. It’s all about humanizing brand experiences, helping people feel like their opinions are heard, and building genuine relationships with them.
Use Social Networks to Build Relationships with Journalists
Social networks are a great opportunity to identify the best news sites in your niche and get closer to them. Your goal is to get yourself noticed by a journalist before reaching out to them. Follow them on Twitter. Like their posts and leave meaningful content.
This is also an amazing opportunity to learn more about the journalist you want to connect. You will be able to see what type of content they usually share, what writing style they prefer, and what their recent work and tone of voice is.
Sure, this doesn’t mean you should drop your other activities and spend countless hours observing your news feed. There are also many research tools like Buzzsumo or hashtag tracking tools like Hashtagify that will help you identify authoritative online resources.
Over to You
With the rise of digital marketing, PR needs to adapt. It needs to be more customer-oriented and focus on creating a relatable brand image.
Although this is not an ultimate guide to using social media in PR, I hope it will serve as a solid foundation for your further research.
The techniques mentioned above, such as working with influencers, building relationships with journalists, or real-time feedback are key to engaging customers and ensuring positive brand experiences.
Elaine Bennett, Digital Marketing Specialist, is a marketing specialist and a blogger, currently based in Sydney. Topics that she covers include marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, and SMBs. She’s especially interested in social media and technology. Loves coffee, music and video games.