When you stop to think about it, the rise and growth of social media have provided PR professionals with many new and incredible opportunities. In fact, social media is now so useful to an overall PR strategy that you should dedicate a sizeable portion of your plan to social media PR.
The goals of PR are to tell a brand story in a compelling way, create excitement about the brand’s product or service, and motivate trusted third parties like the media or customers to sing the brand’s praises. Social media platforms have given PR professionals an entirely new toolbox to achieve these goals.
These platforms are now considered online “stages” for your brand that allow for community growth and conversation. They also serve as a direct-to-consumer communications channel where brand statements can be published immediately.
Most importantly, social media platforms offer PR professionals a way to deliver content to target audiences in different formats that build deeper brand connections.
Overlooking social platforms as part of a complete PR plan would be a mistake. They should be deliberately and thoughtfully built into your PR plan with measurable tactics.
So how to use social media PR successfully, you ask? There are several specific ways to set yourself up for success:
- How to use social media for PR?
How to use social media for PR?
Connect with your existing customers
Hooray for existing customers! They’re the backbone of your business, and they’ve already made a commitment to your brand through their past purchases. Now is the time to take the next step and build customer loyalty by telling them deeper stories about your brand.
Help them feel great about doing business with you by sharing your company values, introducing the friendly faces of your employees, and giving them behind-the-scenes glimpses of your company.
💡 Show them you value their opinion by giving them the opportunity to participate in polls on your social media feeds. For example, ask them about their favorite benefits of your product and what they’d like to see in future versions.
💡 Promote hashtags where they can share their personal experiences with your product. As you see these mentions, let them know you’re paying attention by liking them and sharing some of them on your brand feed.
💡 Above all, respond to your customers. Promptly answer questions and respond to the comments they leave on your social media posts. This lets them know your social media platform is a place for conversation with the brand, not just a one-way communications channel.
Entice new customers to join your community
Once your existing customers are engaged and active on your social media feeds, you can leverage their customer-generated content to show new customers how great it is to be a customer of your brand.
When you give existing customers a voice on your social media platforms, whether by sharing their personal posts about the product or straightforward customer testimonials, it will lead the way for new customers to join. It’s easier to try a new brand when others have already tested and approved it for you.
You can also draw in new customers with content that inspires them or connects with their personal aspirations. That’s where the next tip comes in:
Share social media content that adds value
Think about your personal relationship with social media platforms. If you’re like most people, you’re scrolling in search of timely news, interesting distractions, and inspiration. Maybe you love home décor tips or quick and healthy recipes for busy professionals.
The point is that you’re looking for value. And as a professional responsible for a brand’s social media PR, you need to focus on providing that value to your brand’s followers and your target audience.
Outline your social media PR plan around providing helpful information that answers a question, inspires, or provides a feel-good moment.
There are plenty of ways to provide value, and so many formats to provide it in. Here are some great examples:
💡 Start by publishing instructional blog posts. Start with content on your brand website that you can share social media links to.
Posts with titles like “7 Ways to Avoid Sunburn This Summer” or “The 3-Ingredient Breakfast We’re Having on Repeat” not only draw readers in, but offer them something in exchange for their time. Just keep the topics relevant to the product or service you’re selling.
💡 Share your blog content in an innovative way. Tease a little bit of the content so people click through to your website. Plus, for blog content that does especially well, consider putting ad dollars behind it!
💡 Treat Pinterest like the search engine it is. Pinterest operates like a search engine, allowing people to search for the specific content they want to see. Pinterest results also show up in Google searches.
So, take advantage of this special feature of Pinterest and build interesting and brand-relevant boards there. For example, a cookware brand may create boards around recipes, kitchen décor inspiration, and cooking tips from professional chefs. Don’t forget to include your blog posts there too! It’s another way to drive people to your website to learn about your product or service.
💡 Provide photo inspiration on Instagram. Instagram is a place where people usually visit for a quick scroll during a break, versus seeking out a specific search, so focus on posting enticing photos that draw them in.
Show your product in the hands of influencers, share customer-generated content, and share behind-the-scenes “sneak peeks” whenever possible. For example, a behind-the-scenes look at the production line of a clean beauty company could really showcase the quality and care taken to create your superior product.
💡 Partner with influencers large and small. A large following is no longer the key metric for selecting an influencer. Instead, focus on finding ones that are the best match for your target audience.
If you oversee social media PR for a new cat toy, a dog owner with a huge Instagram following is not going to get you the value of an influencer with a smaller following that posts daily about their cats.
With influencer partnerships, you get twice the value: the content published directly to the influencer’s audience and content for you to share on your brand’s social media feeds.
💡 Get active on LinkedIn, and encourage your colleagues to do the same. Yes, LinkedIn should be a part of your social media PR plan! LinkedIn provides an opportunity to show the real people behind a brand.
Just keep the content appropriate to this career platform. Share new industry research findings by your company, interview employees about their work for the company, and provide your expert insights on what’s current and trending. Brand leaders like CEOs need to be active as well, so give them a lot of encouragement to consistently create content there.
Engage with the media
Social media PR isn’t just for connecting with customers – it’s for connecting with the media too.
Twitter is perfect for this! You can follow journalists, respond promptly to their requests for experts, and share their requests with your PR network. Since this is where they usually post last-minute requests for spokespeople and topic experts, look for fits with your clients.
You can also build your relationship with journalists by taking the articles that mention your brand and sharing them across all of your social media platforms, extending the reach of their story.
The future of social media for PR
There’s no hint that social media is going anywhere; people continue to spend daily time there, whether it’s seeking out news, looking for inspiration, or scrolling to relax.
This means that having a social media PR strategy is a solid way to regularly connect with your customers and prospective customers. It should be integrated into your overarching social media strategy.
Plus, it’s fun to join customers there, where content can be more visual, conversational in tone, and sometimes created by customers themselves.
Jump in, and we think you’ll be surprised at the results!
Cover image by Jeremy Bezanger