How Social Media and PR Can Uplift Each Other
Social media and PR can amplify one another, but only when done correctly.
Sharing media placements on your client’s social media platforms, for example, showcases the company’s expertise through the lens of a credible third-party. So rather than your client talking about how great they are, they can instead say, “We’re so honored that such and such publication is talking about how great we are.” This lends credibility to the brand that marketing language alone cannot–and is seen as more “legitimate” than an outright advertisement. For this reason, it’s wise for clients to promote great media placements via social media and, when appropriate and feasible, pay to boost those posts among the brand’s target audiences.
PR professionals can also benefit from social media by leveraging social listening campaigns. By tracking any brand mentions on social media, publicists can better understand factors like public sentiment and audience reach, which play important roles in informing media relations strategies. Before doing any of this however, it’s important to determine which social media platforms are best suited for different clients, given their particular industries and key audiences.
Establish your social media presence.
Whether you’re working with a hot new startup client that has been flying under the radar and has absolutely no social media footprint, or you’ve landed a more established client that has been firing off daily tweets for years, it’s important to set aside time to discuss strategy. In many cases, we’ve seen clients who have social media accounts set up that they, quite frankly, have all but forgotten about. This is why a social media audit is always important. By conducting a full social media sweep, you can determine which accounts should remain active and which should be deleted, as well as whether there are any problematic posts or conversations that could potentially lead to a reputation or crisis management issue.
Also, as a general rule, don’t always assume that the social media badges listed in the company’s website footer are the only profiles that are out there. With a quick Google search you can find out which social media channels pop up under the company’s name and see when they were last active. Pro tip: make sure the social media profiles that you decide to keep match with the social media badges listed on the client website–and make sure there are no broken links!
As a part of the social media audit process, when narrowing down channels, it’s important to discuss the client’s overall PR and business goals. This will help determine which social media channels are most likely to reach the right target audiences. For example, if you’re representing a consumer-facing company that’s trying to reach Gen Z and millennials, Instagram or even TikTok might make the most sense. On the other hand, if your client offers a software-as-a-service business solution, LinkedIn is probably more in line with reaching the right IT professionals.
Build your following.
Once you’ve decided which social media platforms to move forward with, it’s important to look at whom the company is already following–and whom they should be following. This plays into the overall PR media strategy as well.
Look at the key reporters in the industry: the ones you want to see writing about your client, and the ones who already have. Make sure you’re following those writers and the publications for which they work. That way, you can keep tabs on what they are saying on social media and engage with them, as appropriate, from the company’s profile or even an associated executive’s profile. Using social media as a point of entry to reach and engage with journalists is becoming more and more common, especially given how much time most people tend to spend online.
In the event you do land an interview or secure a story with a reporter who has an active social media presence, be sure to give a shout-out, tagging them in any social media posts that promote their story. And for each new follower you gain over time, review their industry clout and credibility to determine whether a follow-back makes sense.
Remember, a strong follower base is more important than a large follower base. Any tech-savvy person will know if you’ve bought all of your followers, so you’re going to want to earn a more organic audience.
Engaged, active followers are invaluable in social media marketing, just as earned media coverage is invaluable for establishing third-party credibility and visibility in the press.
To learn more about the intersection of PR and social media, check out episode 10 “How to Marry PR with Digital Marketing” on the PR Wine Down podcast.