Getting Back to Basics: Marrying Social Media with the Basic Foundation of PR

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In today’s social world, it’s seems easy to just jump in to social networks on a whim. But it’s important to remember, all social media efforts should map back to your company’s business objectives in order to be successful – just as we do in PR.

A brand shouldn’t create a Facebook presence simply because it wants to be on Facebook.

Your social media and PR strategies alike should map to a broader goal, whether it’s increasing brand awareness for your company, products or service; building web traffic; or whatever other goals you may have. Also similar to PR, if social media engagement is not tackled with a plan, it can have an adverse affect. So how do you best ensure a positive outcome of your social media efforts?

Here are five tips for social media, which as you’ll see are very much the same rules for traditional PR.

  • Know your audience – If you’re trying to reach semiconductor engineers or service providers, is Facebook really the best place to reach them? Maybe not. But on the other hand, if you’re Victoria’s Secret, a major Facebook campaign may make a lot of sense to reach your target consumer audience. Similar to pitching traditional media that your customers would read, you want to focus social media efforts on where your audience is spending time online. And know the type of content these people want to see – all before you actually engage.
  • Know the platform – Don’t use up all 140 characters on Twitter with a URL because you forgot to use a URL shortener – avoid a social media #fail by ensuring you’re conversing and sharing information in the appropriate way for that platform. Similarly, when pitching Forbes, for example, you’ll research recent coverage topics and the section(s) in which your pitch would be appropriate.
  • Develop relationships – People want to feel like they’re conversing with an individual, and see personality behind a company – this is no different with social media. A PR practitioner’s favorite spokesperson is one who hits on key messages, while adding in anecdotes and showing personality, and reporters want the strong personalities and uniqueness to come through as well. Developing and fostering relationships is a critical element of any form of communication, social or traditional. Social media etiquette will help you develop relationships – if someone RTs you, thank them. If someone asks you a question, respond. All this will help develop relationships with influencers.
  • Transparency – Always be up front about your company affiliation. If commenting on a blog about a new Cisco router when you work for a competitor, its fine to comment about why your company’s router is better, but you must disclose who you work for. Remember when Facebook hired an agency to conduct an anti-Google campaign “on behalf of an unnamed client?” It received a ton of media backlash and criticism. It’s no different with social media than it is with PR – be ethical, honest and transparent.
  • Consistency – When building your brand’s social media presence, you need to be consistent. For example, if you’re managing a company’s corporate blog, for example, you want to ensure there are posts every few days. Not only will this refresh the website with new content and keywords, which helps your SEO, but new content will keep your visitors coming back, and give them more to engage with.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared as a guest post on the PR Breakfast Club Blog.