(Editor's note: This popular post was updated on 4/17/2019 with more valuable tactics and examples added)
Social media and public relations might seem like an odd pair upon first inspection. One is a new strategy, just over a decade old, while the other spans decades, even centuries. Can public relations and social media really work together to bolster your business? Most definitely!
In this post, you'll discover...
- How social media can help with public relations.
- How to prepare your social media profile to use for public relations.
- How to combine public relations and social media into one seamless strategy.
- Three examples of how to successfully integrate social media into your PR campaign tactics.
How Social Media Can Help with Public Relations
When you really get down to it, these two strategies have a lot in common. Social media is a wonderful tool to spread information about your brand, which leads to brand awareness and builds toward a solid reputation. This aligns almost perfectly with the textbook definition of PR.
In some ways, social media is tailor-made for public relations. Traditionally, PR has spread information through media outlets such as newspapers, trade publications, and television. But in some ways this gave an unfair advantage to larger companies. If you were a new or small business, this process could be long and drawn out.
Traditional media outlets still have a valuable place in public relations. But when you use social media for PR, it makes it possible for any business to publish their news, and gives them the ability to reach a larger audience.
Social media puts you in the driver's seat of your PR strategy. Gone are the days of waiting and hoping that you would featured in the media. With your social media strategy, you can share everything from product launches, to company news, to the release of ebooks and case studies, all from your social media account. You can even pay to promote your campaigns to reach new audiences, with precision capabilities.
Before we get into what public relations tactics work well with social media, let's look at a few ways you can make your social media presence itself more appealing to your audience
How to Make Your Social Media Profile Into a Public Relations Magnet
Fill Out Your Profile
Whether you're on LinkedIn or Facebook, a profile is essential to your social media strategy. Create a professional bio that puts your best foot forward and tells your audience they've found the right place.
In other words, be consistent. This is an essential part of social media. When your audience follows you, they want to see regular, engaging content from you. A consistent presence will keep you and your brand top of mind.
Now that you've established a good foundation with your social media profile, let's look at how to use established social media tactics in PR to take your PR strategy to the next level.
14 Social Media and Public Relations Tactics That Actually Work
1. Vary Your Strategy for Each Channel
Choose what social media channels best fit your brand -- remember, not every social media channel is going to be effective. For example, many B2B companies find that LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are the most effective ways to reach their audience.
While all of your channels should be consistent, using the same profile pictures and same basic content, you will want to vary it based on the merits of each network -- Facebook is great for live videos, Instagram for visuals, LinkedIn for groups and thought leadership. Play on the strengths of each network to get the most out of each.
2. Cross Promote Your Social Media Channels
Your social media channels should not be mutually exclusive. Consider using one of your channels to promote another.
For example, if you are planning a Facebook Live video (perhaps promoting a product or interviewing an industry expert), promote it on Linkedin or Twitter with a friendly message, "We're excited to announce we'll be live over on our Facebook page this Friday at 5:00 pm, interviewing noted expert, [XYZ]. Feel free to come on over!"
3. Create Customer-Centric Messages
Social media audiences have little to no patience for salesy, self-promotional content. But this raises a good question: How can you engage your audience while still lifting brand awareness?
Most of what you do on social media should be centered around customer needs. Share content that answers customer questions or helps them to improve their business. Promote contests, giveaways, and discount codes that will benefit your audience. Then when you occasionally share self-promotional content, such as company news and product launches, followers will be more likely to pay attention.
4. Build Relationships with Journalists
Journalists often take an active role on social media, so this can be a great way to reach out and build relationships with them.
Remember to follow the rules of good social media behavior. This means that you should establish a relationship by following, commenting, and sharing their content before you ask to work with them. They will often take note of such engagement and remember you in the future.
After a while, once you've established a rapport, you might reach out, perhaps with a news item that falls within their beat. You can also use social media to research the kinds of stories they write and post on social media, which you can use to make your pitch more personal.
5. Promote Your Press Releases
While social media does not replace your press release strategy, it can be a nice way to augment it.
There are a number of ways to use social media to promote your press release. For example, include click to tweet links within your release or share a preview of your release across your social media channels. Share video or images from your release to social media to engage people.
Also, if you publish your press release to your website, include social share buttons. This is an easy and effective way to give your release further reach on social media without a whole lot of effort. Along the same line of thought, you can take short snippets of your press release and make them into Click-to-Tweets to encourage more sharing.
6. Share Press Mentions
This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to use your social media for PR.
Once you get a press mention, extend its reach by sharing the mention across your social media channels. When you do, include a mention of the journalist who wrote the article, the name of the publication that it was printed in, and a link to the article itself. For example, say something like, "Excited to be featured in @XYZpublication. @journalistname did an amazing job on it. Check it out here: xyzarticle.com!"
Sharing press mentions like this is a great way to boost brand awareness and prove your expertise. Plus, mentioning the journalist and publication promotes a positive future relationship with both.
7. Find Trending and Relevant Topics
Public relations often hinges on finding the right topic. Whether you're creating appealing content for your audience or would like to tie your PR campaign to a trending topic, social media can help. Look at what topics get the most likes and shares on social media. Search common industry hashtags and follow other industry leaders to see what is popular.
8. Become a Thought Leader
There are several ways you can use social media to advance your thought leadership. Comment on other posts or within groups (such as on LinkedIn) with expert advice and tips. Showcase your knowledge by sharing content you've created, especially content that features industry trends and pro advice.
9. Amplify Content
Social media's great benefit is its reach -- just imagine, social media networks like Facebook have over 2 billion active monthly users! And targeting tools on social networks give you the ability to reach people that fit your audience personas.
Don't forget about paid promotion.
When you have a piece of content or exciting company news that you think would generate interest, consider paying to promote it.
10. Generate Traffic to Your Website
Any press mention or content that you share with your audience should also include a link back to your website. Whether it's a link to a product page or to your blog, this promotes your website as the central hub of your public relations strategy.
11. Publish on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is its own unique animal in the social media sphere -- and an essential part of any social media strategy. It gives you a unique opportunity that other networks don't -- to publish content on its platform.
But why would you publish on LinkedIn if you already have a blog?
The answer is simple: It gives you access to a new audience. While your company's blog may be limited to people who already follow you or find you on organic search, LinkedIn has a large audience base that might be accessing your content for the first time.
A couple of things that you should keep in mind when publishing on LinkedIn:
- Do not publish duplicate content. This means no copying a blog from your site and pasting it into LinkedIn. If you decide to publish a pre-existing post on LinkedIn, change it up so that you don't get penalized by search engines. Or at least change the headline and mention that the piece was originally published on your blog and include a hyperlink.
- Include videos and images. Just because you're on a different network doesn't mean your audience doesn't still need engaging visuals. The best size for images is 600 x 322 pixels.
12. Tap Into Influencer Marketing
The very nature of influencer marketing as a social media-centric tactic makes it a perfect fit when you're integrating social media and PR tactics.
Once you find an influencer or micro-influencer that fits into your niche, reach out to collaborate on blog posts or social media posts that will draw attention to your brand.
13. Plan for the Unexpected
Crises happen in any business -- it's how you handle these crises that will stick with your company. Every business should have a crisis management plan in place before a crisis hits -- a crisis is not the time when you want to be found with your pants down, so to speak.
Your plan should include press statements and social media responses that you can tailor to each situation. Appoint an experienced individual to take the lead in such cases -- this way you're not left pointing fingers after the fact.
14. Create #Hashtag Campaigns
Hashtags are a great way to extend the reach of your social media content. And virtually all of the social media networks use them -- some networks have even created features and tools that center around hashtags.
If you have an important campaign coming up -- whether it's a product launch or a influencer marketing campaign -- use a hashtag tool to find out which hashtags best fit your goals and will be most memorable. Then pepper them throughout your campaign.
Encourage your employees and audience to use your brand-specific hashtags. This will give them more momentum. Encourage your audience to participate in such campaigns posting a picture with your product along with the hashtag. This also creates user-generated content that you can use in the future.
Now that we know what social media and PR campaign tactics work best, let's look at some examples of B2B businesses who rock their public relations and social media strategy!
3 Stand-Out Examples to Imitate
A company's Facebook page is a valuable resource. While HubSpot excels at its company page -- seriously, we could go on and on about its use of photos, video, and engagement -- it is its creativity in another realm that we want to draw your attention to. Its Facebook event marketing strategy.
HubSpot's yearly Inbound marketing event has grown into a must-be-at conference for any marketer. This is in no small part due to its use of Facebook. Instead of Inbound being overshadowed by media activities, HubSpot has ingeniously created another dedicated page just for the event.
Although the Inbound conference occurs in September, HubSpot takes advantage of the entire year to talk it up. The Facebook page, The Inbound Studio, engages potential attendees with video interviews, tips, and quotes around inbound marketing in general and the event in particular. It's a wonderful example of how public relations and social media work hand in hand.
IBM has won praise for its many social initiatives. Its 2015 #NewWaytoWork campaign developed a reward system for employees who shared their company posts on social media, generating 120,000 million digital impressions and 141,000 digital clicks. Even on platforms like Instagram where can be challenging for B2B companies to distinguish themselves, IBM stands out with engaging visuals, including interactive ones, on everything from emerging technology, to behind-the-scenes looks to throwback photos.
IBM's digital marketing and public relations prowess is impressive with avid followers on all its platforms. The company shows that technology can be exciting and captivating.
Social media works best when it's about people, not businesses. Many brands find this difficult, and go against the grain with the majority of posts highlighting products. What else can they do?
Salesforce constantly pushes the envelope when it comes to B2B social media. As soon as you enter any of its pages, you feel a sense of family and camaraderie among its employees that is different (in the best possible way) from other brands. You get to learn about the people behind the brand who make it a success -- its stories, current activities, and its triumphs. Its LinkedIn page overflows with engaging images. Here is one used to announce a new product that builds a single view of your customer:
How much more engaging is this than a product screenshot? It brings a B2B brand to life.
When you combine social media and PR tactics, you open up your brand to new, exciting opportunities.
Let us know in the comments below what social media public relations tactics you have used to promote your brand.
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