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Chapter 8: PR Meets Social Media

4 minutes read

PR 2.0

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine… So many sites, so much awesomeness. Social media sites allow people to connect with each other, share the things that they love, and make exciting announcements. And it’s not just individuals that get to make use of those great features. Businesses do too!

Because of that, social media has quickly become one of the most powerful PR tools a company can have. With your own social media profiles, your brand can interact with existing and prospective customers, provide updates on your latest deals and developments, launch promotions, and build a buzz around your name. Instead of being seen as a stuffy, inaccessible corporation, your brand can be known to consumers as a warm and welcoming personality. It’s much better when customers think of you as their cool friend who also offers cool products and services. Since most people spend more time on social media hubs than checking out brand websites, you have a higher chance of creating a relationship and good impressions through these channels.

But don’t start your Tweeting spree just yet – you’ve still got to learn some of the best social media strategies and tools for PR.

#The Hashtaggin’ Bandwagon

You see them just about everywhere online these days. The sometimes hilarious, sometimes annoying, and sometimes downright perplexing hashtags. #GoNiners, #YOLO, #OhGodWhyIsItMonday, and #20ThingsYouDon’tKnowAboutMySecretLiberaceCollection are the sorts of things that pop up in Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photo captions, and other social media posts.

But why? Because they’re actually incredibly useful! A hashtag sorts social media posts by topic. If you click that #BlackFriday hashtag, for instance, you’ll be brought to a page that loads all posts that have the same hashtag – all posts about Black Friday. See what we’re getting at?

When you create a hashtag centered around your brand, product, or most recent campaign, you can start a whole discussion about it on these social media channels. Encourage others to use the hashtag when they post online about your brand, and you’ll be able to see what they have to say. This allows you to more easily get an idea of what people think about your company, to respond and join the conversation.

Additionally, funny or noteworthy hashtags can go viral, giving you a big boost in brand awareness. They’re invaluable when it comes to launching a special campaign or contest.

Content Contests

On sites as visually-focused as Instagram or Vine, you can challenge users to make their own images and videos as part of a contest. Such promotions get consumers interacting with your brand, generate a flood of promotional content, and bolster your reputation as a fun-loving business that wants to engage with and reward its customers.

Here’s an example: To celebrate the coming of summer, a shop that sells sunglasses launches a social media contest. It challenges its followers to take the most creative picture they can with a pair of their sunglasses. Hundreds of people post their photos, using the contest hashtag to mark them. Whoever’s photo gets the most likes from other users wins a pair of the brand’s newest sunglasses. During and after the contest, people who have noticed the photos check out the shop’s website, and many make purchases. The public’s opinion of that shop goes up, as does brand familiarity, SEO, and revenue.

Pretty sweet results, if you ask us! The great news is that many companies experience social media success stories like this every day. You can be one of them.

Reality IT

Online, people highly value authenticity. They want to see the people behind the brands, and hear what they have to say. They want to get to know companies personally, and feel like they can trust that it’s not all just marketing. You can give this to them, through social media. Whether you Instagram behind the scenes photos of your team at work, make a cool Vine video showing the stages of your product creation, or simply share a few jokes on Facebook, it will all have a hugely positive impact on the way consumers perceive your company. Such things make your brand relatable and human – which in turn makes people feel far more receptive than spammy posts filled with smooth talkin’ spin.

This only scratches the surface when it comes to the many ways that social media can be used for PR, but these strategies are by far some of the most effective and universally applicable. When you follow the above tips, you’ll be off to an amazing start in your use of social media.