Social media can either help you to achieve your goals and elevate your name to new heights or tear apart or critically wound your brand's reputation. The waters have definitely become cloudy in recent times as the various levers of marketing have become entangled. This is especially true in the related areas of PR and social media.
While previously PR was more reliant on the legacy media to amplify and share their news, the emergence of social media has meant that *everyone* has become the media and is therefore able to help a story reach new heights and broader audiences, without having to go through a traditional gatekeeper. Not only that, journalists and other content creators trowel through social media feeds to unearth new stories, resulting in social channels being leveraged to generate publicity for a brand and build/retain trust with its customers.
If you’re seeking publicity, commit to using your preferred social media channels thoughtfully and consistently, maintaining the right brand messaging - regardless of the platform. Here are five suggested ways to do this:
Brands and PR professionals use social listening tools to dig deeper into how the public perceives a brand to identify an issue or threat BEFORE it manifests into a disaster. It’s also possible to then respond to the emerging issue 'in real time' in an effort to avert a significant reputational catastrophe.
Platforms like Instagram are heavily relied upon for the purposes of finding ‘influencers’ who speak to a desired target audience. Influencers also provide brands with an ability to engage directly with a prospective customer and help shape opinion in the brand’s favour.
Influencers on social media can have large digital followings that brands may use to either sell products or help defend their reputations. When you build relationships between brands and influencers, you effectively establish another line of promotion and defence for your brand.
Social media platforms facilitate interactive dialogue, as well as social interaction. That means that not only can journalists listen to what people are saying on social media about an issue when it arises, they can now engage directly with story sources and in real time, without the filter of a PR agency.
Likewise, in the midst of a crisis, effective PRs will participate in online discussions to try to take control of the narrative and rein in any potential fallout. While we might not always see the stories they want published, PRs can still use social media to influence and shape the conversation and keep their viewpoint top of mind.
One of the first places people seek a brand's response to a negative claim is their social media accounts, which is why brand managers and PR specialists use these platforms to disseminate a ‘considered’ but immediate reaction to online criticism.
Brands can also utilise social media platforms to make a big announcement - like an award win, product launch, even simple company updates – and reach a far larger or more segmented audience than via traditional forums.
The rise of social media has enabled more of us to share our thoughts and opinions with the world with ease. It’s also made it easier for us to find out what others are saying about our brands, businesses etc to proactively manage any negative feedback that arises.
That's why free social media platforms are very useful as both a tool to promote a brand as well as a weapon to protect it. But like any weapon used in a fight, it’s only as good as the ammunition you load into it.