5 tips for seeing social media for what it really is: one tool among many
Who logged on and made Twitter king? Is it time to put social media in its place?
A recent Businessweek article says it is – mainly because research suggests social media may not do a lot on its own to impact audiences. In fact, Businessweek says that, according to poll results, social media doesn’t convince audiences to buy products and services.
If you’re spending a lot of money on social media marketing, consider shifting to an overall PR strategy where social media is just one tool. Putting social media in its place opens opportunities for powerful brand growth across audience perceptions (such as with earned news coverage) and allows you to use social media for things like responding to brand crises, emergencies and negative buzz.
Read on for more tips on how to incorporate social media into your message strategy – without making it the king and the focus.
1. Word-of-mouth is still one of the top ways audiences are influenced to buy, and a good PR strategy can help create that strong foundation for word-of-mouth activity. PR professionals build relationships with media outlets nationwide, preparing your brand for news opportunities. Either online or in print, millions of people see and read news headlines daily, so this is one sure way to earn yourself some influence. Social media allows you to extend the reach from earned news even further, across strategic posts and blogs that incorporate the links you’ve earned.
2. Use your PR strategy to lay out in advance the core messages your social media campaigns will use – no random posting. Many organizations don’t realize that social media campaigns, driven by carefully planned initiatives, can complement core messages – they don’t have to be stuck in pure response mode. Once you’ve laid out your goals and direction from a PR perspective, you can build these messages into a social media calendar for better and more precise results.
3. Allow social media to help you respond in times of brand crisis, but be ready ahead of time with a full crisis management plan. Social media is just your voice for communicating your crisis messages, which you should be mapping out with all levels of staff and management at the table. Social media isn’t your main response tool; it’s the vehicle. If you’re not adhering to this philosophy, you’re running a serious risk of making the situation worse if a crisis arises. You’ll get caught up in an ongoing web of social media responses and lose valuable time that you could have spent redirecting the message in a positive direction.
4. If you’re thinking visually in terms of your brand (and you should), keep in mind that this, too, is part of an overall PR strategy. Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram can help you take online reputation strides if used well, and this certainly includes well-planned and well-placed images. But remember recent NYPD examples of photo requests gone awry on Twitter? Prevent visuals getting out of control by incorporating them into your core messages in advance.
5. Let social media tools reflect the larger picture of your brand’s data-driven voice. There’s no doubt social media allows you to drill down toward distinct audience preferences, but this should be grounded in serious consumer research. Data mining remains a top PR trend for 2014 because it works when you set aside the resources to do it.
Need help figuring out how to put your social media messaging back into a clever, effective PR message? Contact our professional team at Axia Public Relations. We fear no social media. We fear no complex assortment of varying messages. We’ll help you sort it out, reign it in and then take it to the next level.
– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works!, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason on Twitter at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.