Social Media Public Relations: Social Networks as a PR Strategy

Using social media networking platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can complement an overall PR plan, but should not replace good public relations techniques.

The public relations industry has seen a boost in free or low-cost avenues for sharing company news, with the spread of social media networking platforms. Companies large and small are taking advantage of the platforms to announce news and start conversations about their products or services.

While an integrated social media plan is an important element of today’s PR strategies, companies need to be careful not to rely entirely on publicizing news on social networks. Social media public relations require a balance between new and old PR tactics and techniques.

Pitfalls of Using Social Media Public Relations as a PR Replacement

Experienced public relations managers know never to rely on one tactic to produce results. Although social media public relations tactics can be highly effective and cost-efficient, a social network is not likely to meet all of a company’s PR objectives.

When developing a social media public relations strategy, be careful of the potential pitfalls of using it as a replacement for traditional PR techniques.

  • Limiting direct contact with media. Simply promoting company news, stories or strategic partnership press releases through social media can limit your ability to build valuable one-on-one relationships. Establishing good relationships with media representatives is important to land editorial coverage beyond a press release pick-up.
  • Avoiding press release distribution services. Releasing press news via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter without releasing news over more formal PR distribution services can reduce the circulation of news to other online or print media.
  • Oversaturation of networks with company promotions. Because social media networking platforms are easy and free to use, connections can quickly feel oversaturated with PR communications and messages. Remember that social media is more effective if it is used as an interaction tool with back and forth communications.

Best Social Media Public Relations Tools

The top social media networking platforms for supporting public relations strategies include LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. These networks are the most widely developed and adopted social platforms. They are also free marketing tools for businesses to leverage that only take an investment of time. It may take some time to establish a good base of LinkedIn business connections, Facebook Business Page likes or Twitter followers. To be most relevant, be sure that you are establishing social media connections that are specific to the business account and not a public relations agency.

Each industry niche may also have additional social networks that are relevant. To build a good base of social media PR tools, check out targeted industry blogs, website forums or other niches social sharing sites. For example, small businesses may turn to resources such as BizSugar to find useful and relevant information. Companies can also build brand communications with YouTube marketing videos as an effective social media public relations tool.

Integrating Social Media Networking Platforms into PR Strategies

Develop a PR strategy that utilizes social media networking platforms as a marketing tool, rather than simply a one-way communication platform. Also, fully integrate social media connections into your public relations efforts so that they are complementary and work together toward the same goals and objectives.

Use social media to communicate and engage network connections with relevant industry news and happenings through discussions. Social media networking platforms are the perfect tool for creating a buzz for the company. They are allowing you to make different connections through likes, comments, discussions, tweets, and retweets, or some other interactions. All of the social media public relations activity should be on top of traditional PR marketing tactics and techniques. The combined effort will grow your company’s buzz and recognition further than single, unsupported PR strategies and efforts.

Social Media Guide for Small Businesses on Facebook and Twitter

Crafting a small business social media strategy is essential in today’s market. Social media both draws attention to your business and increases sales.

Unlike traditional advertising, social media allows small businesses to advertise very cheaply, using innovative strategies that deliver real value along with reputation-building. A small business that can effectively use outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to deliver audience-specific content, thus drawing attention to a product or service, will vastly expand its reputation through the power of a quick, efficient recommendations stream.

Developing a Social Media Strategy Based on Real Value

Social media promotion can be a tricky business. If your Facebook page or Twitter stream is full of nothing but traditional advertisements and pleas to buy a product or service, you’re unlikely to get many followers for your business. People follow a small business on their social media feeds because they are already interested in a business and want to know about deals and new products, or because they believe that the business will deliver real value through its social media outlets.

What does “real value” mean? The real value is something that a social media user wants, whether it’s a sale or freebie offer, a useful application, or interesting news. Small businesses can deliver this value by working their business name unobtrusively into a desired application (for example, a database of recipes using an edible product), providing news on a related topic (a small investment firm Tweeting about market trends), or of course by providing discounts and free stuff as a loyalty measure for following a Twitter feed or liking a Facebook page.

Providing valuable information or applications, whether directly through the social media stream or through a link, builds a businesses reputation and makes following that business desirable. If a user follows a business for its informative daily updates on health news, for example, that person is unlikely to mind the occasional promotional pitch or notice about a new product. Real value also means that a user is more likely to recommend that feed to his or her friends–and that’s the value of social media.

How to Implement Social Media Promotion for a Small Business

Small business owners need to be aware of the relative value of a social media presence and decide accordingly how much time and money to devote to it. Social media does require constant effort–most Twitter feeds are updated at least 2-3 times a day, while Facebook pages can be updated a few times a week. Social media is also most effective when integrated with a business’s website, blog, and/or e-mail lists.

The best strategy is to have one staff member do all the social media for a business, and for that person to be thoroughly trained in how social media works. This staff member should be responsible for Tweeting and updating the Facebook page, but also for keeping the business’s social media presence interactive.

No one likes a social media user who only talks about himself, and the same goes for businesses. For example, the social media staff member might re-Tweet mentions of the business or interesting related news that other users are Tweeting, post links to affiliated business’s content on Facebook, and manage @ replies to the business on Twitter.

When it comes to creating value, sometimes it is useful to hire a consultant. For example, the one-time cost of hiring someone to create a mobile application with embedded promotional material that can then be shared around the social network is likely to have considerable long-term value.

The key to social media for small businesses is to be interactive, keep up with the pace of social media, and keep delivering fresh real value that followers can depend on. Never let a social media feed lag empty, and always thank users who recommend you to their friends. You never know how these small efforts will pay off in the long run.

Advantages of Blogging for Online Businesses

How to Maximize Time Spent Blogging and Reap the Benefits

Using blogs for advertising the business is a great way for the business owners to approach their potential customers and target market, advertise online and establish certain expertise.
Blogs, once defined as personal journals or diaries, have evolved into a dynamic marketing tool for business owners. There are several advantages to maintaining an online business blog and, when done properly, blogging offers a healthy return on the time investment required.

Blogs Allow Online Business Owners to Expand on Product Descriptions

The blog posts are highlighting all the advantages and features of the products you want to sell online. You can add a picture of the product and add a hyperlink to the online market page.

This strategy for increasing the awareness for the business’ products os a great inexpensive way.

Participation in a Blogging Community Opens Doors to New Markets

Bloggers who actively participate in a blogging community of their peers enjoy the increased exposure generated by commenting on other people’s blogs or guest blogging. Guest bloggers write a post for publication on a related blog site, with a link back to their own blog. This is a win-win for both participants, as the guest blogger is exposed to new readers and the host blogger has a fresh, new perspective to offer their audience.

Blogging in a Specific Niche or Industry Helps Establish Expertise

Consumers turn to trusted sources to help make online buying decisions. Become that authoritative presence by providing a unique perspective and timely, relevant blog posts on the industry as a whole, specific products, and trends.

Always fact-check and thoroughly proofread articles before posting to help establish a professional presence through blogging. Link to credible sources when quoting statistics or making statements.

Blogging is an Interactive Publishing Platform and Encourages Customer Participation

Blogs give readers and potential customers the opportunity to explore and ask questions, make comments, or offer suggestions. Use open-ended questions, offer prizes or coupons for participation, and create polls to generate interest and get people talking.

Monitor reader comments and promptly answer all questions. Responding to negative comments or complaints quickly and openly gives other readers a good impression of the dedication to customer service.

Blogs Help Drive Traffic to the E-Commerce Storefront

Blogging is a great way to provide the in-depth information readers are looking for; feature blog post teasers on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to draw in readers. Always link to the product or service sales page for interested consumers.

Also, display the e-commerce storefront URL and link prominently on the front page of the blog. Readers who have to go searching for contact information may stop clicking and just go look somewhere else.

Blog Feeds Deliver New Content Directly to Interested Readers

Having readers subscribe to a business blog is really the Holy Grail of blogging. New product descriptions, sales, coupons, articles, and other marketing material are delivered directly to the email inbox of a reader who has expressed interest in receiving these continued updates. This is the ultimate mailing list.

Place a subscription sign-up widget prominently, above the fold, on the front page of the blog.

How to Develop a Business Blogging Strategy

Blogging does not have to be time-consuming. Decide how much time it will take each day or several times per week to write a new blog post. While it might seem to make sense to post many articles in the beginning to populate the blog, readers come to expect and look forward to new publications, especially if they are subscribers. Set an expectation that is manageable over time to avoid disappointing readers with sporadic posts.

Keep blog posts short and to the point, between 200 and 400 words, on average. Use pictures to catch the reader’s eye and generate interest. White space, bold subheadings, and bulleted lists help visitors read online content and keep them reading to the end.

Create and test the blog before promoting to give each reader a great first impression. Above all, blog regularly and provide interesting content to attract and keep readers.

How & Why Bloggers and Business Comment On Blogs

Reasons For Adding Blog Comments with Step by Step Instructions

Learn how and why to add comments to blogs and exploit a cost-effective way for small business and bloggers to increase website and blog traffic.

An important element of blogging is the ability to comment on other blog posts. Adding comments can build connections between bloggers and readers as well as building relationships between small businesses and their customers. This can lead to links between blogs, websites and people and can further lead to increased visitors and traffic.

An understanding of the reasons why commenting on a blog can be helpful as well as learning how to add comments means that a small business or blogger can implement a plan to use comments to build visitors.

Why Comment On A Blog

There are many good reasons to add comments to a blog post. These include:

  1. Most blogs allow links back to the commenter (often back to the commenter’s own website or blog). Some blogs also allow multiple links within the comment too. Every link increases the opportunities for visitors to follow the link and so generating another visitor.
  2. Carefully selecting the blogs posts to add comments to and giving thoughtful comments can help build a reputation as an expert.
  3. Consistently adding value to a blog will attract attention and may lead to a link in the bloggers’ blogroll (a more permanent link visible on the sidebar of most blogs – an opportunity to drive more traffic).
  4. Bloggers appreciate comments and adding comments is also an opportunity to influence views (of the blogger, other commenters and readers).

In summary, building links and relationships are important for both business marketing and social networking, and adding comments to a blog allows connections to be built at little cost (of money or effort).

How To Comment On A Blog

There are many different blogs, using different blogging software, so no two blogs are the same, sometimes making it difficult to work out how to add a comment.

  • The first step is to read the complete blog post. Sometimes this means having to click on the actual post itself if it’s in a long list of posts.
  • If a blog post has a comment box at the bottom, then go to the next step. If there is no comment box then look for a link with ‘comment’ ‘0 comments’ ‘no comment’ ‘10 comments’ ‘add comment’ or something similar and follow the link. That should open up the blog post with room for comment at the bottom.
  • Different bloggers will ask for different information before allowing a comment to be added. Typical information required is:
    • A name. The name is often turned into a link to the commenter’s website.
    • An email address. The email address is not usually shown on the comment.
    • A website address. The website address is usually shown on the comment
    • The comment itself. Some blogs allow links to be added within the comment body some don’t. Some blogs allow some formatting within the comment or even an image to be included.

On some blogs creating an account and logging in is a requirement before adding a comment is allowed. Decide whether it’s worthwhile spending the time to create an account depending on the likely frequency of commenting – creating an account is usually a speedy process.

Most blogs will not display the comment immediately as the comment will have to be approved by the blogger. This helps to fight spam.

The little picture sometimes shown next to comment is called an avatar and if you create one (one popular globally recognized avatar is Gravatar), it will be shown wherever you’ve commented on any blog on the internet.

Implementing a plan to regularly add comments to blogs is a cost-effective way for small business and bloggers who have set up a blog to increase website and blog traffic.

Social Media Marketing Made Easy

Social Media Marketing utilizes a variety of Internet tools to strengthen customer relationships, in turn leading to increased sales.

Social Media Marketing, an innovative manner of business promotion using Internet tools to build customer trust and loyalty, offers a low-cost method for companies to enhance sales. The goals behind utilizing many of these web tools are search engine optimization, otherwise known as SEO, and also cultivating a friendly relationship with customers.

Internet marketing is essential to modern business not only because these promotion tools are free to use, but they also build a friendly approach to the business/customer relationship. Writer Moira Gentry of Network Design & Communications, explains, “Social media marketing is using online social media to reach prospects, communicate with customers, improve internal efficiency and morale, and — most of all probably — to present and manage a brand,” or to put it more precisely, “It makes cold calls warm.”

Three Top Social Media Marketing Tools

Although Twitter was originally created to act as a mobile “away message,” some people still have no idea how to use it. “Twitter’s great for mass texting, sharing news – and knowing immediately what your customers and/or the press are saying about you. You shouldn’t find out a day later – you can know right now, and you can join the conversation and fix mistakes and celebrate good news,” clarifies Gentry.

The popular social networking site, Facebook, can not only save money on direct mail but also provides a simple, cost-effective means of announcing specials and free samples. Additionally, a business page on Facebook builds customer trust, as well as attracting new customers. No business should be without a Facebook page.

Receiving “more than 9 billion page views per month,” Craigslist is useful for boosting website traffic by means of search engine optimization. One useful method for improving a company’s SEO ranking is by placing inbound links in ads, announcing either free samples or product discounts.

Additional Social Media Marketing Tools

Since the plethora of media marketing tools available on the web can be overwhelming, figuring out the advertising needs of a company first will help to determine which tools to focus on using.

For instance, photo sharing sites such as Flickr and Picasa allow companies to save money otherwise spent on catalog production, by placing product photos online for free instead. No cost and immediate results make YouTube an ideal replacement for expensive TV ad time. Other means of marketing businesses include blogs, posting product reviews on Amazon, and offering helpful advice in subject appropriate online communities.

Most businesses taking advantage of these Internet marketing tools will watch expenses decrease while sales increase. Whereas the Internet has added complexity to doing business, thanks to social media marketing, it has also added another level to the method and meaning of nurturing customer relationships. And the best part is that it is free.

Successful Brand Name Marketing

How Trademarks Are Used to Appeal to a Person’s Sense of Power

Successful brands cultivate an aurora of elitism and luxury around their product, appealing to a person’s vain “sense of power” as defined by sociologist Max Weber.

A diva in the automotive industry, Maserati lays claim to some fabulous cars, including the Gran Turismo and Quattro Porte (Maserati). An examination of the Maserati showroom, located in Manhattan, New York, shows dazzling cars and an array of pricey merchandise. Care for a Jacquard Regimental tie? $75. Cotton beach towels run cheap: $82.

With the exception of extra aesthetics, ergonomics, and jounce, a Maserati automobile makes little difference to the casual driver. Why would somebody pay an inordinate price for a Maserati car or beach towel? Simply put – it is a Maserati, and Maserati is a brand name.

The Concept of Brand Names in Marketing

Few concepts are as powerful in marketing as “brand names.” The goal of a brand name is to create a brand essence which “creates a relationship with the consumer, making an emotional connection” (BrandWerks). A prominent brand name equals more cash revenue. In 2001, the gargantuan diamond monopoly De Beers announced the end of their century-old cartel and a switch to a “Supplier of Choice” marketing philosophy.

Nicholas Stein, a writer for Fortunesardonically noted that “De Beers has set in motion a formula for making the diamonds under its control more valuable – simply because they have the company’s imprimatur.” Rather than controlling the majority of the world’s diamond supply, De Beers chose to use brand name marketing. Marc Globe, an author of Emotional Building, noted, “Brands are always taking advantage of the emotional need for a social experience” (qt. in Brandweek’s). By using attractive models and slogans about eternal love, De Beers insinuates that a diamond ring can offer a satisfying emotional experience.

The Concept of Brand Names in Sociology

Sociologically speaking, brand names not only appeal to a social experience but a person’s sense of power. Sociologist Max Weber (1864 – 1920) thought power is “the ability to accomplish your goals even when others are acting in opposition” (Witt, 80). He divided power into three sections: class, status, and party. The class has two subsections: economic resources and workplace skills. Status is about who you know and what people think of you. Party is the “capacity to organize to accomplish some specific goal” (Witt, 87-89). Successful brand names appeal to a person’s wish for class and status.

Brand Names Present an Image of Luxury and Wealth

Buying into luxury goods presents the visage of wealth. By donning Oakley sunglasses, the wearer sends an important message: I have money to spend on opulent items that are expensive. One of the most popular fashion companies, Gucci, depends on this principle for its success. “Gucci understood the importance of building a reputation … products were a hit and quickly became status symbols synonymous with luxury” (Manning-Shaffel). Without the Gucci emblem, a purse is just a handbag, but with that symbol, a purse is transformed into a representation of wealth.

Brand Names Give Consumers a Feeling of Importance

John Dewey, a famed American philosopher, commented that the deepest urge in human nature is “the desire to be important” (qt. in Carnegie, 18). Luxury brand marketers know this. The automotive company, Ferrari, has among the most expensive and sought-after cars on the planet. The burgeoning number of Ferrari-drooling millionaires has extended the waiting list time to two years in some countries.

Despite this incredible demand, Ferrari refuses to drastically increase its output (Frank). Why? Because, “As more and more people get rich, they can’t all have the same luxury goods. Or if they can, they’re no longer luxury goods” (Frank). Jens Baumgarten, head of financial services at Simon Kucher & Partners, said that luxury corporations “are not selling goods, they are selling an emotion” (Lindner). The Ferrari consumer, as part of a small group, believes he is respected and elite.

Robert Blanchard, former P&G executive, wrote that “As a person, you can respect, like and even love a brand.” (“Parting Essay, 1999). Brand names make people feel richer, wealthier, more elite and more important. With all those attributes, who wouldn’t buy a Maserati beach towel, eighty-two dollars or not?