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.

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.