The Role of Social Media as an Online PR Tool

Social media marketing is a tool every PR and marketing professional must use, not only for clients but also for themselves. If you have a background in communications, PR or marketing then you applying social media strategies to any PR campaign can be extremely advantageous. Many traditional PR concepts can be adapted for use on social media/networking sites. First, you must be clear about the brand image and the marketing message you want to convey. Second, you have to set goals for what you want to accomplish with your social media presence. Third, you have to create a plan of execution and outline what you will do to build your social media presence each week.

Social Media = Networking

Social media, in the simplest terms, is a tool to facilitate successful networking and what is often called referral or influencer marketing online. Think of the “Share” button as your best friend. Every week social media sites create more cross over to make it easier and faster to share your content with others and ask them to share it with their friend, family, colleagues, etc. The best referrals you can get are from your past or current clients/customers. Use your email contact lists to connect with them on social media sites and encourage them to share, suggest, like, love, tweet, pin, recommend, and react to your business or organization’s content. Provide valuable, useful, relevant information and use your social media presence to establish your expertise, credibility, values, personality, and character.

Give, Give, Give, Ask – A Piece of Marketing Wisdom from Gary Vaynerchuk

In his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World author, speaker, and social marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk talk about how important it is to provide value to your audiences before you ask them to spend time or energy on supporting you or your business/organization. It is the principle of give, give, give, ask. According to Gary, “There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup.” This book put in to really eloquent words a lot of what I have taught in social media classes over the last 10 years and although I don’t generally recommend book about social media due to the changing nature of the industry, Gary’s is undoubtedly one of the best for communicators, marketers, and small business owners that really want to learn how to make their social efforts more effective and memorable. His best advice:

“A story is at its best when it’s not intrusive, when it brings value to a platform’s consumers, and when it fits in as a natural step along the customer’s path to making a purchase.”
“Today, getting people to hear your story on social media, and then act on it, requires using a platform’s native language, paying attention to context, understanding the nuances and subtle differences that make each platform unique, and adapting your content to match.”

So, how does this principle apply to PR efforts? Essentially when you get to the “ask” phase of your strategy this is when PR content can be shared with your networks. If you have built loyalty and goodwill with people, if you have shown them that you care about providing value and being relevant, then they can become part of the word of mouth engine that gets you in front of the media, that gets your story seen. Social media can also help you build stronger, more personal connections to journalists, reporters, bloggers, and other content creators that can put your story in front of many potential customers.  The clearer the value of what you have to offer has been presented, the better response you can expect. Value is proven however by your business or organization’s desire to GIVE first, second, third, etc and ASK when you  have demonstrated your investment in the social communities you participate in.

No Public Relations without Social Representation

In the end, Public Relations can be a powerful strategy towards reaching more than just one customer at a time. Like Gary V. says, “Use every customer point of contact to weave stories about who you are and what your brand stands for.” Merge your social media and your PR strategies into one cohesive plan to promote your website, products, services, and brand. If you do other forms of digital marketing such as SEO, enewslettters, blogging, video marketing, etc. make sure these tools also become part of the bigger strategy and understand clearly how each one of these tools can work together to achieve your goals.

My final thought comes directly from Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook:

 “Creating content that allows us to share our experiences, thoughts, and ideas in real-time is becoming an intrinsic part of life in the twenty-first century.”  ~ Gary Vaynerchuk