Post written by Kim Sigelman.
Traditional public relations plans consist of media relations, reputation management, press releases, and crisis management. But in this digitally focused and very socially aware age, it should also include community management and engagement on social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are fast becoming the grandparents of social. Youthful platforms like Snapchat and TikTok are quickly gaining street cred among brands and businesses. And we can’t forget everyone’s very finicky aunt, LinkedIn, who’s getting invited more and more to the PR planning table.
With so many platforms and so little budget, how can you successfully implement a social strategy into your PR plan? How do you keep ahead of trends in a totally fickle digital world while staying true to your brand? Check out my quick tips for how to include social in your PR plan to maximize your time and your budget.
More isn’t Always More
Six social media platforms have already been mentioned, and I'm only two paragraphs in. YouTube and Pinterest are two more apps commonly used by brands. But what about the less talked about, but still-popular apps like Tumblr and Reddit? The sheer number of apps available to brands is in the dozens. And that doesn’t even take into account all the apps currently under development by techies worldwide.
Before you start creating usernames for every platform, I suggest starting slow and selecting quality over quantity. For each platform, you need about two hours per week to honestly engage with your audience. That's replying to comments and fielding questions, as well as liking and commenting on accounts you follow. Add in additional hours to create and schedule content. Time adds up quickly, and budget disappears even faster. My tips: pick one platform to focus on. Curate great, client-centric content. Engage daily. Build online relationships with influencers. Put some money into paid advertising, because it pays to play.
Follow Your Customers
You’re ready to dive in and give 100% to one platform, but how do you pick which one to use. In theory, the answer is easy – follow your customers. Social media giant SproutSocial (more on them later) have made it easier to find your customers. You can use their handy demographics guide to figure out your social starting point. My tips: dive into your demographic data and compare it with the demographics guide (or source your own). Pick the top three platforms where your customers hang out and prioritize from there.
Advertising is expensive, and algorithms are really confusing. So how can you make sure that your content is being seen by the most eyes? Besides creating stellar images with compelling copy, hashtags are a free and easy-ish way for customers to find you. I say “easy-ish” because it’s not enough to pick 10 words or phrases that fit your brand and your post. Think strategically. Too generic of a hashtag will have your post lost in a sea of millions of others. Too specific of a hashtag elicits the opposite result – no one will find it.
Hashtags aren’t dead yet, but Instagram keeps a rotating list of banned tags that will see your post virtually hidden from feeds. My tips: create a branded hashtag or two focused on your motto or tag line and use those consistently. Pick a couple of industry-specific hashtags. And rotate in post-specific tags that correlate directly to the content. Bonus Tips: don’t overuse hashtags on platforms that don’t support them. Facebook is wishy-washy, so keep your multiple hashes to Twitter and Instagram.
Lean on the Pros
Your social strategy has been approved. Congratulations! Now what? There are so many tools available to help you with everything from post creation, to scheduling, to social listening. The following are just a few of the ones that I've come to rely on – heavily. (I'm not paid to say this, and I don't get anything except the joy of sharing knowledge if you click these links.)
Follow for Follow
Some brands totally get it wrong. And then there are the brands that seem to get it. Like the Washington Post on TikTok, Chiptole on Instagram, and the State of New Jersey on Twitter. Who do you follow on social that you think is killing the social game? My tips: make a list of your favorite accounts and highlight why you love them. Learn from that and then share those accounts (and this post) on social, so we can learn from them, too.