Mixing Social Media and PR – Getting Your Brand Out Faster
Author: Bradley G., Public Relations Intern
Your Brand is how the world perceives your company: it’s your logo, it’s your face, it’s your reputation, it’s what people think of when they think of your company. Communicating your brand is a long-term, multi-platform effort: it’s communicated through business conduct, advertisements, public statements by the company, and social media posts and shares. Branding, thus, is where Marketing and PR meet to determine how people think of your company.
How, then, should you try to communicate your Brand as quickly as you can? The answer lies within Public Relations efforts through social media, the fastest and easiest way to begin communicating who your company is and what it stands for.
We’ve discussed branding before here, and over the course of numerous articles, we’ve discussed the value of social media in connecting with your customers. However, we haven’t delved extremely heavily into the nature of Public Relations as it relates to Marketing. Today, we’re going to correct that. Over the course of this article, we’ll explain how Public Relations differs from Marketing, briefly review how to start your brand on social media, and finally, we’ll talk about how your conduct professionally and on social media reflects on your Public Relations and Brand.
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On the distinction between Public Relations and Marketing, PR firm Public Relations Sydney has this to say:
“Marketing generally covers promotional, direct marketing and advertising which seeks to return direct sales; whereas PR is focused on reputation management through generating positive media coverage and stakeholder communication” .
In other words, Public Relations is set up in order to make sure that consumers and business partners have a positive opinion of a company, while Marketing is set up specifically in order to generate sales . Ideally, the two departments should work closely together, as it’s fairly obvious that they feed directly into each other. If Public Relations isn’t working well for a company, then a new advertising campaign by the Marketing division is unlikely to be perceived as trustworthy. Likewise, if the Marketing division puts out an offensive advertisement, the Public Relations division is going to have a hard time cleaning up after them and repairing public perception of the company.
Marketing and Public Relations should always be on the same page with how the company is presenting its brand.
Starting Your Brand on Social Media
Your brand is effectively your company’s identity: for every company with a brand, consumers perceive said brand as an indicator of “who they are, what they do, what kind of quality they provide, their reputation for trustworthiness, and more”. If you need an explanation on understanding who wants to buy your product or service, we have an article on that. If you need one explaining the methods to collect demographics information of your customer base, we have an article for that, as well.
Presuming that you already recognize your customer base, let’s talk about starting your brand on social media. To begin, there are a few basic social media platforms that you should cover regardless of your service:
LinkedIn - In order to maintain a professional presence with fellow businesses.
Facebook - It’s the most widely popular social media platform.
Twitter - The second-most popular social media platform, and is hugely popular among users under 30.
Platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr are far more specialty-oriented based on the demographic of your consumers. All of these platforms are completely free. More small businesses are able to afford PR than ever before: you don’t even need to pay for ads or flyers, all you need is a computer with an internet connection . Heck, if you lack internet, if you’ve got a phone or a laptop that’s wi-fi compatible, all you need to do is run to a Starbucks; if you’ve got no internet compatible devices, there’s always one available at your local library. There is always a way for your company to get onto social media.
With that in mind, you’ll need to carefully look around and research what brands are succeeding on social media, especially for your product and field. Consider our article last week on Arby’s, which is seeing fantastic growth in their PR and Marketing because of their connection to their base. Their content is generated specifically to appeal to that base-- this is the kind of work you should be doing for your own brand. To maintain consistency with your company’s public, offline persona, we recommend that the Public Relations department have at least some oversight in your online presence, if not total control. According to a longitudinal study, 65% of all PR departments are in charge of their company’s social media presence .
Promote The Brand, Live the Brand
Remember, when you look at any company’s social media presence and brand, there’s at least one other human being on the other side of the screen running it. You want that to be apparent when crafting, promoting, and living up to your brand. Forbes magazine recommends that for your brand to be popular, it should feel human: this means no walls of text and being responsive to consumer questions or requests . It means doing your best to try to form a relationship with journalists and influencers, as potential consumers and business partners will often turn to them for outside information on your business .
As stated before, it means generating content that fits what your company stands for and what your consumers would be interested in. Sell dog treats? Share stories about and videos of dogs doing entertaining things. Videos and pictures tend to rack up more likes, shares, and attention . Are you a massage company? Share stories about massages helping physical rehabilitation and the long term benefits of spinal health. Ann Smarty, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, heavily suggests that Consumer Case Studies of your product or service are a fantastic way to get people to become interested in your brand and trust your company, doing double work for Marketing and Public Relations all at once .
No matter what you do on social media, you should be interesting, thoughtful, human, and consistent. Be the type of social media presence that you wouldn’t mind following on your personal social media.
Social Media seems like a nice place to just spam advertisements for your product, but few people would want to voluntarily follow a glorified spam-bot. Your brand should be managed by both Marketing and Public Relations-- this means that you need to balance advertisement with human appeals to your consumers so they don’t think of you as another cold, cash-oriented company with no priorities other than suckering in more customers with potentially misleading advertisements.
Get on social media, and let Public Relations kick in. Answer questions from concerned customers. Be responsive and open to criticism. Post content that your customers will like seeing. Don’t be a jerk.
The phrase “Managing Your Social Media to Reach Maximum Efficiency” sounds challenging, but all that it really means is that you’re posting fun, helpful content for your consumers to help your brand.
If you can only take one piece of advice from this article, it’s that “Social Media” has “Social” in it for a reason. Make your brand and your company sociable, and Social Media Marketing can become productive and fun.
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