Social Media Tips for PR Professionals
by Keya Balar
Write Comment May 12th, 2015 Cultural Trends · journalism · Social Media
Businesses are increasingly interested in using social media to promote their brands and connect with customers. Below are four tips for PR pros who are using social media for their clients.
1. Understand your client’s goals and current reputation
Before starting a social media program for your client, you both should be on the same page and know what the goals of the social media program will be. One of your clients may want to work on promoting their brand through social media, while another client may want to connect and interact with customers. One client may want to start fresh with an entirely new social media strategy, while another may want to perfect their current strategy. Along with knowing what your client’s goals are, you should also know your client’s current reputation on social media. Sometimes company employees can create a reputation for themselves on their personal accounts, while still maintaining an association with their employer. Employees should make sure their social media accounts are representative of their employer’s values, especially if the accounts are publicly viewable. Employees have been fired because they posted controversial or offensive content on their personal social media accounts. Earlier this year, Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign office hired Ethan Czahor as their CTO. Reporters uncovered dozens of offensive tweets posted by Czahor in 2009, and he was forced to resign 36 hours later.
2. Engage with your audience
Social media platforms allow for some promotional language, but followers don’t want ads thrown at them. Businesses can enhance their brand and image by making thoughtful, newsworthy posts, and interacting with followers. Instead of treating social media like a one-way ad platform, PR pros can engage with their client’s followers in a meaningful way by starting or contributing to conversations. Firefox uses their twitter account to reply to every tweet that mentions them, and to respond to users’ tech problems with helpful solutions. By engaging with the audience, you can learn more about them, and understand what they like or don’t like about your client’s brand.
3. Don’t ignore critics
Companies are too often under the impression that they can wipe away negative comments from consumers on all of their social media pages without any backlash. Instead, suppressing negative comments just fuels the fire. A recent example of a poorly thought-out social media campaign is Sea World’s attempt to engage with critics. Sea World had been battling negative press after the 2013 documentary Blackfish condemned the company’s captivity of orcas. In March, SeaWorld launched a social media campaign on Twitter with the open hashtag #AskSeaWorld, and invited people to ask questions about the company’s treatment of animals. Critics predictably asked Sea World questions about their mistreatment of animals, but instead of responding with truthful answers, Sea World chose to call critics trolls. Aside from the fact that a company as controversial as Sea World would have been better off taking questions in a more controlled environment, the company should have actually answered the questions it was asked. By calling critics trolls and refusing to answer their questions, Sea World created a more negative image for themselves. Don’t ignore your client’s critics when you’ve offered to engage with them.
4. Be brief
People hate reading walls of texts. Although people won’t admit it, they’ll skip over social media posts that are too long to read. On social media, messages should get straight to the point. This can be done by avoiding formal language, and speaking to your audience in the same way you’d speak to a friend. However, long posts that are compelling can also draw people in. The Humans of New York Facebook page does a great job at engaging followers by posting long, compelling stories.