Social Media and Public Relations: 10 Tactics to Grow Your Business

How can you use public relations strategies with social media to help grow your business? Public relations strategies have been around for centuries, and social media is the relatively new kid on the block. So can public relations and social media strategies be used together successfully? Yes, and in this article, we’ll show you how.

Find out how to...

  • use social media to help with your public relations
  • optimise your social media profile for public relations
  • combine social media and public relations into a seamless master strategy
  • deploy social media to build better public relations

There are a lot of common factors in both social media and public relations strategies. Most businesses and organisations use social media to share information about their brand, which helps increase brand awareness and can lead to an enhanced brand reputation. These objectives are well aligned with the principle purpose of public relations.

The rise of social media marketing agencies has been a game-changer for public relations experts. Traditional public relations agencies disseminated information through conventional media channels such as newspapers, trade journals, radio and TV.

This required a substantial budget to reach a large number of people. Not a problem for larger organisations, but not so great for small or medium-sized businesses, which would often struggle to get the word out about their business. But social media changed all that – levelling the playing field by making access to potential target audiences equally easy for anyone.

That’s not to say conventional media channels are out of date or useless in the world of social media. They still have a role. But nowadays, no business is hindered by the cost of getting their message out.

Social media makes it incredibly easy and super quick to reach out to targeted audiences, be they existing or potential customers, or investors. It’s never been easier to share relevant news, product updates or other information with local or global audiences.

As a business owner or leader of an organisation, you’re no longer at the mercy of PR agencies. You can adopt a hands-on approach if you want, and control what is shared and when with those you want to reach.

You can schedule your new product launch, updates on your organisation, publish white papers, case studies, and even downloadable e-books – all through your social media accounts.

What’s most impressive is how cost-effective social media is. You can target exactly who you want with pinpoint accuracy at a fraction of the cost of conventional offline advertising strategies.

So who wouldn’t be interested in incorporating social media tactics into their public relations strategy? It makes perfect sense!

But before we look at specific public relations strategies you can use with social media, it’s important to make sure your social media presence is in good shape and will appeal to your target audience.

Make Your Social Media Profile Attractive for Public Relations

Complete Your Profile

It doesn’t matter if you use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, an impressive and appealing profile is a must. Take time to craft a professional bio that shows your business or organisation at its best. Convince your target audience that you can solve their problems or help with whatever needs they have.

Make a visual impact

Don’t underestimate how important visual stimulation is in social media. It’s a visually rich platform, so make sure all profile pictures, logos, and images are high-quality and ‘Instagram- worthy’. Also, don’t forget that people will see your visual content as representing your brand, business or organisation. So ensure it makes the right impression!

Be consistent

There’s no point in starting by posting content daily, but by the end of the first month, the frequency of posts has dropped to a couple per week. Building a following on social media takes time and effort. And your target audience will come to expect a certain level of consistency in posting.

So be prepared to invest the necessary time and effort to maintain both the quantity and quality of your social media content strategy. Being consistent will keep your brand front and centre in the minds of your followers.

Now that your social media profile is optimised, it’s time to learn how to use social media to turbocharge your public relations strategies and make your business grow.

10 Proven Social Media and Public Relations Strategies

1. Plan a Strategy for Each Channel

You need to select which social media channels are best for your brand. Not all social media channels are effective for every business. Many companies offering B2B products or services use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook successfully to target their audiences.

With a little research, you can learn which platforms your target audience is using, and focus your effort on those channels.

You need to be consistent across all the channels you use. Although you can use the same profile picture and core content across multiple channels, it’s best to vary things to be more

creative and engaging. What do we mean by this? For example, on Facebook live videos are very popular, on Instagram visuals get lots of attention, and LinkedIn is the place for content focused on thought leadership and targeting groups.

You should create your channel strategy based on the strengths of each platform to achieve the best results.

2. Use Cross-Channel Promotion with Social Media

You shouldn’t think about each social media channel as being an independent entity. Consider them as complementary tools. So come up with ideas to promote your content across the various channels. For example, you can use a video on Facebook to promote an in-depth report or opinion piece on LinkedIn.

Alternatively, you can post a quick update on Twitter to promote a live streaming event you’re planning to host on Facebook. Include the date, time, and what it’s about, and a solid call to action. Something like, “This Wednesday, we’ll be discussing how to double your business sales, live with [name of guest/host] at 5:30 pm. Find out how your business can benefit!

3. Focus Your Messaging on Customers

You need to create a customer-centric message for your target audience on social media. Most people don’t like feeling that they are being sold something. It’s an easy way to lose followers – if you’re too pushy and sales focused.

So your challenge is to be engaging and increase brand awareness but without seeming to be always selling. How can you achieve this?

Your main goal for content that you put out on your social media channels should be focused on the needs of your target audience. Give them answers to questions they might have. Show them how to overcome a problem. Inspire them with tips to make their own business better.

Your content should address their needs first and not how to sell more of your products or services. You can publish a short but useful e-book or guide that your audience can download, host contests, do giveaways, and provide discount codes for followers. People will then be more open to receiving news about your company and new products when mixed in with
other content which is beneficial to them.

4. Don’t Ignore Journalists

The rise of social media doesn’t mean that building relationships with journalists is no longer a necessary part of public relations. Today, journalists are often some of the most active people on social media. Be smart and use your social channels to build relationships with journalists.

How can you do this? Identify key journalists in your sector, and follow them on Twitter or whichever platform they are most active on. Share their relevant content with your target audience, or use some of their insights in your content and give them a shout out. Journalists pay attention to social media traffic, so become a positive part of it.

When you have a newsworthy event or item you wish to promote, it should be a logical move to share it with those journalists, as long as it’s within their area. If you do your research beforehand, you can create a pitch which won’t seem overly self-promotional but will give journalists some useful and interesting content for their followers.

5. Make Your Press Releases Social Media Friendly

You can use social media to complement your existing strategy for press releases. But, social media should not be seen as a direct replacement.

Get creative with your press releases to promote and exploit them across your social media channels. Including click to tweet links within your press release is a great tactic. You can also share a short preview of a press release on your social media channels. And if your press release contains images or video, make sure to publish engaging excerpts on social media for your followers.

6. Leverage Press Mentions

When you get mentioned in the press, sharing it on your social media channels can help you make the most of it. Include the title of the publication, name of author, and, of course, a link to the mention. A quick shout-out is enough, “Thrilled about the feature on us in @nameofpublication by @authorname. Great job! Check it out at {link}!”

Press mentions prove that your business is worth talking about. And by sharing them, you not only further increase awareness of your brand, but continue to build strong relationships with journalists and publications.

7. Discover Relevant and Trending Topics

Choosing the right topic can often make your public relations strategy even more effective. Create appealing content based on a relevant and trending topic and watch your public relations strategy take off! Do some research to discover what’s hot at the moment on social media. What content is getting all the likes? What are people talking about? What hashtags for your industry or sector are trending? Also, check out what industry leaders are saying: is there a common theme/topic?

8. Develop Yourself as a Thought Leader

What is a thought leader? It’s someone who is an expert in whatever they do, and someone whose opinion is sought regarding industry-related topics. The social media platform is a perfect channel for developing yourself as a thought leader.

You can use social media in various ways to develop yourself as a thought leader. Share your expert opinion and useful tips on relevant blog posts, forums, or in LinkedIn groups. Be sure to share relevant content that highlights your expertise, especially if it has expert tips, trend insights, or useful tactics that others in the industry might find useful.

9. Extend Your Reach

The greatest advantage social media has over conventional public relations channels is its reach. Facebook has 2.6 billion active monthly users, Twitter has 330 million, and LinkedIn has 303 million. A huge audience! And these are active users!

Now, you don’t want to reach out to everyone because not everyone is your ideal client or audience. But the good news is that nowadays you can deploy very sophisticated targeting tools for social networks. These allow you to target exactly those people who fall within your target audience persona.

Consider paying to promote your best content.

If you have great content that you believe deserves to be seen – consider using paid promotion techniques to highlight it and amplify its impact on social media channels.

10. Drive People to Your Website

Your main website should be at the core of any online marketing plan and should feature in your public relations and social media strategies. Link all your press mentions, social media content and other content published online to your website.

Think of it as a central destination to which you drive people who want to find out more about who you are and what you do. Create a dedicated landing page for campaigns that warrant it. Or link to the home page or blog section of your site. Just make sure that when people click on your site, they find it easy to navigate and find what they are looking for, be it product details, advice, or information about your business.

So How Do Get Started?

Here are some essential tools and tactics to give you some ideas and inspiration to get started on improving your public relations and social media strategy:

Useful Tools and Tactics

Social media release (SMR): build on the traditional news release and focus on social media. Add to the basic content of your newsworthy event by including images, video, audio, social bookmarking links and RSS feeds for a complete SMR kit.

Publicity stunt

Create an unusual or engaging ‘event’ for the sole purpose of generating public interest and publicity for your business or organisation. It should have human interest appeal, a degree of novelty, and be worthy of photos or videos to encourage sharing across social media channels.

Fact sheet

Draft a short document providing essential information regarding your business or organisation, or a specific event. Keep it concise, use bullets, and make it downloadable from your website or blog. You can use it to support press releases and other media content.

Media kit

This is often a PDF document, designed to outline critical information for potential sponsors of your business, website or blog. Be sure to lay out solid reasons why they should work with you. A professionally created media kit will help build beneficial relationships, and sponsors will take your business or organisation more seriously.

Web media centre

Dedicate a page on your website specifically for news media. You can include breaking news, archives of previous press releases, supplementary information such as bio sheets of key personnel, fact sheets, an event calendar, and contact details of people who deal with media queries. Also, make sure to link to other key pages on your website.

Press releases

Never underestimate the power of a well-written press release. They’re a long-time favourite tool of any PR department and with good reason. They work – if done right!

What’s more, a press release is a very cost-effective tool that you can use for outreach. Something to keep in mind since many top communication executives slate PR budget restraints among their top challenges.

Many consumers put greater trust in earned media rather than paid-for promotions. So get your press release featured in relevant publications, on websites and blogs, and you’ll be well on the way to building trust with your target audience. And that should be one of your top goals!

Events

Whether you organise a local fundraiser or a conference, hosting events is a great way to reach out to people and develop a sense of community around your brand. In the process, you’ll increase brand awareness and develop potentially important partnerships. So using events should be an integral part of your public relations plan.

Partnerships

Speaking of partnerships, probably one of the most effective tactics used by many brands, from influential Youtubers to global brands, is collaborative partnerships. Do you want to grow your audience? Then why not collaborate with a partner and leverage each other’s brands for mutual benefit.

How do you form an awesome partnership? Let’s say you do most of your sales through your online store. But maybe you have certain products which you are sure would benefit from consumers being able to see it ‘in the flesh’ or try it before purchasing. So, look for a partner

with retail premises that isn’t offering competing products, and who would welcome some additional foot traffic in their store.

Here is some more inspiration for collaborative partnerships:

  • Sponsorship: get your brand out there by supporting sports teams, e-sports, festivals, or local events.
  • Cross-brand promotions: promote special deals in-store, on-pack, online or on social media.
  • Licensing: explore new markets through licensing your products.
  • Emerging technology: leverage new technology to engage your audience.
  • Celebrity or influencer endorsement: find someone who is a good fit for your brand.
  • Write to the Editor: If your business addresses a specific issue or you have a ‘corporate cause’ that people can rally behind, write to the editors of local news publications in the areas where your audience live. A letter to the editor might seem somewhat old-fashioned, but if it’s well crafted it can still be very effective. Advocate your position and explain what needs to be done, and what you’re already doing to solve the problem. If you’re convincing enough, your cause could gather some serious attention!
  • Pop-up stores. Organising a pop-up store could lead to you getting earned media coverage. Take advantage of seasonal shopping trends or use it as an opportunity to increase brand awareness, get valuable face time with some of your online customers, and build stronger relationships.
  • Actionable research. People love insightful and timely tips on what’s happening in their industry. Develop your thought leadership and do your research. This will help prove your expertise. If you have questions, then others probably do too. So use your curiosity to shape the subject of the research.

You can share your findings on your social media channels. And don’t forget to share the results with the journalists you have relationships with; they love new and original sources to use in their content.

Final Thoughts

What makes an effective public relations campaign?

So let’s delve into a classic example of an awesome public relations strategy in action. There’s a lot that you can learn from it, and some important actionable points too.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Back in 2014, the original Ice Bucket Challenge was much more than just a social media viral video sensation. It helped raise more than $220 million for the ALS Association and also increased awareness regarding this very serious illness, and the need for a cure.

Why was the Ice Bucket Challenge such a successful campaign? Here are some key elements:

  • People could rally behind the cause and feel good about doing good.
  • The challenge called for people to participate. Engagement was high, especially among those with large social media followings. Celebrities even got in on the challenge.
  • It was novel and fun! Not surprisingly, the following year, the campaign wasn’t such a roaring success as the original – the novelty factor was no longer as powerful.

These three elements together, a worthy cause, participation and engagement, and the novelty/fun factor came together to create probably the most well-known and effective viral PR campaign in recent years. Although social media delivered the results, the creation and objectives of the campaign were derived from tried and tested PR strategies.

What can you learn from this?
You don’t always need a massive marketing budget to achieve great results in public relations. All you need is a good idea and perfect execution to go viral!

VR Technology

What technology does VR use?
Accelerometers use VR as it is used to determine forecasts in the coming weeks. You never know what is going to happen but you may as well dive into the action and get a taste of it. If you do that, you are going to be prepared for what is to come in the coming years. Motion sensors also use this technology in order to track the movement of the head and legs of people. It is not easy to get used to it but time will come when you will be able to master what it is all about.

How does VR technology work?
It puts the user into a fictional environment that the person will get to interact with. It will look pretty real but it is done so that it is close to the real thing but it is not. The user can do a lot of things he or she would do in real life. For example, if it is a car racing game, you can feel like you are actually driving a real car while interacting with fellow racers. There can be several players in one VR game and you will all be having the time of your lives. imagine spending a dozen hours playing that game because you know you are in the middle of something special.

What is VR good for?
VR can be used in sports as a way to improve the skills of each player without the involvement of actual players. For example, a basketball player is looking to improve his jump shot but wants it to be all about the form. VR Technology can be used to attend live sporting events so that you can feel that you are actually in the event itself even though you are at a faraway place. As a sports fan, that would be a huge blessing in disguise as you can cheer your favourite team on as it will feel like you are actually there with the crowd reactions and the closeness to the players.

Another use for VR would be in schools where students can take virtual field trips to the nearest museum without actually being there. Believe it or not, that is going to save a lot of time for them. Students can also use the technology to interact with their classmates even though they are at home sick with the flu. If they want to be at school listening to the teacher, that will allow them to do so. Medical students use VR to practise on fake patients. Hence, there would be no need to practice on real-life patients since students are prone to making mistakes which is normal. Hence, you can’t really blame yourself for something like that.

What are VR and AR technology?
Augmented reality technology often starts out with editing what is already taken by a camera or a smartphone then putting something there. For example, you took a picture of an ocean. You take your picture then put it in the ocean to make it look like you are actually surfing there even though that picture of you is from another beach. It would give you that sense of achievement even though that is far from reality.

Is VR dangerous?
There are some people who reported experiencing nausea after wearing the VR headset for a pretty long time. Dizziness can actually happen if you get pretty addicted to it. Thus, don’t spend too much time doing VR as too much of something is bad enough. One or two hours of doing it can be fine so your head won’t ache in any shape or form. It is also possible to get an anxiety attack once you get too addicted to the game which you can’t blame yourself because it is pretty fun once you get the hang of it.

What are the two main types of virtual reality?
The first is non-immersive which can be commonly seen in a flight simulator so that you would not need to be in the flight itself. The second is web-based so that you can be at the comforts of your home or wherever you prefer to be and experience the VR technology wherever there is an Internet connection.

Investing in a Mobile App

What do I need to know before creating an app?
The first thing to do would be to research your target market including their age and what they do in their everyday lives. Besides, it would be a lot better if they would know the monetization options as there are a lot. Also, there are different marketing strategies as it is important to get the word out to the target market. This would most likely need to be done in the form of SEO so your website would get organic traffic each month.

What is required to develop a mobile app?
The first step would be to identify the need then a way to address it. Of course, everyone should have the necessary skills to accomplish their task in a mobile app development team. You know you would want to get it done sooner rather than later before someone else beats you to it. Another thing that would be required is a solid workstation. If you don’t have an office, you can establish one at home which would require a camera so you can have frequent Zoom meetings with your staff.

How do you write an app code?
Study the program applications like Java so that you would know how to program the app code. It would also be advisable to read a book about it no matter how long it is. As years pass by, there will be new program applications that you will need to be familiar with. It is something you will need to get used to in the real world.

How much money do I need to create an app?
It can cost as high as $10,000 and as low as $5,000 to create an app. It is no secret you will need to sit down in front of the computer to do a lot of trial and error. Thus, it is important to convince investors that you have the perfect team in order to make this thing work at the right time. Investing in a mobile app would not really be a priority for them but if they see the potential then it would be great for them to try and think about it.

How do you create a successful app?
The first would be to identify the problem it would address and the platforms that the app would support. After that, you can incorporate the right type of analytics so you can be sure that it will be a success for years to come. It can’t just be a one-hit-wonder as you will be the one to suffer from that. The next step would be to create a prototype so that your idea would be turned into something real. After that, it would be time to test the app if the goals were met. When you hear feedback about new features that can be added, check the capabilities. If you can do them, better add the new features as soon as possible.

Does your 2016 digital marketing plan include AR?

The New Year is fast approaching, and marketers are being asked to push the envelope (and spreadsheet columns) on 2016’s marketing campaigns.

As we consider channels and tactics for 2016’s marketing spend, we have to acknowledge that, as Gartner puts it, “digital marketing is now marketing in a digital world.”

While offline marketing materials like print, merchandise, and point of sale may be impactful in person, customers now expect a seamless experience from the physical to mobile and digital.

AR can help connect the dots. Bring traditional marketing into the digital age and:

  • Create interactive print
  • Measure offline marketing
  • Drive customers directly to the digital point of sale

Creating AR campaigns is easier than you may think, according to Social Media Marketing Sydney. Download this free e-book prepared by Aurasma and HP and find out how marketers can shorten the path to purchase, drive brand engagement, and add measurability to their offline marketing activities.

And feel free to post your comments below for the benefit of Austar Labs and its readers.

Mobile apps for all businesses

A mobile app isn’t just for the large enterprise anymore. Now they can provide a highly specialised and customised solution for customers of all business sizes.

Until recently the mobile app has been seen as an expensive, time consuming and challenging solution to develop, something that only the large enterprise can afford or implement. This has now changed.

Apps are easy to build and they allow for the small business such as PR Agency Sydney to develop a solution that is customisable and completely structured around the business and the brand. Through an app, SMEs can create a native environment that captures customer loyalty and keeps them engaged.

A recent study undertaken by the mobile analytics firm Mobidia focused on the use of customised apps in the consumer space and found that an average 48% of Android users shopped online through mobile commerce apps.

The same principles can be applied in the B2B space – create apps that make accessing content, capabilities and features a simple endeavour and you have a solution that keeps your customers coming back for more. It is no longer a question of whether to build an app for the business or the products it sells, but rather what needs to be done to ensure that it is done well.

It is essential that a business app be easy to use. Complex user interfaces with steep learning curves will alienate the customer and are unlikely to keep them engaged. It is also vital that an app be focused on delivering one very specific solution – it’s tempting to try and cram a diverse range of capabilities into one app, but this potentially can result in a confused mess that makes little sense to anyone.

Personalising the experience

When creating an app, especially if it is being developed as part of an overall solution or implementation, adding in layers of personalised content can make all the difference. By adding in layers that are customer or solution specific, the experience becomes a far more compelling one.

The process also does not demand that suddenly the SME spend terrifying quantities of cash on getting apps developed. Mobile app development costs are not as high as many think, and AustAR Labs offers this service at a price point that doesn’t massively impact the bottom line over the long term, especially if an app can be used across multiple customers and installations.

Ultimately, however, the real value lies in keeping customers loyal and engaged and coming back for more and it is in this arena that the app truly shines. It is a tool that can now be used by businesses of any size to boost business capabilities and enhance products and solutions