Media Relations Fuels Social Media

I continue to hear confusion from some businesses about social media. Many businesses, artists and stars have had great success stories. Many have not. Meanwhile, the advocacy world has had some great successes to share. Even the success of the “Arab Spring” two years ago is credited to Twitter because of its speed, accuracy and viral intensity.

Does that mean that social media is right for your business or organization? No. Can you afford to ignore social media? No. If you care about your search rankings on Google or if you care about market research, keep reading. If you care about traditional media coverage, social media is for you.

Who Is The Social Director? Most social media efforts are no- or low-cost, but the human element is critical and time-consuming. Your company’s reputation, brand, and customer relationships are on the line more than ever with social media, so don’t turn it over to the newest or youngest person in the company. Delegate this duty to a person who has experience and good judgement. Garbage in is garbage out–multiplied. In the wrong hands your image can be trashed with the click of a mouse. Likewise, a veteran person who is tuned into the market and social media is better prepared to spot important opportunities and trends. These trends and openings are more likely to first appear on social media than anywhere else. Many consumer-oriented and activist-based threats also are most likely to emerge first on social media. At the very least, stay tuned in.

Define Goals and Roles: What role you do expect social media to play in your strategic plan? Too many businesses are discounting the importance of business plans and marketing plans. Social media is not a silver bullet, so ask how you can use Twitter or Facebook to build relationships and awareness. Use it to ask what people know, think and do. Use it to reward people for talking about your company and sharing testimonials. Use it for cause-related marketing. Be careful about hard sells.

Think of social media as a semi-private activity for many in your audience, therefore, don’t be overly intrusive. Create engagement that will give you better opportunities, if not permission, to pitch them.

Traditional Media: Hopefully, you haven’t abandoned traditional media. In fact, it’s more important than ever now because it helps your company become searchable, sharable and viral. Every time that your company is mentioned in the newspapers, magazines, TV and even on blogs, use it to fuel your social media machine. Not only is it credible content and link building, your news helps position your company as a leader, so be prepared to send it out to the world with social (and viral) media.

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Listen: Too many of us are ignoring the social media conversation. Social media is as much of a place to listen as it is to post. Most importantly, tune in to see what is being said about your company or organization and the competition. Learn from your competitors and players in parallel industries who are using social media effectively. Learn from those who are using it poorly. Once your company gets tuned in and turned on, the social media process will be almost automatic and much more productive.

Social Media Matters To Google, Bing and Yahoo! Many businesses are still experimenting with social media as a marketing tool. Frustration is setting in with many because they can’t measure the results or ROI clearly for an activity that takes a significant amount of time. Social media is not a great tool for everyone in terms of generating quick sales. However, it is a relationship-building tool, a networking tool, a monitoring system that can’t be ignored. It’s also a measure of your influence–in the eyes of people and in the eyes of the search engines.

Your online presence and influence will impact your search rankings–your website becomes more searchable and more findable. Google rewards sites that are backed with an active and influential social component.

YouTube Is Social. Remember that YouTube is an important part of the equation. Video is sharable, searchable and viral. It’s also a very persuasive sales and demonstration tool. For those reasons and more, Google and the other search engines will reward your search rankings if you post videos to YouTube and to Facebook.

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Crossbow Communications is one of the leading public relations and public affairs firms in the United States. We have influenced public opinion and public policy around the world for more than 30 years. Today, we are tackling some of the most urgent issues of our time, including vital health and environmental challenges. We have offices in Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona.