Social media is now an integral aspect of PR and marketing communications. Facebook, Instagram LinkedIn and Twitter are the go-to social channels for many brands and organizations. But there is a bevy of other social platforms to consider, ranging from Reddit to Tumblr to Snapchat, the latter playing into a growing demand for so-called ephemeral messaging (just ask the suits at Sony Pictures). It all depends on whom you are trying to reach.
Yet despite the proliferation of social channels, PR exes continue to grapple with the how best to use them. Communicators are still trying to figure out how to create content for social media that will enhance media relations, boost brand visibility and—here’s the Holy Grail—tie social channels to sales lift.
Indeed, the effort to monetize social platforms will become even more pronounced in 2015, as digital PR further encroaches on traditional media channels.
With that in mind, here are several PR tips for creating an effective messaging strategy via social media, with a hat tip to Nolan Wilson, manager of content development at WhiteSpace.
> Be real. Establishing a genuine voice is essential. It’s OK to loosen the top button and be transparent. Show your followers you are human and have real thoughts and opinions. People appreciate real conversations. Pre-planned, cookie-cutter messages will not create the levels of engagement you are hoping for.
> It’s not always about you. While self-promotion is one of the reasons why you’re using social media in the first place, avoid making it always about you. It’s OK to stray from your core marketing messages from time to time, posting about current events and commenting on other posts.
> Visuals increase engagement. Photos are liked two times more than text updates and videos are shared 12 times more than links and text updates. Including a visual such as an image, graphic, infographic or picture will help significantly increase engagement levels. This is especially important for social channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Images will catch the eye of social users who are browsing through their newsfeeds, but it’s your message that will get them to click or comment.
> Diversify your messages. Repeatedly sending out the same messages will bore your audience. Diversify your messaging, changing things up from time to time. While sharing links to your latest blog post is great, it shouldn’t be the only messaging that you offer. Vary things by sharing third party links, relevant news stories, thoughtfully curated content, statistics and tips to keep people engaged.
> Give people a reason to engage. Be entertaining and informative. Strive to become a resource people can rely on and want to visit. You need to give people a reason to engage with you. Make your content worthy of sharing. Answer the “Why?” before clicking the send button. Why would users want to read your message? More important, why would they want to continue to engage in the future?
What would you add to the list?
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Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1