Building Public Relations through Social Media

“There are so many uses — conversational marketing, reaching influencers — that PR is able to participate in conversations and answer questions, be a support system for clients and companies, as well as empowering customers and power users to be a de facto resource for your company, a champion for your products.” – Jeremy Pepper

Social media has become indispensable for companies and individuals to get messages across to many people with a single click. Building public relations through social media then flows naturally as it is designed to reach the general public and is extremely viable, efficient and cost effective. Studies prove that companies that focus on their social media sites and the content are able to garner at least a 55% increase in the ‘traffic’, thereby increasing prominence of these sites. We earlier discussed how blogs and updates were required to maintain customer engagement and studies also reveal that there is around 97% increase in the search ranking of a company’s website and social media sites as a result.

The focus of any public relations campaign through social media is to provide visibility to the company, its offerings and its customer service and other endeavours. It is about building bonds and associations with people who matter and who can help your company’s cause of extending its reach and getting across to a wider cross-section of audiences. Ever since the emergence and upward trend of social media communication, public relations, is no longer the domain of traditional methods of communication. The various social media sites serve many different purposes and yet have the commonality of business interactions and exchanges that lead to the growth and expansion of a company and also individual career growth and relationship building.

It is extremely crucial to integrate public relations with social media and this would require robust strategies and a clear plan to ensure its success. This is extremely crucial since anything that goes on-line via social media sites is almost immediately read by innumerable people across the world. Damaging and building public relations through social media are both tremendously easy. The fact is that whatever gets on to the social media sites is believed to be true and instantly associated with the company and its offerings and the company or individual would have to claim responsibility for what goes on to their particular ‘site’.

Very often social media sites are used by clients and customers to express their dissatisfaction with a company and there may be words and expressions that could cause irreparable damage. Building public relations through social media is also about people who read these sites and post on them. It is vital to remember that it is their responsibility to be responsible ‘partners’ and be cautious and prudent while posting comments or pictures. People will believe what is mentioned on these sites and would associate whatever is mentioned on these sites, with the company or individual irrespective of whether they were true or not and could create a negative impact. Companies and individuals too must remember to keep tabs on their sites on a daily basis so as to be able to address any negative issues that could crop up.

Successfully building public relations through social media demands that the ‘owner’ remain calm and composed even in the face of negative or hostile comments. It never bodes well to respond to negativity in the same tone especially with clients and customers as this would have detrimental consequences. There could be others that could add to the comments and the virtual argument could soon take up humongous proportions. The site ‘owners’ instead must respond calmly, swiftly and openly to the comments and seek to resolve the issues before they become unmanageable.

In order that your endeavours of building public relations through social media are successful, it is imperative to remember that the strategies must be well-thought out, consistent and continually measurable. Building public relations very clearly is not a one-off or short term activity. It takes effort, some failed attempts and serious commitment to make it succeed.

The great part of social media sites is that they allow you to share vital information, news and other views that would be important to spread awareness for your company and site. This ‘sharing’ has the ability to increase reach, readership and allows a company / individual to share information without intrusive emails.

Building public relations through social media also entails adding some expert comments and sharing one’s expertise on certain topics. This makes a quick and deep impact on all those who read the value-added information. Such expertise also prevents rumours and ill-aimed comments from being believed. When companies offer solutions pro-actively people begin to look to them for advice rather than believing just anything that is written. As the company begins to be noticed and looked at as a subject matter expert, people also pay closer attention to their brands and offerings.

In order to position the company’s brand as a benchmark or one that people identify with, it would be immensely helpful to have a robust strategy to help with building public relations through social media and other channels. Your company must become the go-to company and people should know that if they need advice on a particular product or brand, they could first check your brand and the advice offered before going elsewhere. As your company acquires this status, there will be positives references exchanged and your efforts will bear abundant fruit.

Amongst the most important aspects of building public relations through social media is remaining aware of the fact that the content is SEO friendly. Without the content being easily ‘picked’ up by search engines such that visibility and reach increases, the content and information shared would not be of as much value. Use easily and often searched keywords in your content such that people associate your company and brand with them. Popularizing terms and keywords by frequent usage will broaden your reach across all channels and a larger cross-section of audience.

Building public relations through social media translates to inspiring awe and positive interest towards your company and in the current cut-throat competitive market this would be an indispensable tool. Positive attention would increase your company’s ranking and draw more visitors increasing the chances of business and profits.

The various methods and uses of social media in building public relations are endless and those mentioned above are just a small part. Every company must put careful thought in their public relations strategy such that they can leverage and harness the power of social media to gain popularity and engagement for their company and its offerings. If used with care and prudence, building public relations through social media can be highly effective and have far-reaching positive implications. Times have changed, and it makes sense to move ahead of traditional methods and use the more direct, immediate and visible platform of social media for your public relations efforts. Anyone or any company you interact with already has a presence on some social media site or another and most people prefer this medium too, as they are able to access them on the go – anywhere and anytime. It will help you connect better, faster and with a much larger audience in a single interaction – something no company or brand can ignore.

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