The way people stay informed about the world around them has changed dramatically over the last two decades — and it’s all thanks to social media. Gone are the days when your biggest online worry is your MySpace Top 8 or your AIM away status. Now, social media provides a consistent feed of entertainment, opinions and news. It’s the biggest lens with which we view the world.
Cultural debates about the long-term effects of this phenomenon on our collective mental health aside, we’re left with an undeniable fact: social media and news are now forever entwined.
According to Pew Research Center, about half of Americans get their news on social media. That means your business has an incredible opportunity.
For the people who don’t visit news sites or are among the estimated 50 million Americans who consider themselves “cord cutters” in the U.S. (don’t have cable TV service), social media is the perfect outlet for them to see your business’s updates.
In other words, if you want to get your news out to the broadest audience, capitalizing on social media is the way to do it.
We at The James Agency had a conversation with our social media guru, Jessica Suerth, and public relations expert, Christina Caldwell, about how PR and social media can work together in the ever-evolving attempt to get business messaging out into the world.
1. Cross Promote, Cross Promote, Cross Promote
A great PR story is about so much more than converting the outlet’s target audience into your customer. A great piece can be used on a brand’s social media platforms to boost your audience’s confidence in your brand. Think of PR as third-party verification that your business is worth talking about. It’s incredible news (literally) that Forbes decided your message is worth spreading. Now, use that piece on social media to show your current customers what they already know: your brand is up to something good!
Consider your own habits on social media. When you come across a product or a brand that intrigues you, what do you do? You find them on Instagram, look at their Facebook reviews and do your own vetting to make sure they’re legit. Sharing PR hits on social media is a great way not only to validate your existing audience, but show your growing audience that you are a beloved, trusted company.
2. Influencer Outreach
Social media influencers are the great untapped resource for so many brands. Some might roll their eyes at an influencer who makes a job out of live-laugh-loving their way through Europe, but this is the type of content the Instagram algorithm and audience craves. It’s the same reason teenagers buried their faces in the latest issue of Seventeen decades ago. Social media influencers provide inspiration and escapism in a pretty, curated package. Aligning your brand with select influencers—which are brands of their own—allows you to associate a third-party aesthetic with your brand messaging.
Not only do influencers know how to showcase a product or brand in a clear and appealing way, partnering with them also exposes their audience to your company. That said, you’ll want to vet any influencers that you are interested in working with before contacting them. Don’t hire an influencer based in New York if you’re in Denver. You’ll also want to do your own calculations (I know! Math, ugh…) to see whether a particular influencer’s engagement is worth your dollars. An influencer with 1,000 followers and an average of 100 likes per post is a lot more valuable to your company than an influencer with 1 million followers and the same number of likes.
Also, Pay. Your. Influencers! Do not, under any circumstances, ask an influencer for a static post, an Instagram Reel and three story posts in exchange for “exposure.” That’s a bad look at best—an easy way to garner a bad reputation at worst. Social media work is real work and it should be treated as such.
3. Learn More About Your Audience
Social media analytics are gold for anyone trying to figure out who their audience is. Whether you’re a big company or a casual social media user, analytics are key to helping you identify who your audience is, where they live (not in a creepy way though), what their interests are, when they’re most active, etc. Anything you want to know about the people interacting with your content, you can discover through analytics. This will help you cater your content specifically for those people, while creating content to broaden your audience.
PR market research can help you learn more about who your audience is, but social media might reveal that your initial research isn’t always what’s reflected in who is engaging in your content. Social media provides a way for your brand to connect with your audience on a more personable level, so you better know who’s listening. This audience feedback can help drive the direction of your brand in the future.
Want to know how PR and social media can work together to promote your brand? We know an integrated agency that can help! Hit us up at TJA to get your hybrid PR and social media campaign in the works.