Social Media PR: You Need a Plan
by Jennifer Fair on 10/04/2012
It seems like everyone wants to be on social media these days, but not everyone really understands why or how they should do it in order to get some tangible value out of the investment. At the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Women’s Luncheon held Oct. 3, I was reminded of why it is important that anyone who is considering implementing social media PR tools understands a few key points:
Planning IS Important
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have had someone call me and say, “Oh hey, I started a Facebook page today. Can you help me get 600 new fans this week?” It always makes me cringe – and not because they have high expectations. It’s because they haven’t even begun to think about WHY they want to be on social media.
Before you ever launch a presence on a social media network, you need to figure out who your target audience is and determine where that group hangs out online. Set your goals, then align your strategy to achieve them. It will ensure that you get the most value out of the time you invest in your social media efforts.
Prepare for the Worst
Social media crises can and will happen in a few ways. It can start accidentally from your own team – someone managing the account sends a rogue tweet from the company brand instead of their personal account. A client could post a negative customer service experience and it blows up, attracting media attention. Or a group of people protesting your organization’s mission could unite on the network and utilize its power to bring negative PR to you.
Whatever the situation is, it’s important to abide by the 3 rules of crisis PR: tell it all, tell it fast and tell the truth. Before launching a social media presence, think about the worst things that could happen on the network, and set some basic guidelines about how you will handle it. Having those initial procedures in place will allow you to resolve the situation much more quickly when it happens.
Measure the Results
This goes back to the whole “have a plan” idea. If you have a strategy and set your goals before you launched a presence on social media, you should be able to easily understand whether or not your campaign was successful. To drive people to your website, use trackable links to see whether or not the content worked. If you are trying to connect with a particular audience, check to see if those people have started conversing with you on the medium.
Remember, it is more valuable to have a smaller number of people interested in what you have to offer engaging with you, then having a huge number of people following your information but never actually looking at it.
Set a Company Policy
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who does not have an online presence on some network. Even if it’s someone who claims to hate social media and thinks Facebook is the worst thing in the world, it wouldn’t surprise me if that person at least has a LinkedIn page with their name.
With this in mind, it is important to set some guidelines with your staff so that they understand what is and is not appropriate. As my co-panelist Kristen G. Lingo from Manning Fulton & Skinner LLP explained, just telling your staff to not post anything “stupid” is not enough. “Stupid” is an extremely subjective word, and what you may find inappropriate may seem completely acceptable to another colleague.
No matter what the shiny new social media tool is, you have to have a strategy, prepare for a crisis and measure your results. And set some guidelines for your employees to not only protect your company, but also help them protect their professional image.
What are your top questions about social media? What was your biggest fear about joining a social media network?