It’s no secret that social media provides an excellent opportunity for a brand to engage with its customers, potential customers, media and the business community. Whatever stage your organisation’s social media activities are at, be it a basic listening tool or an intensive digital strategy, an external agency can assist you to ensure you are capitalising on the new breed of opportunities afforded through social media.
Here are some of the ways an agency can help businesses looking to expand presence through social media:
1. Education, Advice & Strategy
There are many sites beyond the popular Twitter and Facebook such as blogs or community sites which might offer your particular brand an equally beneficial reach of audience. To be effective online doesn’t mean you need to have a presence across all sites either, what’s key is choosing the right medium and doing it well.
An agency can assist you by providing some insight on the lesser known networks and identify the optimum sites to reach your target audience, alternative technologies and tools available; pitfalls to look out for and ensure your brand’s social media strategy is aligned to existing PR and marketing strategies.
2. Listening to Online Conversations
It is highly likely that conversations are already happening about your product or service online – do you know what your customers are saying? Whether those conversations shed your brand in a positive or negative light – it’s raw, direct feedback that you wouldn’t even glean from a controlled focus group – the insight is right there waiting for you.
There are many different tools, software and technologies available for tracking what is being said about a brand online around, each varying capabilities, cost, presentation – it’s a case of finding the listening tool which meets your needs. PR agencies can quickly evaluate and understand your brand’s listening needs, and can draw upon their established partnerships and provide quotes quickly.
Don’t forget, once you have your listening platform established, whether you allocate this internally or externally, you need to commit to monitoring this on a daily basis.
3. Time & Resources, Proactive & Reactive Engagement
Similar to ensuring you have the time to monitor your listening tool or platform, you need to have time to invest in building those all important online relationships – regardless of the social media sites you pursue. It’s all very well to set up a Facebook page for your brand and spend your budget buying advertising and incentives to recruit fans to your site, but it’s what you do with those fans next that determines whether you see any outcome for your efforts, or if you are dropped in the next round of your customer’s Facebook spring cleaning.
Reactive: An agency could support you by monitoring your listening platform, watching the conversations your customers or potential customers are having about your brand, following what the topics and trends are, and making an educated decision on when and how to respond.
Proactive: An agency would also offer advice on how best to utilise your social media sites, for example using your Twitter account for giveaways and promotions, or spreading the word about your brand and online presence by offering incentives and prizes.
4. Online Crisis Communications
The online world presents a powerful and yet dangerous platform. The real time environment means crisis and mistakes are relayed to the thousands in literally seconds. PR agencies have long been providing crisis communication support and helping organisations divert media disasters, and are well prepared for handling negative issues that occur in an online space.
5. Posting Content
The discipline of PR is about two way communication, so a natural fit for assisting with posting content online is a PR agency. Agencies understand engagement as the basis for social networking and the practice of word smithing and creating engaging content is something they do on a daily basis.
Other ways you can rely on the support of an agency is with assistance on how best to work the online space, while ensuring you keep your integrity. An agency can provide you with advice on wording, the tone to adopt, and guidance on whether or not to engage with certain people.
6. Monitoring Success
As with any media activity, measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of your campaign and hard work is important for reporting back to the business, helping to determine your ongoing strategy. Here is where an agency can provide methods for evaluation, breaking metrics down into quantifiable goals, e.g. mentions in blogs, links back to the website.
7. Part of a PR campaign
Social media can be a powerful tool when used in a PR or marketing campaign for generating buzz and should complement traditional PR methods. When implementing PR campaigns for clients agencies always look beyond the traditional media targets to see what specialised networks are relevant, who are the bloggers worth pitching to, and how they can use social media to connect with key influencers, journalists and consumers.
How a PR agency Can Help You with Social Media
PR agencies can help design a social media approach to engage your contacts, share opinions and elicit interest in your brand using tools like Twitter, Facebook, AdWords, blogs, community sites and listening platforms. This would include developing an exciting list of ideas on how to boost customer/potential customer online involvement with you and your brand, devise a calendar of updates and information to regularly upload onto your Facebook and Twitter sites, recommend blogging and advertising opportunities and capitalise on related online forums.
Armed with an understanding of your customer and business goals, a PR agency can direct you toward the social media strategy that is perfect for you.
- The Evolution of Digital PR Through Content Marketing – PRSA 2012 (toprankblog.com)