In other posts I have talked about what social media means to our lives and our privacy at work, although the latter post was based around employment I haven’t really focused too much on what social media means for PR companies and businesses. Its been common knowledge for a long time now that social networking is the ultimate resource for companies wishing to get there name out there, finding people to work with and interacting with their customers. There are so many ways that this can be done as the Internet evolves but I’m going to explore the main ones.
In earlier years of social media, brands were somewhat unaware of its potential to influence. It was seen as a general public way of being sociable as opposed to a way for companies to promote products. However now the “top two” (Twitter, Facebook) are seen as an integral part of a brands promotion and networking strategy. It’s no longer acceptable for a company to just use email and website, customers want more information, exclusives and to feel a sense of connection that only a simple networking site can give you. An infographic published by Pardot, they recommend spending that spending just thirty minutes a day on social media can give you your maximum exposure, an easy concise way for you to socially network from the office when you have deadlines.
So starting with Facebook, “the place for friends” as the tagline says. What was once for friends and family to share pictures of their children and uteruses (if there ever was a place we wanted to see that), has evolved into that and somewhere or companies to gain for followers, share products and run competitions. When an individual likes the page it shows on their profile and friends newsfeeds, it’s an Internet word of mouth in a way. To get interest and more numbers they share images, events and competitions, the latter of which is done through a “share to win!” system where the follower shares an image with the details to their newsfeed. This means the page is shared to more users who in turn will follow the page to be in with a chance of winning.
If you’re willing to pay for the social networking exposure there are advertisements available, however there is no filter for the pages in which ads will turn up on meaning your product could be linked to an insulting and unsuitable page or movement. There is also a lot of argument about how Facebook adverts are expensive, not fully functioning and do not always give you back the right return revenue, however there are no real figures for this as more users are signing up but not reporting as the system is so confusing so as Ryan Holiday states “ As they grow, even more businesses give their money to experiment in destined failure.”
Twitter, is a great place to for a company to be professional with a personal edge. As with Facebook, Twitter is an easy way to get a message out but on this platform you are able to send short concise messages, have conversations and get the balance between a professional company and a personal brand posting images from the office, updates, answering questions and interacting with followers. As Andra Picinu puts it “All these people are potential customers, so you must help them get used to your products and services.”
The greatest function on twitter in my opinion is the retweet function, which in a quick click allows users to share your update; this could be an image they like, news they find exciting or a competition. The easiest way to gain popularity on twitter is to follow and tweet those who have influence such as celebrities or journalists. If they like a company they will interact with you and you avoid the managers and costly endorsements that you would normally have to pay. If you are a small business, twitter is an excellent place to get your name out there even if it’s just to your peers. There are countless hashtags for business from the self explanatory #business to local trends such as #northeasthour, which although is one of many in the country it is the most popular and has helped many companies
In my opinion another top way to promote your product is by working with bloggers. With approximately 200 million blogs online you are guaranteed to find a set of bloggers for your product, even if it is something sexually obscure (use your imaginations), so if you’re selling a handbag simply Google “handbag blogger” and you are sure to find something. The easiest way to do this is to offer them a sample or giveaway, as a significant percentage of bloggers are not in high paying jobs they will jump at the chance for a free gift! The important thing when doing this is to look at viewing figures, this can be time costly but Google analytics can make this so much easier for you.
To make your relationship with bloggers smoother here are few tips coming from an experienced blogger:
- We have lives outside of blogging; don’t expect us to be always able to access our emails.
- Bloggers are trying to make a career too so don’t expect them to sell your product for free.
- They are not obligated to write good things about your product, freedom of press applies to bloggers as well as journalists.
- Use BCC in email, we don’t want to see you’ve sent the same email to 15 other bloggers, and if we work in a similar field you’ve just given away your database!
Alternatively you could set up your own blog, to share your own news stories and give customers a fresh approach to your products. A great success of this is Sarah from Temporary Secretary; after graduating university Sarah set up her own jewellery website in the north east which in its own right gained popularity, but after setting up her own blog about her daily life, fashion and of course her business she became known widely as a respectable blogger winning awards and using the blog to promote her website as well as connect with bloggers who became customers (which is how we first met!).
With all this in mind its no wonder that PR companies and brands are creating positions to solely focus on social networking. It can be easily expected that within the next decade companies that do not have an online presence will not survive.
Pardot (2013) Rock Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day [online] Available at: http://www.pardot.com/infographic/rock-social-media-30-minutes-day-infographic/ %5BAccessed: 21 Apr 2013].
Holiday, R. (2012) Why I Lost My Faith In Facebook Advertising – Forbes. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanholiday/2012/05/17/why-i-lost-my-faith-in-facebook-advertising/ [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].
Create Hype (n.d.) Blogger Publicity – How to Promote Your Products with a Blog Giveaway. [online] Available at: http://createhype.com/blogger-publicity-how-to-promote-your-products-with-a-blog-giveaway/ [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].
Virtual Social media (2012) 5 unique ways to use Facebook to promote your business. [online] Available at: http://www.virtualsocialmedia.com/5-unique-ways-to-use-facebook-to-promote-your-business/ [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].
Make Use Of (2010) 10 Innovative Ways To Use Twitter For Business. [online] Available at: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-innovative-ways-to-use-twitter-for-business/ [Accessed: 21 Apr 2013].
TempSec (2013) Temporary:Secretary – UK Fashion and Style Blog. [online] Available at: http://temporary-secretary.blogspot.co.uk/ [Accessed: 22 Apr 2013].