Social media has flipped PR on its head.
Public relations, communications, spin – people have been managing images and reputations since time began. While Roman emperors didn’t share photographs of their breakfast, or their abs, with millions of strangers, they were busy erecting marble statues of their likeness and minting their profiles into the local currency to cement their place at the top of the pecking order.
A lot has happened in between, but nothing has changed the game quite like social media. Gone are the days that leaders, companies and brands talk ‘at’ the public. Now, individuals can choose what information they want to receive and how and when they want to receive it. They ask questions and expect a response in real-time.
But how can you be heard over the sheer volume of messages flooding social media platforms?
Do you actually need to be in the social media race?
The foundation of PR is knowing your audience. Just as you wouldn’t head into the Monaco Grand Prix behind the wheel of a Reliant Robin, you must be smart about the social media you choose to deliver your message.
Say you’re a management consultant targeting FTSE 100 companies. A CEO is not going to engage with you based on a company Facebook page – however compelling your content. But when they read your opinion piece online in the Financial Times blog, or see you quoted on the Economist website, suddenly doors start to open.
By appearing in the media your audience engage with, you have proven:
• Authenticity – you are a credible professional featured in respected media
• Previous success – the media looks to you as a subject-matter expert and thought leader
• Empathy – you are commenting on issues that matter to them
But say you’re a personal trainer looking to expand your business. Posting photographs of your breakfast, abdominals and #inspirational quotes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is going to tick a big box for your audience.
Through those social media platforms, you are clearly demonstrating:
• Authenticity – practising what your preach with photos of your #blueberrybreakfastburrito
• Previous success – speaking a thousand words with your #abs selfies
• Empathy – through #fitspo quotes for people struggling to achieve health-related goals
Choose your social media partners wisely
Be smart about social media – use the platforms that meet the needs of your audience, but don’t rely on it at the expense of ‘traditional media’ such as newspapers, radio and trade titles.
As a management consultant: fine-tune your LinkedIn presence and use it to share thought leadership articles, post select tweets linking to media coverage about your clients and businesses you admire, or a conference at which you recently spoke.
As a personal trainer: that Earlybird-tinted Instagram post of your organic, home-grown, kale and quinoa smoothie is going to go down a treat with your audience. Better get the recipe ready for your E-book.