How Incorporating Public Relations Into A Social Media Plan Builds Brand Equity
Likes, follows, views, and tweets have become one of the most significant indicators that the public uses to measure the viability of a brand, making social media an undeniable factor in building brand equity. With platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, and numerous others, brands have a controlled medium to share who they are and what they do while projecting their value in the marketplace. The sway that a company can have via these free-to-use platforms can be profound, so the goal is to maximize its reach.
Public relations does very similar work with expanding awareness and generating exposure; however, the process isn’t entirely organic. PR largely depends on media outlets to objectively share the message to particular audiences. Also, while it’s a less controlled medium, it can substantially augment organic reach when combined with social media.
Before diving into how the two work together, let’s clarify how they differ.
What is PR?
Short for public relations, PR are two letters often tossed around in business as a must-have. Ironically, few outside of the industry can easily explain what it entails as it is often confused with advertising and marketing.
The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as a strategic communications process that helps an organization connect with its market. Overall, it’s a positioning tool that often uses press releases to communicate with the media to generate awareness and build rapport.
What is Social Media?
With such a colorful development history, social media is one of the most widely used tools for companies, individuals, and brands to communicate and share messaging and information to connect and engage. Among the most well-known are Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, TikTok, and the latest rage is the audio platform, Clubhouse.
While all of these outlets are considered sharing tools, each uniquely caters to users based on individual preference. Social media is helpful for PR because collectively, these platforms provide access to billions of users worldwide. They create real-time experiences via shared photos, recorded videos, message posts, and live videos that support establishing a lasting online footprint.
It is also the expediency in which messages can be shared via social media that all major media outlets also maintain a social presence, proving its viability to generate buzz.
How PR is Leveraged with Social Media?
To put it simply, public relations relies on the media to get the word out to target markets. Social media creates opportunities to expand that reach by allowing followers to receive that information directly from the brand in real-time.
When used as a tool for leveraging PR, it ultimately supports establishing a brand reputation, managing consumer confidence, and building brand equity.
Five Opportunities for Leveraging PR with Social Media:
Share the News
After securing prominent media mentions, one of the first things a brand should plan to do is immediately utilize their social media channels to inform followers of their newsworthiness. Because the primary goal of PR is to generate earned media coverage, sharing this type of exposure is seen as a third-party endorsement and adds to the credibility of a brand.
This strategic step creates opportunities for real-time engagement, which leads to organic momentum, establishes social credibility, and builds brand equity. This exposure and traction are what distinguishes one brand from another.
Repurpose News on Various Social Channels
Most brands utilize multiple social media platforms, so it is crucial to take advantage of every opportunity to spread the word everywhere that a brand holds social real estate. The key is to be thoughtful about how that information is disseminated because platforms reach different audiences. While there is some demographic overlap, using multiple channels ensures a more diverse reach. It’s also wise to craft the announcements to speak to that specific audience and not assume one post fits all. For instance, what is shared about the coverage on LinkedIn would be different than what would be shared on Instagram.
It’s also essential to plan the best time to post on each of the individual platforms to avoid releasing the same information on different outlets simultaneously. Spacing out those posts provides greater traction and prolonged momentum. It also prevents brands from bombarding those following on multiple platforms with the same information. This strategy plays well to digital analytics, keeping them working towards constant brand visibility.
Create A Story Around Coverage
Creating a story around the coverage builds excitement because it’s an opportunity to provide more details about the PR exposure. Be it shared via a blog post, Instagram Highlight, Facebook Story, or a live video, sharing the story as an announcement or reveal is a way to draw followers by painting a bigger picture.
Social media is all about telling stories, so brands who forgo these opportunities miss tremendous opportunities to play a more prominent role in shaping the brand narrative. It’s an opportunity to connect with followers in ways that feel genuine and less contrived.
Share the Process
Everyone loves a behind-the-scenes story so when possible, share, share, share. If it’s media coverage, sharing how the content came about, why an account was selected to be featured, or even how it was revealed that the brand would be covered, followers find it all fascinating.
Intrigue and curiosity draw people in and ignite the kind of loyalty that can go a long way. It also establishes an appreciation for a brand’s journey and what can be gleaned from the process. Sharing in this capacity is what social media is made for because it lends itself to greater personal connection and authentic engagement. Likes, views, tweets, and such generated this way become the kind of social proof that builds brand equity.
Recognition and Acknowledgement
Since most media outlets also have a social presence, posting coverage presents an opportunity to acknowledge them with a follow, like, mention, or shout-out. Something as simple as tagging the media and writers can lead to a reciprocated like or share, which can be phenomenal for reach and analytics.
Failing to utilize social media platforms as an extension for PR exposure is a major missed opportunity for any brand or individual. Strategically incorporating all five or a combination of the tips list will undoubtedly expand awareness, generate greater momentum, and ultimately increase brand credibility. Creating plans that include this level of engagement establishes a voice that followers will appreciate.
These combined efforts are what it takes to build brand confidence, brand reputation, and brand trust, which are the very qualities that contribute to establishing the intangible yet highly valuable thing called brand equity.
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