The social media responsibilities of PR agencies are usually promotional. If a new piece of coverage comes out, the agency will tweet about the piece and post it to Facebook, LinkedIn, and maybe Google+. Likewise, if there's been an internal blog post or whitepaper that was recently published, those get promoted, too, sometimes automatically.
The problem is…everyone's doing the same thing. Peers and competitors in every industry have taken to social media channels, and they're all following the same basic strategy.
PR agencies have to think about how to take social media to the next level. What will really establish a client's presence on a social network? How does that social network play into bigger campaign pushes?
Putting the “social” in “media”
The answer is engagement. Many social media strategies focus more on the “media” part than the “social” part.
Here are three ways PR can fix that and create a distinct brand for clients across social channels:
- A Twitter chat with influencers. Agencies often have established relationships with journalists, business professionals, and bloggers who are active on Twitter. If you bring together a few for an organized Twitter chat on a client's central messaging – via a hashtag - social media can get a little more interactive, and the brand can stand out.
- Integrate social media with bigger campaigns. Today, social media success is hinged on integration. During a marketing or PR campaign, there needs to be distinct social strategies that tie back to the bigger push. Be sure to have metrics for success, whether that means downloads of a demo or visitors to a landing page. Analytics and link-tracking tools like Bit.ly can make it easy to see which channels drove traffic to campaign objectives.
- Build an interaction strategy. On LinkedIn and Twitter, outbound messaging is vital to establishing a brand. Get together with clients and decide how to best represent the company through proactive conversations. What topics does a client want the company to get involved in? What should the message be?
The next generation of social media marketing intersects with PR's natural ability to tell stories and build relationships. By taking the abstract principles of conversation and putting them against the hard numbers of campaign measurement, social media is making PR a trackable and measurable business asset. Now, it's just up to agencies and their clients to use this tool to its full potential.
Martin Jones is managing partner at March Communications.