Misericordia students Lauren Hayden and Melanie Quintanilla show off their savvy with Snapchat.
Social media is a vital component of a public relations (PR) campaign, and in a recent class session at Misericordia, PR students educated me on the ins and outs of Snapchat. “Don’t judge me,” one student said sheepishly as she demonstrated how you can take a photo of yourself and add cartoon eyeballs. They also explained how even as Snapchat’s 10-second communications will disappear quickly, you can post a 24-hour “story” and in that way let your friends keep track of your daily adventures—and vice-versa. It’s like Facebook on fast forward.
- Research. As part of your public relations research, it’s important to know what is being said about your organization on social media, and by whom. Social media searches can help you find out what the “buzz” is surrounding your organization.
- Promotion. Social media opportunities abound for promoting your company, such as: creating a unique hashtag or photo campaign on Twitter; promoting your company with a Facebook-based game; creating a blog with useful information that subtly promotes your company’s products or services; and more.
- You can view all public posts on Facebook about any company, topic, or organization—simply by logging into Facebook (which means you need to have a Facebook account) and doing a search under that company name. (This will also display the related, non-public posts to which only you have access: those of yourself and your Facebook friends.)
- If you are doing PR for a service provider listed on the Yelp website, it’s easy to find multiple reviews and learn what people think of your client. It’s important to remember that people are often more motivated to post when they’ve had a negative experience versus a positive one, so keep that perspective in mind.
- Several social media monitoring websites are available for use free-of-charge; these include Topsy, SocialMention, and BuzzSumo. These sites help you find blogs and other social media posts under your search terms, and provide useful social media sharing metrics.
Many companies, especially smaller ones, don’t have much of a social media presence. Here are a couple of tips for building your social media strategy from the ground up.
- Make the strategy manageable. Choose just one or two social media platforms to focus on, keeping in mind what sites your ideal customers might prefer. Create a plan that is simple to maintain, and set up a calendar for updates. Keep those posts coming in people’s timelines!
- When creating a Twitter hashtag campaign, create a unique hashtag and test it. A hashtag that is not unique will not serve you because too many other people are already using it. For example, if Flippy’s did a campaign with the hashtag #iloveburgers, it would fail. Why? Because “I love burgers” is not a unique sentiment, and testing it reveals that many people post to this hashtag, constantly, for myriad reasons. Your hashtagged posts would quickly get lost in the shuffle. A better choice would be #iloveflippysburgers.
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About the author: Rachel Urbanowicz, MA, is an assistant professor of Communications at Misericordia University.
Learn more about studying public relations at Misericordia University at misericordia.edu/communications.