Companies are increasingly finding it harder and harder to compete on the Internet, especially in this diverse environment. The struggle lies in not only finding ways to navigate the web that won’t cause issues with the search engines, but also finding new and creative ways to attract customers. We are going to delve into one broad area that is actually awarded in the search arena today and can generate the attention of customers – social media and public relations. In addition to the overview, there will also be some discussion on some tools to use that can improve performance of social media and PR efforts.
Much of a company’s marketing efforts are driven today through multiple platforms. Social media today is a key to performance in the search engines-as a PR campaign should be as well. Creating consistent, well defined content and getting it in front of customers is a major role of marketing today. It is the key mode to the buying process for customers. The customer of today is in the driver’s seat and they control the decisions. They are asking for suggestions, looking at and for reviews and deals, and looking for news. They want the best options and in response, you must produce a consistent stream of information that addresses the needs of the customer. Integrating public relations efforts with social media is the solution to finding new customers, building connections, appealing to influencers, sharing news/offers/deals, and delivering measurable results.
A great Marketing Campaign that integrates PR efforts with social media not only helps garner the customer’s attention, it also helps drive interest from journalists. Journalists are often looking for content, interesting stories, events, sources and they do this through newswire services as well as searching social media sources. A savvy marketing department will make connections through social media to build relationships with journalists. Social media allows for a much easier way to develop relationships and it is a simple way to magnify messaging.
Companies must have a social media presence and must be consistently driving messages and engaging the audience. Blogging, commenting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest are key to magnifying the messages. The future of the search is in engagement of social media integrated with campaigns and these campaigns must be magnified across multiple platforms.
As far as adding new content to your website and social media postings, take a look at blogging and adding timely press releases to generate traffic and interest in your product or service. Effective press releases, blogging and magnifying the messages through social media add not only new content to your website, but also add another way customers will find your company online. Posting new, relevant, seasonal content engages and educates customers about your brand and promotes what your company is doing. Relevant topics and updates aimed at your target audience is really what the search engines are looking for…the search engines wants fresh content. I call it “feeding the hungry beast within reason”.
It’s sometimes hard to find time to set up a blog for your business, but it is a great way to increase PR for your company. Circulating new blog posts and articles each week or month is a relatively easy way to socialize with new and old clients and business connections, post fresh content and build awareness for your branding. Your marketing staff can come up with a schedule of blog post topics geared to events on your calendar, seasonal specials, any relevant local topics, and more. And don’t let your topics stop at your front door – highlight other local businesses that you can partner up with, as well as upcoming events or industry news. Use your imagination to provide interesting content for prospective customers. Alternatively, you can hire professionals to develop and post content for you on a regular basis.
We all want some of our personality to shine through, and this can be a way to engage potential customers, but don’t lose sight of the greater marketing opportunities available through social media. Use your postings as sales “touches” that educate your prospects and customers, and differentiate your business from your competitors. But be careful, as you can post and promote the wrong messages. In developing where to post and ideas to postings and PR campaigns, ask your marketing and management team these questions:
- Who are your key target markets?
- Where are they chatting online?
- Where are they looking for information?
- What do they talk about? What is important to them?
- Should we join in on a conversation?
- Can we join the conversation without being too pushy?
- Can we ask for input or opinions?
And let’s not forget the power of using keywords in your updates to provide “find-ability” for the Search Engines. Marketing professionals know that this maximizes the value of your posts from a marketing and brand development perspective. So….the moral of the story is this: Don’t fall in love with your words and ideas until you consider the target audience, the keywords customers use when searching for your business, what value offering you are talking about, and how a customer might interact with the posting. Don’t guess!
By developing a strong site structure, and using key words in your website content, blog posts and social media postings, you’ll be able to heighten your search engine rankings and improve your online presence. Having authority content online can also better connect you with other websites associated with relevant and quality businesses. Distributing great content and building social media engagement helps deliver viral postings, natural linking, and the increase in the flow of traffic to your company’s site. These activities all lend to improvements in the search rankings.
A few tactics and suggestions for postings that drive messaging through social media and PR strategies:
- Author Tag blog posts and articles! This will either require a Google+ page set-up (Google is forcing their hand in social media). Per Google: “If you want your authorship information to appear in search results for the content you create, you’ll need a Google+ Profile with a good, recognizable headshot as your profile photo. Then, verify authorship of your content by associating it with your profile using either of the methods below. Google doesn’t guarantee to show author information in Google Web Search or Google News results.” (http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1408986)
According Don Power on Social Media Examiner (http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/google-author-tags/), “When implemented correctly on websites or blogs with authored content, this small addition to your articles can have a dramatic impact on how your content appears in Google’s search results.
By introducing a variety of relevant, value-added features to search results, searchers are encouraged to interact with the links that contain these interactive features. In other words, people are more likely to click on links associated with author images and profiles than those without.”
To find out how to implement the Author Tag, see Don’s Article: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/google-author-tags
- Add a Standout News Tag to your Press Releases. Google allows a standout tag to indicate a story is original, the article/release deserves special recognition, or you wish to cite journalist/publishers content. When you enter a Standout tag and cite journalist content you are complementing them on their work! To learn more about this great tag, see Google’s post: “Highlight Standout Journalism on the Web” (http://support.google.com/news/publisher/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=191283).
- Optimize your Social Media!
- Brand your page-create great cover photos-a picture is worth a thousand words! Change your covers often as every change you do on social media gets placed in the news feed.
- Be sure to fill out the “About” section completely! Insert addresses, list as a as brand or organization if national so that company profile and web address is shown in about section snapshot
- Having over 1,000 fans/followers will increase traffic multifold!
- Personalize your profile! Link the branded pages to your personal page or build a “persona page” and link the pages. This will add traffic as well as build relationships. I have seen hotels pick a “character” at the hotel and build a social media campaign around their persona…builds relationships and makes the hotel about the people.
- Be sure to add like boxes, social share buttons on all pages of the website.
- Post multiple times per day, throughout the day.
- Use a consistent strategy for content posting…engage with questions, surveys, information, events, blog citations, calls to action, specials, shout-outs to vendors and customers, testimonials from customers, stories from the team….the list is endless!
- Images , images, images AND videos….they generate more shares and comments!
- Ask for followers and shares
- Promote offers!
- Purchase ads on social media sites to promote
- Promote events and use the tools in social media that allow you to do this!
The wave of Internet marketing, PR and Social Media is an integration of all disciplines and migrating content across all platforms, from the website to the blog to the social media to the PR activity, and even to the email and advertising platforms. Everything is morphed together and information and content flows in and across all tactics.