By Karen Carrera, TrizCom Public Relations
I begin this piece with a disclaimer: I am no social media expert. My specialties are media training and crisis communications. I know just enough about social media to be dangerous.
However, I do coordinate my clients’ social media needs with the experts – and make sure that my communication plans and content integrate with the goals of a robust social media plan. What does that mean? Basically, that the right arm is talking to the left arm. Your social media efforts should augment your PR plan, and your PR plan should align with the content and channels you’re using to execute your social media plan.
Just like on the PR side of the table, it’s important to manage expectations. If a client doesn’t want to post consistently but insists that an important posts gets shared and commented on a lot, that client is in for a big disappointment. Here are 5 important things I’ve learned that help clients know what to expect from their social media efforts (or nonefforts).
1) Start with goals to guide your activities. Just like you would never send out a random press release or distribute a generic brochure, you don’t want to aimlessly post on social media channels. You can burn a lot of time and worse, lose the interest of the friends and followers you have. A social pro will help map out what you want to accomplish, recommend the best channels to accomplish those goals, and design content with a voice consistent with your brand. This is the chance for your brand’s personality to shine through!
2) Growing your base takes time. Social media happens organically – it can’t be forced, and while technically you can buy friends and followers, people can sniff out phonies in no time. You want to attract and cultivate people who care about your service or product, and who will engage. Depending on your brand and the goals you’ve set out to meet, your target audience might be 1 million people…or it might be 100.
3) Feed and nurture your followers and friends. Most of us have been on Facebook at one time or another and know about friends who are either over posters, under posters, or who post annoying content. A social pro will help develop bright, engaging content so people want to follow, comment and share.
4) Changes are the only constant. As you probably found out the hard way, LinkedIn just did a major overhaul that pleased a couple of users but frustrated everyone else. Like all technology, just when you get used to something it’s likely to change. Social media experts are able to more easily track these “upgrades” and anticipate what’s coming.
5) Be prepared for negative posts that try to distract or upend your message. I’ve worked with clients who demanded that their social media channels be taken down at the slightest whiff of crisis. To me, that’s like rearranging chairs on the Titanic. Today, many crises play out on social media. And because of that, you have to communicate through those channels as well. Instead of pulling the plug, make sure that dealing with negative responses is anticipated in a social media policy and plan. That goes for dealing with internet trolls as well who post contrary, inflammatory or distracting content. With a plan in place, you’ll be ready when they inevitably appear.