Social media has turned many industries upside-down, forcing them to re-evaluate how they represent their brand and interact with consumers online.
“Everything lives on the digital ecosystem plain,” said Matt Kovacs, president of Blaze PR agency in Los Angeles. “Everything needs to live and breathe – through social media.”
Reasons Why Social Media and Public Relations Should Work Together
Most people (72%) use social media multiple times a day, making it a valuable tool for businesses. People already expect businesses to use social media, but if that’s not reason enough, here are 5 reasons why businesses should merge their social media and PR strategies.
Humanize Your Brand
Social media presents opportunities for direct communication between companies and customers, allowing businesses to have less formal (but still professional) conversations with their customers.
This is also a great opportunity to let the brand’s personality shine and show customers who the people are behind the brand.
Lisa Strong’s family business, S.D. Strong Distilling, is located in a cave, which presents unique marketing challenges. To overcome these challenges, she uses social media to increase the visibility of the distillery.
By directly engaging with customers on social media, Strong is able to promote her brand while also giving the brand a human face.
Make Customer Service More Efficient
Gone are the barriers that once existed between customers and businesses. Now, if a consumer has a complaint or comment, they can post directly to social media and be instantly heard by millions of other customers.
Consumers expect businesses to engage with them and acknowledge their comments in a timely manner.
Seventy-six percent (76%) of people expect companies to respond to comments on social media and 83% expect companies to respond within a day or less.
Although people expect a 24-hour turnaround time, this doesn’t mean they expect the response to offer a solution.
“It’s not like we’re telling people that they have to fix this immediately within a day or less or hour or less,” said Laura Reagen, CEO of Activate Health, a healthcare advertising and PR agency. “But their response has to make people feel like they’ve been heard.”
How a company responds to comments can be viewed by both existing and potential customers. Companies show their existing and future customers that they are listening and care about their customers’ experiences by quickly responding to their comments on social media.
Increase Customer Loyalty
People see social media interactions as valuable as in-person ones.
Seventy-two percent (72%) of people are likely to recommend a company to others if they have a positive social media experience with that company.
How a company treats others on social media is reflective of the company’s values and commitment level to its customers.
“People have always been championing the companies they love to others, but it’s the way that they look at that relationship is different when they interact with companies on social media,” said Reagen.
Reach Younger Generations
How millennials use social media and expect companies to use social media is especially relevant as millennials and those younger become the majority of the consumer-base.
Ninety percent (90%) of millennials expect companies to respond to comments within a day or less, compared to 78% of Generation Xers and 75% of baby boomers.
“With living and growing up in a digital world comes instant gratification, instant expression, and instant responses,” said Jason Sherman, CEO of SHERMAN Communications and Marketing, Inc., a PR firm in Chicago. “When millennials take that mindset to the world as a consumer, it doesn’t really change. They want things instantly there as well.”
With the rise of social media, expediency has become a valuable commodity – businesses that can deliver quickly and consistently will be those that appeal to millennials and generations younger.
Control Your Brand’s Online Narrative
Social media has transferred power to the consumer, but this doesn’t leave businesses powerless.
“There’s certainly an empowerment to the consumer to share feedback, to express themselves when they’re unhappy, but the business is also empowered with the same platform and the same opportunities,” said Sameer Somal, co-founder of Blue Ocean Global Technology, a digital marketing and technology planning firm.
By proactively using social media as a PR tool, businesses can reclaim their brand’s online narrative, while humanizing their brand, improving their customer service, appealing to younger generations, and increasing customer loyalty.
Our guest author Toby Cox is a content writer and developer for Clutch, a B2B research and reviews firm. She reports on topics related to public relations and emerging technologies.