Using social media effectively is essential for a good PR agency, especially for one about to add social media to its services for clients. Let us tell you six things you need to know before you start.
1. Just Listen
The first thing a great PR agency needs to do is listen to the public and gauge brand sentiment. You cannot develop a PR strategy for a brand until you know what you’re dealing with after all.
The best way to do this is to check for mentions on social media and via forums and threads. Using services like Meltwater which monitor online mentions can be pricey but necessary, especially for larger brands. There are 2.1 million negative social mentions about brands in the U.S. alone every single day. This means that for bigger brands, you will need at least one person continually monitoring online mentions of your clients.
You can monitor social sentiment using tools like Agorapulse where you can save hashtag searches specific to your clients’ markets. The best thing about Agorapulse is that it will provide you with a daily notification report so you can check all your social mentions in one go! (You can also set notifications to be pinged any time you have a new notification.)
2. Create Brand Consistency
Consistency is key for your client’s brand and that includes everything from the color of its logo, font of the text right through to its brand voice on social media. 45% of a brand’s image can be attributed to what it says and how it says it, advises BopDesign.
As a PR agency, it is your role to protect such brand consistency. Each of your clients has its own style and this translates to the way it posts and responds to clients on social media.
Take CocaCola — one of the most recognized logos and words in the world. CocaCola’s CEO plans to spend $4.3 billion during 2016 on brand building initiatives! Don’t think that “consistency” is boring though or that it will cramp your social media style. Actually it paves the way for more impactful campaigns and certainly a greater social media following.
*CocaCola Brand recognition exercise by NorthStarMarketing
Branding matters. Create a basic style guide and communicate it to all social media managers before commencing work to ensure brand consistency. Is your brand serious, humorous, cheeky, modern or traditional? Will you use emoticons in social media responses? Will you post “behind the scenes” photos or keep it strictly business? Will you use English or American spelling? It’s essential that this is ascertained early on to avoid mixed messages and a confused brand voice on social media.
3. Understand the Need for Speed
PR agencies know that speed is everything when it comes to pitching to journalists and producing content. On social media, the pace is even faster with 42% of users expecting a response within 60 minutes rising to 72% if it’s a complaint. Failure to respond quickly can result in a rapid spread of dissatisfaction.
PR agencies need to stress the importance of social media communication to their clients because a poorly monitored platform can result in a social media meltdown. PR agencies should be very clear about what is/isn’t covered in their terms of agreement because social media monitoring is not the same as social media management. If you are not responding to clients via social media then someone else should be. Social media is not just about posting updates, it’s about responding to comments, complaints and suggestions plus in many cases just saying “hi” to fans.
By using a social media management tool like Agorapulse, PR agencies can easily access all their social mentions via one easy dashboard therefore speeding up their response time and collating data at the same time.
4. Have A Social Media Disaster Plan In Place
Social media doesn’t always play by the rules when it comes to disasters so the chances are that yours will erupt out of hours whilst you, martini in hand, celebrate another winning day in the office! (Murphy’s Law.)
Social media PR disasters spread like wildfire as last year’s Volkswagen scandal indicated. On September 18, the news about inaccurate emissions tests was published. The first tweet was posted at 8:49 a.m. quickly followed by 53k+ tweets just on that day! Over the weekend the news picked up momentum generating more than 1.3 million tweets over the next week and averaging more than 8,000 new tweets per hour. This was 100K more tweets per day than the company was used to receiving!
Think about that number for a moment and ask yourself as a PR agency what would you do? It’s essential that you have a social media disaster plan in place to deal with a PR emergency.
Here are some of the items your plan should include:
- Increased monitoring of all social media channels
- Emergency telephone numbers and out of office emails
- Names of key decision makers /spokespeople and stand-ins if they are away
- Which communication channels will be used to communicate
- A database of additional social media staff to pull in for crisis handling
Always prepare for the unexpected with a comprehensive disaster plan. For more tips on managing a social media crisis read our 5 Tips To Save Your Brand.
5. Be VERY careful with Hashtags
One area where so many PR agencies come unstuck is through ill advised campaign hashtags.
By creating a hashtag for a product, campaign, or brand, you are giving users a platform upon which to communicate with you in full view of others. You’re drawing attention to your brand which is great… if you got it right.
There have been numerous hashtag fails in recent years, my favourite being singer Susan Boyle’s album party #susanalbumparty … poor Susan!
However, get it really wrong like #AskSeaWorld and you could be in for a world of ongoing bad PR via social media. When controversial brand SeaWorld decided to encourage Twitter users to #AskSeaWorld in March 2015 they were probably not prepared for the enslaught they received. Anti SeaWorld campaigners took to Twitter with tweets like #AskSeaWorld Are Your Tanks Filled With Orca Tears? Today, the hashtag is still adopted by thousands of Twitter users but certainly not for the reasons originally intended by SeaWorld’s PR team.
Social media spaces like the Twittersphere are not always yours to control and once a hashtag is out there it can remain forever! Catchy hashtags are great but you should always look at possible negative outcomes before you launch one.
6. Monitor Social Media ROI
As a PR agency one of the most important things to be aware of is the ROI (return on investment) for your clients. If you are invoicing your clients at the end of each month then you need to be able to show your activities throughout the month and the effect they have had on the company’s success.
The top three measures used by PR pros to show social media success are increased website traffic (64%), increased social media engagement (61%) and increased social media followers (59%). A detailed report may include fan growth, impressions, shares, campaign CTR (click through rate), spend and CPC (cost per click).
Here’s the thing though, most CEOs don’t want to spend hours trawling through pages of reports and some of them still question the validity of social media as a marketing tool! That’s why your reports need to be concise, informative and relevant to the goals of your company.
Nobody has the time to hunt for figures on each social media network so use a reporting tool like the one available at Agorapulse to generate the reports for you. Not only are they accurate and informative, they also look really nice and have all the necessary graphs and charts that the boss will love!
If you work on these tips, then will be a dream service for your PR agency!