According to Wikipedia, there are over 100 major social networks active today. Networks that cover pretty much every facet of the human experience.
There are the everyday general, business, friendship and dating networks. Or those tailored for the more niche. Ravelry is a growing knitting and crochet social network that has 3,000,000 users. While Vampirefreaks, a ‘gothic and industrial subculture’ network that is sadly closing its doors, had close to 2,000,000.
The wide variety of sites that PRs can use to help achieve their strategic goals can be mind boggling.
Sure, if you’re a PR for knitting needles or bat sand-timers (very popular on Vampirefreaks!) then by all means, go niche. But we’re here specifically to talk about three of The Big Ones. Why you need to be adctive on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and why they’re so important.
These are the current preferred social networks for businesses. Due primarily to their massive user bases and the opportunities they afford for organisations to reach millions of people. (A few years ago Google+ would have made the cut. Remember Google+?)
We’ve talked before about how the news cycle is shorter than ever. Not to mention attention spans of those reading it (guilty!). As a PR, you need to facilitate the wide sharing of your story. And you need to try and keep it alive – and in the minds of your audience – for as long as possible.
Having your message or story shared on Twitter and LinkedIn is an excellent way to achieve this, as the reach is astronomical. Writer Casey Botticello is an advocate of re-posting his articles onto LinkedIn’s publishing site. Saying that:
“If you are a LinkedIn member — and there are more than 500 million — you can be a content marketer on the platform.
About two years ago, LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to all members, allowing them to publish blogs directly and promote their content throughout the LinkedIn network and beyond. With just a few clicks, you can easily reach thousands of prospective readers. Best of all, it’s easy to track the success of a story posted on your LinkedIn feed.”
Try it and see!
Social networks have given us 24/7 access to people we would never be able to interact with in real life.
(If you want to tell the President how you’re feeling, you can type out a tweet and send it in just a few seconds. Want to ask The Rock out on a date? Sure! He might even reply! Stranger things have happened.)
Sorry, we’re putting the business hat back on now. But it does mean that you have access to key journalists and writers who could blow your story up. And Twitter is a great place to build relationships with these journalists and industry influencers. Especially as they’re often among the most active on the network.
Let’s not forget that social media created the social media influencer. The numbers here are not to be balked at – as an example, the Oklahoma-born beauty influencer, Huda Kattan, has 28 million followers on Instagram. If you’re a PR professional and manage to get Huda Kattan to mention you, you’re going to see insane growth.
Sure, that might be unlikely, but it shows the sheer power and access you have at your fingertips when you’re active on these networks.
Being active on social is also great for branding. You’re directly in front of the people you want to connect with your brand, and engaging with your customer base is a great way to build trust and nurture key audiences.
Being customer facing on social, even if you’re a B2B business, is pretty much expected now. From toilet paper to Tide Pods to insurers to FinTech – social networks are as much a brand space as a consumer space. And with being an expected presence comes the expectation that you’ll respond when asked something.
Hubspot research cites that ‘80% of customers expect companies to respond to their social media posts within 24 hours. In fact, 50% of customers claim they would cease business with a company that fails to respond to a negative social media post. 62% of customers are influenced enough by negative social media comments on a brand that they would cease business with them.’
If you’re on the networks, you need to be actively responding to comments and queries. You’ve got an opportunity to have instant communication with people who could become brand advocates. So capitalise upon it!
Instagram is a great way to build a brand community, being designed for customer engagement and visual appeal. This is particularly the case with Instagram. The Facebook owned platform’s daily users are growing at an exponential rate. Buffer reports that ‘63% of Instagram users log in at least once per day, 42% check multiple times per day. Only 16% log in less than once per week.’
As Ariel from The Little Mermaid sang (sort of): PRs need to be where the people are…
An article about social networks simply can’t be written without highlighting how they’re an absolute must when it comes to crisis management.
Social media moves at lightning speed. In fact, faster than lightning. It moves at the speed of whatever the fastest thing is. In the second it takes for someone to post a disparaging tweet about your brand, it could be retweeted by someone with millions of followers. Millions of followers who become a social media army, armed with devastating retweets.
Or a news outlet publishes an article with negative comments from a disgruntled customer or “secret inside source”.
Either way, within a matter of minutes your brand is being dragged through the mud.
As a PR, you need to be all over this. By being active on Twitter and LinkedIn you will be directly notified if someone tags you in something negative. And there are the old trusty Twitter lists and social listening platforms available to you. But crisis is bigger than social media and your presence on it. It will hit the news, which will be infinitely more devastating to your reputation.
but what can you do about it? First is to have a media monitoring tool in place. One that is scanning the news – online, print, and broadcast – from across the regions you operate in and alerting you when your brand or keywords are being referenced more than usual.
You can then be reactive and address the situation head on. In a crisis situation, honest and consistent communication is key. Social networks are ideal avenues for communication whilst managing a crisis as in the online world we’re in today, you can’t wait 24 hours and publish a press release addressing an issue. You have hours, if not minutes, to do damage control.
You can do the above and more with a solid media monitoring platform, like Signal AI.