‘Content’? Keep it targeted, tailored, truthful and transparent !
As a business or institution, you will at some point have wondered what social media can add to your public relations. Indispensable for today’s communicators, yet ever-evolving in their scope and diversity, meant to be intuitive, yet unfathomably complex.
If seen as merely an additional marketing outlet, you’ll risk going in circles, to repeat yourself as well as others’ commercial messages, and to eventually annoy people rather than raise their interest. Marketing is not part of the purpose of social media, and as such might be regarded as an intrusive and alienating practice. If not polluting.
Instead of selling your product and services – a wide-spread practice that all but pollutes social media platforms despite operators’ restrictive policies – seek to redefine and refine your public relations by four key criteria to check each publication for:
#1 ENGAGEMENT: use content to target!
Engagement means sharing information, showing interest, fostering dialogue and creating confidence, which allows you to build communities of stakeholders. By putting in place and feeding a platform for your community to share information, produce content, ask questions and to answer enquiries of all kinds, precious and community-building interaction on the networks can be promoted.
#2 RELEVANCE: tailor messages!
Given the over-whelming flood of constant information, an essential criterion is relevance. Information can be passionate, distracting or playful, but should, above all, be relevant to the interest and sensitivity of your stakeholders. Find ways to make the brand appear different rather than just ‘better’: convey expertise, share advice or show you are part of the local economy. The specific nature of the business, sector and online communities can be key. What’s on in the sector, what are trends and innovations? What is your place?
#3 AUTHENTICITY: stay truthful!
Another essential rule for the engagement of stakeholder communities is authenticity. Generating experience, mindshare and reputation go without putting on a show. Not pretence leads to authenticity, but humanity, spontaneity and personality as well as the association with your core values – corporate and/or personal. By leaving room for spontaneity, the unique and individual character of your business or institution can be reinforced.
#4 TRANSPARENCY: content must be transparent!
What does it mean? Transparency does not imply full disclosure of any confidential information: no need to answer questions nobody asks. Rather, transparency means to keep a cooperative tone even when facing a delicate situations, difficult stakeholders or clients, remedying problems, replying to complaints or dealing with an unnecessary fault or negligence of your own. That way, you keep the upper hand, irreproachably show leadership and strengthen your reputation.
The premise of it all? Local knowledge, if you really want to reach beyond first degree advertising. Through in-depth knowledge of your clients, awareness of the market’s trends, and local knowledge you can gain through local partners.
ERAT, you may say. Try them, and let your messages spread, online just like offline.