Authenticity in the age of social media PR

19 May 2020 13:08

 Social networks

It's indisputable that promoting a company consists of different processes today more than even a few years ago. Social networks are now omnipresent methods of contact between companies and individuals, and barriers between the parties are falling. Turning the myriad changes brought on by social media into a coherent set of best practices is a little more complicated, partially because change is ongoing. However, as a public relations leader, you have to at least attempt to determine a way forward.

Set the tone
One of the most important PR practices you can accomplish, as a prelude to all your following efforts, is determining a consistent tone for your outreach. This is a consistent theme to guide your messaging, whether it comes directly from you or an executive spokesperson. Finding an overall concept that has resonance with your audience can do a great deal to define the company for years to come.

According to Forbes Communications Council contributor Josh Ong, the present era doesn't support much spin or inauthenticity. Companies should be ready to speak with their customers in an honest and straightforward way. The rise of social media is the root cause for this preference, with every consumer having a megaphone that turns private interactions with brands into public conversations.

Dealing with these situations means learning to take responsibility for issues. Stepping up and being clear and honest is important, Ong stated, because blame-shifting invites fallout. Brushing off a customer's concerns or trying to insist that a company isn't at fault is out of step with the kind of authentic, grounded tone people are looking for from companies today.

Ong added that when speaking to the public, organizations should avoid talking down. Building a voice for the organization, one that can interact with consumers through numerous platforms, is only valuable if the style is one that the audience likes. This may mean passing up on promotional opportunities. People who care about a current event or a relevant cause may be very displeased to see brands using the issue as a springboard to marketing.

Use the platforms correctly
Present-day PR begins with selecting a tone for communication, then involves figuring out how best to apply that communication style across social media networks. The platforms that are popular today each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and effective PR teams manage to embrace these unique features.

A recent Marketing Profs and On Blast Blog infographic laid out the state of the most popular social media networks in 2017. This is a little different from where they were in 2016, with new channels joining the fray and even the long-time stalwarts being impacted by new features of trends. Watching the tools evolve should help companies bring their strategies into existence.

Facebook: The source explained that some of the old-fashioned ideas tied to Facebook, such as trusting a post to organically reach interested customers, will fade away in the near future. The platform is maintaining its relevance through new features such as live-streaming video. Putting exclusive pieces of content on Facebook can increase its relative appeal.

Twitter: Speaking directly to other users remains Twitter's main differentiating factor in 2017. This is where a brand's voice could come across, for better or worse. According to On Blast Blog, brands should organically maintain their relationships here, speaking directly to followers and being sure to tag influential figures when they're mentioned in the content.

YouTube: The source added that YouTube provides its own interesting way to enter a public conversation. Finding out which videos are already popular and crafting corporate responses to them tends to draw eyes to content. Of course, the tone will have to fit in with the brand's overall messaging style or risk creating a feeling of artificiality.

Modern PR is social PR

The right combination of social media expertise and a well-crafted overall tone can put companies over the top in terms of PR coverage today. Using the most popular networks to reach out with a distinct and trusted tone is the essence of public relations in the age of always-on social media. The opportunities inherent to this new model - the ability to reach people in creative ways and at any time - are balanced by the potential for embarrassment. Brand representatives must stay alert.

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