media update’s Aisling McCarthy takes you through six tips that will help PR pros see success in 2019.

Here they are:

1. There’s no substitute for a sound strategy

Take a look at the brands that have a large and engaged audience on social media. That didn’t happen by accident. These businesses had a solid strategy for their social media channels, and took the time to understand what their audience finds important, interesting and entertaining.

The best way to ensure social media success for your clients is to create the perfect social media strategy.
Not sure exactly how to put your strategy together? Check out these 10 steps to the perfect social media marketing strategy.
Any good social media strategy will address:
  • Your audience’s expectations on each platform you use
  • The types of content you will post
  • The themes that will guide your content schedule
  • How often you will post on each platform
  • The roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in managing the social channels
  • What tools will be used to schedule your social media updates
  • What to do when responding to both positive and negative customer feedback
Consider putting together a content calendar for each brand you manage, as this will help you organise the social media content that you need to publish. You can align your content creation with the brand’s strategic goals and use the calendar to ensure everything stays on track.

While the brand’s goals may be long-term, make sure you organise your social media content to be published multiple times a week.

2. Understand that each platform is different

Twitter isn’t Facebook. Facebook isn’t Instagram. Instagram isn’t LinkedIn.

Each and every social media platform, no matter how similar, has its own unique qualities and audience demands. When posting on social media, PR professionals need to keep these differences in mind to avoid an online faux pas.

Consider the following, for example:
  • Hashtag usage: While posts on Instagram may be packed full of them, Twitter users tend to stick to only one or two per post. Facebook sees very few hashtags being used in any of its posts, and while LinkedIn is encouraging the usage, it’s still too soon to tell whether or not it will take off.
  • Frequency of updates: Twitter requires a much higher posting frequency than other platforms. Posting an update every hour on Twitter won’t see you overstaying your welcome, but on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, you’ll undoubtedly be muted – or worse, unfollowed.
  • Tone: While LinkedIn, with it’s 100% professional focus, requires a level of professionalism that you won’t find on other platforms. But professional doesn’t mean boring or unrelatable. Other platforms, like Twitter and Instagram, require a conversational tone to attract the right audience.
If you’re unclear about which social media platforms are the best fit for your clients’ brands, take a look at this Three-step guide to choosing the best social media platforms for your business.

3. Ensure your social media team has mastered each brand’s voice

Every brand has its own style and its own tone of voice. When putting content together for your clients, it is vital that the person doing the posting and responding to followers sticks to that brand’s voice.

If you suddenly post content that is off-brand, you run the risk of confusing followers and driving them away.

A good way to keep these interactions firmly on-brand is to work on a style guide for each of your clients. The guide can contain rules for every aspect of communication that you – or your team – will be handling consistently.

Check the following things with your client:
  • How do they want their brand name to be published? Know what needs to be capitalised, what doesn’t and any other formatting requests. For example, ‘media update’ is always written in lowercase and as two words.
  • What kind of formatting will you use when referring to numbers, such as time or money? Would you write 08:00, 08h00 or 8am? R2 000, R2000 or R 2,000?
  • Which dictionary’s rules for spelling do you follow? Merriam Webster, Oxford, etc.? Each dictionary offers different spellings of words, such as ‘health care’ vs ‘healthcare’.
  • What words and phrases should you avoid using?
  • What tone of voice does the brand want to use? Are they going for a conversational tone or a more professional one?
Once you know the answers to these types of questions, put your style guide together and always stick to it.

4. Try to be more approachable

Social media is an important channel for brands. And if a brand (or the PR person managing the brand’s social media) comes across as being uninterested in their followers, they have put themselves at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Ensure that your client’s brand is more that just a logo on social media that promotes its services in every post. Mix it up and give your social updates a more human feel.

You can do just that by trying some of these ideas:
  • Strike up a conversation with followers. Ask them questions or create polls in an effort to get them to engage with you.
  • Share a little bit of what happens behind the scenes of the business. Followers love to know more about a company’s culture and how things work. Sharing this information with them will endear yourself to them.
  • Humanise the brand by introducing the team to your followers. Use bios, photos and video interviews to make your social media fans feel like they know the brand.
  • Share real stories about consumer interactions with your brand. And if you can tag the consumer in the post, even better.
By making the brand seem approachable on social media, you can help to make followers feel at home. This will help to gain their trust and facilitate interaction with the company. And at the end of the day, that can result in referrals, leads and brand new customers. #winning

5. Sometimes, you have to ‘pay to play’

Social media platforms are constantly trying to find the perfect balance of pleasing consumers and businesses. They are constantly tweaking algorithms to organically show less branded content to consumers’ news feed. But, for brands, there is a way around this. Cash.

If your client wants their branded content to appear all over social media, they will need to pay for it. Thankfully though, social media advertising is fairly cost-effective.
If you want to find out more on how to advertise on social media, check out our article Social media 101: Advertising in South Africa.

6. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Finally, the most important piece of advice about social media is this: Don’t do more than you are capable of.

Resist the urge to put your client’s brand on every social media platform out there. And if a new social platform appears, don’t simply create an account for the brand because everyone else is doing it. Being an early adopter doesn’t always work to your advantage.

Carefully assess each social media platform, their audience and how much it will cost to include paid content. Once you’ve identified the platforms that best suit your client’s brand, stick to them. If your client’s brand does not target young consumers – skip the Snapchat account.

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Ensure you know everything you need to know about social media by checking out 10 of the best social media stories from 2018.