To build an effective communication strategy or team in the social media realm, one must complete a lot of the steps that companies have taken in the past to create a successful PR campaign. First, it would be necessary to analyze your company’s current situation. As Ronald Smith, “Without an early and clear statement of the situation to be addressed, you will not be able to conduct efficient research or define the goal of you communication program later in the planning process” (Smith, Ronald. Strategic Planning for Public Relations. 2013).
A company’s first decision must be which social media platforms can accurately and effectively illustrate its particular message. Since the message of a fitness company and a real estate consulting firm may be vastly different, one social media platform may work well for one company that does not for the other. A fitness company would jump at the chance to utilize YouTube to showcase the workout routines from a new exercise DVD, but a real estate consulting firm may find LinkedIn or Facebook more valuable to them in order to mingle with business leaders and chambers of commerce. You must analyze the unique situation your company is facing.
The next step would be to identify obstacles that you can turn into opportunities. “Pepsi faced an accusation in 1993 that medical syringes had been found in cans of the company’s products. Pepsi fought back by issuing video news releases showing how its production process made it impossible to contaminate the product before it left the plant” (Smith, Ronald. Strategic Planning for Public Relations. 2013). With social media, there are various ways that you can turn a negative into a positive. If a company’s challenge is that they lack effective customer service, there are several social listening tools that can keep companies engaged by an associate entering targeted key words that can be picked up across multiple platforms or by setting automatic posts to go out even when a social media employee is not present.
According to Jeremy Lipschultz, “PR stakeholders are no longer impressed with simply including social media within a campaign. Increasingly, clients want a return on investment for dollars spent on advertising, public relation and marketing efforts” (Lipschultz, Jeremy. Social Media Communication. 2015). In my previous position at the Birmingham Business Alliance (Birmingham Chamber of Commerce), one of the pitches that we mentioned to prospective investors included social media publicity for their businesses. This included, highlighting them if they were sponsors through our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram pages when appropriate. Oftentimes, large investors to the economic development organization wanted to see the result of their investment, rather it be through analytics from our social media engagement tools like Hootsuite or something showing that their investment is helping the city of Birmingham grow. If the city grew, we were successful as an economic development company and the investor could utilize the positive growth to recruit more employees to their company.
In short, a successful social media campaign would include a situational analysis of your company, identification of challenges that can transform into opportunities in the digital world, and an outline of how ROI from the social media campaign can be accurately measured.