24th Sep 2015, by Shannon Peerless

How a Social Media Strategy Can Compliment Your Digital PR Campaign

Many brands are guilty of neglecting their social media channels, yet their other digital activity like public relations, SEO and PPC might be ticking along nicely. Some businesses fail to acknowledge the importance of having social media profiles on the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, let alone a decent social media strategy to make the most of them.

The thing is, a strong social media strategy can be just the thing to boost the success of a digital PR campaign. The world of hashtags, RTs, shares and likes has meant that campaigns can now travel further than they ever have before, far beyond the pages of magazines, newspapers and online articles.

First of all, having a social media strategy in place will mean that you have platforms to share any of your digital PR campaign content or successes on; this could be anything from a photo, video or infographic to press coverage that starts rolling in. Be wary of sharing too much though, because you don't want to get caught in the trap of appearing spammy.

A social media strategy can enhance your digital PR campaign by giving it another layer. Let's use Coca Cola as an example and the infamous Share a Coke campaign. There was various activity surrounding this idea/message. First of all, the stickers on bottles of coke were personalised with the top 150 most popular names in the UK, which replaced the usual branding. People were encouraged to find their name (or a friend's) on the shelves in shops and share an image on Twitter with #ShareaCoke. Eventually, Coke released hundreds more names and there was even an ecommerce site where people could purchase personalised glass coke bottles with whatever name they wanted on them. A nationwide tour of the UK followed, during which the Coke team handed out personalised bottles.

The various offline and online elements all tied together wonderfully thanks to social media. The hashtag exploded, with people using it to share pictures of themselves with their personalised bottle of Coke and also to @ or tag friends with a bottle they'd found with their pal's name on. Personally, I used the hashtag 3 times; once when I finally found a 'Shannon' bottle, once when the bottle I bought said 'Kayleigh' (my friend's name) and a third time when I found one with 'Hassan' on (my co-worker's boyfriend's name). Without the social media element of this campaign, it would have probably still been a success. I mean, it is Coke after all. However, the scale of the success would have been much smaller.

The personalised bottles were enough to make journalists want to write about the campaign, and the Share a Coke tour gave the campaign a nice regional layer, meaning local press in the areas visited could be targeted. Coke sent some bottles to celebrities at the start of the campaign, personalised of course, and many of them tweeted the #ShareaCoke message. The social media element simply took the campaign to a whole other level.

So, how else can a social media strategy compliment a digital PR campaign? Well, it enables you to target celebrities and other influencers for a start. If, for example, you'd launched a video-based PR campaign that linked back in some way to, let's say, health; you could then target health bloggers or celebrity doctors with a presence on Twitter to see if they would engage with the campaign or share the video with all of their followers. This can catapult a digital PR campaign into the realm of social media success.

Essentially, having a social media strand to your digital PR strategy increases the number of people you will reach with you content, message and overall campaign. The people who are reached with a Facebook or Instagram post, or a tweet or YouTube video might not be the same people reading the online news sites or digital magazines; so therefore the reach of the campaign increases tenfold.

Put simply, a decent social media strategy compliments and enhances your online PR campaign by maximising its potential and reach. Ignoring the platform altogether as a PR tool isn't just foolish, it's downright wasteful.

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