The early days of public relations had PR professionals doing their press releases on traditional platforms such as newspapers, radio, and television. Those platforms are still relevant today. The chances are high that most modern public relations strategies will also place an emphasis on blogs and social media, particularly Facebook. Facebook offers a number of advantages and a huge amount of potential for effective public relations.
Why Use Facebook for Public Relations?
The question of why someone would use Facebook for public relations will seem vastly different based on perspective. PR professionals who established themselves prior to the social media revolution may be more than willing to try Facebook, but they might view it with some skepticism and may believe that it will ultimately turn out to have just been a fad. By contrast a PR professional who cut his or teeth during the social media revolution probably wouldn’t ask this question to begin because using Facebook for public relations would be indisputable.
Vast Potential – Facebook has a vast number of users. It is the largest social networking site and accounts for a staggering proportion of all internet traffic and total time spent on the internet. Facebook has also led the charge to mobile, making that vast potential tappable for everything from laptops and desktops, to tablets and notebooks, and in particular smartphones.
Low Cost – For some companies a large portion of their PR budget may ultimately end up going toward Facebook as they hire employees to manage their Facebook pages and develop content for it. However, on a smaller scale Facebook can be completely free to use for PR. There is no direct cost associated with setting up a page or making posts on Facebook.
Customer Expectations – A simple reason to use Facebook for public relations is that your customers, clients, and business contacts are already likely expecting you to do so. At this advanced stage in Facebook’s rampant expansion, failing to create and maintain a presence on there can actually put you behind your competitors and may negatively portray your company as behind the times.
Maximizing Your Facebook Public Relations Strategy
Deciding to use Facebook for public relations is only the first step. Next you will need to create a strategy that is effective and maintainable. The following tips will help you get started:
Get Organized – Being organized in your public relations strategy is one of the most important things you can do. You need to figure out the type of content you will be posting, the regularity with which you will be posting it, and the employees who will be responsible for posting it. It is usually best to designate a single person to be in charge of your Facebook strategy, even if other employees also post from time to time.
Know Facebook’s Rules – Facebook has specific rules with regard to the way you can do things like link to their site, run contests, and more. If you break these rules, even by accident, you run the risk of facing penalties. It is important to thoroughly read Facebook’s rules and guidelines and make sure to pay special attention to sections you know will affect your company. If you are branching out and trying something new with your Facebook public relations strategy it is a smart idea to consult Facebook’s rules first and make sure the new practice isn’t in violation.
Know Your Audience – Knowing your target demographic will drastically affect things such as your posting frequency, message content, and overall tone. It will also affect the way you initially attract users to your page, interact with them once they are there, and maintain the relationship to keep them coming back.
Know Your Goals – Are you trying to increase sales? Boost traffic to your website? Promote general awareness of your company? Positively impact public perception of your company? Gain a large number of Likes? Each of these different goals will call for different strategies and different criteria to measure your success.
Engage Your Audience – Regardless of your specific goal there is one thing that will remain constant: the need to engage your audience. Make each of your posts interesting and engaging. Ensure that people gain some benefit from viewing it and have a continued reason to view your next your post.
Include a Call to Action – Including a call to action is also extremely important. If you are trying to generate Likes, ask for them. If you want to spread awareness, request that users share the post with their friends. Without a call to action users may be unsure what to do next.
Don’t Be Too Promotional – It is understandable if one of your goals is to increase sales or use of a service; however, if your Facebook posts are too promotional in nature it is likely to turn off users, especially if they are visiting for the first time. Instead let the quality of your company speak for itself as you build value into your posts.
Focus on the Long Term
The final thing you need to remember is that your Facebook public relations strategy should be viewed more as a marathon than a sprint. Facebook’s popularity shows no sign of waning, so you will want to position your company more to benefit from long-term gains rather than short-term successes. Build equity in Facebook now and enjoy the fruits of your labor for years to come.