As the economy reopens, businesses need to do marketing, particularly public relations, and have a strong PR play more than ever before.
However, everything that’s going on right now — from the pandemic to social issues to discussions about the November election — is taking up all the news story space and consuming the public’s attention. It’s very challenging for businesses to be seen and heard above the fray.
However, as I’ve said in recent articles, businesses need to maintain consistent communications with their current customer base right now. More importantly, they also want to get exposure in the market so they can generate new business, especially if their business has had to close or has been impacted by COVID-19.
Businesses also want to get back to spreading their news, promoting their blogs and standing out on social media in order to establish their expertise, influence their followers and once again drive customers their way. But businesses need to have a communications approach now that is mindful of our current situation and how it has possibly affected their customers, whether they be other businesses or consumers.
Make the most of social media
Because most people are working and staying at home, and many are still isolating, we have been seeing more activity on social media. People are seeking outside connections as much as possible and there is no better place to do that than on social media platforms. As we know, social media are the best channels for true interaction with your customers. You can post an inquiry, solicit feedback or simply start a conversation with your “friends,” connections and followers there.
More importantly, social media are the best vehicles for announcing company updates, new products or services, and other news. The traditional news media, and especially online news outlets, are currently swamped with the latest on the pandemic and other national and world events, so your best bet is to maximize social media to get your news out there. If your announcement is truly valuable and newsworthy, other media will pick it up, but you need to robustly promote your announcement across multiple social media and online platforms (including your website and blog) to see that happen.
Which social media should you use?
While Facebook has become more of a forum for political discussions, GIFs and memes these days, if your business is consumer-based, it may still be one of the platforms you use, along with Twitter, Instagram and/or YouTube.
Every business, whether it is consumer or business-to-business, should have a strong presence on LinkedIn and Google My Business. With LinkedIn, businesses can post news and their latest articles/blogs, plus interact with people in their network and join group discussions. If you have a small business, Alignable is a great platform for connecting with other small, primarily local, businesses that has been gaining prominence in the past year and especially with the pandemic. Its focus is on building your local network and exchanging referrals, so if your business is mainly concentrated on your surrounding geographical area, then having a profile and active presence on Alignable is a wise move.
Google My Business is more a tool for getting your business noticed in the search engine than a platform for conversing with customers, although customers do have the opportunity to post a review on your company, product or service. However, Google My Business is highly effective for reaching your target audience with your latest news, articles and customer offers and I strongly recommend that every business have a presence on it and post to it regularly. Your activity on Google My Business can have a positive impact on your search engine ranking.
In general, social media are the best means right now for getting the attention of your target audience, particularly if your pages have a robust following. As you know, the more you post, the more you build that following.
Use social media to listen
As a good marketer, you want your customers to express their needs and challenges, share their stories and convey any concerns or objections so you know how best to serve them. By listening to your customers, you not only come to truly know and understand them, you build the trust that can establish a real relationship with them.
Social media gives your business the opportunity to do more than post company updates to your target audience — you can also “listen” by actively monitoring the conversations, topic focuses and traffic taking place, particularly in relation to a specific campaign, blog, activity or news item you conducted and/or posted. Through LinkedIn, you can find out the current trends, what’s capturing buzz, and what topics are of most concern or relevance to people.
By listening actively and consistently, you optimize your chances of gaining valuable customer insight and information, and you will be perceived by customers as a company that cares about what they have to say. By embracing social media’s opportunities to interact directly with your target audience, you boost awareness of your products and services and drive more customers to your website and in your direction, generating quality inbound leads. You can build new or stronger relationships with your target customers.
Beth Bryant is the owner/principal of BBWrites Strategic Communications in Marlborough, which specializes in providing public relations, marketing and content writing services. For information on Beth or her services, visit www.bbwrites.com.