Social media and the Internet have certainly made do-it-yourself public relations and branding a reality. Sure the tools are available to make this a reality–Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn–effective execution can be difficult for the amateur marketer.
Here are some easy steps to get these social media tools returning real PR and branding results:
1. Set-up your PR and Branding Platform. Start small and focused. This platform is going to be where you drive people to learn more about your business, products, and services. Pointing back to this central focal point with all of your PR and branding campaigns with assist lead generation.
If you are technically inclined a simple blog is a great place to start. However, it is not necessary–you can chose to make Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn your personal brand platform. Make sure a visitor is engaged with your strategy when they arrive.
2. Listen First. Once you have a good platform, a base station, you need to start listening to your market. Consumers are all over the Internet and making it easier and easier to survey their needs.
A great place to start listening is on Twitter–the premiere social networking and conversation tool. Search for key words associated with your market in the Twitter search engine, then sit back and see what they expect.
3. Participate. Listening is important, but participation builds trust, relationships, and targeted audiences. Ultimately, and online PR and branding strategy online is community building.
Community building means conversations and conversations build audiences. Audiences that will trust your recommendations, marketing, and services. Participation in your community will create sales leads for your business, if done appropriately.
4. Give Value First. Consumers are naturally skeptical, especially online. Nothing brings a sale faster than “giving first” and breaking that natural skepticism. The Internet and modern publishing tools make it so easy to give value to a big audience.
Creating valuable content targeted at solving problems for your ideal customer can make a big impact. This can be as simple as a blog post,eBook, or amateur video. This little effort and value given freely and distributed widely will bring enormous return.
5. Build Relationships. You have to care! Consumers and customers see this in a heartbeat–and they react. Quickly returning emails, phone calls, and even tweets show a passion for your business and the customers you serve.
Customers greeted with a sense of urgency can be the biggest advocates and promoters of your products and services.
6. Be Helpful. Consumers are using the Internet more and more to find information and solutions to their problems. Being helpful is one the most powerful marketing tactics. The psychological principle of reciprocity can produce incredible returns on a simple helpful tip, pointer, or referral.
If you know the answer to a question–help someone. There are lots of ways to help online and build your brand. Check out LinkedIn Answers or Yahoo!Answers.
7. Promote Others. Having a successful PR and branding strategy is not all about you. Promoting others builds your audience and reputation. This technique has two benefits: First, you get the goodwill of helping someone with their campaign. Second, you get the attention and trust of those who follow your advice and gain value.
Promoting others is like doubling your product base and increasing your marketing reach.
7.5 Engage PR and Marketing Professionals. With so many social media tools available and free advice on the Internet it is easy to rush in without a plan. Doing PR and branding without clear objectives and concise messages can be an obvious train wreck to consumers–a lasting bad impression.
Professional advice and guidance from PR and marketing professionals can help you set firm footing and foundation under your idea. Then you can make do-it-yourself have real impact.