A friend of mine, Jay Blanchard
, tweeted me recently and asked a great question I’ve also heard from clients and others: Can you create a big buzz on a small budget — using only social media?
The short answer is, YES!
The rest of this post will show how.
As with any outreach campaign, start with the goal. As vital as this is, it’s too often overlooked. That might be because nailing down the main goal for an outreach campaign is not that easy. A few tips: It will never be, “because the CEO directed it.” Nor will it be simply, “to get good PR.”
Here are some questions that might help:
- Is it awareness among a specific community or group?
- Is it to get customers? Donors? Volunteers?
- Attention from bloggers? Retailers?
- How will you measure it? Signups? Email subscribers?
- Is it a donation level? Or a total amount of funds raised?
These are just suggestions. Many other things might be more suited to your goals. As you can see, this part takes some work. But without a clear, specific goal, there’s no point going further.
recommend using, “X number of followers on Twitter,” or, “Y fans on Facebook.” It’s great to have them, but you need them to do, buy, give or offer support in some way. You want action. Getting recommendations, retweets, or mentions, however, is different. Social media validation is worth shooting for and tracking. Those endorsements are perfect platforms for building brand ambassadors
The question that drives this decision is this: Why do you need the PR?
To enable what to happen? To cause what? To lead to what? Your answer is your goal.
Next, you must identify an audience. Some questions to do so could be:
- Whom are you targeting, and why?
- What do they need to know?
- Why do they need to know that?
- What is in it for them?
Keeping the audience top of mind will help you avoid the big mistake so many brands make: They tell their story from their own perspective. Instead, you need to tell your story from the perspective of the people whom you want to act (or buy or volunteer or donate, etc.). It must be conveyed in a way that lets them see why they should care. As harsh as this sounds, the reason you want them to care—your goal—is as irrelevant
to them as it is relevant
Why would they respond to your call to action? They need to know why it matters to them. This excellent article
by Geoffrey James, published by Inc.
, goes into more detail about this concept.
Now that you’ve got your goal and your audience, you need to hone your message. This would be really hard if this were the first thing you did. You’d be adrift trying to figure out what message to send. It’s an easier task when you know what you want to cause to happen, and by whom. The message could be about:
- a new product
- a sale or special deal
- an event
- a big change
- an offer
- a solicitation for feedback
- information about you that the audience doesn’t know and should know
- specific data or other information you want to convey, such as a report or results
This includes the tools you are going to use to get your message out to your audience. You can get great ideas by reading posts with tips from experts. Real-life examples are especially helpful.
1. This article by PR and marketing whiz and author Cheryl K. Burgess, of Blue Focus Marketing, is chock full of fabulous advice from pros.
2. Rebekah Radice, another incredible source of all things social media, has this practical and useful post about marketing for personal brands. The advice is great for organizations, too.
3. This post of mine, based on an event I handled for a client, gives real-life examples for events as well as product launches or other rollouts, such as store openings.
4. Here is another post I wrote, which gives more details about using Storify, a fabulous tool.
The doing step is going to involve many different tactics and tools, depending on the results of the steps that preceded it. Some tools, however, will be valuable in almost every situation where you want to use social media to spread the word.
These are kind of like the Holy Grail of social media outreach:
- Be yourself
- Keep a sense of humor
- Stay on track
As you do these things, remember to keep focused on your goal, audience, and message. If you follow these steps diligently, it can and will work. I suggest using a visual model to help, much like this one:
The secret is:
You should know, going in, that it’s not easy or quick.
If you’ve had success—or frustration—with getting the word out, weigh in with a comment.
Becky Gaylord worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Cleveland, Sydney, and Washington, D.C., before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. You can read Becky’s blog Framing What Works, where a version of this story originally appeared.