One of the most remarkable ways in which digital PR differs from traditional PR is that it is possible for you to engage with your audience more personally as well as directly than ever before. In fact, engagement is a critical element to successful digital PR.
While the openness and networking potential of the Internet are beneficial to PR, it is also a tough landscape to navigate as it has its own rules, accepted practices and conventions. A PR practitioner must know how to relate to the target market in their medium and according to the accepted principles of interaction.
Create online social capital
Social capital is the influence, respect and value that your brand has within your social network. You gain online social capital by being active and approachable, being frank and honest, interacting with people personally, sharing useful and interesting content (not only yours) regularly.
Unlike in traditional media where the medium frames the content (e.g. an article in a reputable newspaper is by default assumed to be of equal value) in the online world, you must create your reputation and value from scratch.
Merely putting your content online will do little to promote your message. You have to take active sites to share and spread it so that it stands out in the ever-flowing stream of information. Use the social capital you have built on your blog, website and social networks to help propagate your message. You must learn how to generate your own online buzz actively.
Listen more than you speak
On the web, everybody wants to express their opinions, good and bad. Digital PR, therefore, requires that you spend considerably more time listening to your audience than you do speaking to them. The bonus of this approach is that you will get a good sense of popular sentiment around your brand and marketing strategy.
Talk about others
Concerning the previous point, an excellent online PR strategy doesn’t just involve publishing your own material since your followers will quickly get bored with your overt marketing message. To be a valuable source, you should share content that is related to your industry or field or material that your audience will likely be interested in. For example, if you run a bookshop source reviews of your most popular titles and share news from the literary world.
Personal recommendations count
Online, reputable media sources – like newspapers – carry less social capital than recommendations from personal contacts. Your marketing campaign will not be a success if it is limited to these channels. The most valuable way to spread content is through personal recommendations, meaning that your clients pas the message on to their friends.
Urge your customers to share your content with incentives and by producing valuable, quality material. This strategy can be modified for your website by including customer testimonials – although less effective, it mimics the principle and makes the brand seem more authentic.
The most important expectation that web users have is that you are easy to find. A search for your brand name should bring up your website, the social networking profiles that you are running, articles about you, your microsites and so on – and all on the first page of results. If you are invisible, nobody will interact with you and your PR strategy will be for nought.
A trickier and more desirable outcome is that you appear in search results when somebody searches for a term related to your brand, such as your type of product rather than the company name. This is a critical way to gain new customers who are not already familiar with your brand name but who are looking for your product or service online.
Want to learn more about digital PR? Learn more about what our digital PR course entails