How do companies use social networks

Use social networks properly as an element of public relations

Quick start: Our 3 recommendations for your start

If you are currently setting up your PR professionally, we recommend our guidelines for press work, our free template for your press release and our tips for creating your social media strategy.

Benefits of social networks for your company

If you use social networks for your company, you can increase your awareness, improve your image and disseminate important information. You also get access to (new) customers or target groups and you can generate clicks or draw attention to news from your company.

But before you start to present your company on social networks, you should set up a social media strategy. Of course, this should fit the overall strategy of your company. However, a separate strategy for social networks is necessary so that you can be clear about goals, resources and budget.

So, first of all, you should ask yourself what you want to achieve with a presence on social networks:

  • What are your goals with PR via social networks?
  • Which target group would you like to reach there?
  • What content do you use to achieve this?
  • Which social networks are suitable for this?
  • What resources (staff and budget) can you spend on social networks?
  • Which key figures can you measure for a later evaluation?
  • What technical or content support do you need for the implementation?

Define goals and target groups for social networks

Only by setting measurable goals can you measure the success of your PR in retrospect. Targets can be likes, followers, fans, views or clicks, for example. These numbers are easier to collect than the number of new customers or customer satisfaction. If possible, goals should always be defined SMART:

  • S.specific, i.e. clearly defined.
  • M.edible, i.e. you have to establish criteria for measurability.
  • A.n measured, i.e. these goals must be accepted by the target group.
  • R.ealistic, i.e. the implementation must be feasible.
  • TErminiert, i.e. you should set a date for the achievement of all goals.

But before you can define goals, you first have to find out which target groups you want to reach in the respective social media channels. Different social networks are aimed at different target groups. While many only think of Facebook or Twitter when they hear social networks, there are numerous platforms that are more target-group-specific.

How to create a social media strategy

So how do you go about it once you've decided on social media? The first steps are the definition of goals and target groups as well as the selection of suitable platforms. You should always keep an eye on your competition and check whether and how they use social networks for themselves.

It is also important that you plan both resources and budget for social networks. Social networks appear to be a cost-effective alternative to advertising, especially for start-ups. However, only one account is free. In order to get the ideal reach of posts, you should plan a budget and possibly even an additional manpower for the maintenance of your social networks. You should also differentiate between PR and advertising on social media. Internally, the distribution of roles should be clearly regulated. If several employees are responsible for the social networks, guidelines for communication should be laid down.

Once the basic questions have been answered, you should come up with a content creation plan. Note that the content should always add value to your community. You should also not forget to regularly measure success: monthly and annual reports are essential so that you can identify developments and optimize processes.

Use social networks for your PR: 5 tips

If you use social networks as an element of PR, you should definitely keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Content instead of advertising
  2. Quality beats quantity
  3. Promote dialogue-oriented communication
  4. Also be prepared for negative feedback
  5. Work cross-media

Content instead of advertising: If you use social networks for your PR, you should clearly separate content and advertising. Create a content strategy and think about how you can offer content with added value. This is the only way your posts will achieve a high reach. Creating a channel through which you only distribute promotional material will not gain reach. For this, you need to advertise specifically. If you are thinking about advertising on social networks, read more about advertising on Facebook or about social media marketing in general here.

The difference between advertising and PR is important not only for social networks, but in general. Learn more about the difference between PR and advertising here.

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Quality beats quantity: content is the be-all and end-all in social networks. As described in point 1, you should offer your community content with added value. For this it is not relevant that you publish something several times a day or as often as possible, but that the content is of high quality. In this way, you can even achieve more reach with one publication than with multiple posts of poorer quality.

Promote dialogue-oriented communication: Social networks are dialogue-oriented. No matter which social networks you actively use: Talk to your community. Include them in your publications through questions or actions and respond to questions and comments.

Also adjust to negative feedback: Point 3 also applies to negative feedback. Facebook in particular is increasingly developing into a service channel on which inquiries are made, questions are clarified and complaints are submitted. So if you receive negative feedback or critical questions are asked, the same applies here: answer! Comment and if the criticism is not constructive, politely point it out. The larger the company, the more likely it is that a crisis team is an option. But as an individual, you should also think about how you can best strategically deal with the risks of a social network, should they arise.

Working cross-media: Working cross-media means not seeing your channels separately from one another, but working across the board. Your fans or customers may be following several of your social networks. So link content logically and don't just copy. For example, you can embed YouTube videos on Twitter or Facebook. But you should also link the content of your website or offline campaigns with one another and thus build bridges between the individual channels.

The right communication on the right network

Social networks have idiosyncrasies with a view to

  • The target group
  • the terminology and functions
  • the best way to publish

For example, we have put together in separate chapters what the perfect Facebook post or the perfect tweet looks like.

Social networks in sight: post on Facebook

In order for a Facebook post to have as wide a reach as possible, some basic rules should be followed. For example, it is important that URLs are inserted correctly and hashtags are used sparingly. In addition, a post should not be published too often and texts should not be too long. The timing is also a criterion for the reach of your Facebook post. Find out more details on what the perfect Facebook post for founders should look like.

Social networks in their sights: tweet on Twitter

Those who tweet only have 140 characters available and they should be used carefully. For example, a picture can attract more attention to your tweet, but this means that you have fewer characters for your text. To save space, you should only use a few, but meaningful, hashtags. Find out how the correct handling of hashtags works and what else is important for the perfect tweet.

Targeting social networks: Instagram business

Anyone who uses Instagram as a company should set up a business account. There you benefit in particular from extended statistics that you can use for your strategic communication. Find out how to set up a business account here. We also have examples of startups that use a particularly good Instagram account for you.

Checklist: Use social networks properly

Finally, once again at a glance: These points make social networks more successful.

  1. Create a strategy
  2. Define goals (SMART) and target group
  3. Choosing platforms consciously
  4. Create content with added value
  5. Plan your budget
  6. Keep an eye on the competition
  7. Evaluate results
  8. Be prepared for any crises or criticism
  9. Define internal responsibilities
  10. Create guidelines for consistent communication

So that you can now start in practice, we have put together an overview of all the important social media platforms. A PR agency can also help you set up a PR strategy. If you are interested in Facebook advertising, you can find more information here. In addition to social media, press work is also an important element of public relations.

If you don't react to current topics, interactions and trends on social media, you are wasting a lot of potential. Social media monitoring helps you to get an overview of your own topics and channels and those of your competitors.

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Author: Für-Grü editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Grü for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Grü, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.