Social Media Survival Kit for Small Businesses Part 5

How to Build PR Value on Facebook

Most travelers that find themselves lost in a forest are saved by following – or sailing – a river that leads back into civilization. Travelers seeking safe passage through the social SEO forest refer to the river that will carry them through as Facebook.

In the fifth and final part of our Social Media Survival Kit for Small Businesses below, we’ve offered five tips for safely navigating the river of Facebook Public Relations (PR):

1. Understand the Depths

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In March of 2010, web traffic to Facebook pulled ahead of Google, according to research presented by Hitwise. To help frame this, think for a moment about how ubiquitous Google’s brand name is with search (i.e. you would never suffer a moment of confusion were you to hear of someone ‘googling’ something.) And now, despite Google’s prevalence in our global culture, there is a channel that shows the potential to become even more popular.

This should not be taken to mean, of course, that Google is in danger of losing out on search queries to Facebook. comScore’s June 2010 report shows that while Facebook search queries achieved a more than respectable level of 621 million, this number still fell well below Google’s nearly 10 billion.

While Facebook may be in its tributary stages in terms of generating searches, it is rapidly benefitting from being found in searches, as Facebook content is commonly served in results from Bing, Yahoo – and of course – Google. When seeking to understand the power of Facebook PR – understand first that Facebook has become an explosive source of global connection – and this means everything from connecting friend to friend or journalist to story.

2. Test The Waters

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A common theme throughout our Social Media Survival guide is the notion of listening. And just as with nearly every other section in our guide, listening is critical to any attempt at Facebook PR.

In regards to Facebook PR, your prime objective in listening will be to find ways to build your community. And the best way to do this is to learn more about what your target community needs.

Start by joining and listening to the dialogue happening in groups that are related to your industry. After you’ve spent time listening, offer something of value that the group needs – whether it’s a comment, advice, or link. Start slow – with just a toe in the water. While it may seem counter-intuitive to your PR efforts to not develop a direct ‘pitch’ – this more gradual effort can quickly help build up your status in the community as a source of value – rather than promotion.

3. Prepare Your Vessel

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Surviving the rapids of an enormous river is simply not possible without the right vessel. And in Facebook, this vessel is made up of the fans that you cultivate – who become both your brand ambassadors and brand protectors.

In terms of brand ambassadorship, think of this as cultivating a following so fervent that it will do the work of rowing your brand down the Facebook PR river. In an ideal scenario, these ambassadors remove much of the burden of traditional PR and promotion as their online advocacy (via posts or comments) transform into content that can be found by searchers ranging from journalists to consumers.

Brand protection, on the other hand, transforms your ambassadors into a crew that will defend your brand against any storm. One recent example, cited by Ben Bennett of the blog Which Half?, details how fans of the Country Music Association (CMA)’s Music Festival rushed to the its defense when an argument broke out suggesting a competing festival was superior. The result, as Bennett states, was a defense that was “better and conducted with more creditability than the CMA ever could.”

4. Remain Visible

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Most lost travelers that leverage the river as their source of salvation are saved when they are spotted by rescuers. Remaining visible on the river of Facebook PR is just as important.

Journalistics reports that nearly 70 percent of journalists use social networks to assist in reporting. And alongside this statistic is the sage advice to avoid direct media pitches on Facebook – unless you have an existing personal relationship with the journalist. In regards to media relations on Facebook, your primary benefit will be courtesy of inbound media relations – or making yourself easily found by journalists seeking your expertise.

And perhaps the most effective way to make yourself found is by consistently sharing valuable information – that will attract an audience – that will support and defend you as needed. (Note: Everything noted in this paragraph represents searchable online content.)

5. Keep an Eye on the Horizon

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The Facebook search queries data from comScore cited above leaves out one key data point: the 621 million search queries generated by Facebook in June 2010 represented an increase of more than 200 million queries in just five months. And the searchable social content? Also a newer development.

While we save this tip for last in our five part Social Media Survival Guide – it is perhaps that is most important to everything from Facebook PR, to building blogger relationships to optimizing press releases: always be aware of what is coming next. Keep your eyes to the horizon of the industry and be proactive in capitalizing on the newest digital channels. This is your key to surviving the social SEO forest.

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