Any PR professional who ignores social media does so to his own detriment. It is the communication tool of the moment. It has become an essential tool for staying in touch with media practitioners, making important corporate and personal announcements, building a community around products and services and building a personal brand. But it is fraught with risks. An innocent post can cost you your job, or belittle you in the eyes of clients, employers and professional colleagues. Understanding what strategies are right for you as a professional remains the only way to navigate the rocky and risky terrain of social media.
What Is Social Media Strategy?
It is the general approach or game plan you use to achieve your social media objectives. Whether you are thinking of building a personal brand presence, becoming a thought leader in your field or winning the support and recognition of your management, it takes the right social media strategy, or a combination of strategies, to succeed.
Why You Need A Social Media Strategy
It is tempting to believe that social media is all about connecting with friends, families, colleagues and clients. It is important to recognize that anything you post on it makes a statement about who you are, and your page is used by prospective clients and employers to make a quick judgment about you. Your social media strategy determines what you post and helps you cut the professional image that is required of every PR practitioners.
What Strategy Is Right?
In their article, “How to Separate the Personal and Professional on Social Media, published in HBR.org, Arian Ollier-Malaterre and Nancy Rothbard suggest four social media strategies which I believe every PR professional should consider when thinking of how to present a professional image in the social media, namely:
- Open Strategy
- Audience Strategy
- Content Strategy
- Custom Strategy
Open strategy involves complete transparency and authenticity. You post whatever comes to mind, but the risks involved are enormous. A post that is perceived as distasteful by your stakeholders can drain away your reputational capital.
When you are careful about who you admits as friends or keep separate networks for personal friends and professional colleagues, then you are using an audience strategy. The whole idea of separating personal and professional networks is to ensure that you discuss and share personal issues without the fear that your professional colleagues are monitoring your personal life. Care is needed here because people who are friends and family members today could become co-workers tomorrow, in which case an audience strategy can be compromised.
Content strategy is all about posting only carefully considered contents; that is, posting only information, photographs and videos that project a professional image. Self-editing is the name of the game when using this strategy.
In custom strategy you create two lists in the same network and post only contents that are suited to each of the lists. You make one list entirely professional and the other personal. This makes it very clear when you are speaking from a purely professional standpoint and when you are just being yourself. It spares your friends from job related contents.
A professional reputation is what a PR practitioner needs to succeed. Social media has the capacity to make or wreck it. Depending on PR professional’s capacity, personal objectives and resources available, perhaps, the right strategy to adopt should be the content or custom strategies. They can keep you out of reputation troubles.