Building a Brand with Social Media, Public Relations, and Advertising

Piecing together a successful marketing campaign can seem both expensive and overwhelming. There are many moving parts, and it can be tempting to think that some of them can be skipped. To some, it may even be unclear exactly what the differences are among public relations, advertising and social media strategies. However, these three tools in your marketing belt are most effective when used in conjunction with each other. In order to truly cover the bases of earned, owned and paid media, a brand needs a thorough strategy for public relations, advertising and social media.

Public Relations

In a time of explosive media, the marketing “noise” is getting louder and louder. Public relations is the tool that tells a compelling brand story that can rise above the noise and be heard. More than just driving home a snappy jingle or catchy tagline from an advertisement, public relations excels at messaging. Ultimately, a brand is a perception, and the role of public relations is to establish and shape those perceptions. Building out brand trust and credibility through public relations adds equity to your brand, making it more likely to secure earned media placements.

The publicity that is gained through public relations has an added credibility to it because a third party has decided to promote your brand of their own will, rather than being paid for it. Instead of joining a constant barrage of advertisements pushing how great your brand is into customers’ faces, public relations is a tool that lets others sing your praises.

Advertising

Advertising, particularly PPC advertising, can more easily be directly connected to day-to-day business strategy and objectives. This is because paid advertising drives measurable results and has detailed analytics. PPC also yields useful keyword and traffic insights that can help improve other marketing efforts. Additionally, unlike public relations, paid advertising is a method of guaranteeing placement, and retaining complete control over your brand message.

With an increasing amount of marketing tools, many marketing functions can now be better targeted. However, advertising still has the highest targeting capabilities to reach a direct audience. All of the qualitative information that PPC advertising can yield allows future advertisements to be tailored for quite broad goals, such as generating brand impressions, or to be targeted more narrowly by device, location or social signal.

Social Media

Similarly to advertising, social media marketing allows you to create and control your brand message. But unlike advertising, social media provides a real-time, open dialog between your brand and your customers. The dynamic interface of social makes it an invaluable tool for brands looking to connect with customers in a familiar way.

Customers connect with brands on social media for multiple reasons. Social media provides a real-time and inexpensive method for you to stay connected with customers and provide them with up-to-date information about products and promotions. However, customers also follow brands to be a part of that community. Social allows you to put a personal face on your brand and connect with your customers on a real-time and more experiential level.

Synergies

So hopefully it is now clear how public relations, advertising, and social media are all necessary to piece together a complete marketing strategy for your brand. But the real key here is what happens when all three tools are used together. Think of public relations, advertising and social media like a tripod. Each is an important element in holding up a complete marketing strategy. Incredible synergies happen when all three of these are successfully executed.

Paid advertising guarantees promotion of your brand, which can in turned aid in public perception of your brand and driving earned media. PPC advertising is also a direct way to drive traffic to your owned social media sites and increase conversions that way. Effective public relations that results in earned media is another vehicle to drive customers to owned media sites. Great public relations that results in many media placements can boost organic search rankings, driving more and more traffic to owned sites.

And finally, the dynamic capabilities of social media allow for success with the tool to be defined in multiple ways. If generating buzz or boosting customer sentiment are the ideal metrics of social media success, then your efforts may be more public relations oriented. But if you are looking for social to play a greater role in generating conversations, sales and other metrics that you would typically associate with advertising, then you can synergize your social media efforts with advertising.

Public relations, advertising and social media are all important to a complete digital marketing strategy. While each element has its own role, using all three together will make your strategy that much more effective.

Advertisements

Top Startup Hangouts in Charlotte, NC

As Charlotte, NC continues to grow so does its perfect ecosystem for entrepreneurship and startups. These resource-rich meeting spots meet all kinds of startup needs- places to network, places to gather new ideas, places to meet, and places to unwind and let loose.

packardplace

NETWORKING

Packard Place

Most everyone in Charlotte’s business world would agree that Packard Place is the place to begin immersing oneself in startup culture. There are tons of resources and social events at this innovation hub, but a great place to start is PitchBreakfast. Join the most active seed stage investors in the southeast as they listen to two-minute elevator pitches. This is a great place to catch up-and-coming ideas and hear valuable feedback. Think of it as a bullpen for startups.

Ventureprise

UNC Charlotte’s Ventureprise is Charlotte’s newest business-growth hub, and the sleek design of the new PORTAL building makes this a great place to spend time and do work. They also host CEO luncheons where attendees can meet local entrepreneurs who are involved with UNCC in some capacity and hear startup CEO’s speak. Plus, as Blair Rubio of local startup T1Visions said, “It’s nice to stay connected to the local university in any way you can.”

Industry Coworking

Industry is a shared office environment designed for creatives, technology professionals, freelancers, small businesses and other independent workers. The flexible space offers private offices as well as open workspaces for people to get out of their home office or the coffee shop. This unique atmosphere offers the opportunity to feed off the energy of a dynamic community of people. If your startup doesn’t have a home office yet, or even if you want to schedule a meeting in an impressive spot, Industry Coworking can probably meet your needs. The space also hosts weekly happy hours for members to socialize and let loose.

Skookum Tech Talks

These business technology experts who operate in a spirit of collaborative innovation host the largest technology meetup group in Charlotte. The bi-weekly Tech Talks are laid-back and provide a free lunch to attendees. These topical talks on everything from robotics to Drupal are a perfect opportunity to network and stay up-to-date on what all the local techies are talking about.

Binary Ventures’ Quarterly Tech Mixer

These guys began their quarterly networking night this past May and plan to repeat the event again soon. This mixer offers a more pumped-up version of a networking night with live music and an open bar for those who RSVP.

CHILL OUT

Amelie’s

As the historic arts and entertainment district, the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte is a social and work hub for startups. The iconic Amelie’s French Bakery focuses on creating a community of patrons where everyone is welcome, which provides a sociable and friendly atmosphere. Creatives, tech types, businessmen and employees all gather together here to unwind and create community. Amelie’s also has a private event space and meeting rooms that can be reserved, and even catered by the bakery. And of course, free WiFi.

MoNA Gallery

Whether a techie or a communicator, everyone needs to get those creative juices flowing now and then. Stop into MoNA Gallery in the NoDa area to clear your head and expand your mind. The gallery features fine art photography by local, regional, national, and international artists, and contemporary art and studio craft by local and regional artists. If you’re lucky, you might pop in and have the whole gallery to yourself. But be sure to also check out the dates of the opening and closing receptions for specific exhibits if you want the vibes of a larger crowd of art aficionados.

Dilworth Coffee

Coffee is the lifefuel of any busy entrepreneur, and Dilworth Coffee has it brewed to an art. It’s a great place to swing by and grab a cup to go, but there is also peaceful outdoor seating area for taking a break from the grind. Inside offers a professional but comfortable atmosphere with room for groups. Plus, free WiFi for those who truly never slow down.

LET LOOSE

Hooligans

To truly get away from the tech talk dip into this small, cozy boozer and be instantly inundated with sports. This international sports bar has a large import and craft beer selection, and full liquor bar. The people around here are truly passionate about soccer, but there’s also plenty of TV’s on which to catch the NHL, NFL, NBA, or MLB. If you want to invite the whole office you can also rent out a private party area on the second floor.

Food Truck Friday in Southend

You’ll want to eat lunch twice at this weekly gathering of some of Charlotte’s best food trucks. After a long workweek, this gathering of local food offers the perfect opportunity to get out of the office and break up a Friday that’s dragging on. The trucks change from week to week depending on availability and offer varying styles of cuisine, so everyone in your group can find something to make them happy. If you really want to celebrate the Friday, you can stop by the Common Market and grab a beer to accompany your lunch.

NoDa Brewing Company

Every Tuesday, this local brewery rolls out a “NoDable” small-batch beer that is exclusive to their taproom, and it is never the same beer twice. This makes for an extensive variety of beers in a local atmosphere that is sure to impress visitors. They also hold regular food truck lunches, live music, and brewery tours. The brewery has limited hours, but the intimate and creative atmosphere makes it impossible not to stop in for a pint.

NoDa Alley Rally

Area 15, at the intersection of 15th Street and North Davidson Street, is another small business incubator and the site of a new, regularly occurring food truck rally this spring and summer. NoDa Alley Rally takes place the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month. Besides the food trucks there is craft beer, live music and plenty of free parking. It’s family-friendly and pet-friendly so you can bring the whole house along. Plus, the rally benefits community organizations such as the Free Store, Optimist Park and Community Gardens.

Though the spaces listed above are widely varied, they all offer a range of benefits to Charlotte startup workers. Sometimes all it takes to get past a brain block is getting out of your standard work space- whether that involves listening to someone else’s ideas, networking, or a grabbing cup of coffee.

Big thank you to everyone who contributed their thoughts and ideas for this post: Blair Rubio of T1Visions, Fred Sexton of Mouse and Man, Steve Nolan of Binary Ventures, Steven Sacks of Podanize, Lenore Vassil of The Torch, Paul Wetenhall of Ventureprise Inc., Scott Jermyn of Shomo Live, and Juan Garzon of The Garzon Company.

8 Ways to Create More Shareable Content

We live in a day of information overload with content thrown at us every way we turn. Our phones, our computers, our televisions– how do people choose what to pay attention to and what to share with their friends? Creating content that people love to share is a key to successful communication.

With such saturated communication media, it is not always easy to consistently produce fresh content that excites people enough to read and share it. However, there are simple strategies that you can incorporate into your writing process that will increase your content’s sharability and spread your message faster. You may spend time developing valuable, insightful content, but if it does not resonate with your own audience, your time was wasted.

  1. Listen to your audience

You may spend time developing valuable, insightful content, but if it does not resonate with your own audience, the time you have spent is wasted. Read the comments on your blog, tweets you are mentioned in, and posts on your wall to find out what people are saying about your brand. Learning what people care about gives you the ability to frame your content toward them. Additionally, you may get new relevant topic ideas based just on what people are saying!

  1. React fast

Pay attention to current events and pop culture and find ways to relate it back to your expertise. When you base your content on topics that already have people’s attention, you can draw that attention back to yourself. People want to seem relevant and on point, and sharing your content that relates to a hot topic can help them appear so.

When you can do this quickly and effectively, it also increases your chances of being shared because your content will be ahead of curve compared to any competitors.

This theory was proven back in January during the Grammy Awards airing. A quick-witted Arby’s employee watched Pharrell perform onstage in a big brown hat, and promptly tweeted from the Arby’s account, “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs.” This unplanned but on point tweet drew the giant Grammy audience to the Arby’s account and received 81,207 retweets and 48,188 favorites by the next morning.

  1. Play on emotions

Though important, you don’t always have to fixate on the value level of your content. The recent explosion of viral content has proven that emotions rule in the sharing game. Viral content almost always contains content that is funny, sad, inspiring, shocking, or just compelling in some way. It is human nature to want to share in emotional experiences with others, thus drawing people to share your content.

Emotions that your content elicits are also what end up ingrained in a person’s memory. A person is more likely to recall how they felt about something they experienced than information about the experience itself. So emotional content not only elicits sharing, but it also encourages remembering of your brand.

  1. Escape from the “echo chamber”

The term “echo chamber” describes a situation where beliefs are reinforced by repeated “echoes” inside a closed system, often drowning out competing views. Content that simply repeats something you’ve heard or seen multiple places has no reason to be shared.

There is no doubt that you disagree with plenty voices on the web. Don’t feel like you have to be the safe or neutral voice. Taking one side of an issue and allowing opportunity for debate gets people involved with your content and gives them an opportunity to see two sides of something really well.

  1. Call to action

Some of the most shareable websites, such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy, have tapped in on one very simple key to increasing shares: make it easy! Both of these websites have prominently displayed buttons for readers to pass on content to Twitter, Facebook and more with one simple click. They even go so far as reminding people to do something with the post in the text.

If making it easy and asking people to spread your content doesn’t seem to be working for you, go even further and give them a concrete reason to pass it on. Entries to giveaways, access to exclusive content, or even simple public recognition for sharing can be wonderful incentives for people to share your content.

  1. Make it a list

Yep, guess what you’re reading right now? If you had noticed this post and it wasn’t broken down into points and subcategories, would you have been as likely to check it out? With the explosion of information these days, lists make it easier to scan and read quickly. You’re not messing with people’s expectations, because they know exactly what they’re going to get. People only want to share what they think other people will actually read, and content in list form increases those chances.

  1. Pretty, please

Similarly to lists, well-designed infographics or posts with any attractive content not only grab people’s attention, but make information easier to digest and share. Not everyone has the ability to design extensive web graphics, but creating attractive content can be more straightforward than that.

Simply remembering to make an easy-to-read font choice and using clear text grouping can go a long way in attractiveness and readability of your content. And adding relevant pictures can reinforce a point and make your content more noticeable in an endless stream of tweets or comments.

  1. Do it again

Finally, go back to content that you have already posted and review your previous engagement metrics. What has caught your audience’s attention in the past? What got people talking? What works for them might be something completely different than what works for other audiences. It might even be some invisible combination of  factors not discussed in this post, but you can analyze your content and try to capitalize on that again. Always keep an eye on your metrics, particularly engagement. Over time, this information can be built into a pretty clear picture of what gets your content shared.

All together, these strategies basically sum up to one thing: being in tune with your audience. When you understand where they are coming from, what they are paying attention to, and what they want, you can intuitively frame your content to meet their needs.