5 tips for a successful social media press release
More and more companies have set money aside in their 2011 budgets for social media, and social media press releases (SMPRs) are increasingly included in that mix. Many communications professionals are also beginning to send out social media press releases in place of more “traditional” releases, expecting their release to go viral and soar to the top of the Google results page. The outcome is an increasing number of disappointed PR professionals who misunderstand the role that an SMPR plays in the optimization and distribution of content.
The social media audience moves fast and tends to have a very short attention span. If you don’t catch their attention with your press release, there are countless other distractions that are just a click away (ahem, Farmville ).
With proper planning; however, you can better your chances for SMPR success. There are three fundamental components to a social media press release: content, search engine optimization (SEO) and social sharing. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you begin writing:
- Do Your SEO Research and Have Measureable Goals
Ok, so you’ve been tasked with writing a social media press release to help boost your search engine ranking. What now? Do you write a press release and link every word to your home page? No! That will actually do more harm than good since most search engines will recognize the release as spam.
Instead, the first thing you should do is research and create a few goals for the release itself. Which keywords and terms related to your company and brand are you trying to “own” on Google? It’s not always easy to determine. Some broad terms, such as “hamburger” for example, are difficult to compete for when everyone else is trying to rank for that term too. When choosing keywords, try to be specific and you will have more success. Instead of hamburger, try “angus burger” or “gourmet burger.”
Once you have narrowed down your keywords, type them into Google and see where your company appears on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). A good goal would be to move up two or three spots per month. Keep in mind that you will rarely see results by only doing one release; you need to have an SEO strategy.When writing your release, a general rule is to have your keywords appear in the first paragraph and only link them to your company’s site one time in your release (link them to a deep and relevant page on your website, not the home page). To avoid being “spammy,” don’t hyperlink more than seven keywords/phrases, and always try to keep your headline under 65 characters (Google only displays 65 characters of your headline in the SERP. Added bonus: Short headlines are Twitter-friendly).
- Know Your Target Audience
In an ideal world, every demographic would be interested in your product or service, but unfortunately that’s probably not the case. Again, you need to do your research. Social media monitoring tools, such as Sysomos, can give you insight into who is talking about your company on the Web, what they are saying, where they are from, how old they are, etc. If you come armed with this information before sitting down to write your press release, you can adapt your style of writing accordingly. For example, if I told my mother I got a new pair of shoes, I might say “I just got a splendid new pair of sneakers.” If I was telling my friends about it, I might say “I just got a sweet new pair of kicks.” You get the idea.
- Put Your Readers First
Search engine optimization is obviously an important part of the social media press release because it’s a critical component of how your news and content are found online. However, it is just as important, if not more, that your release is reader-friendly. Make it easy for readers by being concise and relevant with your content.
In addition to making your content reader-friendly, make it shareable and include your social sharing links in the release (you wouldn’t believe how many companies forget to include their Twitter handle in the contact info of their release!). It can be tricky to write for search engines and readers at the same time but, with some practice, it will become second nature.
- Incorporate Multimedia Content
Whenever possible, try to use at least one multimedia component in your release. It is a lot easier to get your picture or video to the top of a SERP than it is to get your website there. YouTube is a great social sharing site, but people often forget it is also the second largest search engine on the Web. Be mindful that your multimedia content will almost always be viewed before the text of your release, so it must be as interesting and engaging as the text is. What’s more, multimedia assets help tell a richer, more engaging story, so don’t forget the photos, infographics, video and audio clips.
- Remember, It’s Better to Give than Receive!
If you take anything at all from this post, let it be this: When it comes to writing SMPRs, don’t be selfish! The SMPR can be great for product launches and sharing product information, but because of its social sharing capabilities and its ability to carry so much multimedia content, it is a perfect tool for educating your audience and providing a fuller, richer interactive experience which can go beyond the typical product launch.
It can be very tempting to write a social media press release pushing your new product or service; but in reality, unless you are Apple releasing the newest iPhone, people probably aren’t going to flock to your release or make it viral. The social media audience gets distracted easily and if you aren’t offering something interesting or educational, you will lose them — fast.
Instead, try to offer topical advice, step-by-step instructions or YouTube contests for something related to your product. For example, if you are writing a press release for the newest flavor of Gatorade, write a step-by-step process on recovering after a workout. This is topical advice that also provides you with the opportunity to organically place your product in the release (That one was free, PepsiCo!).
The social media press release can be an invaluable marketing tool and, if done right, can provide your company with excellent inbound leads and Web presence, and give your customers relevant information. When writing your social media releases, do your research, have a plan, write for your readers and don’t be selfish!
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