Over the past few years, corporate communications has undergone quite the makeover. Today’s always-on digital world has drastically increased the work it takes to craft a memorable brand narrative. When it comes to standing out, social media for strategic communications isn’t just helpful—it’s necessary.
This advice isn’t limited to promotional efforts, either. Integrating social into every aspect of your strategy drives more compelling, authentic messaging from the ground up.
Communications and social media are a match made in heaven. Keep reading to learn how social media can take your strategic communications strategy to the next level.
How to use social media for strategic communications
Social is the perfect vehicle for connecting with your most valuable stakeholders. Consumers, investors, employees—they’re all there waiting for you. If you want to capitalize on the opportunity, here are four ways to elevate social’s role in your corporate communications toolkit.
1. Power up public relations efforts
Once upon a time, “marketing” and “public relations” existed in their own respective lanes.
Now, social media has blurred the boundaries between the two, driving even closer collaboration between the functions. It’s no wonder almost three-quarters (73%) of PR professionals don’t think the term “public relations” as it’s defined today will describe the work they’re doing in five years.
Forward-thinking strategic communications professionals are partnering with social teams to pressure test media pitches, messaging and more. These efforts support a more cohesive brand experience that spans beyond a single channel.
To explain how communications and social media teams might work together, let’s look at a practical example. Say you’re preparing to write a press release on an upcoming campaign launching in partnership with a high-profile spokesperson.
Before starting your draft, you could use a tool like Sprout Social to run two Social Listening Topics: one to assess your current brand health and another to determine the cultural conversation surrounding your spokesperson.
Your Listening Topics will track and analyze the conversations around relevant topics to understand consumer sentiment. Review dynamic word clouds, related keywords and hashtags, sentiment data and more for information that can guide your draft.
Some key questions to ask while digging could be:
- How are people currently talking about your brand? Has sentiment been trending up or down in recent months? What can you gather about your content or customers from these results? How can you use that information to create an exciting, highly-tailored press release?
- How are people talking about your spokesperson? How is consumer sentiment around them trending? Is there anything that could be cause for concern? What terms and phrases are frequently coming up in these conversations?
Share these findings with your social media team to get more bang for your buck. From there, you can tailor the social arm of the campaign strategy to complement press initiatives for maximum impact.
2. Mitigate employer brand risk
An employer brand is made up of more than just approved messaging grids. It’s a combination of all the macro and micro customer, employee and candidate interactions that happen every single day. When these conversations happen online, they’re out there for everyone to see.
Authentic social conversations can’t be restrained by a multi-step approval process, but that doesn’t mean you need to accept any and all risk. The right toolkit can empower your team to strive for cohesion and accuracy when discussing your company with their extended network.
More than half of engaged social users would post about their company if somebody wrote the content for them. Tapping into this opportunity can elevate your brand message in a way that feels authentic to potential hires, consumers and other stakeholders.
Brands using Employee Advocacy by Sprout Social curate pre-approved employee advocacy content right alongside their brand social media posts. Brands navigating social in highly regulated industries can even require the use of pre-approved messaging on specific posts, so compliance is never left up to chance.
Advocacy content populates in a centralized feed where employees can pick and choose what they’d like to share with their personal networks.
These curated content round-ups benefit both communications teams and their cross-functional colleagues. They keep people up to date on need-to-know announcements and content offerings, empowering colleagues to advance their social presence in a brand-friendly way.
3. Empower your executive team
Delivering on a strong executive brand presence is a unique challenge for strategic communications teams. You want your C-suite to share sharp, incisive thought leadership, but that can often fall to the wayside in favor of running a company.
That said, executive communications is too important to slip through the cracks. According to a recent report from FTI Consulting, 82% of business leaders agree that there is a wider reward for the company if they have an active leader on social media.
Don’t just meet executives in the middle on drafting or brainstorming, meet them at 80% and give them something to react to. Time is an exec’s most valuable resource, so if they’re investing it in comms, you need to maximize the ROI.Hannah Fleishman
Director of Executive Communications, HubSpot
Efficient workflows are at the core of executing an executive communications strategy. Members of your C-suite should be able to review content, provide feedback and approve messaging in just a few clicks.
Sprout’s External Approvers workflow supports this process by allowing collaborators who do not have a seat in the platform to review, approve and reject content.
Getting sign-off for social content shouldn't be a workflow headache.
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) January 18, 2023
This type of teamwork can have a lasting impact on everything from marketing and sales to investor relations. It’s a great way to support your C-suite as they step into their role as a face of the brand.
4. Control the narrative around potential crises
There’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than a potential brand crisis. The first bits of chatter on a defective product or out-of-touch statement can kick off a snowball effect that feels impossible to stop.
That’s where social media comes in. Social plays two significant roles in any successful crisis communication plan. It’s both a proactive monitoring tool and a reactive engagement tool.
Social media is a consumer go-to for voicing concerns when a brand crisis strikes. A social media listening strategy can help your brand stay on top of messages across networks to ensure you don’t miss any red flags.
Sprout helps both communications and social media professionals keep tabs on brand health with a sentiment analysis tool that provides immediate context around the conversations surrounding your brand and industry.
In the event of a crisis, brands can use those insights to inform their response to the situation. Sharing a public apology from the brand account may seem straightforward, but an insensitive response can land your brand in even more hot water.
Hopefully, you’ll only ever need to use social media’s proactive crisis management benefits. Still, it never hurts to be prepared.
Harness the power of social media for strategic communications
A social-first approach to strategic communications has the power to reinvent a brand in the eyes of the people who matter most. Ground your strategy in real-time social insights to ground your strategy in the voice of your ideal customer.
Sprout Social offers a suite of tools designed to help brands strengthen their market position with actionable insights. Sign up for a free trial today and future-proof your brand for tomorrow.
How AI is changing communications and PR: Risks and benefitsPublished on May 31, 2023 Reading time 7 minutes
How to use brand safety tools to protect your brand’s reputationPublished on May 11, 2023 Reading time 7 minutes
Decoding corporate communications: Functions, goals and skillsPublished on March 9, 2023 Reading time 6 minutes