2017 Trends You Need To Know in PR, Search & Social Media


This post is an excerpt from the 2017 Trends You Need To Know in PR, Search & Social Media breakout session at the Digital Marketing Conference in Los Angeles led by Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media at Business Wire. The conference was a rich environment for digital marketers to openly discuss tactics for building a better online presence and tracking results. All of the content from the Digital Marketing Conference is available as Digital Marketing Videos.

2017 Trends You Need To Know in PR, Search & Social Media

The number one thing that people do on mobile phones is news consumption.

2017 is the year of news content visibility. When you distribute news, you get analytics and that tells you who opens news, who cares about news, and you can take that information and use it.

PR generates exceptional impact. Most people are used to working at companies that have a big marketing budget and a tiny PR budget. That has got to change. PR people need bigger budgets and the reason for that is that the #1 thing that travels today is news. In fact, a new study came out that said that the number one thing that people do on mobile phones is news consumption (which beat out social media, the previous #1). News on its own has a 63% trust rating, but when it is shared via social media or email between friends, it has an 83% trust rating.

Engage your audience visually

If you want to engage consumers, you have to speak their language.

Consumers have changed. If you are under the age of 36, you are the first generation that had computers in your house. Today’s consumers are experts in Google search. Before phones, the sales process was a 7-touch sales process. It is now a 22-touch sales process. Someone has to see your company, your brand 22 times before they will make a purchase. Today’s consumers because of this expertise, they do their own research, they rely on their own research results, and they trust consumers (their recommendations from friends). This is where search and social become important because they make it easy for people to share their thoughts and opinions.

These devices have made us visually fluent. Public relations is typically text-based communications. That has to change. Kinesthetic learners make up 63% of the world, which means that they learn through visual interaction. Every time you put out a text-only status update or news update, what have you done? You have excluded 63% of the world. If you want to engage consumers, you have to speak their language and their language is becoming increasingly visual. Emojis and Snapchat are working so well because they require no knowledge of any language. It’s a visual communication platform. We need to start speaking in both text and visual as PR people.

Editorial coverage is great for SEO

Google puts the news and any coverage that you secure at the top of search.

Google loves editorial coverage, Google loves press releases, and so every time that you get editorial coverage, not only should you count that as a “win,” but you need to tell your leaders or management that that coverage had SEO. That coverage was at the top of search. News releases do not have traditional SEO, but they have search-ability. Google recognized what users are looking for in search and when a user searches for a company or business name, they know that users want to find the business website, a couple of key pages within the site, the social channels, and the news. Google puts the news and any coverage that you secure at the top of search.

Use LinkedIn to amplify your content

LinkedIn thinks it is “breaking news” when they see people connected on LinkedIn sharing the same news in a five-minute span.

We all know that social is a terrific way to distribute and get information amplified, but there are tricks for every single platform for getting your information shared. I’ll start with LinkedIn. LinkedIn has two free ways to get your information out. First, LinkedIn user’s aspirational goals for the channel are competitive. They pay attention to what others are doing. If you are the editorial contact on a news release or the quoted source on an article, LinkedIn is scraping the web for these pieces and showing them to you. How many of you guys have ever gotten an email from LinkedIn saying “You are in the news.” This is LinkedIn telling you “Congratulations!” but they also send this information to all of your contacts. It’s a great way to optimize the network, but here’s the thing: a lot of our clients will submit a news release and they will quote the CEO and the CEO has no LinkedIn presence. Consider adding a second quote from perhaps your head of sales or someone else who has a really robust LinkedIn profile. Leverage that. (Note: This does not work if you use a middle initial with your name so take those out).

Another LinkedIn trick. Find five or six friends and connect offline. Ask them to share the same piece of news that you do around the same time. LinkedIn thinks it is “breaking news” when they see people connected on LinkedIn sharing the same news in a five-minute span. Then it puts these “news” items on the wall of your contacts when they login. It doesn’t have to be a press release or news release, either. It can be any form of content, even a hiring page.

Create tweets that incorporate visuals

Always add an image to your Twitter posts.

The aspiration on Twitter is to the be the first, the smartest, or the funniest. The tweets that get the most retweets, are the ones that surprise you, shock you, or the ones that have data so good for your industry that you have to be the one that shares it. Twitter now allows you to add multimedia, start a tweet with an @ sign, and none of that impacts the visibility or takes up the character count online.

Always add an image to your Twitter posts. Create a tweet that is a mix of visuals and text. Use the image to explain visually what the text we have up there is. GIF files also work extremely well. Add ironic GIF files and people love it. Stats also do very, very well on Twitter.

Maximize social sharing

Need coverage? Op-Eds. If you can’t get people to cover your story, op-eds. I’ve placed 600 op-eds in five years. Every piece of coverage I get, I share a minimum of 15 times on social. Social is real-time and if someone isn’t looking at that moment, they won’t see Tweet #1, they might see Tweet #5. I have no shame in my sharing game. Shame in the sharing game is the downside of a lot of companies.

Create Facebook updates for each demographic

The best performing Facebook Live’s average over ten minutes in length.

Facebook posts should focus on being personal, smart and visual. Know that women, men, young and old people will buy your product for different reasons. Write a status update for each market. Facebook allows you to do status updates by demographic. Target your audience.

Keep in mind that the words in your update matter. If you can put the top words of the day in your update, it will be more likely to show up at the top of Facebook’s news feed and at the top of the Home page for your customers. Content type also impacts your visibility. You need to test your type and determine what your audience pays attention to the most.

The best performing Facebook Live’s average over ten minutes in length and include surprise materials at key points starting at 90 seconds. 100% of your fans get the notice that you are “Live” and they see the notification that you write out about why you are going Live so make sure that it’s really good and interesting. They will alert your whole fan page.

Build loyalty on Instagram

Consider creating an Instagram program that rewards your employees or your customers for posting.

Instagram’s aspiration is fame. The metric for success is how many “likes” you get. The reality is that because of likes and the aspect of fame, consider creating an Instagram program that rewards your employees or your customers for posting. Sharing photos is huge and builds loyalty and advocates out of users.

Share your knowledge on SlideShare

SlideShare is where people go to learn. It might seem old-fashioned, but if you sell to a small business, then you want to share here. Small businesses want to be smarter and so a SlideShare with best practices or “How To’s” do really well.

Don’t ignore Pinterest

Pinterest has an extremely high CTR and it is ignored routinely by big companies.

Pinterest tells the world “who we are.” Clients always tell me, “Well, we don’t use Pinterest because they don’t show up on our analytics.” Do you know why? Because people do not put URLs behind their photos so when users click on the photos, a bigger photo pops up rather than taking them to the website. Your analytics will change if you add links to your images. Pinterest has an extremely high CTR and it is ignored routinely by big companies.

Provide offers on Snapchat

Snapchat is the unvarnished truth and 71% of users are ages 18-34. Snapchat is where you want to provide VIP/exclusive access, promote events, show cool demos, be highly relevant, and include offers and coupons. Don’t spend time here if your audience is not in this age range.

Be authentic on Reddit

Reddit’s users have aspirations to be passionate, smart, and informed. Reddit is not a network where you simply throw out information; you have to listen. Reddit is a large audience with 45,000 targeted communities. Be authentic.

Utilize videos in your sales funnel

Make accessible videos by showing the usage of your product in a short amount of time.

YouTube + BizWireTV offer video news for consumers. Create content for all parts of your sales funnel. Determine what your audience watches in long form and then shorten it. Make accessible videos by showing the usage of your product in a short amount of time. Shrink it down.

Free PR, search, and social tools:

More resources from Serena Ehrlich and BusinessWire

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