When it comes to paid social media advertising, “The question isn’t ‘Should we?’ but ‘How much should we?'”
That’s advice from Beth Wilson, public relations manager for Inferno, a full-service advertising, marketing, design and public relations firm.
“Businesses that are not engaging in social media advertising should be taking advantage of this tremendous tool,” Wilson said. “It is cost effective and targeted.”
The platforms also include user-friendly features for advertisers, such as a sliding scale that estimates anticipated reach based on timeframe, budget and targeting options.
“You can see the anticipated ROI and reach before pushing the button,” Wilson said.
Raising the curtain on social
One business that has been putting more money recently into social is the Orpheum Theatre Group.
“We definitely still have more organic content in sheer quantity,” said Adriane Hall, the Orpheum’s director of digital marketing. “We’re doing increasingly more and more paid posts, as well, especially after the Facebook apocalypse a few months ago.”
In January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the social networking site’s 2018 algorithms would change to bring users “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media” and more posts from “friends, family and groups.”
The Orpheum wants to make sure its commercial messages, such as show announcements and ticket sales, are seen but it is also putting money behind posts that support the nonprofit’s mission.
“If Facebook, by nature, is going to make it more difficult to get the posts out there, then we’re going to make sure education is celebrated the way it should be and our message is circulated farther and wider than just putting it on the page,” Hall said.
Reaching the audience
With Facebook satisfying the age demographic for the Orpheum’s core audience, it is trying to reach a younger demographic with Instagram and Snapchat.
“We want to talk to younger students and patrons, so we’re giving them content that is engaging,” Hall said.
In addition to posting content such as show announcements, the theater uses Instagram to take its followers backstage and inside its educational programs.
“There’s been this whole transformational shift of businesses, executives and marketers understanding they need to be where their customers are,” Wilson said, “then taking a step back and saying, ‘How am I using this platform?'”
Lately, the Orpheum has picked up on a Broadway trend that lets cast members from touring shows take over the theater’s Instagram account. Cast members often post about their experiences in Memphis, such as their trip to the National Civil Rights Museum or Graceland.
“We’ve found [Instagram followers] like to see Memphis reflected back through an outsider’s eyes,” Hall said, “and see how an outsider appreciates our city.”
Managing the back and forth
Being on more social media platforms creates more opportunities for engagement. It has also completely changed customer service, taking what used to be private conversations between businesses and consumers and putting them in public.
While Wilson is an advocate for not responding to everything, ignoring a negative post can be devastating.
“Just like you have to have a crisis communications strategy, you have to have a negative social media post strategy,” Wilson said. “Whether that is through a direct message after a negative review or a simple ‘Thank you for your feedback,’ you have to make sure you are monitoring and responding to show your business actually cares.”
Regardless of the platforms used, Wilson said, social media will continue to create opportunities for conversations between brands and consumers, making the practice of public relations much more valuable. But, business can also expect the platforms to change.
“Now, with [social media] companies becoming public, they have to produce for shareholders, and it’s affecting businesses,” Wilson said. “Eventually, everything will require money behind it.”