How to Connect with Your Target Customers and Amplify Your Brand Awareness, from Verizon Media Group’s Brittany Forgione

Sometimes getting your company name out there has nothing to do with pitching reporters and press mentions. Your own online and offline efforts can do plenty to help spread the word on what you’re working on. Labs mentor Brittany Forgione, director of communications at Verizon Media Group, held a Labs session all about public relations strategy, including how to get your name out there without the help of reporters.

Understand how different social platforms can help you grow your business and use them accordingly

For some companies, social media isn’t an effective approach to growth. But for those who’ve identified social platforms as a key to their company’s future, understanding the differences between them is crucial. Forgione outlined the use cases for several popular platforms as follows:

LinkedIn - Ideal for posting original content, sharing company news, and scouting and hiring top talent. “Given the wide demo and business-savvy user base, you have a great opportunity to elevate your brand awareness with partners, consumers and emerging talent. On the platform, you’re see business leaders posting essays on there these days,” Forgione says. “If your byline pitch to a B2B reporter still hasn’t landed, Linkedin allows you the luxury of publishing an original content piece or starting a discussion  about something innovative at your company or about the industry as a whole.”

Instagram - Great for sharing visuals, products, videos, and spotlighting your overall company aesthetic. “If you're a very visual brand,” Forgione, “you absolutely need a presence on this platform. Plus, as one of the most popular, mobile-first social apps in the world, the platform allows hundreds of millions of users to show off their creativity, build their personal brand and even drive ROI. Through static images, video clips and live stories, your company has the opportunity to spotlight products, people and the behind the scenes happenings that could attract millions.”

Facebook -  Facebook is the place to target larger demographics, create and host live streamed events, and connect with consumers around the world. “Not everybody has the funds or the platform to do a full-on production live streamed event,” Forgione says, but you don’t need much of a budget to do a Facebook Live and put your event out there to hit wider audiences. “It’s also a good way to hear from your consumers directly; you can understand what’s working and where there are still areas for improvement,” Forgione says. “These platforms help serve as a sounding board for consumers to voice their opinion and hopefully offer feedback that can be imperative for a brand’s success.”

Twitter - Ideal channel to follow target reporters, track industry news, and share company press highlights and happenings. “Twitter is used by many for so many reasons, but it’s key ingredient is its real-time flow.  In a world where we read headlines over storylines, Twitter serves as a place to keep up quickly with the news that matters to you,” Forgione says, “but it’s also a great place to spread news about your company, drive [traffic] back to your site, ...  and follow reporters and leaders who can directly impact your brand and are important voices in your industry.”

Tumblr - Tumblr (a Verizon Media Group brand) is useful if you’re targeting a younger, more creative crowd, Forgione says. “Tumblr users find and build strong communities around fandoms they’re interested in. So if you're targeting a really specific group of people who love a certain type of video game, for example, it's a great place to find them and track their habits through likes, tags and reblogs. Like Instagram, Tumblr is very visual which makes it a nice platform for artistic individuals and brands.”

Put energy and resources into your website

“Your website can be your most important online platform,” Forgione says. “At the end of the day, if you’re a small startup, you might not have a social media lead, so your website becomes the main portal to your business. As soon as someone lands on your site, they should know who you are. Who are the leaders? How can consumers and prospective partners connect with you? Your mission and your values should be upfront as well as your standout testimonials and press highlights. Don’t bury the lead.”

Grow your community offline, too

In-person connections can be a powerful tool to grow your business. “Find like-minded groups, clubs, and organizations,” Forgione says. “Some of these are affiliations you’ll need to invest in while others are free to join. You want to approach your new connections with opportunities to help bring added value to each party. Recognize that extending your reach can offer up life lessons, new business connections and unique partnerships. In a social-first world, we shouldn’t lose sight of the power of in-person experiences.”

“Connect with universities and colleges, too,” Forgione says. “Virtually every startup is near a college campus. How are you working with those schools to develop a really cool internship program, host focus groups and workshops, or offer student discounts? Think about how a student community can help maximize your company’s goals, and how through that experience you can influence young builders who want to follow in your footsteps. A campus is chalk-full of bright minds and creative organizations you need to tap into.”

Finally, brainstorm on events you can host as a company. “How can you take what you're good at and host your own program or capitalize on a moment going on in the current media landscape? Say the Women's March is coming up and you have a fantastic photo sharing app that you think will help tell the story of the participants,” Forgione says. “Can you partner with the March organizers and bring together a panel of female leaders, photographers and your CEO to talk about the power of an image? Maybe you’re a small part of the conversation, but you’re in it, and you’re creating a moment that will bring consumers, potential partners, and press, into the room. And as a bonus, you’ll likely have some fun too.”

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

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