Good PR cannot fix a bad product (or business model).
Changing your messaging might improve brand perception but that doesn’t guarantee loyalty from your customers—adding value to their experiences or making their lives better does.
So when you have a great product or service, the real PR magic happens. People start rooting for you.
Advocacy is a powerful communications tool that drives awareness, builds pipeline and influences revenue. There’s really nothing better than a word-of-mouth referral regardless if it comes from an online or offline source. These touchpoints happen throughout the buyer’s journey but aren’t as black and white as demo sign ups, content downloads or event registrants. Some call this the dark funnel because it’s a different way to show impact (and can be harder to track).
There are lots of ways to know it’s working by measuring audience reach and engagement. But the real metric is action. And when you inspire engagement—or action—you can also build a community.
Here’s how to grow and nurture yours (whether you’re starting from scratch or expanding into a new vertical):
What problems are you solving? Why should people care? A founder or executive can only rise as a thought leader—or changemaker—when they have a clear vision for how things must evolve over time or the people it will help. Just make sure to always lead with facts and expertise. Then make those easy to understand and share.
When you’re a startup, you move fast. It’s not just in your DNA; it’s your competitive advantage when you’re attempting to disrupt a market and take on large companies who move more slowly or compete against other startups trying to get a leg up. Speed and positive outcomes are closely linked when you’re in a product race to be first and best.
How you create personal connections in the real world is how you should do it online. Real people, after all, are the best sales people for ideas. Online just works a little differently. You don’t need to become a Twitter or LinkedIn warrior, but you do need to participate. Act on timely topics and trending hashtags to expand the reach of posts. You want to be relevant enough to be part of the news cycle, but differentiated enough to stand out.
Actions really do speak louder than words — your audience is watching (and judging) your every move. They care about your products or services, but they care more about the people running the show. Are they socially conscious and supportive of social justice movements? Before taking a stance, make sure you have the initiatives in place that back up what you’re saying your company supports.
Lean on people other than you to validate your space. Evangelists, from customers to investors to partners, will help create a new category or position your brand in a crowded one.
“Social media followers do not equate to influence. They are a potential audience. Likes and comments get you a little closer, but the real metric is action.”
— Beth Monaghan, CEO & Founder, Inkhouse
Laura is the vice president of marketing at Inkhouse.