Leveraging Social Media to Build Brand Strategy

We are inundated by information, especially on our social media channels. Industry news, global concerns, weather warnings and adorable kitten videos are coming at us at great speed. Take Election Day in the United States as an example. On November 8, 2016, more than 14 million social mentions included mentions of Donald Trump. How could anyone, especially a brand manager, filter through and understand these conversations without carefully listening for the mentions that matter?

The massive amounts of available data make leveraging social media seem daunting. So how can a communications professional make sense of it all, let alone pare it down to actionable information?

Start by monitoring current trends and setting up social media alerts. This way you can spot the mentions you absolutely have to know about, while letting the millions of others melt away.

Trends and alerts can help you stay on top of industry developments that can inform both content marketing strategies and signal opportunities for pitching the media. These basic alerts can act as a canary in the coal mine for issues that affect your brand. If you are getting notified once, based on a simple alert, how many more negative mentions could be floating out there?

Next, social media alerts can benefit media relations practitioners. Reporters will often share their stories on social media; having an alert setup can be an immediate reminder to thank the journalist and share their article. According to Christine Cube, media relations manager for PR Newswire and former journalist, “Social media has opened up the media world making it easier to identify journalists you’d like to reach, but only if you have the tools to make use of the different social platforms.”

The question is, what exactly are social media alerts and trends and how should they be used?


Let’s start with alerts. Most people are familiar with Google Alerts. It’s a great way to have web search updates sent directly to your email inbox. Create a search for your company name and other simple keywords, and then set up Google Alerts to update you any time it finds new mentions.

Social media alerts can be set up similarly:

Twitter:You can set up email notifications for mentions of your Twitter handle, replies to your comments or retweets of your posts. This provides a record of who shared what, when and how often.

LinkedIn:You can select which types of activity on LinkedIn will drive alerts into your inbox. These notification options can be found under the Privacy & Settings tab. For example, LinkedIn has a recommended news feature which uses the types of content you share, discuss and engage with to deliver topical information at regular interviews. In this section you can also turn alerts on for groups follow industry groups that are relevant to your client or brand’s efforts. This helps you stay on top of what’s trending, and identify voices who create content you could leverage.

Where to Start with Your Alerts

  • Brand and Products

  • Executives

  • Competitors

  • Journalists

  • Critical Topics

When you need to monitor multiple profiles at once, use a robust social monitoring platform. It will enable you to review the popularity of your social media posts, benchmark your efforts against competitors and identify leading topics across all of your channels. The convenience of having everything in one place, with sharable reporting and easy-to-understand analytics analyzing data can make a subscription product an intelligent choice.

The key to making alerts indispensable is to spend time refining them to provide only the most relevant and actionable information. This may include mentions of your brand or industry keywords. Even without a single platform to review all of your news and social media mentions you can use alerts to respond to social media inquiries and comments promptly.


As opposed to alerts, which give you a heads-up about keywords you are monitoring, trends are about the unexpected opportunities that might arise. Think of the now-legendary Oreo cookie tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl, when a power outage created a trend which Oreo quickly capitalized on. A single tweet generated more awareness than any of 30-second ads featured during the big game.

You don’t need to wait for a surprise like a massive power outage to take advantage of social media trends. A little planning and creative thinking can help you hack through the culture of content found on social media. If you want to find the topics that are most popular at a given time, here are a few sites and tools you can check out:

  • WhatsTrending.com: This site identifies what’s popular on Instagram and Twitter right now, with articles and data outlining the trends.

  • Google Trends: Google’s Trends tool enables users to find out how often keywords or phrases are searched online. You can compare different events, personalities or brands against one another to determine their overall popularity.

  • KnowYourMeme.com: An important step in jumping on a trend is to actually understand what that trend means. KnowYourMeme provides up to date insights on trending topics and how they became popular. By reading up on a hashtag or animated .Gif you can protect your brand from controversy and identify something fun and appropriate for your team to engage.

  • Social Listening and Analysis Tools: Once you have your feet wet in engaging and responding to trending topics, it is time to upscale your efforts. With an all-in one social and media monitoring tool you can find new influencers, determine which topics your industry will find most interesting and learn where to share you content so that it reaches the largest audiences.

By diligently monitoring social media trends and the inbox collecting your customized alerts, you can take the next step: start using that information to inform your brand messaging, your content marketing strategy and to pitch your stories to the media.

Social media trends and alerts can offer valuable information to communications professionals looking to leverage real-time data for designing campaigns and crafting pitches that are timely and resonate with target audience.


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