While some businesses approach social media as an afterthought, many organizations are beginning to realize the importance of maintaining an active online presence to engage with consumers and expand their reach. Using social media is step one. Using social media correctly is a hugely important step two.
Your content needs to be interesting, clever, and provide value of some sort without coming across as an all-out sales pitch for your products or services. You need to interact with your followers. Social media is a two-way street and the more you like, comment, and follow, the larger return you’ll see on your brand’s profiles.
Trying to do social media is a good start. Doing it well is ideal. It’s often easiest to learn from poor examples so to start with, we’ve put together a list of mistakes to steer away from. Far from exhaustive, this list will help you examine your current social media practices and strategies from the perspective of learning from others’ bad decisions.
1. Social Media Profiles Need LOVE
Are you guilty of signing up for an account on a social media platform, filling out the minimum requirements for a profile, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best? Don’t skimp out on the setup! Write an informative description of your brand – who you are as an organization and what value you offer consumers. Use an engaging picture to visually depict your brand. Make sure your location and contact information are correct and visible, and for goodness sake, provide a link back to your website.
Think of your social media profiles as living, breathing organisms. They need constant attention and nourishment. Work with me on the metaphor. Attention = regular posting, responding to comments and keeping profile pictures and information fresh and accurate. Nourishment = high-quality content, engaging images and videos and following and interacting with others to build an online community. To get results from your social media profiles, you have to put effort into them.
2. Value-added Content is Key
The content you post on your social media accounts needs to offer some sort of value proposition to viewers. As sweet as baby goat videos are if you can’t find an angle that connects the video to your brand or your mission, save it for your personal profile. Creating relevant, valuable content will encourage consumer engagement and help readers learn more about your brand and how you do business. Don’t be the brand that posts click-bait every third post. Keep your messages focused on your brand and on how you can help consumers address the challenges in their lives.
3. Acknowledge that Social Media is a Two-way Street
We mentioned earlier one of the goals of a brand’s social media profiles. And that is to build online communities of loyal consumers who want nothing more than to interact with your brand and tell the world about you. When those loyal followers take the time to ask a question or make a comment on one of your social media profiles, they are asking to be noticed!
Ignoring customers’ attempts to interact with your brand is bad for business. And unless you are dealing with tens of thousands of interactions a day, skip the canned auto-responses. Actively monitor your profiles and acknowledge the people who reach out. Let them know their voice has been heard that you are grateful for the interaction. Foster communications between yourself and customers and between followers. Be a dynamic part of your online community.
4. Establish Branding Norms and Stick to Them
Your brand identity shouldn’t flex from one channel to the next. Maintain a consistent presentation of your organization across all social media platforms and your website so your brand is easily recognizable regardless of where you are spotted.
5. Choose Your Channels Wisely
There are so many social media platforms out there that it is next to impossible to do them all well, let alone find the time to keep up with an overwhelming number of profiles. Find the channels that your target audience is regularly using and establish your brand on those platforms. Your business and message are most effectively presented when you meet your audience where they are and you “do” those channels well.
6. Does My Brand Have Anything to do With Animals?
Ask yourself that question before you post anything featuring an animal on a social media profile. We mentioned baby goats (have you seen the one where they are wearing pajamas?) but the same holds true for dogs, cats, iguanas, talking birds, and toppled tortoises. Unless, of course, the iguana is wearing a branded t-shirt. But seriously, the Internet loves critters and always will. Just keep those amusing videos on your personal profile unless you have a valid tie-in to your brand, your mission, your products, or services.
7. Headlines Should Never Disappoint
Steer clear of any phrases that can be perceived as click-bait. Savvy social media users will easily see through embarrassingly cliché headlines and keep on scrolling through their feed. Avoid overly used phrases like anything ending in “-gate” or “-pocalypse.” Craft legitimately interesting and newsworthy headlines that communicate the value readers will find when they click further into your post.
Had enough of thinking about what not to do on social media? Let’s talk about some current social media trends that deserve your attention and will help you take your efforts to the next level.
1. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing continues to evolve as it builds in popularity. Due to savvy consumers and federal regulators, there will be increasing demands for transparency and authenticity as influencers become commonly integrated into the social media scene. People are a more amiable audience when they are told something is a sales pitch regardless of how soft the sell. Engaging and influential, influencers will continue to prove their value and will become a regular part of brands’ social media strategies.
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Companies have come to realize that, more than ever, consumers have an array of choices hen it comes to purchasing opportunities and the general public is not shy about sharing their opinions on social media. As a result, brands have started to formalize their social marketing strategies to better manage word of mouth regarding products, services, and the brand in general. It is imperative to stay ahead of your social reputation and customer relationship management will be key to those efforts.
3. Visual Storytelling
Social media has experienced a shift in storytelling from words to visuals. Live videos and live streaming options are being offered by more social media platforms causing businesses to feel the pressure of showing their brand instead of talking about it. Consumers are constantly clamoring for video and we’ll begin to see brands putting together dedicated video teams to produce higher quality content more quickly.
With the growth of ad opportunities within social media platforms comes the need to highlight the ROI of those advertising efforts. Most channels provide an in-depth look at the numbers behind ad and post-performance ranging from vanity metrics such as likes to more complex understandings of audience behaviors in response to a brand posting. Take advantage of the reporting available to measure everything and then respond to the data analysis to make adjustments in your social media strategy.
If you are still calling this “#” the pound symbol, it is time to move into the twenty-first century. Hashtags are not just a form of self-expression. When carefully researched and customized, they can motivate social media users to rally behind your brand and spread the word about your organization, products, and services. Hashtags let readers know what your brand specializes in and give people the opportunity to find you through that searchable signature. An amazingly simple way to rank higher and receive more interaction from users, hashtags are a trend you can’t afford to ignore.
Social media doesn’t have to be scary but it does need to be purposeful. Dedicate the team and the time necessary to do it right.
Don’t set up your social media accounts and then abandon them. Establish a posting schedule and stick to it.
Publish high-quality content just as you do on your website and in your print marketing. Integrate eye-catching images and engaging videos. Keep the content relevant to your brand and just say no to iguanas and baby goats.
Be an active participant in your online community. Like, comment, give feedback and accept feedback. Show interest and gratitude when others care enough to interact with you.
Keep your brand identity consistent across all channels.
Don’t try to do be everything to everyone on every channel. Understand how and where your target audience wants to communicate and be in those places in top-notch form.
Write exciting and interesting headlines but stay true to your brand and what you are trying to communicate through a post. Avoid overdone clichés and phraseology.
Consider utilizing influencers to help grow your reach. Research people already active in your niche, send them a sample and a sales pitch and ask them to let the social media world know how much they love your products or services. Even better, encourage them to SHOW how much they love interacting with your brand!
Proactively manage customer relationships. Be grateful for positive interactions and reviews. Track public commentary and brand mentions to stay ahead of the curve. Meet negative publicity head on – apologize when you need to, fix what you can, and realize that there are some people who will never be happy.
Embrace the power of videos. Integrate them where you can. Don’t stress over full production films, you can do it all with a mobile phone and computer. Consumers just want to see people like themselves interacting with your products, behind the scenes videos of your services and organization, and the real-life people behind your brand.
Collect data, analyze, respond, repeat. Knowing what works is better than making assumptions. And if the data aren’t clear – ask consumers what it is you think you need to know in order to better serve them.
And, finally, about the #. It’s a hashtag. It’s a tool that will gain you followers, grow your reach, and help you become a trendsetter.
Are you excited about making your social media accounts work for you? The team at Strategy Driven Marketing is ready to help you plan your social media strategy, avoid the common pitfalls of social media use, and find the best approach to get the most out of your social efforts. Contact us today!