There are few things sadder than a defunct Twitter account…
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that brands must invest in their social media presence. It’s a crucial way to maintain visibility and stay competitive in the current climate. But often it can seem like a drain on your time without much tangible reward. No one wants to be shouting banalities into the online abyss.
There’s no absolute solution for social media ‒ this post included. Different brands require different approaches. Plus, the landscape is never static. User behaviour and app functionality is always in flux. It’s tough to keep your social media strategy effective and on trend. That said, there are a few basic principles to keep you more or less on track.
Pick your channels, then commit
No one expects you to keep up with every platform. Indeed some social channels are more suited to certain brands than others. For example, the vibrant colours and aspirational photo opps for a brand like Sunnylife make it great for Instagram or Snapchat.
So nominate your proposed social channels, and start by getting your blurbs and contact info up to date. Make it clear what your business does and how you do it. Then get cracking on populating it with quality content. If you’re going to do it, do it properly. Social media is often a momentum game, so it pays to get off on the right foot.
Plan ahead (don’t worry, there are tools to help)
Planning is your best friend when it comes to curating social media content. You don’t want to have to waste time coming up with something on the spot. Plot the timing and likely subject matter of your posts. If you want to improvise for topicality, you have that freedom, but it’s important to have a clear timeline in place from the outset.
To help you plan, manage and schedule multiple accounts, try using tools such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. If you’re posting frequently across multiple accounts, it’s pretty much a must. Planning your social output doesn’t make it any less creative ‒ it simply helps you stay on top of things and ensure your approach is consistent.
Resist the urge for self-promotion
Yes, social media is a shop window. But this is where the old writing adage, ‘show, don’t tell’ comes into play. You can’t just tell people what you are and expect them to believe you. Think about what will attract newcomers to your brand, and what will cultivate loyalty in existing customers? No one wants to hear someone talking about how great they are. People want to be friends with someone who is great.
This is where value comes in. Instead of telling people to follow you, you need to give them a reason to do so. Always consider what value you’re adding for people. Promoting content or special offers is great, but gratuitous self-promotion won’t hold anyone’s attention.
If you’re creating great content ‒ though that’s its own challenge in an increasingly flooded digital space ‒ you should absolutely be directing traffic to it via social media. This way you serve your followers with information they’re likely to be interested in. However, you can also reach new audiences with savvy use of hashtags.
Whether it’s videos, blog posts, infographics, or e-books you’re creating, share it with your social followers. This is part of the aforementioned value that you need to provide.
Listen up and get involved
It’s no use posting then tuning out. The point of social is that it’s an interactive space. If people have questions, you should be prepared to answer them. If people criticise your brand, maintain your composure, consider whether they have a point and make note of where you might improve. If you want to engage an audience, you have to engage in the conversation yourself.
Social media is nothing if not a mutual appreciation society. This means engagement largely hinges on a spirit of reciprocity. Start by liking, following and commenting accounts you love. Interact with similar businesses and, in turn, reward users who appreciate your brand. The more you come across as a human rather than a programmable bot, the greater interest and loyalty you’ll foster.
Never stray too far from relevance
Brands on social media tread a fine line. You want to be topical, but not everything can be relevant to your particular niche. If you’re a branded Twitter feed, the world doesn’t need to hear your thoughts on terror attacks or most global events, really. Things like this just add to the noise and risk your brand becoming divisive.
Try to avoid scraping the barrel for content. Always favour quality over quantity. If you don’t have anything useful to say on a particular day, you don’t have to post. Simple. Again, this is where planning ahead will prepare you so you don’t ever go quiet for too long.
However you fare on social media, be patient and don’t lose heart. It takes time to build a following. Stay true to your brand identity and tone of voice. This is no place for rogues. Social media should not be viewed in isolation, but as part of a broader, integrated digital strategy.