Building your online brand seems easy enough, right? Create a Facebook page, upload a few photos to fill your cover page and profile picture, and post every once in a while. The customers should come flocking. However, that is rarely the case.
More often than not, many business owners and impromptu marketing managers find themselves struggling with the ins and outs of setting up working, effective social media that fits their organization and meets their customers or clients where they are.
I'm here to offer 10 simple, easy-enough-to-follow steps that will at least get you noticed. I've been working in the Digital Media field for over 7 years and these are the tricks that I've discovered work for most.*
Social Media is HERE TO STAY and NOT SLOWING DOWN
This isn't a tip, but we need to get this out of the way first. The sooner that you can come to terms with this fact, the better off you'll be. Before our worlds were rocked by Covid-19, I heard from so many small business owners and nonprofit staff members who felt they simply didn't have the time or energy to invest in digital media. Then they were thrust out of the in-person connection they had with customers and forced to adapt to a virtual world. This isn't going to go away when the pandemic dies down. I commend you for trying to bring your business or organization into this new world.
Okay, now on to how you can proceed in a more effective way.
For our first lesson, let's start with "What is social media?"
Social Media is any website or application that enables users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. The difference between social media and traditional media is pretty clear, with traditional media consisting of things like radio, television, billboard, newspaper, etc. and social media consisting of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. (plus SO many more)
My first word of advice:
Your customer service outside of the internet is going to be your best tool.
With traditional media, the brand had more control of how they were going to be represented. There was no comment section where former customers, disgruntled employees, or someone's angry aunt Josephine could leave their thoughts out for the world to see. It was generally a one-way message delivery system, usually with a visual and/or auditory message that you were in charge of, focusing more on your brand and educating your potential clients about who you were. With social media, thanks to those pesky algorithms, your audience is more in control. It's always a two-way conversation. (this is where those former, disgruntled employees or clients can really wreak havoc!) This can be really great for your brand or really bad. Furthermore, it gives your customers and clients a much louder voice than you. If they're happy, so happy that they're willing to post about it, their posts might get seen at a greater rate than yours will. If they're unhappy, the same rule applies. Especially if you don't have a large, active following and crummy engagement on your page.
Making sure that you're keeping your customers happy offline will ensure you don't run into Angry Aunt Jo online.
Put less focus on quantity, focus on QUALITY.
Another word of advice: Take pictures of everything related to your business, but don't post everything and don't set any stringent goals around how often you're posting. The more you capture, the more you'll have to choose from and the better your feed will be in the end. Also, the more content you have in your back pocket, the better you'll be later on down the road. When I worked for a nonprofit housing company, I took pictures of literally everything. Even if it was just a pictures of the sign in front of the building or someone unboxing promotional items. It was always good to have those little behind the scenes things to post and grab attention, it made our followers feel like they were more apart of our mission. Now, back to not setting goals. This may seem counterintuitive to someone who's trying to increase their engagement/follower count. Here's the thing, your exposure to your followers is based on how often they interact with your page. So, if you are posting every day and sticking to that, it really doesn't matter if no one likes it. When you set these goals like, "Oh my gosh, I have to post something today!" You're going to be more likely to settle on something that isn't going to get a solid Return on Investment (ROI). You can't simply post once a day and walk away from it. It's not that simple. If it were that easy, then this company would have no reason for existing.
Pick and choose the accounts you're going to have carefully.
"What?! I shouldn't just make accounts on every channel?" My answer is no. If that account isn't going to serve you - or worse - if you're just going to bleed the same, exact content over into that channel that you're already posting on a more successful channel, you're wasting your time (and potentially money if you're also running ads on that account.) If you're a highly visual company, such as a photographer or another business with a visual product, then Twitter is going to be a dead end. If you have a lot of language to share, such as a consultant, writer, or a company that has a story to tell, then you're still going to be dead on Twitter. If you can post quippy, fun content, you want to put special focus on targeting a younger age demographic then Twitter is your bread and butter. If you have that super visual brand, then Instagram or even Pinterest would do better for you. If you're in the wrong place with your message, it's not going to matter how right your copy or images are. It won't matter how much money you throw at boosting your post or creating your ad. It's like putting a billboard in a cow pasture in the middle of nowhere. On the other hand, when you have these accounts floating out empty and unused, it's like having an office with no one in it and expecting customers to come there for information. So, pick your social carefully and do your research to know what will work for you. It never hurts to test something out, but it will definitely waste your time if you aren't analyzing your results from these tests honestly.
Have a strategy when you approach evolving your social media.
Posting every day or posting better content isn't a strategy, it's a tactic. Before you do anything, make sure you have clear goals and objectives, utilizing the SMART methodology. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, & Time-Bound)
- Specific: State exactly what you'll do and use action words.
Example: Grow our page's following on Facebook.
- Measurable: Provide a way to evaluate your results and use metrics or data targets.
Example: We want to increase our followers by 1000.
- Achievable: Keep it within your scope and make sure it's possible to accomplish.
Example: If you only sell products locally in a small town of less than 5000, then 100,000 followers would probably be an unrealistic goal.
- Relevant: Make sure your goal makes sense in the grand scope of your business goals.
Example: If your business already has more sales than it can handle, then you don't need to focus on marketing efforts that will make it too difficult to properly serve your customer base and the time you commit to social media may not be the best use of your time.
- Time-Bound: Know when your deadline is so you can evaluate your efforts and be specific about your deadline/timeframe.
Example: We're going to focus on reaching our measurable goals in 6 months.
So, your SMART goal would then be to grow your following on Facebook by 1000 followers in 6 months.
That's all I have to get you started today on evolving your social media presence. Check back next week to learn more about creating effective campaigns that will help your reach your goals!
Don't forget to holler at us if you need any help along the way.
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