We Live in the Age of Social… for Now
For businesses that are brand new, getting established online can be a daunting experience. And it doesn’t get that much easier for older businesses that are only just beginning to engage with an audience online. And last, if you’ve had an active presence but you don’t quite know how to take your brand to the next level, yet again, social media looks a lot like a puzzle that’s really tough to figure out.
But it isn’t. After all, the real world analogues are there to be learned from, and well worth paying attention to.
For example, if there are several different types of places where a person can socialize and be seen — let’s say, restaurants, places of worship, bars, local organizations like Rotary Club, fraternal organizations like the Elks, charity fundraisers, gyms and fitness centers, on and on — you’d be hard pressed to have a presence in every single one of those places. Good luck having a successful relationship or even a job, given how many different directions you’d be getting pulled in all at once.
And social media? It’s really no different. Read on for a few clues as to how to build out your brand’s social media presence.
Rule #1: Determine What Social Channels Work for You & Your Brand
The short of it: Not all social media channels are a good fit for a business. Zeroing in on your goals and then choosing which channels best connect you with the right audience is a great first step.
The long of it: We always counsel our clients on this simple fact: there are a ton of social media networks out there, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a presence everywhere. Not all social channels work for every brand. For example, in discussing a potential social media plan with a real estate company not too long ago, they mentioned that a huge goal for them was to increase their real estate team by 30% over 12 months. And immediately, this brings to mind Linked In – finding and courting new agents to the firm means, you need to build your brand presence in the forum geared towards B2B professional interaction.
Rule #2: Each Social Channel Represents A Different Way for You to Tell Your Brand’s Story
The short of it: Developing a unique strategy for each social media channel is key to success. The last thing you want to do is to simply “cut and paste” the same updates across all your channels. Would you want to read that kind of content if it were being produced by another business?
The long of it: For example, generating dialog and connecting with your customers in conversation works well for Facebook, and should always be a principal goal there. But generating conversation on Twitter or Instagram may be less vital to your presence on those channels. You never want to “cut and paste” the same updates across all your channels, creating something static where you could otherwise have a vital presence.
Rule #3: Make Sure They Know Where to Find You
The short of it: If you’re going to bother to spend time and effort on social media, then make sure your followers know where you are. Adding social icons to your website, social sharing tools to your blog posts, and some cross-talk between or among your social channels is key to engagement.
The long of it: For example, I think it’s a great first step when doctors and health practitioners have a sign in their window or on the counter that says, “you can find us on Facebook.” These days, most consumers are savvy people, and they will pick up on the signal that you’re offering something of value to them in these other areas.
Rule #4: Always Be Looking to Add Value
The short of it: Everyone is on social media, and most people use their platforms as one-way mouthpieces. If you want to elicit a response, which could come in the form of follows, likes, click-thrus or sales, then you have to engage your followers.
The long of it: Engaging your followers should always be the end goal — not the accumulation of massive numbers. Remember, it’s quality interaction that you’re looking for, not necessarily quantity. Which would you rather have — 500 followers on Facebook, 75% of whom consistently buy your product when you create an update about it? Or 5,000 followers on Facebook, 5% of which buy your product when you create an update about it?
Remember to keep this front of mind at all times when determining what to circulate through your social channels: What are you offering your followers and audience? What value are you showing them when you add a link to an article on Twitter? Are you out there on social answering questions? How are you building community through social media?
By approaching social media this way, you’re leveraging really amazing tools as part of not only your brand building effort, but also as part of your customer service effort. Sure, you want to know about ROI when it comes to your marketing spend, but there are more important things to building and managing your brand’s reputation online than just new likes, followers, and click-thrus.