If we had a dollar for every ‘How To’ recommendation for best social media practices that we’ve seen, we’d be able to buy our own private island in the south pacific.
The truth is, there are no one-size-fits-all social solutions. We all know that deep down, but yet, we’re drawn to articles and recommendations that suggest they hold the keys to unlocking our social marketing strategies. And that’s O.K.! We only learn if we keep pushing ourselves to do so, and there are always helpful take-aways to be found, right?
Well, we aren’t going to make any lofty promises here. In fact, we’re suggesting re-evaluations of classic strategies that we’ve all probably mapped out a hundred times before. We owe it to ourselves to see if the latest and greatest tips and tricks will benefit our play books, even if it means setting tried-and-true strategies aside on occasion. The important thing is that we find – and keep coming back to – what works.
Think about New Year’s Resolutions for a minute. (We’re totally not here to judge if you still have some yet-unturned leaves from last January 1st, but there IS a correlation!)
Now think about your Social Media Strategy. If your social practices and strategies wane just as quickly as your New Year’s Resolutions sometimes do, we have good news on both fronts:
It’s never too late to start again!
In fact, each time we start again we do so with new understanding, and that alone guarantees new experiences and outcomes!
We’re always looking for ways to add more people to our communities, but as we learned in Marketing 101, it’s smart to invest in our existing communities first.
Here are some sure-fire ways to avoid killing your social media strategy so you can keep your fans and followers coming back for more!
KNOW YOUR STUFF
Know your audience. Know what they want and when they want it. Don’t pontificate about your brand with overly-formal boardroom terminology intended to impress shareholders. Your customers and social media audiences want to see what else you’ve got. They want to be informed and entertained. They want to know more. They want to feel “in the know.”
Know which social channels work best for your brand, and know how to interact appropriately on the channels you maintain. Trying to “jack” every single social media avenue ensures that you’ll master none, and that just means wasted time and resources.
CONNECT YOUR INTERNAL COMMUNITIES
Silos are great on farms, but they don’t belong on your marketing and social media management teams. If your internal teams aren’t connected, your marketing efforts won’t be cohesive. That means your external messaging may be confusing to your customers. Connect the dots on all levels – and make sure they stay connected – so your brand presents as a whole.
Buying Likes, Friends and Followers is just wrong. The numbers may seem impressive initially, but fake followers don’t interact. They have absolutely no marketable value. In fact, they may negatively impact your brand’s social standing in the long run because it will appear less popular in social systems due to these inactive followers. So, guess what happens to your “reach” after you pay big bucks for empty followers… Yep. It tanks.
Get followers the old fashioned way, by attracting and interacting. It’s more work, but it’ll pay off in the long run. The best thing about real, live fans is that they’ll help spread the word about your brand. Recommendations from existing customers are marketing gold that’s very worth your time to mine!
If you want to stand out in the sea of social competition, you’ve got to be genuine and you’ve got to be present.
People gravitate to socially-interesting brands. No one wants to follow a brand page that offers nothing but long strings of abbreviated “anti-social” links.
Scheduling every post and/or “blind posting” with no engagement whatsoever is a dead end strategy. Do your own audits. Pull up your Twitter feed, for example, and note what you see.
- Is it interesting?
- Does it include a good mix of quality links, relevant hashtags and compelling images?
- What kind of engagement is happening?
- How many impressions and re-Tweets have your most recent posts received?
- Are your posts frequently favorited?
- Have you gained or lost followers recently, and can you attribute this to anything specific?
(Hint: Not to be critical, but if you haven’t even looked at your Twitter feed for a while, and don’t even know what it consists of anymore… It’s time to give the social scheduling tools a rest and re-engage!)
Posting the same kinds of things all the time is a drag. You need to find the right mix of information and entertainment. Let your community know what they can expect, but throw in some pleasant surprises, too. Being consistent doesn’t mean you have to be totally predictable. Just make sure your surprises are on-point and consistent with your brand’s voice.
If everything you post has to do with selling your products and services, you’re on the road to social nowhere.
Yes, your social media presence is intended to market your brand. And, yes, marketing your brand is intended to sell your products and services in the end. But social media is not supposed to be one big advertisement after another. Social media is where you build relationships with your customers.
Social media should be social! (Can we get an A-men?!) That means your brand actually has to interact with followers and other brands out there in social media land. A lot. Period.
Social media pages are not self-serve. Just like we expect interaction when we visit a brick and mortar storefront, we expect some kind of interaction when we arrive at a brand’s web and social storefronts.
Not interacting with followers on your pages is like having a permanent “Closed” sign on your door. Eventually, people will just stop coming.
When they comment, they like it when you to respond. If they complain, they expect you to address their concerns. And don’t think you can just provide canned, cut-and-paste responses – that’s almost worse than no response at all. People can spot “robotic” replies a mile away. They’re underwhelming, and frankly, insulting.
Respond and interact for real and do so within a reasonable time period. Responding to a comment or complaint from a month or two ago will earn unsatisfactory grades from those reading a tardy reply.
Practice social listening. If you’re posting and interacting thoughtfully and truly being social, you’ll learn a lot about your business from your followers. You’ll hear what they’re saying and see how they’re responding to your posts. All the analytical tools in the world can’t give you the information that can be derived by truly looking at what’s taking place on your social media pages.
BLAZE YOUR OWN TRAILS
Following someone else’s ideal of the perfect social media strategy will never work. The best times to post for one brand will be the worst times to post for another. Frequency, style and voice are all very unique elements that can only really be determined through time and tracking.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Experiment (strategically) with timing, frequency, voice and variety. Define what works for your brand by trying new things and building on the most successful strategies.
“Consistent” posting doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to post 10 times a day. It doesn’t even mean that you have to post EVERY day. You have to define what consistency is with regard to your posting strategy. Posting the same number of times, at the same time of day, on the same days of the week may actually work against you because it’s too predictable (read, “scheduled”). Shake things up a bit.
Here’s the hard truth: Your followers aren’t as aware of your brand as you are. It’s easy to think that they’ll see it just because you put it out there. The fact is, you have to lead people to your door in new and different ways – they won’t always just show up on their own.
Social media strategy is a work in progress. It takes commitment. You have to look at what you’ve done in the past, what you’re doing now, and how you want to change or improve what you’re doing in the future.
So you see, social media strategy and New Year’s Resolutions are a lot alike. They both start out one way and usually end up being very different. They can both die on the vine if we don’t commit to carrying them through. They both require time and attention. And in both cases, thankfully, it’s never too late to start again.
Have you veered off of your social road? If you need to get your social media strategies back on track, we’ve got the directions to get you where you want to go!