I used to work for an organisation who considered successful social media posting to be about how many times they could say something about their company to as many people as possible.
It was mostly thought of as a kind of extension of:
- “Aren’t we a great company”
- “This is our latest product, isn’t it great?”
Or some variation on that theme…
In those days there was very little thought about engagement, other than the idea that provisions needed to be made for being available as a customer service function. Although I agree that ‘Customer Services’ is important, there is quite a lot of difference between being reactive in the moment and being proactive.
Have you got a social media strategy or is it just something that you do at random when you get around to it?
Seriously, how far in advance do you think about what and when you’re going to post and how that post will affect your audience? Do you even think about your audience at all or like so many businesses are you only thinking about yourself?
I get it, you might not have a dedicated team that you can rely on. That means that you are pretty much responsible for this stuff yourself and as usual there isn’t enough time in the day as it is, much less planning for the future on something that for all intents and purposes doesn’t appear to add value to your business or have an immediate effect on your bottom line.
It may not be immediately obvious but there is something to be gained from strategically thinking about your social media interactions in advance as opposed to them being at random.
This is the meaning of social media strategy.
In the corporate context, social media is an extension of marketing and also an extension of your sales strategy. If this hasn’t already impacted your organisation or business reach, I predict that this is likely to change over the coming 12 to 24 months.
Social Media continues to evolve at such a rate that staying ahead of what each of the platforms is doing and how it’s going to impact you and your competition continues to be a challenge for those of us who work in this area. Much less the average business trying to get on about the business of selling their products or services and engaging with their customers in their traditional way.
When you think about social media as a powerful part of your engagement strategy rather than just a reactive customer service channel you start to appreciate that planning and execution are required to make it meaningful to the audience and of value to your business. This is key in determining what you invest your time and energy on.
I am working with a client who was randomly using Instagram and even more randomly using Twitter to market his business. Typically his posts were not especially thought out and the messaging was inconsistent. Posts were often full of randomly made up hashtags that may have made sense to my client but made no sense to the audience in relation to the posts. Sometimes the lack of spacing between hashtags meant that they wouldn’t have worked anyway. His intentions were good but because his efforts were not being rewarded immediately he decided that social was a huge waste of time and just not worth the effort.
Just like the physical space where you might be selling a product face-to-face in a retail environment where customers can touch and feel what you are offering or alternatively ask you questions about the service that you’re providing, engagement is everything. If that same customer asked you a question and you just looked at their face and ignored them I wager you’d probably be unsuccessful in getting their business. Social media operates on the same basis.
Engagement is the currency. It is the key to generating interest, maintaining that interest and moving the process towards a successful sale.
In my client’s case, there was nothing wrong with having an Instagram and/or Twitter strategy, but I like to remind my clients that they are different weapons.
Instagram is a great example of a social platform that allows you to share posts created there and then share them over on Twitter by checking a box… however when you see that post from Twitter’s side of things it’s really not at all the same as the visual impact that sharing the post individually would have achieved. Crafting the story behind your post and giving your audience a reason to be interested in what you are sharing makes all the difference to both how it’s received and the level of engagement that you may get as a result.
The other thing my client needed to bear in mind was that the audience on both of these platforms can often be quite different.
The chances of somebody taking the time to click on a link on Twitter that has been generated on Instagram is far lower than if that visual image and impactful context are immediately obvious. If instead, they see a generic one-liner with a whole bunch of random hashtags that make no sense to the viewer you may as well have not wasted your time. In fact, you could be doing your brand more harm than good. It’s a bit like posting content full of spelling errors. What message does that send out to your audience about your attention to detail?
Might they conclude that you’ll equally show them less attention too, or is that a stretch?
What do you think?
The point here is that there are a number of different ways to go about utilising social media within your business. Sometimes the one size fits all approach is just not the right way to proceed.
There used to be a train of thought that said be everywhere on social media. Make sure you are represented on all the platforms and be active there. However, over the years most of us in this space have pivoted to adopt the more flexible mindset of focusing on being where your customers are and serving them there.
This means you need to ask yourself questions like:
- Where can you add the most value?
- Where are the majority of your customers likely to look for you online?
Taking a moment to think about this can save you from random acts of marketing.
Taking a more strategic view can mean all the difference to your success in utilising social platforms to build and market your business and increase awareness of your personal brand.
There is something to be said for focus.
You don’t have to share the same message everywhere. Don’t spread yourself thin. You can try and be everywhere but doesn’t it make more sense to develop an understanding of where your customers are spending their time online, and then deciding on the most effective way to reach them.
So what do you think, does your social media strategy suck? What could you be doing to make more impact in the time you have.
‘Comments’ are the holy grail. I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment below.