January 06, 2016
/ by Rohan Ayyar
These days a business does not have a choice to not be on social media. The question instead is which platforms they should be active on. Or, how much to invest into social media marketing. Or even, what should one’s social media strategy be.
For a platform that’s been around for over a decade, social media is constantly evolving, and the lines in the sand are regularly shifting. This makes it imperative for businesses to keep their ears to the ground and pick up on the newest developments that will have a direct impact on their social media marketing.
Right now and in the year ahead, following these hand-picked steps would be a good way to build a magnetic social media presence for your brand.
Gone are the days when you could post a few lines of text on Facebook or a passing thought as a tweet on Twitter and call it ‘social media marketing.’ Today, users have come to expect more. Look around and you’ll realize that the top social networks are all image-driven. Even the once text-only Twitter has transformed into a visual gallery with its Twitter Cards. Facebook today hosts more video views than YouTube does. Teens relish the transient videos and images they can share via Snapchat.
Give your users content that they enjoy on social media. Move on from the staid old blog posts and white papers to more interactive content. How-to videos, video testimonials from existing customers, infographics about industry trends, and even inspirational quotes set against picturesque background images are fair game for a more exciting social media presence.
We have it drilled into the core of our beings that social media is all about human interactions. That we need to be as real as possible with our users on this one medium. (That’s not to say that you can fake it on other mediums!). But you get my drift.
However, most businesses cannot afford to be on social media round the clock. Unless you have a dedicated resource who handles your social platforms exclusively, there is a good chance that you will not have the time to post decent content on every social network that you’re present on every single day. This is where automation comes in.
Certain social media tools allow marketers to plan their social media pipeline and populate it with content that their customers will appreciate. Once you set the right date and time for each post, you don’t have to worry about the drudgery of doing the same thing every day of the week. Imagine all that free time that you can now focus on creating fabulous content!
Content shared on social media does not always have to be created in-house. It’s perfectly acceptable to share pieces that you think your followers will enjoy, even if these pieces were created by someone else. As long as you offer the right attributions and take explicit permissions from the owner of the content you’re sharing, go right ahead and bring some variety into your social media mix!
The most effective brands on social media are ones that let their brand image and positioning spill over into the social sphere. Remember, social media is first and foremost a place where you connect with friends. When a user connects with your business, knowing who you are and what you stand for is critical for the user to trust you and patronize your business.
Let’s say you originally ran a blog and had a social media presence to complement it. One fine day, when you decide to turn your blog into a transactional site there’s a good chance that your existing user base would get turned off and move on. The way to prevent that from happening is to maintain the same brand voice before and after. Is your business about ecological conservation? Let your social media bleed green. Care deeply about war veterans? Make it clear through your posts. Your audience will connect with you on a deeper level.
You must have heard this before. Social media is a place for conversations, not monologues. It’s great that you actively share your views and ideas with your fans on social media. But by the same token, you also need to be open to your fans and followers contributing to the conversation.
Contributions from users can come in numerous ways. Whether they write product reviews or share personal pictures or videos, there’s always a creative way of sharing them with the rest of your network. Brands like Starbucks apply user inputs to new product development. From new beverages to improving in-store experiences, Starbucks invites users’ input and actually applies it to their business in real time.
This two-way process of sharing and appreciation is an example of how you graduate from managing a ‘brand page’ on a social network to moderating a vibrant, engaged and profitable social community.
Why am I bothering with this? Sharing information is the primary thing most businesses do on social media, right?
Most businesses admittedly, do share information on social media which their audiences will like. However, here I refer to the sharing of information in a manner that is immediately useful to your fans. Breaking news about your industry, a timely tip about an upcoming new event, forewarning fans about an impending breakdown in services – these are all pieces of information that they look forward to and share without even being asked.
If you notice, the running theme among all these nuggets of information is that they are timely. An airline that shares a timely announcement about a flight delay on social media helps passengers rearrange their schedules instead of letting them rot away in frustration.
The other aspect of sharing information is being trustworthy. Get your facts right, double-check, no, triple-check important information before you broadcast it on social media. The cost of not offering information to your fans may be high, but offering wrong or unreliable information is much worse.
Managing a brand on social media is a little like embarking on a series of dates with your fans. You don’t just want to dazzle them on your first date. The hope is to build a lasting and meaningful relationship from that first encounter. Are you ready for it?
Images: See-ming Lee, oatsy40, Howard Lake, opensource.com (Creative Commons)
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