Okay, so it’s #humblebrag time. I was an early adopter of social media. Yep, I was on social media before it was cool (Ha.). I joined Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2008, back when both platforms were in their infancy, and companies and had yet to realize their potential as branding and advertising tools. But although I’ve been using social media in my personal life for about 11 years, it wasn’t until 2010 that I began to use the social web for marketing purposes.
And in that half a decade, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I’ve also learned a lot throughout the process as well. Here is a summary of a few of the highlights:
1. Don’t stress over trends and changes
Social media platforms are always changing, and that’s one of the reasons why many businesses are hesitant about jumping on social media. They worry that because they don’t have time to keep up with all the changes (this week it’s Snapchat and next week it’s Periscope, ain’t nobody got time for that!), that perhaps that means they shouldn’t bother with social media at all.
The key, however, is to create great content first and worry about which platform to put it on later. Focus on creating something you’d want to read or watch instead. Whether it’s an infographic, a blog post, an ebook a meme or a video, if it’s quality, you’ll be able to use it over and over again, adapting it for whatever the “the next best thing” is. That way, when your 12-year-old niece asks if you’ve heard of “That new app that’s like Instagram only better,” you won’t find yourself stress eating a bag of animal crackers. Instead, you’ll think “I have a piece content that would be perfect for that.”
2. Don’t broadcast
If I were to go to a party and announce to the room, “Hi! My name is Reannon. I’m super cool. Please be my friend. If you do, I’ll give you a free iPad!”, what do you think would happen? People would probably think I was a narcissist jerk or at the very least, socially inept. It’s no different with social media. Social media is about relationship building. It’s about listening to what you’re customers are saying and creating content that meets their needs. Social media is not about monopolizing conversations and shouting incessantly about yourself.
3. Make your brand a personality
Before you jump into the social media party, try imagining your brand is a person first. What is he or she like? Fun and flirty? Interesting and quirky? Informative and caring? Then ask yourself: What first impression do you want to give others about your brand? And what stories and photos can you share that will help reinforce that image?
If my company, Skylark Media Consultants, were a person, she’d be: friendly, casual, helpful and informative. Thus, I try to post content that is, above all else, useful. Our goal with our content is to educate and demonstrate to the community that we are trustworthy experts in our field. Skylark Media Consultants is not here, for the most part, to be fun and entertaining. We can leave that to the other guys!
Having—at the very least—a mental image of who your brand is will help guide your social media strategy and ensure the process is less stressful and that your content is consistent and purposeful.
4. Don’t just post to post
A lot of social media marketers will tell you that consistency is the most important factor to consider when creating a social media strategy. While it’s true that sticking to a schedule is important, I would say that if I could only pick one thing, I’d pick quality over consistency. This is particularly important with Facebook. Because while you can post every day at 8am sharp, if every post you publish isn’t phenomenal, people will unfollow you. Or worse, Facebook’s algorithm will simply stop showing your posts to people because it will have determined your page to be uninteresting. Rushing and posting subpar photos or sharing links to articles you’ve never read is a waste of time. If this week you have time to publish 5 awesome posts but next week week you only have time to post one, that’s okay! It’s fine to throw consistency out the window for a while. Being clever and creative round the clock simply isn’t always feasible.
5. If it feels like a chore, you’re doing it wrong
You shouldn’t think of social media as a headache or a chore (As in “Ugh, now I have to be on Snapchat, too?!). If you start to feel that way, then perhaps it’s time to readjust your strategy. Because if you’re bored by the process, then it’s likely your followers will be too. While social media doesn’t have to necessarily be “capital-F Fun!”, it should at least be interesting and rewarding.
Try thinking of social media as a way to participate in “the national conversation”. Think of it as a way to listen to what your customers want and need, because social media is an amazing listening tool. It’s a way to get free information about your customer base, which, when you think of it, makes social media pretty special in that regard. Few other platforms or services will give you a free glimpse into the minds of the people whose hearts—and wallets—you’re trying to win over. If you’re feeling uninspired, switch from posting to simply liking, commenting and engaging. It will make both you and your followers feel good! Plus a little good social karma can go along way.
I’ll end this with one my favorite quotes on the subject:
“Maybe don’t call it social media. Maybe don’t call it anything. Just be human and tell your story.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Featured image courtesy of Sean MacEntee.
Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as a freelance travel writer and the Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can follow her on Twitter @afineskylark