If you read Part 1 – Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – then you’ll know that the article makes a parallel between social media anxiety and high school nerves. The article covered the confidence which can be felt from knowing your stuff like: understanding your customers, keeping an eye on your competitors, selecting the right channels, owning your chosen topics, setting goals, creating a plan and sticking to it. This article, part 2, aims to go straight for the jugular by pushing you into a creative zone to feel some sense of security in your chosen online network.
Creativity Is Intelligence Having Fun
The purpose of part 1 was get you ready for social media, through research and planning. A massive part of the research phase was content analysis of your competitors’ social sharing strategies and industry content assessment. During this phase the aim was to be inspired, to find out what looks good and why? Did you notice your competitors’ campaigns, how did the channels integrate, did they have external support to share key campaign messages? Inspirational social media campaigns take heaps of creativity (and planning) because quite simply social is a noisy place, so if you want to stand out, you’ll need to get creative and you’ll need to be consistent about it. Here’s some tips on being creative on social media:
- Show personality
Assuming you have company brand guidelines stored away somewhere, now is the time to let them shine. Use your style preferences, colour palette and values to create a personification of the company brand. Let this virtual representation of the company share valuable articles and videos, rarely about sales, but instead aim to attract like minded newcomers to your brand (either more followers or website visits). The most important thing to remember when building your brand on social media is consistency and try to, where possible, differentiate your posts from the competition. Differentiation could be in the tone you use, or in the type of content (live video, infographics, illustrations, whitepapers etc etc), or style of image (photography, graphic design, textures etc etc) or maybe it’s through who you choose to hang out with and the conversations you have (provocative, banter, debates etc etc).
- Be authentic
Listen to your audience and be transparent. Storytelling in social media marketing can be a very powerful thing, if executed in the right way. This means sharing authentic and valuable testimonials with your followers. You know you’re nailing the engaging content game when your followers start responding to your posts. So when the day comes, be ready. The general public won’t hold back in telling you how they really feel about your latest ‘top ten tips article’. You might want to grow a thick skin asap. Don’t worry if things go awry. Just know that it’s ok to make mistakes; own-up, apologise and make it up to your community (if needs be). Nowadays social media is becoming a channel for customer service and complaints, so come to the party prepared. Take the opportunity to say your bit, there’s always two sides to a story. Turn their frown upside down.
- Don’t party too hard
Over posting can be annoying for your followers. Try to stick to a couple posts a day but scale this up or down based on platform choice, resource and industry expectation. No one likes a try hard. Quality over quantity and age before beauty.
- You’ll never forget that experimental hairdo
The key to creativity is experimentation. Take what you’ve learned, join the dots, collaborate and try new things. Risk will be what sets you apart from the competition so make sure you set aside time each month for innovation. Don’t be afraid to test out ideas on social media. If it doesn’t work, try to understand why and move on, quickly. Stand-up, swallow your nerves, say your piece then ask for feedback from your social media followers. If you don’t know what people think – will you ever learn and grow?
- Invest your pocket money well
It would be wrong to finish this article series without mentioning social media advertising because anxiety can stem from having low numbers of followers. The easiest way to overcome that is by paying for friends, well not quite. It’s about getting your profile/posts in front of your target market and reaching customers you know are likely to enjoy your products, services and content. The way social media algorithms are going these days, if you’re just starting out then you’ll probably need to delve into your pocket to get the visibility you need to make the most out of social media.
Find Your Possy
- What’s the essence of being popular
Your appearance plays a role here so make sure you enhance what makes your shares unique and express yourself through quality copy and top notch images. Then spotlight your followers, share and comment on their posts, ask them questions and mean it! Incentivise actions and interactions from your followers because quite frankly 60% of people love a freebie. Last but not least, try to understand what they like and share more information that’s related. Your social media followers are people who have actively agreed to see your posts so nurture and reward them as much as possible. Alongside your database, this is a pool of potential return customers, the most profitable group of people a business can hope to achieve. If you’re doing a really good job, you might just convert some advocates, also known as close social media friends, in the process.
- The inner circle comes at a cost
Influencer marketing is most definitely the ‘hot’ topic in marketing and there’s a reason why. It works. 92% of marketing professionals who successfully delivered influencer content in 2017 found it to be highly effective. Influencer activity is not a new thing, PR professionals and brands have been commissioning ambassadors since the 50s. With the advent of digital and the explosion of bloggers, digital marketers started engaging with bloggers to encourage links to their client’s websites, it was called blogger outreach and it was incredibly time consuming. When YouTube and Instagram came onto the scene we saw a shift in this channel and the opportunities to influence became more diverse. Nowadays influencer activity has moved from a predominantly PR tactic to a advertising and media channel and with it comes ever increasing costs. The best advice here is to choose people who fit your brand values and try to build an organic relationship, much like you would do with your followers. Comment and share their content, massage their ego and offer them free stuff (with influencers you need to make it sound exclusive to them, so try to contact them privately). And numbers aren’t everything, try to go for micro-influencers because you’ll find that although their numbers are smaller, the engagement held from their followers is a lot lot higher. Use tools like Buzzsumo to help you decide who are influencers in your industry.
- Find your clique & growth
You can find and grow your social media clique by setting up some social listening. According to research only 30% of tags on twitter will include a handle, that’s a big missed opportunity to respond, engage and convert. There are countless tools out there to help you track hashtag tags and mentions; test drive a few and see what suits your requirements. I like Mention, Hootsuite and Google Alerts. This way I can track hashtags and mentions of my profiles and my competitors across social media, review sites and the news. When it comes to tracking hashtags you should be looking for opportunities to join conversations so take a bit of time to list out a strong list of keywords to track. If you have money to invest then of course you can use a more integrated CRM solution like Salesforce. The main aim here is to ensure no rock is left unturned nor opportunity missed to increase reach and engagement.
Hopefully you can see how this data will help you continue to grow, because you’re not just tracking numbers you’re trying to understand them. Once you get really savvy you can start to set-up your own tests to get definitive answers without other factors, like timing and creative impact.
Time To Grow Up
- Get confident
If you’re not looking at your website traffic or your social media insights then it’s time to break into a new routine. Understanding the impact of your content is the single most important activity you can do to improve your social media behaviours and ultimately your confidence. I mentioned using Google Analytics and social media insights during the customer analysis section in the previous article (Part 1 – Failing to prepare is preparing to fail). This time we’re going to use data to drive the content decisions we make, this way we know we’re working toward something, anything, one really good thing. During the first part of this article, I also mentioned those little things called goals. For those of you who don’t remember, I said, “Before you put fingers on your keyboard or pen to paper, record the goal you want to achieve, remember it should reflect a version of your business objective.” Sound familiar? Ok well now is the time to see if you’re achieving your goals. Let’s say you set a goal that was, ‘I want to increase my company awareness online’, and so I was aiming to grow my instagram followers by 20% in 4 months. Let’s also say that I wanted to sell products (let’s use cat collars again as the example) and so you wanted to increase the volume of social media traffic landing on the cat collars section of the website by 5% month-on-month. Here’s what kind of tracking you should be doing each month (as a minimum):
- Track your Instagram followers
- Take note of which posts generate the most new followers – has anyone influential started following you
- Which hashtags get you the best reach
- Monitor the impact the growth is having on your business – is there any traffic from instagram landing on your website?
- Track the traffic landing on your cat collars section – what’s the channel breakdown?
- Analyse the social media traffic landing on the cat collar section – what does that traffic do next? Which social media platform has brought the most traffic?
- Which social posts drive the most social traffic to the cat collar section – why?
- What’s the demographic of this qualified social media traffic?
- See progress
This is the point when you get that ‘a-ha’ moment, your social media marketing clicks into place because, well, you’re actually using insight to drive your content rather than the other way around. Make sure you shout about your success to your team so the whole organisation knows what’s working, because this type of insight can be applied elsewhere across the company. Hopefully, when you see growth and sales as a result of social media activity, this will encourage you to test out new tactics. The main aim here is that when you get confident you’ll be able to continue doing the good stuff but also take time to test and learn what else works.
- Seek comfort and support
I’ve not mentioned this directly but this last point relates back to the influencer section – partnership activity. When you start to see the results rolling in and your social crowd is pretty healthy, you can start to reach out to complimentary companies (ie. you share the same audience but they are not a competitor). You could create a whole campaign together that will allow you to tap into another company’s social media following. Think of all the fun you can have together! Discounts, offers, competitions… the list is endless . Have fun!
And there you have it, I hope you’ve found something here that will help you graduate to social media success. You’ve got to start somewhere, so begin with what you can and stick at it until you create a research, content, engagement and insight formula that works for your organisation. Before you know it you’ll schooling others with your social media stardom.
Guest Blogger Kirsty Kirkhope.