With the buzz and excitement around social media and the vastness of it as a tool for promoting businesses, it seems not only have more and more companies adopted it, but more and more companies are claiming to be experts (this happens in every industry with every trend - educating yourself on the company providing the services and their background is key).
When embarking on social media, for your business or to build your brand, more often than not, the service you are provided is a content plan, options for services and a schedule.
Before you start, remember, social media is only part of the whole equation. If you think of social media as a promotional platform, a conversation platform or a place to run ads, but only engaging part of your whole marketing plan, you will likely end up with only partial results.
So let's look at social media as part of your whole marketing and business package. Every part of your communication should be focused, concise and integrated for impact but it also needs to respect the values of your brand and how they correlate to your consumer.
1. Understanding your market.
By understanding who your market is, your key audience and focusing in on what really matters to them, you will be better off figuring out what platforms suit your business better. ie: Business to business should consider a presence on LinkedIn, direct business to consumer may have better luck on Facebook, or depending on the visual ability and the youth, Instagram may be better or some of the up and coming social media platforms.
2. What is your story.
People often say their key differentiator is their customer service, this is an expectation not a differentiator - unless you are doing something so extraordinary that people cannot help but notice it.
Your story relates back to your brand beliefs, your why. If your brand is built around serving the needs of seniors, focus on that demographic, if your brand believes in human rights, environment or community, it should reflect that in your style of messaging and what you connect with. You cannot be everything really well, and if you want to stand out and communicate to the core of your customer, find out what your customer believes in or why they chose you, it can help you uncover their driving factor.
David Ogilvy recognized that cake mix only requiring water made housewives feel lazy, by adding the requirement of a single egg, they felt that they were actually making something for their family, their value was serving their family something they made, the egg made it feel more genuine.
3. Core consistency
Let's say your message is customer service, it is shouted from the rooftops, social media and your ads. One day a customer walks in and has to wait in your waiting area for 30 minutes, pretty standard, an act that the customer expected. Now take that same customer, waiting, and serve them coffee, offer them a massage chair while they wait or free wi fi. What if you offered them a light snack, really interesting magazines or access to Netflix, does that amplify your customer service?
If your business believes very much in supporting the community, yet you never sponsor events, let alone participate in them, the message feels disconnected. What if you were always found ranting online, it changes your 'community' perception.
Its not just a physical community, but the online community, are they attending conferences, participating in online discussions that uplift and help?
Whatever your core message, your actions should follow suit.
4. Social Consistency
There is nothing that makes the online connection feel disingenuous than inconsistent posting or communicating with your online audience. You do not have to post daily, but taking a 6 month break then returning can look like you are not fully committed. Not only does the regular posting keep you current, it helps with your visibility as the algorithms change.
Which leads to...
5. The technical (SEO + WEBSITES)
SEO + website visibility all of this factors into the message you are delivering. Consistency helps your website rank higher by benefitting your SEO (search engine optimization) and showing that you are not just a 'post and go' that you are overall contributing to your clients, the internet and your community by being consistent.
Everyone wants the number one spot on google, but you will never get it organically by acting like number 5. If it was so easy to get that spot people would be taking it every day. Once you get that spot, you still have to work to keep it. You can buy the top Google ad spot (low click through rate), but if you just put in some of the effort, you would not need to buy it and people would TRUST your top spot more.
6. Building your brand
It takes discipline for a number of years to build your brand, it's your visual reputation and the perception customers hold of your business in their minds. It doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen easily. Do the work. Just because you put something out there and try to tell people what you stand for it doesn't mean that its matches what people believe about your brand.
Consistency - integrity - communication - experience. repeat. This is how strong brands are built, once you have built a strong brand it creates a barrier to entry making it harder for your competition to take that spot, in a consumer's mind, from you.
Social media does not work on it's own, these simple factors are why the 'fly by night' social media businesses will come and go. Build something better, if you are going to hire someone, hire right, they may not tell you exactly what you want to hear but the more honest the company will be, the better your company will be for using them.