4 Tips To Improve Your Social Media Presence

So, you launched your social media presence and now you’re waiting for business inquiries to come in. That should happen just about any day now, right?

Unfortunately social media is not a “build and they will come” tactic. While it is an important piece of your marketing strategy it’s not one that you can simply check off the list and move onto something new. For your social media strategy to be effective (ie. to reach your goals of improving inquiries, sales, or business) you must remain involved.

Here are some tips to improve your social media game:

Welcome your guests inside. Many people compare social media to the living room of your home. It’s where you kick of your shoes and relax with your guests. It’s where you let your guard down and start a conversation. Be welcoming, create a conversation, be interesting. Raise important issues. Have an opinion and share it responsibly.

Do not over promote. Yes, you set up a Facebook page in order to market your business. But if that’s all you do, you will bore your followers. Provide some value. Perhaps you’ll give them a 12 hour head start on sales, or provide useful tips and suggestions. Also, provide entertainment in the way of photos, video, or infographics. No only is this content more interesting, it’s also more frequently shared.

Be responsive. If someone asks a question, answer it. If they complain, address it. If they rave about your business, thank them. In fact, have a strategy in place so that you’re notified of comments immediately. 42% of users expect a reply in less than an hour. If you only check in once a day, you could be missing valuable opportunities

Better yet, be engaged. Find your audience and talk with them. Maybe they’re in a LinkedIn discussion group or a Facebook group. On Twitter, jump into conversations when you have an opinion to share.  Show them that you care not only about winning their business, but about developing a relationship.

Social media is not about shouting messages to your clients and customers. Instead it’s an avenue to develop lasting relationships by providing relevant and engaging content.

Should you outsource social media?

You have a lot to do. Business to win, projects to execute, employees to manage. You don’t need one more thing on your to-do list, yet you know that social media has taken a back seat in your marketing strategy.  And then someone comes to you and says she can handle your social media needs for you. On one hand, that’s one less thing for you to do – YAY! But, you’re worried about giving up control of your brand’s voice online.

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of handing your social media reigns over to someone outside your company:

First, the downside:

  • Lose authenticity – It’s hard for someone else to think like you, talk like you and sound like you. Agencies or freelance social media contractors are likely to be formal or entirely too casual for a while until they find the right tone.
  • Takes longer to post – Imagine this. You’re at an event, you snap a great photo and want to post it on Facebook. So you send it to your social media consultant, but he’s in a meeting and can’t get to it for a couple of hours. In some cases, this won’t be a big deal. In others, it can be the difference between an engaging and fun Facebook page and one that mostly posts photos of things that happened yesterday.

Now, the upside:

  • You get more time back in your day – Don’t let anyone fool you. Social media takes time. Even after the strategy has been determined, it takes time to execute a post. You need to take the photo, edit it, post it, think of a witty caption. There may be logging in and logging out logistics. You need to be check in several times a day to see if there are any new notifications. You can get caught up in the time suck of Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Hand over the social media responsibility and get your day back.
  • You get an expert on your team – This is especially key for start ups, non-profits, or small businesses. If you’re thinking about outsourcing social media, you’re likely getting an expert. (If you’re not, rethink it). This person will have great ideas, probably gleaned from previous experience. And she’ll know what’s most likely to work, will be able to track your trends and metrics to quickly determine what your audience reacts to, and can manage the technical part of social media that makes many executives crazy.

So, how do you decide if it’s right for you?  It’s time for a gut check. If you don’t outsource it – will YOU do it? And will you give it the time it requires every single day? If the answer is no, it’s time to talk to a social media consultant or to your PR agency about adding the service to your contract.

“But, do I need to be on Instagram”

Several weeks ago, I was talking candidly with a new client about their marketing activities. They were new owners taking over a relatively successful health club. Taking their time to make changes, spending time talking with members and growing the membership base slowly, but effectively, were their initial priorities. During our conversation, I gave them props for their effort on Facebook. They took a nearly extinct page and breathed new life into it – offering a combination of information about the gym and health/fitness tips. They were demonstrating the culture of the gym through photos and sharing necessary information about classes, events and sales through status updates.

Then she asked me, “What about Instagram, do we need to be on there too?”

I’m typically of the “find a platform that works, and do it really, really well” mindset. But in this instance, the answer was “yes.” Yes, you need to be on Instagram too. And, here are a few reasons why:

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So, for many businesses, especially those appealing to a crowd of 35 and under females, Instagram is a must-do. So, how do you get started? Is it enough to snap a photo and add a filter? Here are a few tips:

  • Take a good picture. Yes, it’s important to be on Instagram, it’s also important to remember that Instagram is as much about quality as it is about quantity. Users reward (in likes and in comments) good photos. Find an interesting angle, hold the camera steady, and add a filter to help soften any flaws.
  • Make sure your photo tells a story. A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? Make sure your photo is telling a story that is in line with your brand messaging.
  • Use the comments. The caption is where you get to show your personality. Don’t be afraid to be sincere – whether that be emotional or witty. Let your personality fly. And be sure to reply to any questions or comments in the comment section of your photos. Users come to IG for the engagement, make sure you’re not ignoring them.
  • Hashtag it. But don’t overdo. Yes, you want to be searchable, and you may be using hashtags to be clever or show your sense of dry sarcasm. But too many hashtags will have people rolling their eyes and talking behind your back. #ipromise
  • Frequency. Depending on your business you may have enough content to post several times a day. If not, try to post at least several times a week.Instagram is a great way to connect with your audience on another platform. You may find that users follow you on several platforms and that’s OK, it’s great actually. Try not to completely duplicate all of your content and remember which demographics are most likely to be on which platform to ensure that you’re delivering the most appropriate message to the right people. Once you’ve nailed the basic posting on Instagram, start looking for ways to increase your followers, improve your photos and engage your audience

 

To generate content, first you must generate ideas

You’ve heard the buzz that content is king. And you recognize that your consumers are beginning to tune out traditional marketing tactics and instead are tuning into content on blogs, websites, and social media.

Now what do you do?

Some businesses and individuals immediately fire up the laptop, set up Twitter handles and Facebook accounts, and launch their new WordPress blog. While the enthusiasm is more than half the battle, there’s still an important step missing: The plan and the ideas.

Often companies start their content marketing strategy without really knowing what their content is going to be. Downloadable white papers! Presentations on SlideShare! A sparkling new blog! It all sounds excellent. But the content can quickly begin to fizzle after several weeks when you (or your company) begin to struggle for ideas.

So, what should you write about?

I know, sitting down and mapping out your first several months of content may sound like as much fun as visiting an indoor playground with 15 shrieking toddlers. But, trust me. You’ll appreciate it later. Not only will it serve as a schedule or a calendar, it will help you determine if you should be posting new content several times a week or several times a month.

To get started think about the questions you get most often from customers or clients. If your business is a professional services business, this might be about a service you provide or a particular expertise that you’ve earned through years of experience. Or perhaps you can share tips and advice. Another option is to throw it out to your customers or clients. Email them, ask them in meetings or phone calls, create a social media post. However you do it, the point is to simply ask what’s on their mind, what keeps them up at night, if there was one thing they wish they had known about your industry, what would it be? Not only will this give you content ideas, it gives you some (not so scientific) insight into what your audience is thinking.

Once you have a list of topics and ideas mapped out, then you get to start writing.

Emerging media for employees

While much of the buzz around emerging media is focused on how companies can better communicate and engage with their clients, the role of internal communications can also be assisted with strong social and emerging media tactics.

Employee engagement can mean a number of different things depending on the organization. For small companies, engagement is about making sure that all employees are playing together nicely, sharing ideas, and stopping by to say “hello” – it can be managed with an open communication policy and simple face to face interactions. However, in large companies – those with hundreds or thousands of employees or those that are spread across the world, communication becomes more formal and engagement becomes much more complex.

I don’t have to list the benefits of employee engagement. We all know that teams that are engaged are not only more productive, but just plain happier to be around. Companies with highly engaged team members have higher retention rates, less money spent on recruiting and onboarding and greater profitability. We know the benefits and many companies even go through survey processes every year to find out what their particular engagement number is.

But how do we move the needle?

Platforms such as intranets and social media are certainly helping. Emailed communications allow companies to distribute timely information to all employees at the same moment. Some companies are even using blogs, web chats and video conferencing to keep employees informed and to solicit feedback through two-way communications.

Nokia BlogHubNokia has recently been touted for their BlogHub – an internal communication system that allows employees to create their own community. Like many initiatives when employees become part of the process their voices are better represented, the engagement is better, and the results are more effective.

Using social media to engage with employees has great benefits that can help improve employee engagement. It can help employees learn more about what’s happening in other parts of the organization, it gives them a forum in which to provide feedback or ask questions, and it can help improve relationships and collaboration from people in various offices.

Does your organization have a role for internal communications? If so, does social media play into that role?

 

Double the social media profiles – Double the trouble?

I have two kids, born 17 months apart. (Yes, life is crazy, why do you ask?) We’re still in the pre-school stage so we’re also very much in that time in life that when one gets something, the other gets the same thing. I buy double the snacks, similar toys, and always look for deals on shoes because when one kid’s feet grow the other is getting a new pair too. At some point, probably soon, we’ll have to explain that “fair” doesn’t mean “equal”.  And that money doesn’t grow on trees.

Social media within organizations but across departments can be similar. Imagine this… The corporate communications department launches a Facebook and Twitter page. First, everyone says it’s crazy and that no one wants to find an engineer on Facebook. Then a little while later, as followers grow and it becomes fun, the requests begin. Now, different departments within the organization want their own pages. Should they have their own?

Advantages:

  • Allows for very targeted information to go to the right audience
  • Creates interaction between the organization using retweets and replies
  • Increases engagement from within the company

Disadvantages:

  • Takes away content from the main company page
  • Postings become haphazard, with little to no synergy
  • Information could get out before the organization is ready
  • Audience becomes confused about who to follow for what information

At the end of the day, this is another case where being fair doesn’t mean being equal. Companies may decide that they only want one profile set up on each social media platform. Other organizations may decide that certain departments have enough information to talk about and resources to keep the profiles up to date, while others need to send their information to the corporate department. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how many Twitter profiles is too many Twitter profiles. But companies should take their time and have the necessary conversations about audience, messaging, and frequency before opening up additional accounts.

The social buzz

Remember when Facebook status updates were written in the third person? Remember when we used Twitter to document our daily activities and used YouTube to share videos of our kids’ first steps with a small group of loved ones?

In recent years, social media has exploded all of the United States and the world. People can, and do, debate whether this has changed our lives for the better or not, but the one thing we all agree on is that social media has emerged and it is changing the way we interact within our personal and professional lives.

Personally, we use social media to share our daily moments… to paint an “online picture” of our lives… to keep in touch with friends and family. However, we also use it to crowd source… to ask questions about brands and products… to vent our frustrations about poor customer service or share the love when something goes exceptionally well.

In a nutshell, social media has exponentially changed the influence of word of mouth marketing. From Netflix series recommendations to cars, from preschools to brands of milk, cell phone service provider to housekeeper, people search for and find recommendations online. Perhaps we’ve also searched opinions before pulling the trigger, but prior to social media the opinions we received were limited to those we called or saw during our day. With social media those opinions are amplified, by a lot.

Businesses must first recognize that this opportunity exists. Then they must find a way to capitalize on the opportunity. While some will argue that the opportunity lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels, companies who have solid client and customer relationships, a strong culture, and engaged employees will have a huge advantage.

The takeaway: Ensure your house is in order before you post photos to Facebook.