Over the last several years, social media has proven itself to be a formidable force for brands aiming to gain a wider online audience:
95% of online adults aged 18-34 said they are most likely follow a brand via social networking.
71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others
87% of all marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses. 78% also reported that increased traffic is also a major benefit.
An active social media presence is undoubtedly a must-have for brands at this point, but getting started can often feel like a daunting task - especially if you’re unfamiliar with the world of social networking. We’ve put together our top five dos and don’ts for any brand looking to navigate the world of social media and build an audience…
Take time to research before you get started: It can be tempting to dive straight into the world of social media, but it’s worthing pausing for a moment to make sure you know what you’re getting into. Each platform has its own unique nuances, capabilities, demographics and more - so take the time to find out which ones are right for your brand, and what kind of voice is appropriate for each.
Set your profile up fully: When you sign up to a new platform, you’ll likely get prompted to fill in all sorts of different sections and boxes. The amount available for you to fill in ranges from platform to platform - for Twitter, all you have is a profile picture, a cover photo, a description, location, and website. On LinkedIn, you have even more - your company story, your founding date, your industry, company size… and so on. Filling all this in can seem like a bit of a pain, but it’s well-worth taking the time to do so. Fully completed profiles place higher in search rankings, make it easier for customers to find you, and give a professional and wholly satisfying impression of your brand to new viewers.
On that note, use the proper dimensions for your profile imagery: My biggest personal pet peeve on social media is clicking onto a page and seeing that the profile and/or cover photo is pixelated and blurry, or has been partially cut off because the owner didn’t bother to upload a photo with the correct dimensions. It makes it look as though you’re either not very technologically savvy, or simply don’t care about your brand’s image - neither of which are a great first impression. This also goes for photos you upload to individual posts, too. You can find a full list of dimensions for every social platform image here to make sure you get yours looking crisp and perfect.
Get scheduling smart: A good brand page on social media needs to
post at optimum times,
post interesting, varied, and useful content.
That’s a lot to try and manage at once if you’re winging it! One of the best solutions to this problem is to create a content calendar for yourself so you can plan posts in advance. Your calendar can be formatted in whatever way makes most sense to you - whether that’s an Excel spreadsheet, a table on a word document, or even a page in your notebook. Use the research you did earlier to figure out how many times you want to post a day, what sort of thing you’ll post (perhaps an interesting industry article every Monday, one of your blog posts on Tuesday, a video on Wednesday, etc.), and at what times. Having a plan like this will allow you to maintain a regular schedule of fresh and varied content, check for consistent key messaging, and avoid typos to boot. You can then either publish your planned posts manually every day, or use a scheduling site such as Hootsuite to ready them all at once.
Get involved: With social media, the clue is in the name. You shouldn’t just be talking at your audience through a megaphone, you need to put it down and be social too. There are real psychological principles behind it - if you reach out to others and engage with them, they’ll very often engage with you in return. Devote a chunk of your social media time simply to reading through posts from others in your industry or audience - dish out plenty of likes, shares, and thoughtful comments. Don’t just wait for people to come across you and follow your page, use the platform search bar to discover interesting connections and follow them first, then watch the reciprocated actions roll in.
Use exactly the same content on every platform: As mentioned earlier, every social platform is unique. Accordingly, the content you post to each one should acknowledge this. Twitter, for example, is well-known for its 280 character limit on posts, which encourages posters to be brief, concise and poignant above all else. On LinkedIn, however, long-form content has been shown to be more successful, with posts with over 1900 words getting over 3 times as many views as posts with 900 words. That doesn’t mean you need to quadruple your content production to make something totally new for each platform, but it might mean that if you want to share an interesting article you pull out one short quote from it when you post it to Twitter, whereas you pull out two whole paragraphs from it and add your own summary at the end on LinkedIn.
Go too heavy on the self-promotion: This point goes hand-in-hand with the DO note on remembering to be social. People go on these platforms to engage with others, make connections, and discover content that’s interesting and useful for them - they don’t do it to see reams of promotional posts about products and services. It’s true that brands wouldn’t be on social media in the first place if they didn’t want to promote themselves, but the best way to do that is through gradually building a loyal and engaged audience. You can’t do that if you’re focusing too much on pushing sales and not enough on catering to their interests. The odd post letting people know about a new product, how to contact you or where to see your latest work is absolutely fine, but they shouldn’t account for more than 20% of your overall output.
Ignore questions, comments and leads: Your social media presence isn’t just an outlet for you to post content - it’s also now a way for customers to directly contact brands about their queries and concerns. Make sure you don’t forget about this aspect of the serviceand monitor your posts for any questions, comments or (gasp) complaints from customers. Don’t panic if this happens, there are plenty of ways to turn even a negative comment into a positive moment - and taking a personable, engaged and helpful approach to your responses can often lead to creating a new loyal customer. Ignoring someone who has taken the time to respond to your content, on the other hand, will only leave them feeling dissatisfied and your brand looking inactive and uncaring.
Ignore analytics: Related to that last point, you should also keep an eye on your posts to monitor other aspects of their performance. You don’t need to study anything too complex if you don’t want to, but at least keep an eye on which posts seem to get the highest and lowest amount of engagement (i.e. likes, comments, and shares). Make a note of them, and take the time to consider what it is that made them so successful or unsuccessful. Social media is a trial and error process: the insights you gain from analytics should inform the new content you produce, help you drop the stuff that’s not working and do more of the stuff that really resonates. Here are our quick guides to getting started with Twitter and LinkedIn analytics.
Expect results overnight: Building an audience, improving the content you post, and getting significant results from your social media efforts are all things that take time and patience. The chances of your posts going viral or getting thousands of responses from the get-go are, unfortunately, pretty slim. It’s a slow process that requires consistent time and effort, but it gets easier as you get to know your online audience better and figure out what works. Ultimately, the results will certainly be worth it - just don’t expect them to appear right away.
Chloe is our copywriter here at Ember Television. Her interest in telling stories led her to study English with Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, where she developed a specialised interest in screenwriting and digital media.