Social media is a big deal, and your digital strategy is a really important part of how you present your brand to the world. Ideally, you will employ social tactics as part of a bigger vision of your overall strategy.
How do we do this, and what are some key things you can do right now to tighten your process? Here are 10 tips from the Brutal Pixie toolbox to help you with just that.
1. Your baseline customer service benchmark is how you behave in social networks.
We have all heard the data that most people hit social networks to complain about a brand, yet up to 70% of companies fail to respond properly, in a timely fashion, or at all, in a public channel. Don’t be that company. If you pride yourself on a particular baseline level of customer service in general, make it The Rule in social media. You might have to twist it a little bit to make it fit, but the work is worth it.
2. Find the right influencers and make meaningful connections with them.
Influencers are those people to whom other people listen. They are leaders of all kinds, knowledge keepers, great for reading materials, and often extremely helpful. Find them, follow them, observe them, learn from them. Listen before you act. And then start making meaningful connections. Talk to them, get involved in the same online chats, position yourself as a peer. When you start gaining conversation with these guys – or they at least notice when you’re not around – you know you’re gaining clout of your own.
A quick side note about this. Influence is important when you are building your reputation online. Be wary of just being a copycat, though. Remember, anybody can copy your strategy. Nobody can copy your culture.
3. Underpin all content – including social – with a solid message architecture.
A message architecture will tell you what to create, what to curate; the tone to use; the style to use; and what you are intending to gain by even being present in a social network. There is no point diving into the social media pool if you don’t know what you want to achieve, how to represent yourself, and the verbal style of your brand. It’s hard, but worthwhile work.
4. Go to where your customers are; don’t expect them to come to you.
The social media landscape is enormous. You have the warm and fuzzy (but fickle) caves of Facebook; you have the wild, unpredictable oceans of Twitter; you have the Hobbiton of Pinterest; you have the cities of LinkedIn. And, depending on your industry (or your country) there may be even more than this. Startups have social networks where entrepreneurs can connect with investors. Different types of nerds hang out on different subreddits. Dancers hang out on Instagram and in the forums of dance magazines.
Know where your market is, and go there. Bury yourself in some good market research, and find out where they are, if you don’t already know. And if, like me, you can’t stand some social networks, you really have to suck it up and learn to love it. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
5. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
Nothing that you post in a social network is really about you. People follow people, yes; but if you follow people that continually tweet about their wellbeing after their morning cereal, odds are on that you are going to unfollow them. (Well, you’ll unfollow ordinary mortals anyway.) People want something added to their lives – just like when they buy products. It’s that emotional connection, not the sale. Providing great links, curating good material, and being present in a meaningful way is going to do you way more good than spamming your networks with links.
6. Good things take time.
All good things happen slowly. Good relationships take time; trust takes time; reputations take time. You can’t rush the relationships and networks you build in your social networks. The take-away from this is that you can’t appear and expect to gain customers. You need to prove you are worth people’s time, and that you are valuable enough to support. It’s all about being part of the community, speaking the language, and establishing your presence.
On the flip-side of this, don’t expect support if you don’t give it to other people.
7. Schedule everything ahead of time.
It might seem like a really obvious thing to do, but huge amounts of people don’t do it, and then wonder why they don’t get any work done. Even the best of us slip over occasionally. Dedicate two hours per week to curating and scheduling content for whichever network you are in. There are tens of apps to help you. My favourites are Buffer and Hootsuite; the former because it works out the best posting times for me, and the latter because it’s a multi-channel application with lots of flexibility and capacity.
If you are large enough to go for something incredible like Kapost, then by all means do that. If you have a small enterprise and you are doing it yourself, Buffer and Hootsuite are sufficient.
8. Talk to your essential topics.
If I were to ask you what the three essential topics are for your business, what would you tell me? And if I were to ask you to explain to me the nature of your followers, how different is it? The key topics that you present – the fields that are integral to what you do and why – will often be different from the topics your followers represent.
For example, I post a lot of content about management, strategy, and strategic planning. At a second-level subset, I have media, marketing, and social media. As a third subset, I have business, startups, and entrepreneurship. These represent my business’s key focus, and what I do best. They’re what keep me springing out of bed in the morning.
My followers, on the other hand, overwhelmingly represent social media and marketing. This tells me that my strategic output is filling a niche for these types of people. They all post about social media and marketing – so why would I post more about that? I can validate and repost for them, through the filter of my essential topics. That is more valuable than just doing the same thing as everybody else.
9. Never share without validating your action.
There are a lot of people out there who believe that automatic curation is the way of the future. There are people building apps, defining methodologies, and trying to target algorithms and tags. They are doing this to save time. In terms of your business strategy, it might save you some time, but you run the risk of losing the personality, and human touch, of your business.
When you share, or curate content, validate all of it. Tell people why you are sharing, what you got out of it, why it’s relevant to your business, and what your audience might like about it. Conversely, you can share material you dislike and tell people why it’s terrible, or flat, or boring, or whatever. Give people reasons for taking notice of you and what you share – otherwise, you may as well be a spammer. It all comes down to that earlier notion of value.
10. Audit often, and iterate early.
This is a total re-envisioning of Google’s fail early, iterate often. You need to audit your activity, regularly. Audits should take place quarterly. Know what you are doing, and what your benchmarks are. Measure, assess, and improve. You can only improve on what you measure.
We all fall into the trap of creating content because we (a) have to, or (b) enjoy it. We sit in social networks as distraction, instead of work. We feel like conversation is great, but ultimately what are you doing and what are you getting out of it? Do you have a measure for that? No? Then disconnect, and crunch some numbers.
There are ways you can validate the economic value of any item of content. And alongside that, you can benchmark what your performance is like now, and assess performance against your benchmarks each month. At the end of the quarter, ask yourself whether you are closer to achieving your goal, or whether you’re just treading water.
Ultimately, social media is a tactic that has to work for you. If it doesn’t work, you need to reassess your approach – or possibly even where you are pitching your messages. The sooner you can adjust your navigation, the more quickly you’ll find the method that works.
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