Putting The Social in Social Media
Recently, we have been sharing insights on some best practices regarding social media. This time, we’re going to discuss the primary function of social media: engagement. Engagement is simply how you interact with your audience and whether or not you are able to develop a relationship with them. Engagement is also one of the most important and resource-consuming aspects of using social media as a tool for marketing and the promotion of your services.
Understanding How Social Media Works
While best practices are to post (depending on platform) multiple times a day, the real work comes in the form of deciding not only what to post, but where to post it. Using social media as a marketing tool, requires you not only post on your own social media, but on other individuals’ and business’ social media as well. Social media is a conversation between you and your clients, current or potential. Unfortunately for many businesses, social media is used primarily to only to talk to themselves.
Successful social media encourages people to listen and recognize your value as an expert worth listening to. When you post, do you post content which would be considered valuable and worth sharing? Or instead, do you mostly post birthday wishes, cat memes and other content, which while displaying your personality, is also personal and may be of little value to an outside audience? Social media is by nature a place for developing shared experiences.
The fundamental question is how seriously does your business take social media? Social media has grown beyond the days of being a way to just keep in touch with distant relatives and old school mates. Now it is the primary means of communication between society and businesses.
Many Options to Choose From
There are a wide variety of social media platforms available. The one thing to recognize is there is no shortage of opportunities to get your message out to interested parties. You just need to take the time to determine which platform is best for you. For example, if you’re providing instruction, then a visual based platform such as YouTube may be a better fit than a webpage with of a wall of text.
Social media platforms can be broken down into four basic areas:
- Social Networking: Facebook, Linkedin, Google+
- Microblogging: Twitter, Tumblr
- Photo Sharing: Instagram, Pinterest
- Video Sharing: YouTube, Periscope
These listings are just a small example, there are many more platforms out there. While they may be different in execution and design, all social media can be used to drive traffic to your website or landing page. Once there, you have a greater chance to convert visitors into clients; but you have to get them there first. Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet, but if you promote it and provide value, they will come.
How Does Blogging Fit In?
Blogging is an important part of the social media ecosystem, as the content contained within a blog can be used to start a conversation. However, successful blogs rely on social media to act as its ‘marketing department,’ whose goal is to promote the blog. Social media is the mechanism which promotes your blog, and the content on your blog supports the value of your social media posts. It is a symbiotic relationship, but one which requires activity on social media, in order for the process to be successful. If you’re not active on social networks, then no one will read your blog content (no matter how good it is) because they won’t know it exists. If they don’t know it exists, how will they find your site? Moreover, how do you increase your opportunities to attract the best candidate with the most potential to convert? Don’t set yourself up for failure, you can’t hope someone will just find you. You need to give them a reason to look for you.
This is where the hard work comes in. Your business needs to take the time to search social media to locate businesses and individuals whose brand and messaging are a good fit for your business, as well as those whose audience will benefit from your expertise and - by extension - increase your profile. Often this requires spending time reviewing their posted content history. Social media can sometimes be the ultimate representation of ‘guilt’ by association, which means your organization needs to be certain who they are aligning themselves with, even if it is informally.
Next, while there are a number of apps which can automate the posting process, none of these have the ability to personalize how you respond and interact with your audience. The one thing social media needs to be is authentic and authenticity can’t be automated. A human person needs to have ownership of the process.
Successful Social Media Needs to Ensure 5 Things Happen:
- Facilitate conversations
- Respond to comments
- Provide content of value
- Promote your expertise
- Direct traffic back to your site
How Much Time Should You Spend Managing Your Social Media Accounts?
The answer is of course, it depends. Every industry is going to have different priorities; a niche business may need to post less than say one with a lot of competition, and you need to generate content in order to stand out. To give you an idea, we spend about 10 hours a week maintaining our presence on social networks. This includes responding to customer comments, posting our take on industry news/events and preparing/posting our weekly Crock-Pot Thursday video.
This doesn’t include any research to find influencers and industry sources who may be a good fit, or to come up with ideas, find photos, etc. So you can imagine how quickly an active social media program can consume in-house resources.
Do You Need a Social Media Coordinator?
Having a social media coordinator is different than having one of your employees peek at your social media channels and write up a quick post when they have a spare moment during the work day. The main job responsibility of a social media coordinator is to handle planning, implementing, and monitoring a company’s social media channels and strategies - in other words, maintaining your brand online should be their primary goal, unless you believe your brand and what it says about your business should be treated as an afterthought.
A social media coordinator acts as a liaison, communicating a common message between a business’ marketing department and the public. The most important responsibility a social media coordinator has is that of engagement. As the voice of the company, a social media coordinator will engage with those who leave comments or send messages through social media. In order to manage expectations and control the message, they need to ensure that no comment, question, compliment, or complaint is ignored.
If there is no one on your team who can fill this role or worst it’s a role that falls to whomever is available at the moment, it’s time to consider investing in a social media coordinator.
If you can’t afford to hire a social media coordinator, consider consulting Directive for advice on managing your social media channels. Contact us today.