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Your social media strategy starts with figuring out what to say

We get a lot of requests to handle social media, which means a lot of talk about social media strategy. First, though, we have to bring clients expectations into line with reality.

So many brands and business owners think social media is this free gamechanger that, when leveraged properly, can unlock tons of direct revenue. They’re mostly wrong. Social media at best supplements your sales channels and chips in extra revenue. At worst, it becomes a major distraction from what really matters. Your social media strategy will determine which version you get.

This is a condensed version of the discussions where we explain exactly what clients can expect from their social media strategy when they work with us. Use it as a guide. Or a word of caution. Read to the end, though, to understand how we can actually help.

What Social Media Marketing Is

It’s An Interactive Customer Service Tool

Your customers are on social media. Over one billion people worldwide use Facebook alone. That makes it as large a network as any country on Earth.

With that said, you can’t overlook the impact social media marketing can have on your business. The right strategy and the right approach are essential. It’s less of a push and more of a pull, harvesting demand and collecting interest from the network of people already gathered.

Think of your social media marketing as a public service tool. Use it to answer questions, post updates, gather feedback and engage in conversations. Give your audience the things they find valuable, not just the things you find valuable from them. The best brands on social media act like real people, not businesses.

It’s An Entertainment Channel

Social media use spikes during the work day and in the evening. People use it as an escape from the everyday and to keep up with their friends. In short, it’s an entertainment channel, not unlike magazines, radio and TV in the past.

As a business, you have an unprecedented opportunity to use a broadcast channel freely available to anyone with enough strategy to make it work. So how can you entertain your followers? What makes them look forward to your next post?

That means whatever content you promote needs to look professional, not cut-rate or overtly self-interested.  It also means you need to invest time and resources into the content you post for yourself. This is a personal representation of your business. How do you want it to appear?

It’s A Community That Lives For Now

One of the more unique things about social media marketing is how immediate your responses are. That’s what makes it a powerful customer service tool and entertainment channel. To get the most from your social media strategy, you must embrace the speed with which your community moves.

When you work at the speed of social and plug into the conversations happening every day, your business lives in the moment. It forces you to be genuine, not stilted and corporate. It also lets you hear other people and respond accordingly. Social media marketing is more of a conversation than it is a monologue, so take the time to gather feedback in the moment and use that to advise your social media strategy.

What Social Media Marketing Isn’t (Anymore)

It’s Not A Source For Free Traffic And Business

Your reach is so low on every individual post that it makes each one nearly useless. For every 100 followers you have, you’ll reach about 2-4 of them with a single organic post, depending on the platform. So you need to get the idea of social media as a free source of traffic out of your head. It isn’t and it hasn’t been for years.

In reality, every social network is moving toward a pay-to-play model where posts can be promoted to more people for a fee. To incentivize you to pay for reach, they’re shrinking organic reach on posts. Pretty soon, it will be below 1%. Hard to have a sustainable social media strategy that way.

Furthermore, quality content is prioritized over text-only flash sales, special offers and the like. So, unless you really have an earth-shattering deal, it’s not taking off on social media.

What you will need to do is invest in unique, high-quality content (photos and videos, specifically). This costs money in itself. Then you need to seed the market with paid distribution that gains traction with a targeted segment with which your message resonates. They then amplify the message with shares and interactions. That’s your only chance at a planned viral sensation. Doing anything else leaves your social media strategy to luck.

It’s Not A Game To Collect Followers

You believe that having a large following should mean success. Remember, though, that for every one hundred followers, you’ll reach about three of them per post. That means a following of 10,000 nets an organic post reach of about 300 people. So, why are you grading your social media performance on follower count again?

Followers are easy to get, especially if you’re paying for them. I can sign you up for 100 new followers a day. They won’t be especially active. They won’t really add any value to your business. In fact, they’ll probably be ghosts. But you’ll have them. Gotta catch ‘em all, right?

Instead of prioritizing follower count, focus on the quality of your audience. What do you do with them though? Do you provide any insight or value whatsoever? Are they sharing or liking your content in any way? Can you engage the people who are your power users and create some implicit testimonial from your conversation?

Stop paying attention to those vanity numbers; they aren’t helping your business anymore. Quality interactions are at the heart of social media marketing and should be central to your social media strategy.

It’s Not A Place To Spam People With Sales Messages

Going back to post reach stats, your super promotional messages are likely to get penalize and show up in fewer people’s feeds. Not only don’t your posts reach anyone important, they’re worthless to nearly anyone who does see them.

Stop being selfish. Start answering the questions that need to be answered and put your customers first. Entertain them. Be a person, not a brand. That’s the way to breed intimacy with a social media strategy.

Your Best Social Media Strategy

Depending on your line of business, we hold to some general principles and best practices for posts that can maximize your social media strategy. It’s still a two-way street. If you expect us to come in and magically fix everything, you will be disappointed. However, if you come to us needing direction and are willing to collaborate on sourcing content, identifying power users and backing up your goals with some type of investment, we can certainly help you.

There is interesting content out there. We know there is. And you have access to it. It lives in your business. We just need to get in there and figure out a social media strategy that provides the delicate balance of audience value, quality and general good citizenry that can help you contribute to the digital marketplace of ideas that is social media.

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