Everyone’s timelines are full.
Trying to compete with this noise is incredibly time-consuming and expensive. And – dare I say it – unnecessary.
Your social media strategy should recognise your platforms as customer service first, engagement second and vanity project nowhere.
Where brand social media has failed
- Ever-increasing budgets to maintain visibility
- Vast amounts of content production (quantity over quality) to attract clicks
- Irrelevant (or non-authoritative) subject matter used to attract engagement
- Focus on social media posts to drive low-quality website traffic that may provide no ROI
What we as brands have authority to talk about on social
- Our products
- Our processes
- Our people
- Our industry
Subject authority is favourably regarded by search engines but it also makes producing safe content much easier. Your social media will be genuine and responsible if you stick to topics in your expertise. It makes you a much more for-the-long-run follow too; a crazy mess of variety is not a pleasant experience for a follower.
How to build a respectable following
1. Your own communities
Everyone within the business should be invited (threatened) to follow the brand and engage with your posts. It would be wise to undergo some training on personal conduct on social media so you can feel confident the brand will be represented well; after this, your colleagues should be promoting their work in the business to their communities. If they’re not active in those communities (marketing, design, finance, management, business analysis…) – why not?
A core following of people who respect the way you work is important to building your authority and reputation. Sneaky tip: it also helps with future recruitment.
2. Your customers
Following you on social media is useful for your customers because they get the benefit of easy, pleasant customer service. However, you can’t rely on them wanting to go follow you right away, before they need you. So, you need an incentive – like a voucher code or discount – or a very strong message for what they’ll get out of the deal.
Regular competitions, insider knowledge, great customer service and polls so they can share their opinions are a good start.
3. Your industry
Your industry is probably aware of and interested in your brand because we all steal ideas from our peers. Embrace it! Share as much as you can without giving away your competitive advantage and engage with other experts in your field. Conversations are interesting – have them.
In this day and age, jealously guarding all your business ‘secrets’ is untenable, because we all need to be generating content to stay visible. Look to new businesses in traditionally secretive industries, like mobile bank Monzo, that are breaking the rules and letting their followers in on their way of working.
4. Your target audience
This is last because I firmly believe that social media should not be replied upon for direct sales. Social media is a brand building exercise: reputation and customer service.
You won’t attract your target audience as followers if you only post about your product. Focus on the world it lives in, especially if that topic has an obsessive community – like fitness, development or beauty. These people who come for the knowledge and community are the most likely people to want your product at some point. So, while you can’t depend on them for immediate profit, you’re wise to keep them onside for the long game.
But what about the metrics?!
It’s very difficult to stand up to pressure to produce ‘good’ metrics. The higher-ups want to see an impressive follower count and a reach in the multi-millions. Your job, I’m afraid, is to convince them that social media is a good investment (it’s also a hygiene factor, not a choice) as a customer service platform and reputation enhancer – not as a lead generator. Unless you’re selling jewellery, in which case get on that Instagram and sell sell sell!.
Engagement rate matters. Average reply time matters. A steadily increasing (or stable!) follower count matters. The actual figures shouldn’t be the idol we worship.