(These topics were thankfully contributed by Backspace Media’s Instagram community!)
Getting started on social media can be quite intimidating, as is starting most new things. Common concerns are typically items such as
What platform should I be on?
What if I say something wrong?
Who should run my social accounts?
How do I gain followers?
How often should I post and what time of day and what if no one engages and what does engagement mean and what the HECK is Snapchat?!
The struggle is indeed real.
You are not alone! In this blog post, we’ll cover all of the above questions and concerns. These are all fairly common thoughts for business owners who are trying to embrace this "new era" of digital marketing, which very much DEMANDS a social media presence.
So let’s dive into it:
1. What platform should you be on and how do I gain followers? One thing that you need to understand about social media marketing is that different target demos hang out on different social media platforms. Trying to create a solid presence on all of the social media platforms will ultimately drive you to insanity, so take it slow and truly think this part through. Let’s examine each of the big platforms:
Facebook: Everyone and their grandma is on Facebook. This is a very family-oriented and casual platform, also making it the most-used. (Facebook just surpassed 2 billion users this week!) In my opinion, every business should be on Facebook. Many users of Facebook like to engage with brands and companies on Facebook, including "checking in" at their physical locations and at events, so choosing not to be on Facebook could cause a large amount of missed opportunities to engage with your target audience. To be successful on Facebook, it’s important to remember to get on and engage with comments that are left on your page. Leaving things un-acknowledged is a huge mistake. Show your followers that you truly care about what they think and say!
Twitter: Twitter is a very news-heavy platform. This is a great place to engage with professionals in your industry and develop a thought-leadership presence for your brand/company. It’s important to take 10-15 minutes each day to engage with your Twitter community in order to stay authentic and current. This can be a highly B2B platform if utilized the correct way. Engaging with influencers is a quick ticket to a high and steady followership.
Instagram: Not everyone belongs on Instagram. Instagram is a solely aesthetic platform, meaning that original and branded images are top priority. If your content is truly visual and intriguing, then YES! Instagram is a great place for your brand. Developing a solid hashtag strategy is a sure-fire way to launch your brand quickly into a community of your ideal followers and influencers in your field.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn can do wonders for brands looking for more professional connections and B2B engagement. This is another wonderful platform to establish your company as a thought-leader (expert) in your industry. However, the quickest (cheapest) way to build a company following on a LinkedIn page is via shares and organic engagement with your page. One thing that I would suggest in order to jump-start this is to kindly ask colleagues and friends to share your company posts on LinkedIn in an effort to expedite the growth of your LinkedIn presence.
Snapchat: Is your ideal customer a teenager or young adult? If the answer to this question is "yes," then there is a solid chance that your company will need to find a creative way to embrace Snapchat. While growing a following on Snapchat can be quite a challenge, there are ways around that too if you find a way to leverage potential influencers in your field to introduce your Snapchat channel on theirs. Another route you can take to grow this following is to promote your "snapcode" on your other social media channels! For awhile, Backspace Media used its snapcode as the profile picture on our Twitter account. Seemed to work for awhile, although the growth was slow and steady.
At this point, we’ve covered the 5 largest social media platforms (besides YouTube…(if you do video content at all, YES you should be on YouTube!) Now is a great time to talk about our second question:
2. Who should be running my accounts? Here are some things to keep in mind when truly answering this question for your company:
Who can best speak about/represent our brand in a real-time setting?
Who has wonderful communication skills and truly understands the brand voice?
Who has the time to commit to curating content and engaging with your fans in real time?
Who has a strong understanding of public relations and how to handle a crisis?
Who has an ability to naturally handle risky online conversations about your brand? (ie negative comments, negative reviews, digital trolls)
Who has tremendous customer service skills?
Too often social media management gets pushed off onto college interns who don’t care too much about your brand and representing it well, they care about whether or not their payment will come in. Your social media channels are your digital frontline! Don’t let them go to waste. Think critically about who it is that you want out there digitally representing your company. This is a crucial decision to make!
The person driving your social community needs to have a firm understanding of how to handle a digital public relations crisis, and they need to know how to find/create content that will resonate with your brand’s fans. They need to keep a human element to your brand voice, after all, we are all human beings! Sometimes we do say the wrong thing on social media, but showing transparency is a great way to build trust with potential and current customers.
3. When is the best time to post? Ok, this one is an easy question to answer.
Consider this: when is your target audience using social media? The best time for your specific brand to post on your social channels is going to be different from everyone else’s. Again, it all depends on a day in the life of your target customer. Are they online in the morning before they go to work? Are they entrepreneurs who are also scrolling social media platforms throughout the day? Are they so tired of their phones during the week that by the time the weekend rolls around they need a break from social media? Maybe they check their social accounts first thing in the morning because they are a millennial? Maybe they hangout on Instagram in the early evening to find out what kind of events are happening that evening? There are a lot of things to consider so it’s important to know your target audience like you know your best friend.
4. What if no one engages with my content? Here’s the real answer to this question: if no one is engaging with the content that you are currently putting out there, then you need to change your strategy. Add more visuals. (BETTER visuals) Bring more value. Find creative ways to truly answer your followers’ questions and to continually bring them value. Incorporate live-broadcasting into your strategy. (Yes, I know that can be intimidating but it truly does work!) You have to consistently bring the value. No one wants to get commercials on social media. They want to learn something. They want an experience. They want to have fun! Make your brand fun to engage with, and make sure that you are constantly answering comments. As Brian Fanzo always says, "Think like a fan!"
I hope that you have found this post to be helpful, and I hope that it has encouraged any of you out there who may have a legitimate fear of social media marketing. A solid social media presence is imperative for digital success, but more than that, it has to be done in the right ways.
If you have more questions after reading this post, please feel free to send me a message or leave comment below. And as always, THANKS FOR READING! -Jen