Stay hungry, stay foolish.-Steve Jobs.
Social media is that thing no one expected, but now many can’t live without. I have friends who commonly take screen-breaks or detoxes, give it up for lent, suspend their accounts, delete the apps – all in an effort to break the habit of the constant digital voyeurisms that take over their most valuable asset- time.
I get it, but embrace it. In fact, I’d probably do the same, but in being I use it for work- I simply cannot.
I have been working in the world of marketing/advertising/pr for the majority of my adult life- and actually went to school to do exactly those things. The social media element of marketing didn’t exist when I was sitting within the walls of the Carolina Coliseum, aside from AOL Instant messenger. So, I had to learn in real-time, as they happened- over and over again.
Embracing each new social media platform as they were released was a bit of a whirlwind, but I have kept up for the most part: Friendster (RIP), MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Vine (RIP), Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok. Yes, I know there are MANY, MANY MORE, but I’m going to go ahead and assume you get the gist.
This recon came in handy when helping the people in my network. I am commonly asked, “What are the rules of how to make XYZ platform work?” Now, I do not pretend to be the foremost thought-leader in the rules of engagement via social media, but I have done it a long time, successfully.
Story Time/Fun Fact: I ran a Sheriff campaign here in NH a few years ago.
Backstory: The incumbent Sherriff was retiring. The “powers that be” had chosen someone to fill the seat who would not ruffle feathers and also had the backing of the local dignitaries- aka, they would have a puppet. The candidate had a 2 year jump start on my guy and three-times the budget. Looking from the outside in- they had an unscathed path to victory.
Keyword there: Had. My marketing strategy and social media content were so powerful for this campaign, the opposing Sherriff candidate’s team started COPYING my efforts- sometimes verbatim. I’m flattered by the fact they actually had to TRY because they took for granted that sometimes strategy and effort WILL overshadow the connected.
It took a LOT of patience and creativity to come up with content their team couldn’t possibly mimic, but I did it. They kept trying, though. By the end of the campaign, my husband made a passing comment to the guilty gentleman on their team, something along the lines of, “Where should my wife send the bill?” Yeah, you know what you did.
Did we win? No. BUT- we did win 23 of the 27 cities in the county- and only lost by 600 votes. Not bad at all for 1/3rd of the budget AND time on the campaign trail. I call it a win on another level, but that’s also why I’m telling you this story. Also, I didn’t collect one penny; the work made it completely worth it. THE END
I digress. back to the fun stuff.
Here are some good rules of thumb for social media. I welcome your feedback or any additional advice that can aid in my constant desire to become better and learn as much as possible. As always, these opinions are my own and pardon any mistakes. I am human.
- Use the formula for posting in a pattern that will encourage engagement: promotional, factual, personal.
- Promotional: Sharing information that relates to your company. This is a great tool to get users to go to the website and increase the numbers, but use it on a 33% share of voice. Overusing this one item in particular will encourage people to unfollow/snooze for 30 days/hide your content.
- Factual: ANYTHING fact based and not opinion. Weather, upcoming seasons or events, “Did you know” type scenarios, “Top 10”, state of affairs, general knowledge that is interesting.
- Personal: Show you. Show behind the scenes, your colleagues, your favorites- encourage people to share their favorites of a certain something, be a human people can relate to.
- Remember your posts are ONLY visible to users who engage with your content- unless they go directly to your page.
- If users are not engaging, the social media platforms will use the algorithm to hide your content and distribute new content the user WILL engage with- this is a fact.
- Try to mix UPBEAT stories with the very depressing/toxic/bipolar media atmosphere that is currently taking over. Posting on the same topic over and over is no bueno.
- PEOPLE LOVE LISTS.
- USE IMAGES AND VIDEOS!
- Make a habit of taking too many pictures and capture :10-:30 seconds of video when you are doing anything and everything that you might share. Mix it up.
- Some subjects can invite a flame war. Be careful discussing things where emotions run high (e.g. politics and religion) and show respect for others™ opinions.
- DO NOT FEEL THE NEED TO FOLLOW CURRENT EVENTS FOR CLICK-BATE.
- ...but it is an easy way to get people to your social media pages using the appropriate hashtags.
- Know what the current conversations are and what people are saying in order to see if, and how, you may be able to contribute a new perspective.
- Always pause and think before posting.
- Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so. Transparency builds trust- and I think we all agree the world could use a little genuine trust right now.
- Try to add value to people’s lives. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. Your brand is best represented by its people, and what you publish may reflect both your company and you.
- Speak in the first person. Use your own voice. Bring your own personality to the forefront.
- Say what is on your mind. This makes it more relatable- which encourages engagement. Don’t try to use wording you think should be used. Be real.
- BE INFORMED BEFORE- not after.
- Utilize the “story” feature on your accounts. It’s a fun, quick and dirty way to keep people engaged with you.
- Use the animated emojis, music, etc. to make it more fun and entertaining
- Remember you can keep these to have as “highlights” on your respective pages
- Get a CANVA account and learn how to use it. You will thank me later. This adds an element of professionalism, creativity and buttoned-up look and feel. You do not need to be or hire a graphic designer with this platform/software.
- Don’t use it all the time
- Learn how to manipulate the layouts to make them your own
- Be sure that all content associated with you is consistent with your work and with you/your company’s values and professional standards.
- Dishonorable content such as profane language, racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, and physical disability slurs should not be tolerated UNLESS it is part of your brand.
- That being said, I LOVE a good ‘tude.
- Post frequently. It’s a lot of work, but don’t post -then leave it for two weeks. People WILL forget about you, as they have 1,000,000 other options for stimulation.
- Schedule your posts if you are taking screen-time off. Readers won’t have a reason to follow you if they can’t expect new content regularly.
- Good rule of thumb is to schedule out posts on the 12s and 6s- unless you can keep up with more.
- Encourage comments.
- You can also broaden the conversation by citing others who are posting about the same topic and allowing your content to be shared or syndicated.
- Remember that it is just that- a conversation. Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people in real situations. In other words, avoid overly pedantic or “composed” language.
- Be careful when sharing information about yourself or others. Once it’s out there- it only takes one screen shot to make it last a lifetime, even if you deleted it.
- Separate opinions from facts, and make sure your audience can see the difference.
- Don’t over hashtag- #itsirritating (see what I did there)
- Use exact hashtags, maybe add a couple current trends to garner new users to your content
- Read the contributions of others.
- Participation is the fuel of social computing.
- Be external. You don’t have to be 100% internally focused.
- Link to other blogs, videos, and news articles to encourage shares of your posts on their social media pages.
- Retweet/Post what others have to say.
- Don’t take it personal. People get mighty brave behind a screen.
- MOST IMPORTANT: Be real and use your best judgment.
Well, that was fun. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.