I’m a social media junkie. Not a fact that I am proud of as I try navigating between my real and virtual worlds. I’m a brand and digital strategist by day and Twitter lurker by night. I admit to many an updates on Facebook and photo sharing on Instagram. I have my neatly organized boards on Pinterest of places I dream of going to, food I dream of making once I polish my super-chef skills and the amazing clothes and shoes I will buy when I have that billion dollars in my bank thank you very much! I also have my professional profile on LinkedIn where I like to share interests that reflect my professional life apart from trying to shamelessly position myself as a thought leader.
I use almost all of the social media platforms out there. I have seen my clients and brands use them too. Some get it right, some get it horribly wrong! The wrong ones really make you wonder what in the world were they thinking!
So let’s look at social media and what brands keep forgetting whenever they discuss their social media strategy. Three commandments to get started would be:
1. Know thy conversations
Brands forget the primary reason for social media being popular. It was because they could participate in the discussion, talk and be part of a larger conversation. Unlike TV, Print, radio and OOH where brands talked about themselves, social media gave the consumers the chance to be part of the brand and feel like they were part of the party.
Brands should be like a coffee shop consumers like hanging out in doing their own thing. The moment you become the preachy waiter, they will stop coming. If you want to talk about yourself and your products – use TV, Radio, print. If you want to get people talking about you, then have content which is inclusive and inviting enough for participation.
2. Know thy audience
Each social media platform has a different inherent purpose. I will not ask for a professional recommendation on Facebook the same way I will not use a dating profile or a matrimonial profile to look for a job. That would be rather silly. So why is it that we use similar content across all platforms and expect our audiences to show enthusiasm?
Here are the basic uses for each platform for brands to leverage:
Build consumer engagement on Facebook. Facebook has enough and more advertising tools for you to run targeted ad campaigns and really connect with your audience. Their video feature makes the newsfeed more appealing and helps reach a larger audience.
It is the window to the larger digital experience of your brand i.e. the website. But, if I don’t like what I see through my window, I may never really be tempted to enter the house in the first place. Their video feature makes the newsfeed more appealing and helps reach a larger audience.
Show your personality on Twitter. Have a unique voice, be human and have a conversation here as you have the chance to reach out to a larger audience here. Twitter is also an amazing Digital PR tool if used smartly. While Twitter contests may attract contest junikies, a content style with loads of personality will only add to your brand’s fan following.
Instagram has now what Facebook had when it started off – convenient photo sharing. It’s visual story-telling at its best. Find your visual voice. You can get artistic, you can get quirky, you can be fun. As long as you keep the hashtags relevant and under ten. Instagram videos have only added to the delightful potential of the platform.
Instagram success formula = Image + relevant copy + hashtags
Pinterest is a platform I recommend for E-Commerce as it gives the user a chance to create boards and combine the things they like. The photography and images again become key to success on the platform.
YouTube is the new TV. You don’t believe me? Musicians and artists are churning popular content on youTube and reaching out to millions of subscribers breaking cultural and geographical barriers. YouTube even has its own FanFest and is responsible for our generation having a new bunch of celebrities to look upto. Video content is imperative to social marketing success.
3. Know thy goals
“Get 15000 likes!” or “Get me 4500 followers!” are not good strategic objectives to have. You want fans for your brand on social, people who will be potential advocates and who truly care for your brand. The feeling we are trying to build is akin to soccer fans and their clubs.
Goals and objectives need to be centered more on brand objectives of perception building and building a ‘fan’ base. Sales push, discounts, offers are all tactical short sighted use of social power. The real power of social media lies in unleashing the power of the consumer to be your fans.
Be the social brand. Social media if done smartly and with a long-term vision to brand building can reap dividends for the brand. Tell me how you use social media through comments.