by Mike Bellamente
Back in the early aughts, circa 2004, the term social media was born thanks in part to a revolutionary new platform called MySpace.
Since then a lot has happened.
If you’re in your 40’s (like me), today’s social media landscape often provides more questions than answers, and regularly leaves you scratching your head in curious wonderment (or wonderful bewilderment). How can a person remain relevant, let alone a business, with so many social media outlets to choose from? Which ones do I need to keep updated and current in order to effectively engage my audience? At what point does managing social media begin to offer diminishing returns?
For the business community, many of these questions can be answered by what message you’re trying to convey and to whom. Moreover, a company’s social media strategy should be in lock-step with your overall marketing and sales strategy, and therefore, should be beholden to the same level of metrics and data analysis to determine whether the resources devoted to managing social media (both human resources and financial) are providing an adequate return on investment.
While it used to be enough for a company to take a scattershot approach to social media, rapid changes in the algorithms and revenue generation models of platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have turned the once soft approach to social media into a cold, hard science. No longer is it simply the sheer amount of posts that will keep your company in the public eye; on the contrary, blindly posting irrelevant material is more likely cause your profile rankings to tank.
To that end, I have put together the following bullets that will hopefully offer some insight to this ever-evolving space that can be the source of ongoing frustration to the uninitiated:
- Begin with Benchmarking: if this your first crack at developing a social media strategy that suits your business, start by assessing what competitors in your industry are doing and replicate their success and avoid their failures.
- Identify your Target and Aim for the Middle: if your target demographic is business professionals aged 35-50, developing a Snapchat channel for 15-year-old high-schoolers will get you nowhere. Getting that micro-second of attention span from people who will actually buy your product or service is difficult enough, so it is more than worth your while to research which platforms your potential customers are actually using from the outset.
- Budget Matters: whether you’re a mom and pop restaurant or a $10 million-dollar company, have an idea of what you’re willing to spend on the front end and stick to it until you have enough data to make an informed decision on how to proceed, which brings me to my next point…
- Data Drives Decision-Making! While you may have a grandiose plan in place on January 1 that you think will serve the company well for the entire year, you’re probably wrong. Don’t be afraid to assess the fruits of your labor on a monthly or quarter-by-quarter basis and be willing to pivot quickly if the data tells a different story than your expectations. Be nimble. If something appears to be working, double down. If something’s not, scrap it and dedicate resources elsewhere.
- Be Genuine in your Approach: regardless of what kind of business you’re in, your BRAND is meant to tell a story that elicits a reaction. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope of creativity and thought leadership. It is more admired to stand for something, than nothing at all. If you step back and find that the language and tone of your social media messaging is banal and “salesy”, your intended audience will probably become loathe to hear what else you have to say.
- Developing a Following Takes Time: don’t be discouraged if you’ve decided to launch a new company profile on Twitter and you only garner 30 followers in the first month. If you’re not tweeting as much as POTUS: A) that’s probably a good thing and B) it’s going to take a while to develop a dedicated following. Keep in mind though, once you convince a person to follow you or like your stuff, they will likely remain a follower for life.
- Interconnectedness and the Beauty of Recycling: content is king, as any social media guru will tell you. The key, though, is to make sure any original content is adding value and that your optimizing that value by sharing it in multiple locations. If you feel you have knowledge to give to the world or simply a fresh perspective on a timely subject, turn it into a blog on your website, then add it to your newsletter and share it across your social media platforms. Because people digest information in different ways, this gives one piece of subject matter multiple lives, each time driving traffic back to your website or specified landing page. If you feel you don’t have time to share your own perspective, there’s nothing wrong with inviting thought leaders to write guest blogs or even sharing content that already exists, so long as you credit the author and maybe even give them a shout out. People like praise, especially when it’s directed at them.
So, there you have it in a nutshell. The unsolicited ravings of a forty-something on a subject that could probably be better interpreted by his 5-year-old daughter. Hey, you asked for it.
Oh wait. No you didn’t.
Mike is the owner of the Green Alliance, founder of PeakAdvisory.Co, and idea guy behind the forthcoming Naked Bullfrog.