Interestingly enough, although client’s businesses may be coming from very different perspectives, either because of industry or age, they always seem to end up at a similar position on social media. Meaning that, whether you are a company that is a few years old or a well-established family business that has been around for years, social media becomes the “what you have to do,” not “what you want to do.” Or even better yet, it becomes a stream of talking at your audience, not conversing with them or building a relationship. Another misperception that tends to be voiced by our older clients is rooted in misunderstanding about why they use social media or a general distrust for it. They see social-influencers and the way they use the platforms and think that that is what they should be doing for it to be successful.
Very little business-related social media is about influencer posting, trying to convince the audience to want to be me or wanting to mimic me so much they will be influenced to buy whatever it is I’m using and promoting. Or probably the most common and annoying posts (worse too), the ones pandering for attention for attention’s sake. Obvious examples of this are actors who act out just to gain attention. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a debate on our marketing recommendations for using social media being “nobody wants to know what I had for dinner.” Professional, well-positioned social media strategies for companies is about telling a story, putting a business personality in the forefront, and showcasing the company values. This results in trust building. Granted some of the jobs of social media is to get the audience to “like” you or at least value your message, but that is where influence and like-related social media stratospheres correspond.
If you read books like Buyology or Why We Buy, both great books about understanding the psychology of buying behaviors, you’ll quickly understand a lot of the decisions are subconscious and tied to perceived trust and even more importantly, awareness. Trust has always been and will always be key to buying decisions. The path to trust, as it relates to social media, is simply about being transparent with the audience and authentically connecting with them. I know that social media and authentic don’t usually go together in most people’s minds. “Most” meaning generations that came before Millennials. Millennials embrace social media because they really don’t know a world without it and sharing is the norm, but that is a topic for a different day.
To really emphasize it, authentic voice is essential to building trust in your brand. We tend to gravitate toward brands or people that we see showing their personality or true selves (yes, brands have personality). There is some work, some introspection that needs to be done to grasp this brand personality fully. Also, it helps to have this done by experts, but you don’t need to wait until you have the perfect brand (FYI – they don’t exist).
Here are some basic rules that will help you have an impactful, authentic, and engaging social media feed.
- Skip selling or calls to action (CTA’s). If your only goal and measure of success (ROI) are to get sales from social media, you’ll leave disappointed. Success should be about highlighting your company culture, showcasing your employees, and telling your story. A feed that creates company awareness and trust will result in more sales, but probably not directly through the platform you’re using.
- Don’t try to do too much in one post. The best posts are the simple ones.
- Don’t judge anyone’s post too harshly. Even the savviest social media users struggle to find the precise formula for posting success. It takes trial and error, don’t be afraid to not always get it right.
- Utilize hashtags. This may be basic for some, but others are just dipping their toes into this social thing. Hashtags allow your non-followers to come across you via the hashtag.
- Behind the scenes post. This is always very engaging content and gives followers an insider’s view of the company.
- Consistency is king. Post on a consistent basis, but not an annoying amount. There is definitely a subtle balance, but generally, a busy business owner won’t over-do-it. A good start is committing to 1x a day.
- Follow, and you’ll be followed. Interaction is key to building a following – thus you follow brands and people in order to expect them to follow you. However, don’t get caught up in the follow everybody game. If you do, you’ll end up with an over cluttered feed and that is where the engagement will end.
- Be selective on the platforms. Be picky about which platforms you use. It’s better to engage regularly on one platform, than be too broad and not engage.
- Be passionate. Show your passion for your story, company, and employees and mix in both business-focused posts, but also some human interest posts. One post might be of a project you think represents the company’s capabilities and the next could be a picture from a company outing or event. If you are smaller, don’t be afraid to share pictures of your life.
- Don’t be opinionated. This isn’t supposed to be your personal soapbox. Obviously your personal opinions on politics etc. don’t have a home here.
- Share in the responsibility. Utilize employees to help with posting. Be sure to provide a specific framework for what you’re trying to accomplish and rules for what’s appropriate.
- Utilize the bells and whistles. Try out new features (i.e., Stories in Instagram) to look different and differentiate between other posts.