Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. The first social media website (called “Six Degrees”, as in the six degrees of separation theory) was launched in 1997. Almost 20 years later, social media is now engrained in everyday life and only growing rapidly. If your business isn’t actively using social media, you’re missing out on the opportunity to be a part of a global conversation.
Unlike most mediums, social media isn’t a place to talk at your customers– it’s a place to engage with them. Not only does this give you direct feedback, but it also allows your brand to develop an authentic voice based on how you interact with others.
However, caution must be used. That which is introduced to the Internet stays on the Internet. Deleting an undiscerning post won’t rid it from the public eye for good. Luckily, the Internet moves quickly and old content becomes buried and won’t receive much attention often in a matter of hours. We recommend composing your content offline in MS Word or or even old school with pen and paper. If your posts are not time sensitive, you can take your time and compose your thoughts. And, even if urgency is required, composing them offline can help you focus on the thought without concern of accidentally broadcasting an inappropriate or unfinished message.
Your social media posts should strive to be as authentic as possible and leverage your unique qualities. Keeping content fresh and posting consistently is key to a thriving presence online.
Most platforms share similar guidelines, but not all social networks should be treated identically. Pinterest users consume content very differently compared to Twitter users, who tend to be much less verbose than Facebook users. Not sure where to find your audience let alone engage with them? Here are some tips to get your brand some recognition in the digital landscape.
Who’s online? Twitter is a hugely popular social platform, second only to Facebook. The majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 49.
What should you post? Twitter has a 140‐character post limit; which forces you to keep it brief, relevant, and natural. Users don’t want to be sold to; they want to be listened to. Twitter is a great place to start conversations, making it easy to talk to your customers individually or en masse. It’s also a great place to chime in on other conversations‐ join in and share how your brand contributes to its industry.
Success story: Subway does a great job of representing their brand on Twitter. They use trending hashtags to post about relevant world events, engage by asking questions, and show a fun personality with light humour. They humanize their company by replying to their customers (often by name), even if it’s just to say thank you.
— SUBWAY® (@SUBWAY) July 17, 2016
Subway highlights their products by tying them into pop culture with light humour. They also prompt user engagement with a call to action.
Who’s online? Facebook is the big guy on this list‐ 72% of all Internet users in 2015 actively used Facebook. And this network also ranges widely in age groups, from teens to seniors.
What should you post? Photo and short video posts are usually the most successful. Posts that link to a relevant article or page coupled with a short opinion is also a great way to show your brand’s values. In this way, Facebook has more tolerance for a traditional “show and tell” advertising strategy than Twitter. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage with your customers. On Facebook, customers won’t hesitate to comment on a business’s page or posts with questions or complaints. Responding quickly with a helpful and friendly attitude shows that they are valued and often lead to repeat business; even if the original comment was a complaint.
Success story: Oreo uses Facebook to post short (under 20 seconds) video ads about once a week. This allows them to keep it fresh with content that reflects current events with each post. In between these, Oreo actively replies to customers, whether it’s a question, complaint or even just a comment. They often personalize the connection by using the customer’s name in the post.
This creative 15‐second clip garnered over 14,000 views in a week. When a user commented with what they wanted to see from the company, Oreo made her feel heard with their friendly reply.
Who’s online? About 85% of Pinterest’s 100 million users are women.
What should you post? Pinterest is less interactive and more about the individual user. It uses “pins” that feature an image, a caption, and lead to an external link. These pins are collected on to the user’s boards, which act like visual bookmarks. This means that users often collect content to use again later. To use Pinterest successfully as a business, content is king. Rather than posting ads, provide interesting and relevant links to capture your audience. DIY tutorials and how‐to blog posts are extremely successful here, as well as funny or motivational images.
Success story: Whole Foods Market does a great job of providing valuable content to Pinterest users. Their page is categorized neatly with a variety of brand‐relevant boards such as “Grilling Recopies”, “Gardening”, and “Dreamy Kitchens”. Many of their pins feature content from their own website, but they also interact with other users by repinning related posts to their own boards. Their photos are eye‐catching and draw the user in to learn more.
This pin’s image is eye‐catching and descriptive enough that the user doesn’t need to click through to find the recipe. This makes it easy to repin. The idea isn’t necessarily to drive traffic to your website, but to share your brand and content with Pinterest’s users.
Who’s online? Instragram has over 400 million users– 90% of them are under 35.
What should you post? Instagram is an image‐heavy platform with a casual feel. Posts feature captions and allow comments, but the images should speak for themselves. Even if your business doesn’t sell visual products; you can share your company’s culture with employee snapshots, workplace celebrations, and events. Posting short videos or looping gifs can also help tell a story about your brand. You can engage your followers by hosting photography contests and draws. Be sure to add appropriate hashtags on your posts to bring your viewers in!
Success story: Anthropologie posts well‐shot images that show their products in use rather than in a store setting. This keeps the posts casual and allows the viewers to insert themselves into the story they are telling. They also feature a variety of feel‐good images paired with appropriate emojis and hashtags that show off the brand’s personality.
Although this post isn’t advertising anything, it features an attractive photo with a feel‐good message that shares their brand identity. Their use of emojis in the caption works perfectly with Instagram’s younger demographic without feeling immature.
To sum it all up, if you’re not on social media, you need to be. You don’t need to be on every channel to make an impact. Focus on those that will help your brand the most. And, never forget the ‘social’ in social media. Talk to and listen to your customers. They are your greatest asset online and source for new ideas.