I’ve worked in the media/marketing industry for almost 8 years now and over those eight years I’m sure many of you will have noticed the shift to digital. It is almost impossible to have a business these days without having some sort of digital presence. And yet so many do! It is somewhat mind boggling. Perhaps what is is even more perplexing is the lack of knowledge of the digital landscape amongst senior professionals and those in management. I was once asked by a marketing director what PPC was, or what the relevance of a trending hashtag was? Oh and don’t get me started on those that like to fling around buzzwords such as ‘viral’ or ‘millennials’.
Though the real (and I’m finding to be, most common) issue seems to that of having a good website. A website that is up-to-date, easy to navigate, and most importantly representative of your brand. In the past couple of years I have seen websites that actually aren’t really websites at all. Some are simply landing pages that lack even the most basic and vital information such as an ‘About’ section. Who are you? What are you? What do you do? If your website can’t even answer these simple questions, what on earth is the use in having one? Apologies for the venting of frustration but as someone who works in digital marketing, and specifically social media management, I cannot stress the importance of a functional website. Your website is your digital business card, more so than your social media content. It needs to accurately represent your company and brand values, it needs to tell a story. Your story.
Your website should also reassure your users that you have an understanding of good digital content. From choosing the right font (for the love of god please stop using Times New Roman) to being visually engaging. Opt for embedded videos, animated graphics and a consistent colour scheme/style. Forgive me as this may all seem rather obvious, and yet I keep seeing websites that look like they were created in the early 90s.
Now on to social media – let’s start with the basics. In fact, I previously wrote a ‘Social Media Tips’ post for a previous employer so I’ll just summarise those points…
- Let’s start with setting up a Twitter and a Facebook. Create a Twitter account and set up a Facebook page to let your fans know you’ve joined the world of social media and are ready to speak to them.
- Be as natural as possible – you don’t want to sound corporate. Even though you are effectively marketing your brand, the worst thing you can do is sound like a marketer by constantly trying to ‘sell’ your product, both figuratively and literally. Also, never ever spam! Nothing will get you unfollowed faster than constantly posting the same content day in day out because people will either assume you’re a bot or even worse, super lame. The aim is always to sound human. Take your time to hone your tone and message so that you can build a genuine rapport with your audience. You want your communications to have personality and relate to your target audience.
- Consistent content! Once you get the ball rolling, keep it rolling. It may seem easy at first, you’ll think I’ve got the hang of this and will post every day. Then you’ll post every couple of days, and before you know it you won’t have posted for two months! I get it. You forget because ultimately you may feel like you have more important things to be doing, so social media may simply be an afterthought. And whilst you may think the odd post at 3am or a Tweet every once in a while may be better than nothing, sporadic posts will most likely get lost in the scrolling stream of consciousness that is social media, and as such may not be seen by your intended audience. This is where scheduling comes in. There are plenty of relatively cheap or even free social network management tools out there that can help you schedule a month’s worth of activity in a day. Platforms such as HootSuite, Buffer, and Tweetdeck are great examples of this and most freebie packages that charge a modest price to unlock all their features. Just don’t forget to schedule your posts at the most optimal times – typically between 9am and 3pm in your target time zone – and you should take different time zones into consideration as well. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should rely exclusively on pre-scheduled posts. Direct interaction with your audience is key to successful social media marketing (find out more on this in point 6), so the reality is you’ll need to invest a little time every day to make this work.
- Short and sweet links. Back in the days of yesteryear, and by that we mean last year, Twitter had the audacity of stifling people’s right to free speech with a 140 character limit! Thankfully the world has progressed and times have changed. Now users have the ability to ramble on for a whole 280 characters. Nonetheless, no one wants to see a post which is almost entirely made up of a ridiculously long link so shorten those babies using either Bitly or via the Ow.ly shortener on Hootsuite.
- Hashtags are your saviour. There are plenty of hashtags out there for you to take advantage of, but what I see the most is people failing to leverage the community based, time-sensitive hashtags that can help create the types of two-way conversations you’re looking for. Whilst it’s great to get in on trending conversations and capitalise on the culturally popular and failsafe hashtags such as #MondayMotivation or #WedenesdayWisdom, you’ll need to make sure you use those that are specifically relevant to your industry and audience to ensure you are engaging with those who will be most likely to ‘buy’ your brand and whom you will benefit from speaking to.
- Engage! If a user reaches out to you, get back to them. Whilst building a community is important, you also need to make sure you engage with your followers because ultimately they’re your target audience and they’ll want to know what you’re up to. Don’t be afraid to chime in and get involved in the conversation; this is your product after all and you want people to see your passion and enthusiasm surrounding your brand. Put yourself out there and talk about you developments in your company, or events you may be attending. Update your community, keep them in the loop so they feel valued, and most importantly engaged.
- Visuals. I’ve saved the best (and most important point) for last. This may seem obvious but I’m gonna say it anyway. SHOW OFF YOUR PRODUCT! If your product is you, this is the one time where I will indulge that selfie obsession you’ve clearly been trying to suppress lol. If your product is your new startup, give your followers behind the scenes, sneak peeks into your journey! Photos, video clips, gifs, boomerangs of your office space, your team, your day-to-day life, share it all! You can never share too many visuals. This isn’t just a theory either: research has proven that posts that contain visual content receive up to 94% more page visits and engagement than those without. So make sure you post the best-looking photos and that all of your visuals are of a high quality so they accurately represent your brand and highlight just how attractive it (or you) may be.
At this point I, myself, have broken a cardinal rule in making this blog post far too lengthy. There’s a reason the optimum video length is 15 seconds. None of us have the attention span to read anything anymore without a warning of how long it’ll take, and so for that reason I shall end things here. Start communicating your message and vision of your product early on as there are people out there who actually care about seeing it succeed. Now go forth and prosper my social saplings!