There’s a nasty little plague making its way around, we call it the B-Problem. It’s a perceived branding deficiency. “Perceived” because we make it up. This stems from a misunderstanding of what a “brand” is and the misconception that you can control it.
What is your brand?
Your brand is what people say about you behind your back. Your brand is how you deal with shitty situations. Your brand is how you answer the phone or email. Your brand isn’t a set of guidelines people in some office follow, your brand is who you are when no one is around. You may think you can control it, because 20 years ago you could. But today, with the speed of communication, your brand is evolving whether you like it or not.
What do you stand for? What’s your purpose?
Can you put that into an editorial calendar and leak it out using Hootsuite over time? The way we go about social media is all wrong. Thinking there’s some “strategy” to it. Well I’m here to tell you there isn’t. The vast majority of amazing examples of social media accounts are because one or a few people in the organization are amazing at communicating, they aren’t simply good at social media.
When it comes to social media your audience matters. How many people you can reach with a post, tweet, picture or video is real power in this day and age. That’s why we believe that growing your audience is one of the most important goals you can set as a social media manager. As long as you are growing an account, there’s not a lot more a company can ask for….Other than leads. If you can get business via direct messages or people contacting you to hire you on social media then that’s awesome, but difficult if you don’t have an audience to begin with. That’s the ultimate goal, to be so good people send you DMs to hire you.
Goal #1: Lead Generation, Goal #2: Account Growth
Qualified lead generation is your number one measurable; number two should be growth. Not just in follower counts (you can buy those) I mean growth in engagement (defined as, likes, comments, shares) from people in your growing network. In the past, “engagement per post” was a great metric to compare against competitors in your market. Want to really impress your client? Compare to other established businesses to see how they stack up based on “engagement per post”.
Good looking, “on brand”, curated social media content is easy
The other thing we need to realize is that it is easy to take a good photo in 2018. It is easy to post a witty caption under that photo. But that’s not the hard part. The hard part is taking time out of your day to interact with people/brands/companies you find interesting and doing that over, and over, and over again; actually finding interest in other people and organizations. Like Dale Carnegie taught us years ago, find genuine interest in other people, if you do that on social media I guarantee people will find an interest in you. (side note, Mr. Carnegie came up with that in the 1930’s it’s not a new business tactic, it’s just one that works really well).
Audience growth is more important than your ratio
I get asked about the ratio on social media (followers to following) from time to time and it’s always the same answer. The only people who care about ratios of followers to following are people in social media. The vast majority of the population could care less about how many people you follow on Instagram or Twitter. Even more, some worry about “who” they follow on behalf of a company or brand, but again how many people are looking into “who” your company is following? People worry themselves into never following more than a handful of people and if you don’t follow others that aren’t following you, how in the heck will they ever find you?
We all can’t be like Wheelhouse, Justin and Greg, or Leopold’s, where anything they post gets triple to quadruple digit likes. But you can start to grow your account to be that big!!
Stop focusing on “artificial branding”
Defined artificial branding because the marketing experts will tell you about their “grid” and tell you which hashtags to use, and tell you things needs to be “on brand”. They have the perfect plan to create a well manicured image of who they think you are. The problem with creating the “perfect plan” is the best run accounts use serendipitous moments to show their audience that they have a personality and it’s not just some “branding” professional sitting in an office crafting the perfect pitch. Use all the calendars, plan ahead, create content, and schedule it. I bet the company that allows their social media manager the freedom to create a connection with their audience and how they communicate, that in turn will grow the account much larger.
You can influence your brand but you can’t directly control it.
Once you start making grids, your audience knows what to expect next. If you’re predictable it’s not really that fun to follow you anymore. They key is to have a plan in place but improvise as you go. If you can’t improvise the account will come across as very planned out.
What’s the ultimate goal of your social media strategy?
To Be Consistently Surprising
I can’t remember the podcast that coined the term but I loved the goal of being consistently surprising. Then people have a reason to follow you. Then you become that one funny friend that always is up to something awesome, full of surprises and just an all around great person. Be like that on social media.
Being different is a good thing and it’s really hard to schedule that into a planned calendar. What you can do is come up with ideas to post and be willing to change them at the last minute for something better.
Make a plan, just be prepared to change it. That’s the optimal way to run social; to have a plan in mind but to encourage serendipity. The best social accounts (in my opinion) are the ones that are a little different yet a little planned out. The three accounts mentioned above all have a different style but all do very well. I know how much most of them plan and its a lot more posting by the seat of your pants (or shorts if you’re wheelhouse) but they leave a lot of room for personal creativity in each account.
Stop worrying about what people think of your account, most people do not give a shit about your brand, until you start giving a shit about them.