In having and managing a range of small to medium-sized businesses, employing over ninety staff, I’ve witnessed how easily many unqualified fingers can stir things up in your social media pots. My experience with the evolution of mobile social media goes back to the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, when I drove to the USA to get one. For the next decade or so, I would be torn between asking floor staff to put their phones away, or taking them out to engage our clients, customers, and potential customers through social media circles.
Trying to write, review, manage and post several engaging messages a week on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and other industry channels can be challenging. There needs to be a continuous, intense focus on ensuring the quality of images, branding and messaging posted on social media channels. This can be increasingly difficult based on having a mix of businesses, brands and subsidiaries, and trying to make that work in a layered social strategy.
Leading with my operational, design and marketing hats on, I will try to unpack what I have learned. Some of these learnings were great experiences, and some were from mistakes and not so great experiences along the way.
These small but important tips can guide and help you to control and create the kind of visual posts you revere, engage your customers, and develop the content your competition looks to for inspiration, and that talk to your customer base directly about their questions, wants, and needs.
1. Goals and Rules – As a small to mid-size business you may need to use some of your core employees outside of their prescribed role. You may not have the ability to hire full-time employees dedicated to managing social media interactions. To succeed in this environment, have clear goals, rules and levels of quality assurance established. Create an internal, official document you can lean on to build consistency and confidence in the quality of your media postings. Make it your Social Media Plan, and use it to document generic policies and procedures, but also to outline very specific roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities. You can incorporate it into your business plan, employee handbook or your operational binder.
2. Account Access – You may consider granting assigned access to your accounts, or having a tablet for your social media team members to use on site. You can use both methods. However, make it clear to all involved in the process who manages your material, and how much access they have. You should also control access to your underlying technologies, as they are all equally important. Ensure you use a specific business account email address to set up and maintain your social accounts. Having them set up improperly or under a staff member’s personal email can create issues later. Lastly, if you are scaling your business you will want to get more advanced and start using a social media management tool like Sprout Social, eClincher or HootSuite to name a few.
3. Hire in Mind – If your staff does not have a serious interest or talent in social media strategy, marketing or your business, your results may not be what you are looking for. As you hire new people, use the opportunity to enhance your social team. Look for other skills and resources in your hires. If you are lacking talent in graphic design, product brand marketing and identification, or if you’re not adept at creative writing, look for journalism, promotion, marketing and additional creative talents in your new hire’s background. This may help in building the socially-rounded team you need.
4. Photo Quality – Ensuring design quality should be first and foremost. iPhone camera capabilities are amazing, and not only for the filter apps and widget apps. Using ample natural light, depth in your background imagery, interesting object close-ups, and slightly perspective angles all make a difference in changing a simple photo into a quality piece of artwork. Candid shots are where you can see your best results, as they allow for more organic views in human interest. Your staff busy at work, a group pose, or some product fun or other activities are all smart observation shots. Natural, yet planned candid shots require practice and multiple takes for review and success.
5. Paint a Picture – Tell a story with your images, titles, and text. Well-lit candid shots are great and are key to success, but setting the stage to fit your brand, product or message makes all the difference. I am not saying to be fake, or misrepresent the facts, but there is a need to be creative and enticing. Curation is part of the art of social media posting by a business. A well-created short visual story with thought-out micro-content will always generate a greater impact in your social advertising as well. Numerous likes and shares from your network are more likely to happen if people feel like they can stand behind the executed content effort.
6. Stock Photography – Using stock photography can be advantageous to cementing your images. At the same time, your all-too-polished photo can bring glaze to readers’ eyes as they swipe by. If you are going to use stock, look for content quality and interesting crop opportunities that will signal your readers to stop and look. Often you will see a stock image that is just noise being used with a sales pitch to tie everything together in a post. Avoid posting for the sake of posting; if you can’t find the right images or value message to flag your brand, leave it and come back to it later that day or the next. Save great photos that you or your staff take, and keep them in a specific file to use them at a later date. Planning ahead like this can become your inventory insurance against a short-deadline editorial calendar.
7. Success Indicators – Understand and devise metrics that quickly and accurately show your performance against your goals. These will be your key performance indicators. These KPIs can be derived from internal social media statistics, google analytics, paid ad/word statics, shares, follows, likes, ticket sales and on-site redemptions of offers. Get to know your measurement tools. In an age of data insight, we are now more informed than ever on what customers are looking at, for how long, and where. All this information can help you build a more impactful and successful efforts to reach your market goals. Target, learn, implement, and repeat.
8. Team Buy-in – Having to drag staff along to participate in social media events and activities is something you really want to avoid. Organic behavior and excitement behind physical participation, engagements, likes, comments and post shares are something you want to develop and encourage both externally and internally. You want to elicit positive buy-in from your staff to watch and engage with all your social media platforms. When hiring, if social media is important to your business, some importance should be centered around identifying and building genuine buy-in to the company, the brand and the social media and content marketing that surrounds the business.
9. Content, hashtag, links, forwarded articles and sharing – Adding links to collaborators, stories, partnership listings, calls-out and appreciation in your messaging are all engagement examples that should be rotational among your messaging and brand goals. This area of enhanced content marketing is all on its own becoming a bigger and bigger component of social media evolution. Applied content, as a means to create a vision of your brand extension and to pass on this education to your customer base is a growing need of your overall business strategy. For mid- to large-businesses, having and being recognized as a trusted brand with proven aligned knowledge and points of interests, is a core means to convert your messaging to revenue along the user’s journey path.
10. Get in the right state of mind and grow from there. It is important to change all perceptions of social media in legacy or existing businesses as a limited distribution channel to the one that can drive customer insight and be a strong contributor to business growth. Users journey and experiences will change due to technology, patterns and trends. Almost certainly desktops, mobile, insights, wearables, video, immersive AR, VR and AI, will all have unique things to offer in this journey in 2019/2020. Keep an eye on what is going on. Engaging and delivering impactful experiences that increase your media engagement will not be the same today as it is tomorrow.
Content marketing and social media takeaways
Whether you are a small business, agency, corporate team or a single contributor developing your social strategy, we have a new, and ever-growing audience watching everything we do. On a daily basis, they will be reviewing, engaging, comparing social media and content marketing evolution, and evaluating your participation in the social media marketing place,
Good luck in your curation plan, editorial calendar and efforts to enlist employee advocacy. Knowing and understanding your KPIs from data insights, you want to post timely, relevant content in full consideration of those analytics and your core value proposition messaging.
Make this a positive experience for all, use paid social, organic social, and earned social techniques, and enjoy the leading, learning and developing the creative process.
Oh ya. Video Video Video. However, that will be for another article.
Author Keith Loiselle
www. intheproduction.com – Specialized in Digital and Traditional Design, Branding & Marketing, Licensed Consumer Products and Business Strategy.