Not everyone needs to be on social media. There, I said it. I know that sounds strange coming from someone who eats, sleeps and breathes social for a living, but doing social wrong is worse than avoiding it altogether.
So why would I oppose everyone and their dog being on social? Because too many are doing it for the wrong reasons; in most cases, just because everyone else is. If your competitor were to jump off a bridge, would you follow?
It takes thought, strategy, time and effort to utilize the powerful tools presented through social media. And more importantly, it takes a human approach. You have to like people. If you aren’t well suited to social media interaction, you don’t know how social media can help you, and you haven’t formulated a strategy to make that happen, it’s time to re-evaluate your business’s digital presence.
Make Social Media Coffee with Friends
No one wants to communicate with someone who doesn’t reciprocate. No one wants to talk to someone who only talks about themselves. And no one wants to support someone who takes, but never gives.
It seems like a simple concept, but how many brands or people can you think of who are guilty of all of the above?
Amy Jo Martin of Digital Royalty explains it well in her book Renegades Write the Rules: How the Digital Royalty Use Social Media to Innovate
, “Those who want to win over and keep an audience today have to dig deep and then adjust to the new way of doing things. There are countless competitors in the marketplace with a similar, if not the exact same, type of service or product offering. Your brand’s intent and personality are the differentiating factors.”
The first step in humanizing your brand begins with a very simple question:
Who is your brand?
You can’t create authentic relationships with your fans and followers if you aren’t authentic yourself. And remember, when you enter the world of social media you need to be prepared for all of your secrets to be exposed; transparency is rule #1. So how do you answer such a broad question? Whether you are just getting started or you are rethinking your current brand strategy, these 7 tips will help you build a dynamic brand your community will want to engage with.
Define Your Objectives.
If you aren’t clear on why you’re using social media, how can you expect to see results? You know what your brand wants to achieve, and those goals are the basis for your communication strategy. If your objective is to be a thought leader in your industry, it will affect your content. If you want to drive sales, it will affect your target market. Every cause carries with it an affect.
Find Your Voice.
Think of your brand as a person. How would he/she sound? You don’t need to be an English teacher to gain credibility online, you need to be real. Regardless of if it’s the experienced CEO or the new intern communicating on your social media channels, your voice needs to stay consistent and easily identifiable. Pick 5 qualities you want your brand to embody, and create guidelines for what kind of punctuation is acceptable. Do you think your brand would use emoticons and exclamation marks? It’s those little details that make a big difference.
Seek Your People.
Your target audience will find you when you position yourself in the right niche. Identify the brands, individuals, partners and allies you want to be associated with that have similar target demographics to yours. Engaging with like-minded brands will extend your reach to a broader audience of potential consumers.
Break The Ice.
Every party has one guest who just stands in the corner and keeps to themselves, don’t let that be you. You need to initiate contact with your potential consumers and with related brands. Introduce yourself! And build your relationships from there. Hootsuite offers an incredible tool in its search stream feature. You can enter keywords related to your brand or industry and monitor conversations happening in real time and find opportunities to connect and engage with your audience.
Be A Friend with Benefits.
Most people, including myself, hate automatic direct messages’. There is nothing sincere about an auto-generated, generic message. You wouldn’t walk up to someone in real life and say, “nice to meet you, do you want to buy my e-book”. Why would you do it online? What are you bringing to the relationship?
Whether it’s supporting them by sharing their content or offering them a tip or trick they may find useful…offer something! Social is not a space where you can take, take, take and expect to succeed. Be generous with your communication and relationships. Gary Vaynerchuk does a great job of reminding Nicki Minaj about value exchange in this video.
Timing isn’t Everything.
In an ideal world, you would have the ability to monitor your social streams all day everyday and respond within seconds. That is not realistic for most companies. While responding in a timely matter is optimal, you don’t always need to respond right away, especially if it means compromising your credibility.
If you’re asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, take the time to find the correct answer by asking someone in your company. If you receive bad feedback, a defensive response will get you negative attention, while a solution will show you care. Your community appreciates a genuine and well thought out response far more than a 2 second reply time.
It may be tempting to use social media strictly as a sales tool… but how is that working for you? It’s a dialogue, not a monologue. No offense, but no one wants to hear you talk about yourself all the time. Humanizing your brand means curating and creating multi dimensional content and a community hub for your niche.
Identify your brands’ interests, and what kind of content your audience would appreciate. Whether it’s motivational, educational, or brand related, switch it up. Dedicate certain days of the week to specific kinds of content. Using Facebook Insights or other analytics platforms to gauge which content is receiving the highest traction and adjust your content calendar accordingly.
Remember, real people use social media. You have an incredible opportunity to create real connections with billions of people. Use social wisely, or don’t use it at all.