I am not a racist. Or a xenophobe, homophobe or any other kind of phobe.
By the time you read this, there’s no telling where Bill Todd might be. He could be in another state leading a team on a workforce development project, or he might be down the street getting coffee with a recent grad looking to build a network. He could be at home with his family, and there’s a decent chance he’s in the conference room playing guitar through the PA system.
When I was fresh out of college and on the job hunt, I had a few hurdles to jump before I could start a career. I wanted to go into communications, but I didn’t have any real-world experience outside of an internship writing stories for my college’s alumni newsletter.
In the digital age, social media continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Today, it’s booming like never before, with more and more people joining social media sites and using them regularly and efficiently. To date, 3.2 billion people around the world use social media. Of these active users, 90.4% are Millennials, 77.5% are Gen Xers and 48.2% are Baby Boomers. The popularity of social media won’t be ending anytime soon, if ever, so businesses should take advantage of it if they want to thrive.
Leveraging social media channels is a great way for businesses to better connect with their customers and serve them at a higher level. According to GlobalWebIndex, 54% of social browsers are using social media to research products, and Ambassador says that 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if they have a positive experience with it on social media.
But not all industries are created equally when it comes to social media. The financial industry inspires less social engagement as a general rule. This may be one reason why only 34% of financial institutions consider themselves “very active” in social media channels. But for our banking client, BBVA, we see this as an opportunity to competitively embrace social media and use it as a means of connecting the brand to the daily lives of BBVA clients.
No matter what business you’re in, it’s ideal, even necessary, to have a system of best practices in place to maximize your social media efforts and campaigns. The goal is to be seen and trusted by your audience and to make genuine connections that endear your followers to your brand.
The following are some that we swear by …
CREATE A SCHEDULE.
Consistency is key when it comes to posting to social media. Build a structured calendar of posts that publish during the times you know that you’ll receive optimal engagement. Setting a regular, easy-to-follow cadence is how you rise above social media clutter.
With so much noise inundating the social media landscape, grabbing and keeping the attention of your audience is easier said than done. HubSpot found that visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. Tweets with images get 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.
ASK PROBING QUESTIONS.
Asking your audience questions is a great way to keep them engaged. Questions spark interest in your followers and invite them to share opinions, experiences and advice. It keeps them actively involved in the conversation, which is the beauty of social media.
- Example: After sharing a post such as “5 Ways to Save Money for the Future,” consider asking, “How do you plan to save for your future?”
For the casual user, social media’s primary function is to provide bite-sized diversions from the more mundane moments in life. We understand the importance of businesses staying on brand and keeping a consistent tone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t entertain your audience at the same time. Quizzes and contests that are relevant to the products and services you offer are great interactive ways to connect with consumers on social media.
CRAFT ENTICING MESSAGES.
The worth of a social media post is determined in seconds. In a study by Columbia University, it found that 59% of all links shared on social networks aren’t clicked at all, which implies that many shared articles are never read. A compelling headline might be the difference to get users to interact with content.
- Example: Instead of sharing “Homeownership Tips,” make “Rent or Buy: 5 Tips to Make This Decision Today” your headline. The latter’s “click-bait” tone creates urgency, giving the post more enticing appeal.
It takes two to engage. When you engage with your followers, they’ll likely engage with your brand. Fill your followers’ timelines with retweets, comments, likes and shares. Also, be sure to contribute to conversations related to your industry to present your brand as a bona fide thought leader.
ENGAGE IN REAL TIME.
Staying on top of trends is one of the most important things a business can do to be successful with social media. Adding to the conversation with content that informs or entertains will make your business seem relevant and in-the-know. The best part, you’ll be rewarded with increased audience engagement.
- Example: Whole Foods noticed #FoodieBandNames was trending and immediately contributed to the conversation in a clever, brand-appropriate way that caught the attention of their social fans (they posted “The Rolling Scones”).
But engaging in real time isn’t always something that is born in the moment. Sometimes it takes careful planning and keen foresight. Read how we created a strategy in advance to help keep BBVA’s brand relevant during the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
AMPLIFY YOUR CUSTOMER’S VOICE.
The most powerful weapon in your digital marketing arsenal is the voice of your customer. People are much more likely to like, follow or buy a product if they see that their friends have good things to say about it. There are public social conversations going on 24/7 in every social channel. Harvest the good things people are saying about your brand and integrate them into your brand website or other owned media experiences.
SOUND LIKE A REAL PERSON.
Social media is well suited to show the human face of a brand. And it’s one of the best places that we can establish authenticity, transparency and trust with our audience and customers. Communication needs to come off as authentic and genuine, and not that of a corporate robot. Sounding like a real person who “gets it” is the best way to inspire interest and loyalty from your audience.
BE A THOUGHT LEADER.
The best way to instill trust and respect in your audience is to be seen as an expert in your industry. Sharing valuable research and other relevant content from your industry category will do just that. Some things you might share:
- Pertinent articles, best practice guides, as well as third-party materials your audience might find valuable.
- Tips or creative ideas about how to use products and services.
- Outside studies on industry trends.
- Videos with key researchers, product designers and other subject matter experts.
- Industry-related infographics.
There are myriad ways to be successful on social media, and every social media channel is unique, but by following and implementing these few simple practices, you can make your brand seen across them all. And before you know it, the likes, follows and shares will come rolling in.
Good luck, and happy communicating!