I get it. Someone told you you should do social media strategy for your business, so you're doing it.
But, try as you might, you're making beautiful posts, you're speaking in line with your audience, you've added in the hashtags...so WHY is it not getting any attention???
By this point, you've probably wondered if you should pay for advertising. Facebook only has only 2.9 Billion users, what's another $200 per week into the pot...
Before you do that, I'm going to let you in on a pattern I've been observing for some time now.
As an Advisor in the Australian Government's Digital Solutions program, I confess I sometimes feel like the black sheep wandering from field to field looking for it's home. I specialise in Start Ups and am a technical generalist, which means I know HEAPS of different things to an intermediate level. But I'm rarely advanced in anything.
-- I can build a website, but I don't build websites for a living.
-- I can build nice social media profiles and posting strategies, but I'm not a social media manager for my day job.
-- I have a cyber security firm, but I help businesses understand the jargon, I don't arrive and install your VPN and password vaults.
I'm sure you get the picture. Where do I fit in?
So, of course, when you're keen to be the best you can be, you challenge yourself to be better in everything to hit the benchmark. Social media is more challenging to me as a late adopter (ME: 'put your personal life online...What the...?'). So, I started delving into the biggest and best profiles I could find to see what patterns they were following and learn all I could to advance my skills.
Watching, learning and testing, I'm seeing a pattern in social media that I'm not sure even the pros are picking up. And it's dead simple!
The Ah-hah moment
When you create a post, there's some certain protocols to follow. Namely, to think about your target audience, post in places they'll be, communicate clearly, make it aesthetically pleasing and on brand...and so on...blah, blah, blah.
The problem I'm seeing in most businesses is that they're constantly thinking about themselves when they post. They're slapping together content to meet a quota and talking about their business and what they're doing but rarely do I see them actually include their audience in the conversation. Not really.
The posts that I saw coming out of influencer profiles were very different...they were leveraging their posts into reach, not just spitting unto the wind.
There were 3 main types of leverage I started observing.
1. The grand connection
Posts that showed the protagonist standing next to a famous person, or sharing the experiences of that famous person, leveraged the curiosity of the other fanbase. The famous person had to be tagged though. Ideally someone alive and gracious to thank them for the shout out.
Status sits in here too. Posts showing the protagonist enjoying a luxury status symbol, such as an expensive vehicle, jet or a top-shelf travel/business destination (like Manhattan or the Maldives), leveraged the status of the individual as lived success...even if it was their backpacking holiday from 10 years ago, or a one day shoot with a rented car.
2. The social justice gauntlet
Every year IWD rolls around and gets me fired up! But I'm mindful to only post what I'm passionate to post and not exploit the agenda for my own gain. In saying that, I'm painfully aware that posting about topics that people find controversial generally inspires ferocious engagement between the FOR and AGAINST teams. One small business owner posted a meme with 2 pro basketballers side by side, each showing their annual salary. As you might have guessed, one was a woman on about $150k/year, the other was a man on about $2 million/year. Boom! Hundreds of thousands of views, likes, comments and shares.
3. The tender underbelly
I've seen this done honestly, and I've seen this done poorly. Exposing your tender, vulnerable underbelly is addictively engaging if done right. A moment of failure, personal attack, overcoming stigma, or profound emotion can trigger a wave of support and curiosity. Showing our tender underbelly allows people to get to know the 'real' us and we love it. Where this goes wrong is exploiting the moment rather than simply sharing it. The worst one I saw recently was a post expressing grief for a distant relative's passing in the first line, followed by a paragraph (with bullet points) of how amazing the protagonist was at their career because of the lessons taught, which was a tenuous connection at best. Ick.
So, if you're an everyday person who doesn't have time to rub shoulders with famous people, or hire a jet for the day, or stir the controversy pot, or share your private moments with strangers... what can you do?
Here's the real secret
Leverage is good but only gets you so far. You have to keep coming up with engaging content that is either entertaining, informative or inspirational. And if possible, it's all 3 of these. But even with leverage and strategy, the secret ingredient can still be missing.
So, are you ready for the secret to socials?
There. I said it.
When you post something on a platform, most of you send it out into cyberspace, hoping the platform will pick it up and show it to people. You look back occasionally waiting for praise and shares and nothing happens.
This typical style of posting that we all try to do is essentially on par with going to the park, standing on a soap box and yelling out what you have to say to random passers-by, like "Hey, look at my poster!!" But hardly anyone wants to stop and pay attention to that. In fact it borders on being anti-social. But if I knew my poster might really interest Barb from the shop down the road, and a few other people I'm mindful of, I can invite them to comment like "Hey Barb, did you see that banner I put up?"
Social posting without the social element is like posting in a rusty silo.
Some of your stuff leaks out but it's mostly just contained within your profile, page or group to those who are actively skimming.
Reclaim your SOCIAL etiquette
Here are a few ways to get the SOCIAL back into your social media for your business.
-- Start posting about people and organisations you love (or your brand loves) and @tag them to let them know you're giving them a shout out.
-- Celebrate other's successes, not just your own.
-- Directly invite at least 10 people to your post to come and respond to the content you're posting about by tagging them in the comments. Only if it's genuinely relevant to them.
-- Show appreciation for people who comment on your posts by responding as if it were a conversation in any other social setting.
-- Feel confident to like and re-share the content of your connections and followers to help people find them too.
-- Post about things you enjoy talking about in social settings. Not the weather or complaining about your job. Even in normal social settings no-one really wants to listen to that stuff. TIP: there's a reason cat videos are timeless!
-- Let your followers see YOU. Posts about the author's life usually rank better than posts about their latest product.
-- If you're going to use social media to sell, build a relationship for more long term collaborations, or if you're approaching someone as a lead only then be really transparent and personable. No-one likes to be led on just to find out they're spending time in a one-sided conversation.
-- Show you and your people in your pics. Stock photos are nice and look professional on an advertisement but always showing contrived settings in your social media is like sitting down for lunch with mates then asking them to wait while you prepare your smoking jacket, pipe and monocle before commencing the chit chat.
The basic principle is to put some effort into being social....on social media.
And as a general rule, still be mindful of what you post. You're still representing your whole brand with each post so treat the world with kindness and respect. If you act like a disgruntled [bleep], you'll only speed up the world discovering that about you.
There's a reason why cute animal videos get 41 million views and you don't. People just love to have a good laugh, be inspired, be in awe, and enjoy that freedom of not being sold to all the time. So just chillax and have some fun with it.
Working with start ups for over 15 years, she is passionate about small businesses in all shapes and sizes.
Rhonwyn is an accomplished coach, consultant, trainer, author and public speaker who has worked with some of Australia's largest organisations, and some of Australia's teeniest micro businesses.
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