The bad news: Chances are your brand is doing social media wrong.
Now the good news: I’m almost positive your brand can right the ship with just a little bit of thought and effort.
Now, as a writer, it’s my prerogative to think I know what’s best for everyone. So, take what I say with a grain of salt. But, allow me to back up my confidence, if you will. I’ve written social calendars for clients for a long time. How long? Once upon a time, I had to make the argument to a client that including pictures with some Facebook posts was the future. That’s how long.
I’m also a consumer. I park on Twitter 10 hours a day and have done so since 2007 – a year after the platform launched. I check in with Facebook and Instagram multiple times a day, and Tumblr a few times a week. I early-adopt new platforms (like Ello, Vero, and Mastodon) as soon as I get word of them, just to see what the conversations are like there. It’s my job, and this line of work demands I stay current on social media, but I also just like being there. I enjoy watching the news of the world filter through the people I follow in real time.
So, take it from a chronic social media addict: the mistakes your brand is (probably) making are extremely common, but also fixable. Here are four things you can do to ditch a one-size-fits-all social media strategy in favor of something that does your brand justice.
Don’t post just to post.
Advertising is ruled by billable hours and social media is an ongoing enterprise, so it makes sense that a set amount of work is requested and billed, month in and month out. But creating three posts a week simply because you’re always expected to create three posts a week (especially with no clear campaign imperative driving them) is the essence of make-work.
Instead, allot those hours toward social posts around events truly integral to your brand. That means campaigns and offers, but also cultural events, fleeting trends, and news stories. If that means you only post once or twice a week, so be it. Your voice will be fresher and your creative team more engaged with the work.
Ditch the shotgun and grab the scalpel.
Too much advertising is created from a defensive stance. Conventional wisdom says you want to hit as many quadrants as possible with every piece you offer, and social media is treated no differently: you shoot as wide as you can to hit as many people as you can and pray for the best.
But forget broadcasting; narrowcasting is where it’s at. Look at Arby’s. Their social media premise is simple: they post paper-crafted pop culture references with a quote or inside joke for copy. That’s it. Few links, few hashtags, few calls to action, just wide-ranging pop culture topics and clever executions. I may get one in 10 references they make, but each one of those posts is landing with someone, as evidenced by the thousands of retweets, likes, and responses they enjoy daily.
Go ahead and browse their feed. Have you heard of Dinosaur Comics, The Adventure Zone, or the Bayside Tigers? Doesn’t matter. Someone has, and they love Arby’s for speaking their language.
To put it another way, what’s more rewarding: a post that makes 100 people smirk and keep scrolling, or a post that stops 10 people in their tracks?
Forget you ever heard the word “viral.”
For a few years, “viral” hung over the heads of advertisers like the Sword of Damocles. Everyone wanted a viral hit, but few could define what that actually was – in part because true viral sensations often dispensed with conventional wisdom and created something truly new. You can’t focus group your way into creating lightning in a bottle, not for lack of trying. The wisest course of action is to use social media as a space to explore your brand’s true voice. Engagement will follow.
Be playful. Try things. Have fun.
That last bit is crucial: social media is a space for exploration and experimentation. Social media posts may last forever, but (barring a public relations incident) their time in the public consciousness is all too brief. That makes social media the ideal testing ground for where you want your brand to go next. Got an idea for an interesting new campaign? Cooking up a new direction for the brand voice? Want to see how a new audience will respond to your product? Try it out on social. If it works: great! If not, that’s fine. Tomorrow is another day, and there’s always another post on the way.
KEN LOWERY is the Senior Digital Copywriter for The LOOMIS Agency, the country’s leading challenger brand agency and a top Dallas agency for digital, social, mobile and user experience. For more about challenger branding, subscribe to our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog.
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