Love it or hate it if you are promoting something you are waist-deep or at least dipping a toe into the social media marketing landscape. For public relations professionals, we are always focused on effective social media marketing tactics that will build our clients’ audiences. I’ve written about social media on this blog, often breaking down different platforms and their uses, listing the latest stats, and how to build a content strategy. However, I am adding this to the conversation because I think many of us are in denial. Our expectations and feelings about how things should work are getting int the way of our own success. Below are some statements related to social media conversations I’ve had. If you relate to one or more of these, then you might want to read on.
- My follower count on Instagram only increases by 5 to 10 followers per week so my campaign isn’t working.
- Nobody wants to hear from me on Twitter because I don’t get likes or retweets.
- I post contests and polls on Facebook and I don’t get any audience participation.
- I post every day and I’m not growing.
Time for a reality check
It’s time to face reality. There are 3.3 billion people on social media; there are bots and marketing agencies spewing generic content; advertising is cluttering news feeds; and if you aren’t a celebrity, you won’t gain followers by the hundreds. So why does anyone even bother you ask? Because there are 3.3 billion people using social media. If your audience was just a fraction of that number you could be happy.
We are so fortunate to be able to reach out to all of these people directly. But you have to be thoughtful, dare I say strategic about how you talk them. If you do your homework and start talking to your “people” who want to hear what you have to say, then you will grow and you may even become an influencer someday. If your social media platforms are not behaving the way you want them to, it is likely that you are not properly focused on who you are trying to reach and what you need to communicate.
Build Authentic Online Relationships
Relationship building online is about earning the trust and loyalty of your customers and audiences so you can maintain, and grow your numbers. But how do you do that? Is it by working with a company that will push out “snackable” content? (I was pitched that idea by a social marketer. Let me ask you this: If you were at a cocktail party would you want to talk to a robot who can say a dozen sentences or a real person who can tell you about a trip to Belize)? Is it by talking about how great you are or how wonderful your product is? Would having a roomful of cats posted on Instagram fit the bill?
Even though we can now hide behind our screens, it doesn’t mean that the skills and needs of human interaction are out the window. If anything, you need to be even more thoughtful about your dialogue with others to practice effective social media marketing. Your content needs to be authentic and you need to do your due diligence and research in advance to identify an audience that will be interested in receiving your messages. After you determine your audience, you need to figure out how to reach it, what platforms to use, the content you will use, and when you are going to post and share.
It takes time and tenacity
To build an army takes an army and that’s what you are doing. You are setting up a foundation of friends and followers who want to know about your ideas or buy your product. If satisfied, they will help spread the word via retweets, shares, and referrals. And as I’ve said, it doesn’t happen overnight.
When I was at a conference recently a woman asked me about an aggregation application that helped drive followers on Twitter, but she was losing followers as quickly as she was gaining them. I told her that Twitter has been public about their attempt to rid the server of unattended accounts and spambots. Aggregators are not a shortcut when it comes to quality, actionable followers. The ones you end up with are often spam and other ineffective types. You need to put a real engagement plan into action, stick to it, monitor the results, and take appropriate action when necessary.
We all need to accept that this process is going to take a lot of work. I’ve got a business built around media with a heavy social focus, and I know about the time that goes into an effective social media marketing campaign. But if you aren’t able to hire somebody to do it for you, then you can set up a schedule that works for you. Block out time every day to work on internet engagement and research. Find a tracking program or use the tools that the individual platforms provide so you can see how your content is doing. Someone told me once regarding careers that you start with one brick and soon you will have built a wall. So go ahead and start your construction and you will see how things progress.
The last thing I’ll add is for people who dislike social media or do not feel comfortable with it. My advice is: Don’t establish any platforms you are not going to use. If you feel super hesitant about social campaigning, then do not do it. In a future post, I’ll present some ideas for alternatives that will still build your SEO presence online.
Additional Informational Resources
Here are a couple of articles from around the internet that talk about current content and social strategies: