The rules of social media engagement as you know them, are dead. In a year’s time—which may have felt like a decade, given the circumstances—we’ve been introduced to two new platforms (Tik Tok and Clubhouse) while the likes of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have tried to keep pace by introducing similar features. The pandemic drove even more people to social media platforms, as it allowed them the opportunity to engage with others from the comfort of their own homes. If you want to connect with a brand, your first resort is likely their Twitter or Facebook page. For brands, social media offers the opportunity to directly engage with consumers, promote your brand, and further establish your reputation. There are some brands that excel at this, and rightly so have gained a following that leads to high engagement and positive brand identity. Others unfortunately fall short.
Here are a few rules of the road, as well as roadblocks to avoid, to help you build a successful brand on social media.
Different Platforms for Different Folks
No brand can be all things for all people. When building out a social media plan, consider the audiences you are trying to reach and tailor your voice and posts to match. Consumers are switching platforms for different reasons – going to TikTok for entertainment, Instagram to shop and watch stories, or Facebook to engage with private groups and brands. If you are a financial services firm looking to reach high-net-worth individuals, your voice on social media should be professional and informative, and most likely will gravitate toward well-establish platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook where your target demographic is. Millennials on the other hand tend to be more easygoing and don’t require a lot of formality to engage with. Don’t be afraid to incorporate gifs into your posts – imagery is actually known to drive social media engagement even further. For example, according to Twitter, Tweets with photos receive an average of 35% boost in Retweets.
Be a Social Butterfly
A few years ago, the follow and immediately unfollow method was a tactic used by many on social media to grow their audiences, but consumers have caught on. Now, in order to grow your audience and establish meaningful connections, you must engage with your followers, as well as reporters and industry influencers. Retweet or like client testimonials, respond to questions, and if necessary, acknowledge any negative feedback so your customers know they are being heard. The benefit of regular engagement is that the ever-changing algorithms favor accounts that are engaging, and will show your posts more if it recognizes that you and your audience are regularly communicating with one another.
In addition, social media is designed to drive conversations and build relationships, as well as brand loyalty. Fast-food chain, Wendy’s does a great job of this on its Twitter account – they are constantly engaging with their customers, and even making backhanded jokes at other competitors that get their followers’ attention (note: this is not the best approach for all brands, but if you can do it well, it works).
Use the Tools at your Disposal
In addition to engaging with your followers, it’s also important to differentiate the types of posts you are sharing. Simply posting your own blog content and promotional posts on a loop is likely to bore your followers and may lead to the clicking of the dreaded ‘Unfollow’ button. In addition to sharing your own content, use these social platforms as an opportunity to share press coverage, comment on trending news, and spark conversations with others on the platform.
Each platform also has a number of tools available to jazz up your content. Instagram for example has a story feature for content that will stay active for 24 hours, reels for quick hitting video content, and long-form video capabilities via Instagram TV. Utilize these tools to further increase engagement and to interact with your followers in a variety of different ways.
Don’t Oversaturate your Feed by Over-Posting
While it may seem logical to think that the more you post, the more social media engagement you will receive, that’s not the case with social media’s advanced algorithms. Posting too frequently can cause your pages to look spammy, and if audiences aren’t engaging, the algorithm won’t show them to followers much at all. There is no golden rule for how frequently you should post, but it’s important to set a schedule you can stick to. If posting two times a week—be it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram—is what works for you, then commit to that frequency long term and make every piece a knock-out to get followers to comment, share, reply, and connect with.
How-tos of #Hashtags
At the dawn of social media, hashtags were created by Twitter as a way to categorize tweets and to simplify the ability to search for certain topics. Now hashtags can be used on almost all social platforms, and they are certainly a helpful tool for brands to make their content discoverable and reach more people. They can also be used as the social media version of SEO and to drive traffic to your page. However, using too many can cause your content to look spammy and unprofessional.
Each platform has different “rules” for posting hashtags. Instagram and LinkedIn can handle multiple hashtags, while on Twitter it’s best to limit them to two per post. In addition, it’s best to stick to targeted hashtags that have less than one million posts in order to avoid your content being buried with a hashtag that already has millions of tags.
Social media is constantly changing, so a final don’t to consider is to never be complacent when it comes to your social presence. Pay attention to how the platforms are evolving in order to ensure you are in the know on the latest trends and your brand remains relevant.