An effective social media presence needs to be supercharged and enduring. With 46% of marketers planning to increase their social media spend this year, the competition is going to be tough. Chickening out is not an option and just going through the motions is a strict no. You’ll need to fine tune your existing social media connect and if you’re still afraid of social media and not making it a part of your branding and customer retention and acquisition efforts, you need to implement a social media strategy starting right now.
To ensure your brand has a successful social media presence, it’s important that you are aware of the contours or the characteristics of a successful social media presence. What are the qualities that make presence on social media successful? What separates the men from the boys as far as social media is concerned?
Here are 7 characteristics your social media presence must embody:
1. It needs to be Everywhere your Customers Are
It’s a done deal that your customers are going to be on Facebook and Twitter. In Kantar’s later summer survey conducted on American social media users, 57% reported having a Facebook account, while 28% had a YouTube account, with Google Plus, Twitter and LinkedIn, taking up the next three positions at 23%, 17% and 16% respectively. What does this tell you? You need to be on Facebook, you also need to be on Twitter, but you shouldn’t ignore other social networks that capture a significant amount of mindshare of your target customers. But to identify a collection of social networks to focus your attention is difficult. Each social network has a personality of its own and is used for different things by a user, for e.g. 70% of Pinterest users tap the site to get inspiration for what they want to buy. What you need to do is identify the top ten social networks that will deliver high ROI and ignore the rest. This is important because you don’t want to spread your social presence thin. Building social media influence across a few chosen social networks will deliver more value to your branding efforts.
2. Social Media Discipline
You’ll need to build your social media audience, convert a large section of this audience into a loyal audience and finally convert this loyalty into tangible gains for your business. This will not happen in a hurry. You’ll need a long term social media strategy founded on rigorous discipline. A disciplined approach to building a social media presence is built on the cornerstones of regularity, focus, quality and persistence. For e.g. if you want to build a presence of Facebook, ideally you need to post once a day. What’s more this post needs to be useful and actionable. You need to keep doing this for a very long time to generate value out of your Facebook presence. This needs discipline and it needs loads of it. You can’t stick to a one post a day routine for a couple of months, and then allow your schedule to go haywire.
3. It Provokes Engagement
The nature of social media is all about socializing. Think of your brand as a living breathing thing that needs to personally connect with its target audience on social media. Now, start thinking how your brand is going to engage with its audience. Social media is an environment that hankers for dialogue rather than a monologue. So keep coming up with and sharing content, that encourages interaction. Also, mix things up a bit. Sharing links to your actionable blog posts is well and good, but why not come up with a YouTube video or even an infographic off and on. This will help keep the interaction going. You could even come up with contests, surveys, and questions to up the ante on social engagement.
Something else that an effective social media presence does is it doesn’t shy away from conflict. Engagement through conflict and conflict resolution is one of the key drivers of social media engagement; do not create conflict, but do not shy away from it either. If you’ve posted a link to your content and somebody doesn’t like it and has said so in so many words, why not engage with the person? It will lead to constructive engagement and might lead to some more value addition to your online presence.
4. The Ideal Brand Presence is Trend Focused
You will come across plenty of really well written articles about Social Media Marketing Trends for 2014. Pick the trend that is aligned with your business goals and run with it. One of the primary characteristics of a successful and effective social media presence is its ability to make use of the latest trends for staying relevant. The idea is to not follow a trend blindly. Trends are a product of latest developments in a domain, a manifestation of the challenges that afflict that domain, and an outcome of businesses that need to satisfy the expectations of their audiences. You’ll need to pick a trend that delivers long term value for a business. For example, if a trend asks you to use a video marketing platform like ‘Vine’, you need to be very sure you’ll be able to optimize its use. You can’t start building a presence on this platform, just because a trend tells you to.
5. It is Driven by Visuals
Visuals used in Facebook posts perform better than simply textual posts. Tweets with photos resonate more with people than text only tweets. That’s because visuals help kick start a conversation and have an immediate impact on the viewer. Using visual content in social media marketing is one of the better ways of generating brand awareness. However, not all photos generate the same kind of excitement and interest. You need to be able to pick photos that you know your audience will enjoy, like and share. A social media presence more than anything else depends on your understanding your audience and their interests and preferences and pushing content they will like. This remains true for visuals as well. As a brand, it’s not necessary you focus on having a visuals heavy social media content. However it does make sense to work out a good mix of visuals and text to engage your target audience.
6. It is Humane
Your social media presence isn’t a bot nor is it on autopilot. You are going to interact with real people and these people want to interact with a person in return. For them, your brand is as human as they are and not a business entity. The best brands with successful social media currency are able to add a human touch to their social media presence and interact with friends and followers as a real person would. At the end of the day, people will realize your presence is a means to an end, which is branding, but that doesn’t take away from the fact they expect it to be less about marketing your brand and more about making a useful contribution to social media in general and to their lives.
7. It must be Fun
The worst thing you can do is take yourself too seriously on social media. Agreed, marketing is serious business, but that’s not how things are done on social media. Social media needs brands to have fun; it really doesn’t matter if your brand offers the most “boring” services on the planet, social media gives you the liberty to have a fun take on things. Do not bore your target audience out of their wits. You, in fact have to give them reasons to check out and interact with your social media presence. This isn’t going to happen without some fun.
If your presence on various social media network showcases all or at least a majority of these characteristics, there is no doubt it will be a success. But a word of warning – ensuring your presence will boast of such characteristics is a tough job. But, nobody said, social media was easy.
Image courtesy of Arlo Bates, Flickr.