By Joel Ballezza, BECU Social Media Manager
Excited by the idea of marketing their brands on social and going ‘viral', companies sometimes register and start posting to a dozen social profiles before they ask a fairly simple question – What story do I want to tell people? While it's exciting to launch social accounts, I recommend first finding your business' unique story.
Questions to ask yourself before you dive in:
Build out a list of what this content looks like and you'll be on your way to taking a story-first approach towards social media marketing.
One of the benefits of tools like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media channels is how EASY it is to set up accounts and begin creating content.
However, this can be a downfall as well. Small businesses often try to be on EVERY social media platform – continually jumping from one “hot” social network to the next and never identifying where their customers are or what content works. (Content works when it inspires users to engage with your brand.)
Are your customers asking you product questions on Twitter? Try to provide exceptional customer service and promote this single location in your email newsletter, website and other digital channels.
Do you have amazing pictures of your business out in the community? Publish them on Instagram and invite your customers to share their own as a re-engagement tactic.
Whichever social channels you decide to use, you should be able to show how your social efforts support your broader marketing and business goals.
Note: You may still want to register your social accounts in order to secure their intellectual property (so feel free to register away – namecheck.com is a great tool to check name availability across multiple social networks). However, I recommend only using and promoting one or two key channels to your customers until you've developed a use-case and following for each.
Social media isn't just about yourself or your brand. It's about joining a conversation. It would be rude in the real world to only talk about yourself at a dinner party, and social media is the same way. Who wants to hear from a company on social if all they ever say is “BUY! BUY! BUY!”?
Instead, try to take a 33% / 33% / 33% approach to what you share on your business' social profiles. For example, you could share industry news, success stories from your customers, and news about one of your products a third of the time. This way, your online followers and customers will feel inspired and educated, instead of oversold.
And don't forget to respond to your follower's comments and questions on social. This isn't just a great way to engage them, but can also be an efficient way to provide speedy customer service.
The best people to start sharing your business' story with? The people you're already connected with through your personal social profiles – friends, family and customers.
Make a list of the groups and contacts you personally have the ability to engage on social media. This can include your personal Facebook friends, personal LinkedIn contacts and LinkedIn groups. You might already have thousands of connections online who might be interested in receiving and sharing news about your company.
You are your own distribution channel. Have a news article on your business? Add this as a LinkedIn status update on your personal profile, or post a tweet from your personal Twitter account. You can start telling your story even before you've built your business social profiles. Then once you have some momentum and interest among friends and contacts, you can launch your social profiles. It's like warming up a car before peeling out of the driveway.
At the end of the day, social media is like most other types of marketing for businesses. It's another way to tell your company's unique story to people who believe in your vision. By planning, sharing great content, and rallying support, you can launch a successful social media program for your brand.
If you'd like to continue your social media learning, Techcrunch routinely has great resources, as does Hubspot. Good luck on your social media journey!