at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Top 15 Tips for Building Your Social Media Presence

I was recently asked to meet with someone just starting out in a Social Media role for fairly new food company to provide a sort of "Social Media 101" and overview on how to get started. The company has no presence on Social Media, so she will be building everything from the ground up. Being in the CPG industry myself and building up our company's Social Media presence from scratch over the past eight or nine years, I've definitely learned some things along the way. While I've never considered myself an "expert" on the topic (and think that the title of "Social Media Expert" is overrated and used too loosely as it is...), I think and hope I was able to provide some valuable insight.

Since I already typed it up, I thought I would share my thoughts here, as well. Social Media is ever-evolving, but not likely to go away anytime soon. It remains a great business tool to build up your company or personal brand -- and it should not be under-valued or overlooked. Social Media channels can be used to help achieve the following for a business:

Increase brand awareness and visibility
Communicate brand identity or positioning
Add personality & relatability to your brand
Increase customer loyalty
Increase sales – online or at retail
Increase consumer engagement and excitement over the brand
Build online communities and followings around your product or brand
Inform consumers about new products, promotions or company news
Connect with B2B partners such as suppliers or retailers

As I started thinking through what I wanted to share with someone just starting out, I came up with the following as my top 15 tips for growing your audience on Social Media.

1.             Engagement is key – social media is just that: social. Think of it as a conversation: contribute regularly, engage with others’ content, mention other brands or people in your posts, and reply promptly. It should not be used simply as a broadcasting platform.
2.             People respond to incentives – anytime you have an opportunity to offer up a promotion or incentive to like, join, follow, connect or share, take advantage of it; it can help you build your following quickly.
3.             Follow the right people – you’ll have to follow/like other accounts to help build your online community – make sure you are following relevant people and businesses who themselves post quality content.
4.             The right message to the right audience – know your audience and followers and share content that is relevant and of importance to them; share more than just sales pitches.
5.             Visual content tends to perform better than simply text; use photos and videos liberally. Pay attention to aspect ratios and which formats work best for each social media platform.
6.             Post frequency matters and what’s appropriate depends on the platform. You don’t want to junk up your audience’s feed with too many posts in a row. The typical rule of thumb is ~1 post / day on Facebook – other platforms like Twitter can be done more frequently as posts quickly get buried. Posting too frequently or too infrequently will cause followers to disengage.
7.             Utilize Social Media to collect consumer data  - direct consumers to promotions or web pages where they can provide their email address or other contact information so that you have the opportunity to connect with them in other spaces. Social media can be a great tool to help build email lists.
8.             Modify posts to fit each platform – while you can essentially share the same content on multiple social media channels, each post should be tweaked and formatted to best fit with each particular platform. E.g. Twitter is limited to 140 characters, but you may want to add some extra information on Facebook; Instagram doesn’t allow hyperlinks, so avoid posting something where you are expecting a click thru; Pinterest is primarily visual so put relevant content right on your image (e.g. recipe name or article title)
9.             Test paid posts and focus on whatever brings you the best results; most social platforms now have the ability to advertise and/or promote a post. You may have to test some of these to see what works best for your business. Facebook Ads provide the most robust targeting.
10.       Consider Hootsuite or other similar platform that will allow you to view multiple social media feeds on one screen and will allow you to you schedule posts. Honestly, I don't personally use Hootsuite often -- and I'm not even sure what the leading social media hub is these days, but I know many people find that these programs make it easier to track everything. For some reason, I'm more comfortable using the native platforms and my 20 different browser tabs :)
11.       Plan ahead and schedule posts when you can. Scheduling posts can help ensure that you’re consistently putting out content, even if something else comes up and you are too busy to manually post. It can also help organize your communication strategy.
12.       Measure your results with analytics provided by the social media platform (e.g. Facebook page Insights) and/or Google Analytics (so you can see how much of your website traffic or transactions are generated from social media). This will help you form your own benchmarks and goals for improvement.
13.       Check out the competition and be aware of how similar companies to your own are interacting on social media. You can learn from both the successes and failures of other brands.
14.       Remember that it’s a public forum. Everything you say on social media is out there for everyone to read. Keep your content appropriate, respectful and on-topic. If a consumer brings up a complaint, respond in public, and if necessary, follow-up in private for additional information.
15.       Stay on top of changes. There are constantly new social media platforms being introduced and new features and algorithms (ahem, Facebook) created by existing platforms. Stay informed and learn how to use new features quickly and adapt your strategies to stay at the top of feeds with new algorithms. Decide which new social media platforms best fit your business and which ones are not a good fit so that you don’t waste time in spaces that don’t make sense.
What do you think? Did I miss anything big?  Leave your own suggestions and tips in the comments below!
*Side note: I really never post anything work related, but as this post is, I am also happy to share that I just celebrated my 10 year work anniversary with the same company I've been with since graduating college! Although Social Media has taken a back seat to syndicated sales data and analytics in recent years, it remains a part of my realm of responsibility. I am so grateful for my job and the opportunities I've had to learn and grow in my marketing career over the past decade.

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!