There are about 1.6 billion Facebook users, 325 million on Twitter, 430 million on Instagram and 420 million on LinkedIn. To put that into context, there are currently 7.4 billion people in the planet, 22% of that is on Facebook. Even accounting for bogus accounts, that is still a pretty high percentage. So you would be remiss if you disregard the inherent utility of social media platforms not only for marketing purposes, but also for personal usage.
Businesses have integrated social networking sites (SNS) into their communications strategy. However, while most SNS engagement and strategy tips are mostly framed in the context of start-ups and corporations, SNS is initially composed of individuals. Users themselves can benefit a lot from social media if they only maximise their online interactions. So whether you’re using a company account or a personal one, here are a few prime strategies to making the most out of social media.
Expand your network
Social media, as its name implies, is all about being social and expanding your network. Yet certain users tend to close off their accounts to a select few. This defeats the purpose of truly connecting with the world, especially if the people you are connecting with are also the ones you often hang out with IRL. If you are reluctant to be Facebook friends with mere acquaintances, there are other platforms to help you compartmentalise. For instance, Facebook is more for personal connections, while Twitter can be open for all sorts of personalities – close kin or virtual strangers. LinkedIn is reserved for your professional networks, and Instagram can be for your connections to share your more creative and visual content.
For both marketers and personal users, expanding networks can open up opportunities for collaboration. Facebook has the events and groups feature to help you meet like-minded people. Twitter has hashtags to let you join conversations going on globally. LinkedIn lets you join groups to share and discuss industry news.
Balance promotions with personal posts
Having a presence in the World Wide Web is an excellent opportunity to promote your brand – personal or company. However, there is a thin line between tolerable to annoying. Nobody likes being flooded with self-promotional posts. This goes for business pages and individual accounts. Particularly for personal posts, your connections followed or added you to get updates about your life and your thoughts. Being overly impersonal and focused on branding will make you seem robotic and frankly, unappealing. So try to balance promotional posts with personal views and announcements. For company pages, while regular update is good practice, it makes a whole world of difference to get to know your target market’s other interests and cycle business posts with more audience-friendly updates. This makes you appear like a friend instead of a big, bad corporation trying to get them to spend money on you. This also lets them know that they are being heard and their interests are taken into account.
Treat social media as online classifieds
Access to hundreds and thousands of social media connections means that you have your very own classifieds at the tip of your fingers. Granted it’s not a very organised site for buy and sell, but there are some pretty good deals on there. The best part about it is that you personally know these people, hence the less risk of getting scammed. Start-ups with limited capital often float their business ideas through social media before investing in websites and paid platforms. All sorts of businesses, such as online flower delivery in Singapore and travel agencies, take their space in social media to attract a following. The good thing about discovering start-ups in social media is that they can charge relatively less than established businesses. Plus, you could get points for being one of their early customers.
Tailor content based on platform
One of the most common mistakes of social media managers is automating posts. To save time, managers often schedule posts, and worse, integrate different platforms using a third-party app so that the one scheduled post appears simultaneously across different platforms. The mistake is that different social media platforms demand a different type of content. Twitter is text-based and requires short, snappy content, while Facebook and Instagram are more visual platforms which can benefit from longer captions and descriptions. One size does not fit all. Anyway, users are much savvier about posts and they’d know automated posts from the more organic, engaging shout outs. Finally, it goes without saying, engage with your audience or connections – reply, like, share, discuss, what have you. Social media is a two-way street, and that’s what gives it a collaborative nature.
Content consistency is key
All the above strategies are dependent on one important factor – branding. Strengthening your brand, whether a personal one or a company brand, will significantly help your online ROI. All those hours spent on social media should not end up going to waste. The best possible way to strengthen your brand is consistency in messaging. This lets your audience get a clear impression about what the message is. For individuals, branding highlights your strengths and conveys strong character. Are you creative? Analytic? A leader or a follower? After all, employers now check up on applicants’ social media accounts to get an impression about their personality and ethics. As such, your online persona should be as cohesive as the one in your CV. For companies, branding allows your audience to recognise the image and the messaging even in various channels. It gives a sense of assurance and dependability.