There’s a place for organic social media in marketing and content strategies, but what are the first steps to integrating social media?
This article addresses the various areas to consider as you try to grow and integrate your social media presence in 2023. Overall, I see social media as a spoke of the Create Once, Publish Everywhere Model. That does not mean we should only share links to social media, but consider what content we have and that we are creating and how it all be used and optimized for different channels – including social media.
In this article, I discuss:
- Getting started
- Steps to increase your social media presence
- Brand voice
- Time management
Social media networks constantly change algorithms, privacy rules, and other things that could impact your engagement. It’s not a bad idea to keep up with what’s changing, but it can also get overwhelming. In the organic era, I usually lived by this rule: If you share unique and valuable content, people will find it and share it.
Then we moved into the paid era, however. Even when your following numbers are huge, that doesn’t mean the networks will show your posts to all your followers. Another reason to use the COPE model and integrate social media in the most efficient way.
Chances are you will have to allocate some budget to your social media distribution.
Today, we are in the native era. Native content (along with paid content) performs well. So no linking, but how do you share content directly on the social media networks that work for your brand?
Keep an eye on what the most relevant networks are at the current time for a specific business. That might be Facebook. But it could also be a niche, local network with far fewer users but extremely relevant ones for a specific business. Twitter certainly is one to consider.
While it is important to have brand accounts and post on a schedule, also partner with others through organic social media strategies.
Read next: How to grow organic social media
Once you determine which networks you want to get started with, set up an account. I would suggest to try to keep account names similar. If I’m ctrappe on Twitter, it’s easiest for an audience that wants to follow me across networks that I’m also ctrappe on Facebook and other networks. That’s not always possible, but when it is, I would suggest this setup.
Before you sign up, think about what the name of your social media presence should be. Should it be the full name of your business, your owner’s name or something else?
There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Business name: People know it already, and this will make it easier to find when somebody searches for it on a network.
A person’s name: You might decide that all social media activity should be handled through one person’s account. That could mean that you use your name and picture and participate in social media that way. If you own the business, that might work. You probably won’t leave the business unless you sell it or retire. Either way, the danger is when the person being the public social media face of an organization leaves that organization. What happens to that person’s followers?
You can also do a hybrid.
It’s important to put some thought into the accounts’ names before setting them up.
Some networks make it easier than others to change your accounts’ name if that’s necessary later on.
Then sign up. It’s like setting up any account. We won’t discuss this in detail here but most signups are pretty easy. Make sure to use a company email and phone as many accounts now are linked to two-factor authentication.
Also keep in mind that the longer you wait to signup, the harder it can be to get a good name.
Consider claiming brand names on emerging networks
What’s a good strategy for personal and organizational brands when new social media networks pop up?
- Should we claim and register our name?(Likely yes)
- Should we ignore it? (Likely no)
- Should the name match across different networks? (Yes)
Those are all questions that 20 years ago we didn’t have to worry about in marketing. But today brand recognition across all networks is important – especially as new networks take off.
Over the years networks come and go, some stick around and some take off. It’s impossible to be on all and can be hard to even just be on the ones that count.
A good rule of thumb for me has been to sign up for networks that appear to be emerging. How do we know what networks are emerging? People are talking about them, typically we end up seeing some coverage in traditional or online media and their user base continues to grow.
Participating on networks where we have potential for a good-sized audience shows that we care and want to make connections wherever our audiences (a.k.a. customers) are. And having the same name across all helps our communities find us easier.
Steps to increase your social media presence
What to say: The plan
Once you are signed up, it’s time to start participating. Of course, it’s good to listen and respond to others, but to really thrive in the networks you will want to add valuable information.
Each social media strategy should include the following:
- Integration with business goals (What are your business goals and what does anything you say on social media have to do with it?)
- Your focus (What is it that you will talk about?)
- What you can say
- What you will not say
- Your brand voice
- Time management
Your goals and focus
Social media is not an ad. At least, not most of the time. Don’t just sell. Think of it as a dinner party. What do people talk about at dinner parties? Things that are interesting to them and that they know something about are. Same with social media. Talk about topics you know something about and would allow you to add valuable knowledge to the network and its users. Of course, you’ll want to align your topic or topics with something related to your business.
Everything a business does should have something to do with the business goals. Aside from making money, define the goals.
- Serve the best coffee in town.
- Lunch in 15 minutes.
- Healthy and low-calorie lunch in 15 minutes.
- Most convenient massages — we will come to you.
Whatever your overarching goals are, social media should fit in there. But it has to go beyond that you offer one service or another.
Instead, you want to share related content that adds value on the social media network.
It could be inspiring or thought-provoking or perhaps help your followers understand something about a specific topic.
Let’s pick on the healthy lunch example. Your social media communications goals might be:
Help people know how to make healthy food choices.
That communication goal aligns with the business’ overall goal and the more people are interested in or talking about the topic, the more likely they are to make the choice to have healthy lunches.
Social media updates could evolve around these topics:
- Best apps to keep track of calories.
- How to spot a healthy meal.
- How to get others interested in eating healthy. Share success stories from the community!
- Today’s featured healthy food.
- How to cook a healthy meal (and then later: if you don’t want to cook it, stop in)
- Respond to people who tweet “I’m hungry” in your area.
- Respond to people who tweet about fitness topics
Of course, there are other avenues this can take, but I hope this gives you an idea of how to develop a strategy or goal.
What to say and not to say
It’s important that you explicitly state what is OK to publish on social media and what is not OK!
This doesn’t have to be extremely complicated or a long list. It could look like this:
We don’t respond to national news events unless they have something to do with our business goals.
We don’t tweet things unrelated to our business. For example: “Happy Friday.” But we might say, “Happy Friday. Did you know that Friday’s (insert relevant fact about healthy eating as it relates to the end of the week here).”
We don’t post negative updates about our business.
We want to share interesting stories from our daily business connections. Keep an eye out for anything that might be worth sharing. But we ask customers if it’s OK to take their picture, for example. (You might also consider getting a consent form for people to sign. But that’s a question for your lawyer.)
Encourage employees to build their own brands – when possible.
Have a conversation with your customers
As Brooke Sellas said on “The Business Storytelling Show,” just have an authentic conversation with customers. Share opinions and other content they may find valuable and also respond.
Your brand voice
Your voice should reflect your style and way of doing business. If you have a fun, quirky coffee shop that caters to new technology lovers your brand’s voice should fit that audience.
Perhaps your brand’s voice could be defined as:
Fun, quirky, on the cutting edge, but not offending.
If you are a serious attorney’s office, your brand voice should reflect that. It might be defined like this:
Serious. Informational. Trustworthy, but not chatty.
In my definitions, I like to use two to three words that describe the brand (Do This) and one “but not ..” example (Do Not Do This).
It helps people communicate publicly for a brand (especially when there is more than one person) to have a bit of guidance that can be easily referred back to.
An example for United Way in Cedar Rapids,, where more than a dozen people communicated publicly through branded channels when I worked there in the early 2010s was:
Serious, but fun. Not silly.
The same set-up here. United Way’s work is serious, but there’s still room to have fun and share information in a fun (conversational) way.
Defining your voice
These questions might help you define your voice:
- How would you describe your typical customer
- How would you describe a customer group you would like to engage but haven’t been able to?
- How would you describe the atmosphere in your business environment? This could be in your store, over the phone, etc.
- How would you describe how you want your business to be described by the public?
The answers could give you a clue about your brand voice. Let’s take a look at potential answers and how they might help you. (This example is made up and does not reflect an actual business I know of.)
1) Older. Established business people. Connected.
2) Younger business people, who are up and coming. We think they know of us but aren’t extremely loyal, yet.
3) Friendly. Business-like. Helpful. Cordial.
4) Helpful. Easy to work with.
Potential brand voice:
Easy-going, helpful and conversational, but not too casual.
The more unique your brand voice is the easier it should be for customers, advocates, etc., to feel connected to you. Isn’t that much better than everyone sounding the same?
Metrics – numbers showing your progress – can vary by the network you are using. Some networks and third-party vendors offer free and premium metric services that you can sign up for.
It’s OK to explore these as you move along in your social media engagement. To get started, though, I would suggest focusing on building your audience. Make sure you advertise your networks in your business, on your website (with working links to your specific accounts) and encourage people to share your accounts through their networks.
Also keep in mind that social media metrics are somewhat siloed. Some companies are trying to make a push into consolidated dashboards.
Everything takes time. Social media is no different. Determine when you’ll do social media and when you will respond to people. This is important and people expect it.
You can set a specific time each day, or you might decide to respond as comments come in. You can set up email notifications or notifications on your mobile device.
Tools like Hootsuite.com allow you to schedule posts and send them to several networks at once. There’s some danger with scheduling posts because you never know what else might be happening at that time. But as long as you keep an eye on things, this shouldn’t be a huge problem.
If you would rather not schedule posts, you can also pre-write them and post them manually at specific times.
SEO matters too
Social media has many advantages, including its impact on search engine optimization. It’s true. It helps. Let me show you.
Every month, there are 70 monthly searches for my name (Christoph Trappe) in the United States. So people are searching for me and I’m showing for my own name. That’s good but not always a given. Certainly, I don’t have the most common name in the world, so that helps, too.
Interestingly, my social media profiles dominate Page 1.
Linkedin, Twitter – even a Twitter stream, Facebook, and Instagram are all there. My page on this blog also ranks.
Social media does impact SEO.
The people who search for my name do that for a reason. They want to check me out. Maybe they heard me at a conference. Or a colleague recommended me. Who knows, but there likely is some kind of potential business reason.
What’s good about the results is that I basically own and control the content. I post constantly to all those social media channels so I have control over what people see.
Of course, content matters, and the only way to have all roads on the search engine page results page lead to me is by me creating and running those accounts. Companies can do that, too.
- Create accounts
- Post things are somewhat regular intervals
- Engage with people
This is for a branded search for my name obviously, but I’ve seen tweets show up in non-branded search. Not sure about the other networks.
Social media might not drive SEO traffic like a well-optimized article on a blog, but it certainly has a place and I’m glad I have those networks up and running and post at regular intervals.
She also mentioned how social media helps with SEO as I explained above.
Using social media channels in an authentic way that adds value to people’s days can help businesses become a bigger part of the community while ultimately helping the bottom line. It’s needed to grow your social media presence.