Brand’s use of social media has improved immeasurably in recent years, with a greater perception of the value it offers and the methods involved in creating an engaged following. There is, however, a lot that companies can still do to improve the way they operate and create even greater engagement with their audience.
Here are my five social strategies to start building buzz and creating better conversations on your social channels:
1. Take A Long-Term View
Advertising is all about bursts of activity, but social strategies should be at least 12 months long. It’s hard to build a reputation and a following among an audience when your activity is campaign-led. From LeBron James to Taylor Swift, all of the genuine super brands have a relationship that they’ve built up with their followers over time.
That’s where your power and your influence will come from: a group who is ready to consume your content. This is an audience business rather than a content or social business. Look at it as relationship marketing.
The big mistake that some brands make when they think about social content is that they see it as an extension of their traditional advertising and communications plan, which is all about transmitting. Social media requires engagement, so you have to build a 3D personality that gives you license to comment and be part of other conversations.
It’s about understanding that, actually, sometimes it’s valuable just to be part of those conversations. You can only do that if you’ve taken the time to build an authentic brand personality.
Your product isn’t enough; your views and your values are what people want to see. It can be scary for a brand to start communicating in that way, but it’s the direction the world is moving.
2. Build Momentum
To build momentum you always need to be offering some kind of new news–in the broadest sense of the word. You should be presenting an idea differently and trying to make that appeal to your audience. Entertainment brands do this particularly well because they have fans who are always desperate for new information and want to feel like they’re part of something.
For example, the annual Brit Awards might just be one night in February, but related content is created and shared all year long. (Disclosure: This is one of our clients.) Updates about artists and their album releases, breaking little bits of news as often as possible, and creating video content to keep fans engaged are all ways we build momentum.
View your channel like a rolling news channel; it should operate at that kind of speed. After a while, your success will become self-fulfilling. The algorithms are always looking for content that has high engagement rates, shares and comments, so the more people interact with your content the more traffic they will send your way.
3. Treat Influencers With Care
When you start working with influencers, it’s important to do your homework and take time to interrogate their numbers. Most U.K. influencers have massive audiences, but you have to be realistic about the actual reach they have because it’s easy to overestimate it.
Assume that only a quarter of someone’s audience will actually see something. Then work out how many of those people aren’t bots and are in your market and target age group. After that, divide it by four again, and you will have a realistic number of people who will actually see the content.
Once you’ve selected someone to collaborate with, it’s important to recognise the influencer business model and work with it effectively. Influencers know their audiences intimately and monetise that by continually serving them great content. You’ve paid to speak to their audience, so let them do it in the same way that’s made them so successful.
Write them a brief and collaborate with them, but don’t create the content yourself. Let them do their thing. It’s also a good idea to pay extra for an exclusivity period, so you can ensure they won’t be talking about a competitor brand the next day or the next week.
4. Strike A Balance Between Creation And Amplification
It’s important to consider your ratio of budget spent on these two elements on a case-by-case basis. Too often, brands have a blanket rule that they will spend 15% to 20% on the creative and 80% to 85% on the distribution.
Consider which channels it will work best on and how people are going to engage with it. If you’ve created a high-value social asset and have your own loyal and engaged audience, or you’re working with an influencer, they’ll help you to promote your content, so you may need less budget for promotion.
Conversely, some content can be very cheap but effective. We’ve found that some of the best-performing social assets are nothing but emojis. In that case, it’s possible to put almost all of your spend into amplification. It isn’t helpful to stick to the old 15:85 ratio when you’re dealing with social.
5. Consider The Value Of Complementary Channels
Email is potentially one of the most valuable tools in a brand’s toolkit, but many brands are too busy optimising and selling to use it properly. If you can persuade an audience to open an email, that’s amazing. With a social post, you have a fraction of a second to get people’s attention, but if you can get them to open an email, they’re opening up two or three minutes of their time for you.
Hiut Denim, a boutique jeans company, uses email amazingly well. It recognises that its audience is naturally interested in other complementary brands, information, and news, so it curates the best content from the Web. That’s why I personally open its newsletter every week. Hiut has built a loyal and engaged audience through its social channels, and the interest it builds through email helps boost that.