Hayley Paterson

Hayley Paterson, Account Manager at Scriba PR.

Every second, billions of people scroll through multiple online platforms to ‘like’, share and comment on the latest post that’s caught their eye. But does social media really work? Hayley Paterson, Account Manager at Scriba PR, takes a look.

Now that we’re living in a digital-first culture full of infinite technological opportunities, it’s proving even more difficult for organisations to cut through the vast online noise before them – and it’s even harder to entice a customer to buy their product or service over everyone else’s.

It’s the same for customers too. Individuals are being sold to every single second of the day so they’re in a dominant position where they can as swiftly tune in to a message as they can out – especially if the brand that they’re looking for answers from isn’t ‘present’ online.

At this point, it can often be easy for businesses with a bulging workload to feel that there isn’t time to address all those messages that have been lost in the social media black hole, as their once shiny online comms strategy starts to crumple and collect dust as a thankless task.

However, if you’re at the point of losing faith because you’re getting no customer interaction for all your efforts, there’s still hope – so keep reading! As long as you apply some proven techniques to boost your digital presence, you should start to see a difference in your social media status.

  1. Engage at the right times

This doesn’t mean you have to be logged into your social channels every minute of the day, but it’s important to be mindful that customers might be getting in touch with you throughout the week – and they require a response, fast!

Making sure you’re answering consumer questions well and interacting in a familiar tone of voice starts developing trust for your audience. Helping them to feel safe in the knowledge that you’re there, if ever they need you, is how you begin to build customer loyalty – and that’s hard to break once it’s established!

It doesn’t always have to be directly on your own company social media page or personal profile either, engage with other pages and get involved in the conversation if you have a killer piece of insight or helpful tip to share.

  1. Don’t spam!

Whilst you’re being encouraged to interact, it’s also vital not to pepper people’s pages with post after post – because, you guessed it, they’ll soon be put off!

Pick the times that you know are most relevant to your audience (see the fourth point below) and push out your content when engagement is typically high.

Utilise content that you can create easily in-house – whether that’s an employee Q&A, a piece of media coverage or some key industry news you know your customers will be interested in. Find out what delivers lead generation opportunities and keep your outputs below spam territory.

Frequency does vary from industry to industry – for example, some get huge engagement when they post every day on Instagram whereas others reap the rewards with a piece of content pushed out once a week on LinkedIn – so firstly make sure you understand what your customers want, and what they don’t!

  1. Tailor your messages

If your largest audience is on Instagram, create messaging and strong imagery to suit that space – and don’t forget to make good use of the 30 hashtags you get to play with! Or, if it’s Facebook, does a more personalised approach with a customer offer work best?

The best way to find out is by checking in with your social media strategy and keeping a keen eye on posts that are gaining the most traction – whether it’s because of the visual elements or familiarity of voice.

But a big tip here is to remain abreast of how each platform is diversifying. For example, there’s a big shift in the kind of messages that once worked on LinkedIn. It’s now often less about ‘humble brags’ and more engaging content which promotes the human element of a business or personal brand.

For example, if you’re a CEO and have an amazing back story to tell full of triumph and adversity – or tips and advice around how you started out in business – tailor your message to suit the narrative. Research your audience to figure out how to personalise each piece of content. Oh, and please, DON’T do the ‘hard sell’!

  1. Always analyse

Has your last post completely bombed? Great!

It might sound daft but a message lacking in engagement shows that you shouldn’t use that topic – or perhaps the time or day – when it comes to creating your next piece of content. Don’t be disheartened if a beautifully crafted message falls flat, it can transform your social media strategy!

Monitor how your online activity is being received – and react accordingly. If you’re seeing an uplift in interaction because you’ve spoken about the personal battle with public speaking as a business owner, or your organisation has pushed out behind-the-scenes footage to highlight an Insta-worthy company culture, stick with those themes if they’re working.

Start to adapt and build content on the back of the most engaged posts because that’s your customers telling you they like it. And with that, keep evolving your comms strategy as a result – never leave it stagnant or collecting dust again!

There are plenty of monitoring tools out there if you’re not sure how to understand how each social media channel is performing. Sprout and Hootsuite are good starters, but you can also use the freebies that social media pages provide – for example, ‘Insights’ on Instagram and Facebook, or ‘Analytics’ on Twitter and LinkedIn company pages.

Once you start to master some of the basics, you’ll soon begin to see how that’s positively impacting your business or personal brand – and your bottom line. It’s about listening to what your customers want, answering their questions, building content to make their lives easier and delving into the detail to ensure your posts remain relevant.

There are so many more social media tips to dish out, but hopefully this is a nice starting point! Enjoy the commercially-savvy side that an active online presence achieves, and please be kind.

Contributed by Hayley Paterson
Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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