At Graphos, we get to work with a lot of businesses that are just starting up. Clients like Kamooki Lures, EarthApples and Ascension Chiropractic come to us for advice, branding, packaging, web design and inbound marketing to give them a competitive advantage.
But when it comes to taking social media into their own hands, many entrepreneurs and marketers don’t know where to start.
Social media can be a great tool to spread awareness and cultivate a following, but if done poorly, can lead to big screw-ups and alienate customers.
My team and I have run numerous successful social media marketing campaigns, and the following steps have been essential to our success.
Who are you?
It’s the biggest question of all: who are you? In logo and brand development, this is something to thoughtfully explore with your branding team.
In branding you must:
- fully understand your business values
- incorporate your company history and culture in your tone
- be aware of what differentiates you from your competitors
- define and understand your target market in order to reach them
For social media you’ll further need to pinpoint exactly how these traits define your tone of voice, the content you post and how you interact with followers. You’ll need to be confident in these answers to remain consistent and relevant.
Nihilist Arby’s is a great example of a unique and consistent tone of voice. This twitter account offers a bleak commentary on life and current events while intertwining Arby’s product into every tweet. This is a great example of brand consistency, no matter how bizarre or random. It is expected by the audience that anything posted on this account is going to have a negative, apathetic tone and it’s one of the very few brands that can insult and make fun of followers without blowback, because its antagonism is directly on brand. (In case you were wondering, Nihilist Arby’s is operated by punk rocker Brendan Kelly who has no connection to Arby’s, and it frequently gets better engagement than the genuine Arby’s twitter account.)
What’s your problem?
The second step of your campaign is to identify your #1 priority goal. Are you planning a start-up or promoting an event? Then maybe your goal is to create awareness and gain followers, so it might be appropriate to buy social media ads. Are you trying to sell a specific product? Maybe you get in touch with an influential blogger to help promote it. Or maybe you’re marketing a bigger business looking to interact with its audience, in which case you’ll need social media house rules for your team to determine what types of responses are appropriate and have a consistent tone of voice for your business.
When you know what your goal is, turn it into a question. For example; when Graphos created a high-profile Alberta license plate concept our priority goal was “We want the public to see our alternative design” so the question becomes “How do we get people to notice our plate?” The province’s badly designed license plate options were big news at the time, so we came up with a plan to tweet images of our design to news accounts and opposition party leaders. Which brings us to the next point.
Have an Actual Plan
I can’t overstress how important it is to plan out what you’re going to say. The last thing you want is to realize you haven’t updated your accounts and can’t think of what kind of content to post. Before you start your campaign, first load up on content. Start a document and list text for posts, links to articles, imagery, hashtags, people to target in your message, everything you can think of that’s relevant to your brand and contributes to solving your problem. You don’t want to post each list item robotically, so leave some room to comment on current events (when they’re relevant) and reach out to your followers.
Remember that list I told you to make? Don’t be afraid to stray from it. When your campaign gains traction it may lead you into unexpected areas. You may get comments from followers, good and bad, and this is when you need to be confident in your values. You will be tested.
The image below is an example of a brand responding with intelligence and courage to negative feedback. Someone may not like the content you’ve posted, but if you really know what you stand for, don’t apologize (unless what you posted was really dumb) and find the best, most consistent, brand-appropriate way to respond.
Continually monitor how your posts are performing. Are tweets with certain hashtags doing better than others? Do you get more views on posts on a certain day of the week, or time of day? Analyse your best case content and see if you can replicate activity. Go with the flow.
Lastly, but most importantly, don’t live in a vacuum! If you’re a new business trying to gain followers, post high-value, interesting, relevant content and load it with relevant hashtags. In the beginning, you need to interject into the social media world as much as possible in order to prove your value and be found.
There are so many benefits to “pay it forward” posts that gain traction when someone reciprocates and shares your content. You can see in the image above the difference between tweeting to your followers and being retweeted by your followers to THEIR followers. Consider it an act of good will, and probably good karma.