Most of us were introduced to social media as individual users, not purveyors of brands, and after detagging a few too many shots of overfull Solo cups and long-past adolescent haircuts, we learned to maintain online personas that don’t make us cringe. If you’ve ever deactivated Facebook or announced a puzzled or prideful “I just don’t get Twitter,” you know that even personal web engagement can overwhelm.
All of us have friends who overshare, who use their Facebook walls as a place to complain about the things they hate most, or who simply don’t seem to get it — there’s just something ham-handed about the way they use their social media platforms. "Ugh, that guy!" You don’t want your business to be that guy. These are the voices we stop following or hide from our feeds. Balancing what you want from your audience with what you have to offer is key to making sure your message lands the way you intend. Over time, this give-give-give and take will help ensure that you’re building a desirable brand online.
What The Heck Should I Talk About?
For most businesses struggling to use social media well, the biggest challenge is typically one of the following:
- Not knowing what to talk about.
- Assuming your profile should be as casual, extemporaneous, and fun as your personal page.
- Believing your primary function should be reminding everyone that you're there and you want business.
Social media functions best when it serves as a reflection of your values and company culture, which your customer base and social media audiences typically share. Identifying these values and building posts around them can be the gateway to making your profiles into robust marketing channels instead of noise that gets tuned out.
Social media profiles are great ways to provide your friends and followers with a peek into the backend of your business. Providing a glimpse into how the business is made makes customers feel as if they’ve been let in on your secrets, and as in most things, transparency builds trust.
Introducing your people and your #workflow is a great way to generate quick and interesting content that positively shapes the perception of your brand. Think of it as adding a whole new dimension to standard business communications like ads or press releases.
News About Related People or Businesses
Sharing bits of news that will interest your audience is another excellent way to make a good impression. By carefully sharing content that seems popular and intriguing, you're doing a couple of things. Beyond providing value and variety to your audience’s news feeds, you're expanding the overall depth and breadth of your own brand's voice. This gives your brand the topical relevance that helps to cultivate richer impressions among your audience.
Strong, Relevant Visuals
Your content doesn't always have to be profound or packed with information. Creating something that simply looks cool is a sure-fire way to engage people. Don't just take a quick snapshot and post the first thing you get. Take your time with it! It pays off to play around with some filters, learn a few photography basics, and invest effort into producing bright, well-composed, and high-quality images.
News About Your Business
Of course, one tried-and-true type of content you can readily produce is news about what's going on with your business. Have a new product to promote or need to disclose a change in business hours? Be sure to share that information on your social media pages! If you sell a product, consider posting photos of the commodity in its natural habitat, either being used or sitting pretty on display. If you really want to outshine your competitors, hire a pro to handle your shoots!
Thank Your Stakeholders
Don’t forget to celebrate the people who make you want to go to work in the morning, and the great things they're doing. It’s good brand strategy to show gratitude and positivity toward the people who support your business, whether employee, friend, or customer. On the flipside, if you’re ever tempted to complain about your customers online — even without naming names — think again. This will only make your audience wonder if you would spread similarly unpleasant details about them.
Your Own Blog Content
With a company blog, you have the opportunity to promote your own content through social media instead of waiting for an external outlet to write a story about your product or service. The better your blog content, the better the results will be for your business. As people click through to your website, you have the opportunity to capture their attention and redirect it toward a sales goal. Plus, as your own site's content becomes more popular, you'll be sending strong signals to your audience (and to search engines) that your brand is an authority and a thought leader in your industry.
Use these tips to start generating some more structure to what you're publishing on your social profiles. Until the process comes naturally, plot your social media postings in advance, and think about the cumulative impact those activities will have on the brand you're cultivating.