In 2017, I think it’s safe to say we’re sick and tired of being told what to do on social media platforms. Experts are a dime a dozen, and it’s likely you’re already familiar with all of the usual best practices. Reciprocity is important. Building a following takes dedication. Optimizing post timings can make a big impact. So on and so forth. But if all of your competitors are doing the same thing, what’s to make your target audience pick your own brand as their flavor of choice?
1. Reaching Out, Person to Person
In economies of scale, one thing is easy for us marketers to forget: automated isn’t always better. When it comes to social media marketing, there’s a time and place for automation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an “all things in moderation” kind of guy. Automation certainly has its perks.
But you can’t easily scale personal outreach, and it’s, therefore, something that many brands have simply given up on. Can you count yourself among their ranks? Don’t worry, there’s an easy fix, and a good reason to pursue it. Aside from replying to @ mentions on twitter and liking comments on FB, many brands don’t interact with people one on one over social channels. They treat it more like yet another platform from which to advertise. This really misses the big picture about what social media can do for a brand.
“Social media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide you.” – Matt Goulart
If you make a proactive effort to reach out to individuals personally, you will absolutely stand out.
Try the following:
- Message target audience members with something tasteful and personalized that gets your solution in front of them.
- Thank a new follower by name and refer them to a piece of cornerstone content they may find useful and want to share to their friends in turn.
- Ask an existing follower a relevant question personally and follow-up with them to thank them for feedback.
Develop your unique voice and don’t by shy.
Don’t just “check the box” with your social activities. Instead, consider social marketing a fun opportunity to learn about your customers and prospects, and engage with them on a personal level.
2. Curate a Distinct Visual Style
Writing an inspirational quote on a nature background is all well and good, if you’re marketing for REI. Yet ironically, I see these types of images being used by all manner of brands. It’s important to remember that your brand’s imagery should tell a story. If you’re marketing a company that sells supplements or protein powders, show us athletes performing incredible feats. Just remember to keep messaging and colors consistent.
It’s important to remember you’re going to want to make these somehow distinct to your brand as well. Having a recognizable visual style is key to building vast brand awareness and loyalty. Above, we saw Performix doing just that. If you take a look at their profile, you’ll see that there are a few sponsored athletes that regularly perform impressive feats of strength in some recurring locations. This makes their brand immediately recognizable to anyone that has seen their images and videos pop up in their feeds.
Think about some of the more iconic brands on social media. The one thing they all get right, is having a distinct and unique visual style. Redbull, GoPro, P90X… most social media followers will immediately recognize posts from any of these brands due to their distinctive visual cues.
While it’s true there are a finite number of color combinations (and many of the good ones are already taken), but there are a lot of ways to develop a unique style. You could…
- Hire an artist that can develop characters or a unique style of vector art.
- Pick a narrow theme for photography being featured and format text in a similar layout for all posts.
- Select powerful and/or unusual words and use them over and over again.
For additional context on this particular topic, check out this amazing guide at Canva.
3. Show Your Workplace Culture (Weirdness Included)
It’s no secret that we all have odd workplace traditions and habits. This is true even if you work remotely. Ok… especially if you work remotely.
No matter how big or small your team may be, social media is a fantastic place to feature both yourself and your co-workers in all your quirky glory. Do you have a secret hand-shake? Do you have themed workdays (ie superhero day)? Do you have a salad bar that everyone walks past on their way to the burrito station?
Leveraging office antics on social is a piece of cake, and can seriously boost your follower count.
There’s more than enough dry and boring content out there already. And chances are, unless you’re running a newsroom, you probably won’t be able to publish any breaking news fast enough for it to matter.
Instead, focus on what you can do. Own your team’s personality and share it with the world. Being vulnerable in this way can be intimidating at first, but incredibly rewarding for team members and the audience in the long run.
Remember, at the end of the day, people do business with people.
4. Host a Live Q & A
We all know that engagement is key to success on social. We explored that in our first step by proactively engaging with followers (or leads) with personalized messages.
Another way to engage followers is to host a live question and answer session. You could take it in any number of directions, and I’ll leave that decision up to you. Should it be a Q & A about your product? Or would it be a round-table discussion with other experts in your field.
Regardless of the exact approach you take, these can be a lot of fun and earn you some loyal fans in the process.
The only other thing to consider is the medium. If you’re going to use Twitter, I’d recommend organizing it ahead of time. These are called Twitter Chats, be sure to designate a memorable and brand-relevant hashtag to use for the chat. Buffer provides a shining example of this with their weekly #bufferchats. On Facebook it could be a Facebook Live broadcast or you could use their Q&A feature. Here’s a Facebook’s own guide on how to set that up.
Whatever it may be, there are a number of cool ways you can implement these into your own social strategy.
Just remember to plan ahead and be sure to notify followers in advance when they’ll take place. Also, ask them to share the time and platform with their friends so they can help spread the news for you.
5. Get Really Specific with Ad Targeting
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all pretty amazing advertising platforms. The targeting can be some specific that it can be comical.
I love sharing this one story, where this guy targets his roommate specifically for ads, and thoroughly creeps him out with ultra-personalized ads. Check out the full story. But here’s the final ad he ran to reveal he was behind it all along.
Yes, he literally got his target audience so narrow that it only showed the ad to his roommate. Facebook has made this a bit more difficult now that uploaded target email lists must have more than 20 entries. But as the author himself points out, simply include 19 email addresses of folks with the opposite gender, then target the person’s gender on an ad-set level.
As you might imagine, this kind of detailed targeting allows marketers to get extremely granular with personalized messages. That in turn means an opportunity for you to be creative!
Put out messages to targeted audiences that crack jokes about their local politicians. Reference local landmarks. Run regional promotions. The sky’s the limit. Be creative and have fun!
This is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
There are so many other ways to be creative with social media that we’ve hardly scratched the surface.
That being said, these are some of the techniques that I’ve had the most success with over the past few years. They’re also (by my estimation) the most bang you’ll get for your buck. Putting these to use can make waves with your existing followers, and grow your audience exponentially when implemented correctly.
I’d love to hear your stories below. What’s worked for you recently?