That is the type of conversation I routinely have with clients—startups and corporations—looking to build a social presence to create awareness or generate leads:
Brand X: We are looking to increase engagement on our social channels.
Me: OK, so we can design a content strategy around your target group (TG) and drive promotional campaigns with your key messages.
Brand X: At this time we don't have a promotional budget, let's just grow organically.
They inevitably have social profiles that have a follower count of a few hundred—and they want to increase engagement organically!
The result: Even with thousands of followers, post likes and comments (if any) are in single digits.
The age of the influencers has skewed the perception of social media. Businesses now look at it as a shortcut to their audience. What they forget is that many of the tens or hundreds of thousands of famous influencers' followers may well be bought or fake profiles. And the remainder have been brought into the fold by a serious dedication to the medium and paid promotional campaigns.
Though initially it was true that if you started posting on social, people who've liked your page would see the content, that's no longer the case. If you are looking to post content on a page with a few hundred followers and hoping for engagement, you'll be disappointed.
It's quite possible that none of your followers will see your content. Posting is like talking to a wall. Or holding a monologue in an empty room. You come across as a bit mad.
Social channels need to make money, and they have been updating their algorithms to push brands toward paid promotions. For example, Facebook has been restricting organic reach since 2012. In early 2014, a survey by Social@Ogilvy found that Facebook's organic reach was just 6%. In fact ,the larger your following, the lower your organic reach. Not just Facebook, but other social channels have been limiting organic reach as well. Soon, organic reach will be all but nonexistent.
It goes without saying, then, that if you want more engagement on your social profiles, you need to put some serious money and commitment behind it.
What's more, channels like Facebook are also restricting visibility for posts with links that take the user away from the platform. All the video links and blog content that you've been posting? Not doing much good in the present scenario.
So, if your content is not suitable to the new mandates of social channels and your organic reach is next to nothing, what can you do to remain relevant in the social sphere?
A Seven-Step Guide on How Not to Be a Social Media Wallflower
Here are seven ways you can make sure your content gets the eyeballs it deserves.
1. Choose the right channel
Today there are a mind boggling number of social channels, and many companies make the mistake of chasing after a majority of them. In the process, they thin their already limited resources and often cut corners. For example, they post the same content across all channels. That's not going to work. Every channel has a certain tone and demographic that's interested in that channel. So choose wisely. Pick 2-3 channels where you are most likely to find your TG, and focus your efforts there.
2. Grow the size of the room
A social page with no followers is like an empty room. No matter what great things you scream in there, no one is listening. The first order of the day is to build interested audience—people who resonate with your content, your ideas, your product/service, or your values.
3. Create and post engaging content
The era of lengthy, static posts is done. You need to create highly visual, contextual, personal content. You need to build a personality for your brand that shines through in every post. Think Ladbible and The Daily Goalcast.
Build videos that play on the platform, go crazy with stories, and create infographics or some other visual representations of what you need to say.
Find that hook: What would interest your TG? Ask yourself, Would I read/like/share this if I saw it on social media? If not, fix it till it's irresistible.
4. Take a leaf from the influencer book
Influencers have spent a lot of time and effort on building their social capital. Find influencers most relevant to your TG and mimic their social patterns: what type of content they create, what's their posting frequency, what's their tone?
5. Open that wallet
It's better to use the paid promotion options and showcase your content to people who will actually find it relevant. Spend that money wisely. Know your TG, know what you want to achieve from the promotion, carefully design that campaign—and be ready to tweak it every day!
Social is a fluid medium, so you need to iterate your promotions and find what works best for certain channels, content formats, and audience groups. Make sure to keep an eye on that ROI.
6. Build partnerships
If you don't have enough social currency, ride on those who do. Find complementing brands and influencers that have great traction on their handles and do co-branded content. For instance, if you are a budding cookie brand, look for partnering with an established tea or coffee brand. That's putting your money to good use.
7. Have a response strategy in place
If you want to really engage people, you need to be quick to respond when they initiate action. Build a response strategy. Respond quickly to comments, messages, queries, and concerns; and follow through if you cannot address it immediately.
* * *
If you are looking at social media just to tick off a check box, it's best not to do it. Outdated content on pages, low engagement rates, and lack of responses will only sow a seed of doubt in the minds of people visiting your page.
In the end, social media is a daily commitment. It's a true "always on" medium. If you don't have the resources to support it—think again before jumping in.
If you want to do social, it's best to do it right.
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