Before getting into the nitty-gritty of creating content, scheduling and the art of the almighty hashtag, we had to first establish general guidelines that would provide a baseline for all of our social media activity. Here’s what we did.
In researching social media strategies, I found many articles detailing how to play the game, get more followers and, essentially, rule the land of social media. I read about formulas for writing engaging posts and attention-grabbing, follower-mesmerizing headlines. The problem was a lot of this felt like a numbers game to me and just didn’t align with who Bright Umbrella is as company.
It was important for us to remain true to our ourselves, so focusing on gimmicky headlines and formulaic posts wasn’t going to work for us. We wanted to be authentic, using our real voices and sharing resources that we actually use. We work to make our content engaging, informative and even a little witty, but it comes from who we actually are, not from data about what gets the most likes or shares. As a result, we have a following of folks who are genuinely interested in what we share.
You can’t establish an identity on social media if you don’t already have a clear sense of your brand in the first place. Fortunately for us, we did and it gave us a solid jumping off point for where to go next.
Start at the end.
When approaching pretty much anything, I find that things tend to work more smoothly when you start at the end, thinking about the outcome first. What are the specific goals of using social media for your company?
For Bright Umbrella, we wanted to attract more clients, increase listenership for the podcast and share knowledge with the web community. Once we had a clear picture of our intended outcome, it was all about figuring out how to achieve it. At every step along the way, we asked “Is this going to move us toward our goals?” If the answer was no, we’d revisit and rethink. Keeping our goals in mind really helped us stay on track and make focused decisions quickly.
Establish a guide for basic practices.
Once we understood our voice and desired outcomes, it was time to establish the basic overall practices that we would all follow when using social media as Bright Umbrella and CTRL+CLICK CAST.
How would we interact with followers? What type of accounts would we follow? What kind of information would we pass on from others to our followers? We created a list of guidelines based on these types of questions because even the smallest action speaks to who we are as a company. All three of us post to and interact with social media on behalf of the podcast and business, so guidelines are important to help maintain consistency as a brand.
For example, whenever we get a new follower on our CTRL+CLICK CAST Twitter account, we thank them. We take a look at their feed and see if we can recommend an episode that they might like. If not, we just say thanks, but we try to personalize it; we connect. It’s authentic and gives us a chance to say hello, offer a useful resource and possibly gain a new loyal listener. This simple action speaks to who we are and is inline with our goals.
The practice of thanking every follower might not work for you. We do it because it aligns with our goals and our identity. It’s worth taking the time to brainstorm and think about what simple social media actions say about who you are and the message you want to send. Although they might seem small, it all adds up.
A place to come home to.
A fully-formed social media strategy has a lot of moving parts, and you’ll need to make adjustments along the way to see what works and what doesn’t. Think of these basic guidelines as creating a home base for yourself; a place to come back to as you fine-tune your process. This baseline will inform future decisions about what to post, when to post, and how to track progress all the while maintaining a consistent identity.
Stay tuned for my next post on creating a formal strategy: what’s worked for us and what hasn’t.