When businesses make the maiden voyage into the endless ocean that is social media, they need the right captain and the right expectations. Sailing unpredictable waters in an ill-prepared vessel could result in seasickness, or even death. It won’t be actual death, but brand death is the next worst thing. A good captain will ration their content, catch the right trending winds, and prepare them for what to realistically expect. No sane traveler would let a deck cadet steer a boat, so why do companies let interns steer their brand in social media? Not only do some businesses think social media doesn’t require attention or resources, they also think the point of participating is to generate direct sales.
A social media expert knows that when leading a company, the gain is made during the journey, not at the destination. The most important task is to advise a business how social media works for marketing and identity, rather than focusing content of generating revenue. Here are some healthy expectations for a company’s social media experience:
Growth should be organic: Although there are the rare times when a certain brand takes the social world by storm, it is very unlikely. Generally, a business can expect an organic growth process over a period of time in terms of likes and followers. Quality is always better than quantity. It is more beneficial to your brand to have 1,000 followers that fit your demographic than having 10,000 people following you who will never buy your product. Cultivating your audience takes time, but you will eventually be engaging crowds of people who will want to engage with your product or service.
Sales will come, eventually: If you turn your brand into a salesman, potential customers lock their doors. Let brand presence drive your social strategy. When followers see your brand it will remind them of what you sell, so entertain them. If your content is good enough for them to share, they will not only buy your product, they will tell their friends to buy it too. The best way to think of content is: “Would I share this on my personal page if it weren’t my brand?” If that answer is no, then you should change directions. If you take risks, you will see results.
Likes/Followers are the currency: Popularity is the most important part of any online brand. Learn to love your likes, by that I mean think of each new “like” as a future sale. Brands have the chance to interact with followers and get to know them. Followers expect to be personally thanked and interacted with when they comment or like your content.
Success is not free: Social media gives your brand the ability to target certain groups of people and cater to their interests, but just like in all other forms of advertising, it’s not free. Facebook has recently changed its algorithm to push advertising out of non-paid posts, so now advertisers are forced to go for paid promotions to expand their reach. Organic (non-paid) advertisements have lost most of their effectiveness and brands are relying much more on paid promotions.
Doing a Facebook paid promotion will bump up your followers and likes, but it is advisable to have consistent promotion to continue boosting your brand to as many people as possible. Promoted posts are also the best way to get cheap analytics (SEE Using analytics).
Understanding that growth is supposed to be a slow and steady process will help you know what to expect out of your social media relationship. Once you learn to value followers as much as sales, love your likes, and promote your posts, you will find that a social media agency can be a great partner for your brand.
Our advice: Hand your social media over to a professional; let them build your network by taking calculated creative risks. Expect an organic growth process and remember . . . expect sales, but don’t chase them. In the words of Captain Edward Smith “take her to sea.”
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