The one strategy you need to implement on social media right now

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Among the main concerns I hear with clients and prospects in regard to social media are, “How do we know if we’re doing the right things? What should we measure? How do we know if we’re ‘winning’?”

Above all else, I’ve found one strategy that works with EVERY client, and I’ll share that strategy with you shortly. First though, a little background on where this comes from.

When I was just out of college — technically, while I was still in college — I had the good fortune to be hired by IBM. Big Blue describes its three core values as:

  • Dedication to every client’s success;
  • Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world; and
  • Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.

My time at IBM taught me that if you have core values — that are written and accepted by fellow IBMers — you’d better live those values. Putting clients first, innovating for the sake of mankind, and trust in all relationships all sound like great aspirations, but I saw them in action every day in our company. In sum, these three core values were both genuine and authentic.

As a result of that experience, I’ve held IBM and its research in the highest regard. I know the quality of its data is both world class and, more importantly, something from which we can learn and take action. Check out this recent IBM study of 4,800 CxOs (CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, CMO, etc.):

IBM posed this question: “What is your biggest barrier to an integrated digital-physical strategy?”

The overwhelming response? Sixty-three percent said they lack a cohesive social media plan. What does this tell us? Determining where social media fits in your existing business is really hard. What you say (messaging), where you say it (platform), and how often you share (frequency) are all factors — amongst others — that determine your success. Without a plan though how do you know what success really looks like?

Going a step further, if you observe a company actually doing social media well (i.e., large follower counts and high engagement on posts), it may be a little tough to determine why it’s actually working. Should you simply emulate what they’re doing? What if the techniques they’re using are not appropriate for your target audience?

There’s one strategy you can implement today that will make things dramatically easier for you; however, like IBM, be genuine and authentic in all things social media.

Most of the emerging social media platforms (like Snapchat), and techniques (like Instagram Stories and Facebook Live) can be summed up in one simple word: unproduced. Instead of content that is highly edited or refined by a graphic designer, users are typically uploading photos or videos directly from their phones with very little concern for lighting, sound quality, or finishing touches.

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A Snapchat picture with caption and timestamp

If any editing is done whatsoever, it will consist of simple captions, a filter to emphasize feeling or highlight a particular location, or even drawings on the screen.

What does the rise of these emerging platforms and techniques tell us? People using these social media platforms desire simple, raw content. They value authenticity first, production-quality second. They want to see if you really are who you say you are.

As an example, I personally advocate that businesspeople like me consider exercising and producing content (writing articles, etc.) first thing in the morning. Before the workday begins, and before things get too hectic, you can create a Personal Branding Power Hour to begin your day on a fantastically productive note.

To support my assertions, I provide proof on social media documenting how I actually do these things myself. I take a quick snapshot or video with my phone, share the proof with my audience, and get back to work. 

Every one of us with a smartphone currently owns our own media company. At any time we can show the world what’s going on around us, and our audience can share in our experiences. As both an individual and as a representation of your business, what are you sharing with the world?

Do you highlight your outstanding customer service as a component of your business? Prove it. Show your audience that you’re practicing what you preach. Do you tout the quality of your products and production process? You don’t need a professional film crew to create a documentary. Use the smartphone in your pocket to provide proof now.

Regardless of what social media platforms you use, adopt a culture of genuine, transparent behavior. This mindset will position you as an outlier in the most positive sense possible, and you’ll engender trust with your target audience. When developing your social media strategy, start with this word: authentic.

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