Social Media Success: Adjust and Adapt to Change

When it comes to technology, you can always expect one thing: change. When it comes to social media, changes happens at a faster pace. Keep up for success.

Why does social media change so often?

Why does social media change so often? My answer: welcome to tech.

In my talks, I always say the tech changes in 20 minutes so you better keep up. Once you post that tutorial on how to add people to a list, Twitter will change the gear icon into the three stacked dots. It happens. It happens frequently. It happens to us all.

Here are some examples of change:

  • Facebook lists are going away. I know. Many people didn’t even know they existed. I used them. They’re gone. Whatever. Move on. Right?
  • Instagram is no longer in reverse chronological order. Surprise? Not really since Facebook bought them.
  • There used to be “best times to post.” Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram default to a customized feed based upon the user’s behavior. Throw away those best times now.
  • Auto posting from Instagram to Twitter used to be chic. Then Twitter stopped supporting live previews of Instagram links (not surprisingly, after Facebook bought them).
  • Follow Friday (#FF #FollowFriday) was a huge deal on Twitter. Now if you do it, you’re out of touch or have some robot turned on.
  • Twitter changed retweeting — three times — since I signed up in 2007. This is why I prefer the old “RT” way. (Did you know your retweets can be turned off?)
  • It used to be that Instagram’s culture supported 12-20 hashtags per post. This is changing.
  • Instagram used to perform well with short captions. People now accept longer descriptions, stories.
  • SnapChat was copied by Instagram and Facebook with 24 hour “stories.”
  • Avatars used to be 500×500 squares. They’re are now circles within those squares.

I could go on and on but those are just some of the changes I’ve experienced since doing content marketing and social media management since 2009.

Tech changes. Adapt.

This is why it is so important to be a practitioner.

How do you start a social media campaign from scratch?

Starting a social media campaign from scratch is easier than you think. When you start from scratch, you don’t have to relearn changes. You just have to learn the right way (until they change it again).

My advice is to always start small. Use one platform. Use it often and use it well. For example, if you have a new product coming out, decide where your audience is. Pick that social media platform.

If it’s a WordPress plugin, choose Twitter. Start an account. Write your bio clearly. Use a square logo ensuring the logo is clearly visible in a square. Tweet about your product linking to your website. Pin that tweet to your timeline. Tweet once a day in the morning and once after lunch.

With Twitter, a campaign’s success is a ratio of volume. Resist the urge to retweet people who talk about you. Instead reply. Say “thank you.” Respond to questions. Build relationships. This is how to be successful.

How do I create a social media strategy plan?

The first step to creating a successful social media strategy is to plan with a professional. You should have SMART goals with an overarching strategy and agile tactics.

Let’s start by differentiating strategy from tactics.

“Strategy and tactics are both how you will achieve your goals and objectives. Strategy is our path or bridge for going from where we are today to our goal. It’s our general resource allocation plan. It might be to engage industry thought-leaders to become advocates for our product. The tactics then are how specifically or tangibly we will do that. They might include items such direct marketing letters, face-to-face meetings, key talking point scripts and an iPad app.” Rich Horwath

  • What are your goals? Write them down.
  • What do you want out of social media? Write it down.
  • Who is your customer? The answer is not “everyone.” This question takes some introspection and maybe an audit. Who were your last 5 big customers? What do they have in common?
  • Where are your customers? If the answer is Twitter, then start there.

There is no real way to be super specific in a blog post about tactics, which is why you hire a consultant. This is where I mention that you can also hire me as a consultant to put together a plan of action. 

 

How do you create a social media marketing strategy factoring in change?

Any strategy should have flexibility in the tactics to allow for change. It’s the same in social media. Factoring in change in social media means factoring in failure. Social media tactics need room for error and experimentation. Watch the results — but don’t obsess. Look for long-term trends. Ask “what if” often.

In order to allow for tactical changes, you must experiment. I did it with this blog post, even. For the first time, I used “people also ask” as my outline. I never outline my posts. I just write.

That means, as a business owner or corporate officer, whether hiring or outsourcing, you must trust your team. Delegate. Let go. Check in monthly or quarterly. Ask questions. Listen to their answers. Assess. Adjust. Continue.

When it comes to employees, hire someone you trust and then — trust them. Give constructive feedback frequently. It takes time to learn a brand’s voice — or to shape it. Comedians take about four years to find this. It won’t be overnight.

How can social media strategies be improved?

Remember that a social media strategy is a strategy. These are overarching goals, to be contrasted with tactics. You can and should always improve your tactics. Strategies can be reassessed quarterly.

Social media strategies can always be improved but you won’t know how to make the changes unless you monitor trends, assess, and adapt.

A good social media manager won’t be stuck in 2009. As a practitioner, your vendor or in-house employee will know what is best for your industry and your niche.

This is why it’s important to outsource to a professional, who could easily qualify as an in-house Marketing Manager. Anything less is risking the reputation of your brand — something not so easily recovered for a growing small business.

If your social media marketing is stuck in 2009, let’s talk.

 

What a Social Media Manager Can’t (or shouldn’t) Do for You

Social Media Managers are awesome. They’s so awesome, in fact, that they get amazing and quite unreasonable requests. Well, some of the requests are more demeaning than goal setting, but let’s talk about it.

Recently, my friend Carol Stephen wrote a post called “What Can a Social Media Manager Do For You?” In that post she includes items such as research, deciding when to post, and choosing hashtags.

I thought it would be fun to do the opposite.

Here are some things your social media manager should not or can not do:

  1. Care about your business more than you do.
  2. Be a videographer or video editor.
  3. Be a professional photographer or editor.
  4. Be an expert in InDesign, PhotoShop, et al.
  5. Design logos or creative.
  6. Replace a web development agency.
  7. Be a technical SEO expert.
  8. Be an expert in paid advertising.
  9. Write content for your blog.
  10. An API Ninja.

Many social media managers also have some of those skills. Be aware, however, that they are legitimate skillsets in and of themselves.

Outsource and Free Up Your Time

Have you thought about outsourcing social media? It’s a great way to grow your business and free some of your own time. Having realistic expectations helps you value what a social media manager actually does.

A good social media manager will represent your brand online and off. She will post content that has been created by your editorial staff (content creation is another job). She will post photos taken by your team (or professionals you hire) and write captions and add hashtags. Your social media manager will interact with your audience (known as engagement) with your best interest in mind.

A Marketing Manager ($85k+/year) will most likely be responsible for items 2 – 10 and outsource many of the tasks to vendors. A social media manager ($60K+)  bills for the work, not the time, is easy to get a hold of, and has a good account of her own. A Marketing Manager will likely hire a social media manager to work under her.

What kinds of questions can I help you answer or problems I can solve. Let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work.

Dana Marin

Outsourcing Social Media: It’s About Time

If you don’t have time for social media, outsourcing it is a good solution. But there are caveats. You have to do it wisely.

Time. Time is money. We’ve heard it all of our lives. In business we also talk about sweat equity. It’s a real thing. Yes, if you don’t have money, you may have time. But at some point you will have to evaluate how you spend your time.

I wrote extensively about why outsourcing is financially advantageous here. In this post, I’d like to discuss some common misconceptions or thoughts I hear about social.

“My team would be good at social media if they weren’t busy.”

There are a few things wrong with this statement.

Firstly, it presumes that social media is a low-level skill that anyone can learn. In many ways, it can be learned. But more about that later.

Secondly, social media isn’t a team sport. Not to say you don’t work with a team, but committees are where social posts go to die — or never have a chance at life at all.

Thirdly, I absolutely believe that your team could be excellent at some parts of social media. In fact, my preference is to teach social media, rather than do it for you. Why? Because no one knows your business like you.

Great. So now we’ve decided you could be good.

What now?

Either you get training for them to do it or you outsource it to an agency like mine.

If you train your team to do social media, you will be taking them away from their primary duty. Does it make sense for a CEO or Manager to tweet? From a time and cost standpoint, no.

“Social Media is something everyone feels like they can chime in on.”

Yeah. No. So much no. A seven layer bean dip of no. That’s the snark version.

Seriously, viewing social media as a low-level skill is dismissive at best. It’s not data entry or factory line work. Even those jobs require skills that not everyone can excel at.

When you don’t view a skill as an area of expertise, you don’t respect it as a profession. Sure, everyone has an iPhone, that’s not a qualifier.

Social media isn’t just about posting. It’s about the who, what, when, where, why, and how of posting. It’s about timing. It’s about reading the audience. It’s about discernment. It’s about silence sometimes. It’s closer to comedy in many ways.

Social media is about timing. It's about reading the audience. It's about discernment. It's about silence. It's closer to comedy in many ways. Click To Tweet

Social media requires basic understanding of psychology, tech, marketing, and copyrighting. It’s not for everyone.

“Social Media is a waste of time. It doesn’t work anyway.”

This one. I forget about this one all of the time. I could give example after example of how this isn’t true.

Here are some examples right off the top of my head.

  1. Amy Donohue donated her kidney because of a tweet. That was in 2011.
  2. Because of a video I created for Riggins Construction, they got a net profit of work from a single client in 2015 that paid for my salary for half a year.
  3. In September of 2015, one of our Thought House Franchise Development clients got four (yes, four) first-click leads from Twitter.

And this doesn’t include the people you meet (human ROI) or the knowledge that you learn from consuming content.

Social Media works if you work it.

Relationships are always valuable to business; especially if your business model relies upon referrals.

Being social in any venue, online or off, pays off if you are a kind, generous person. Your brand has an opportunity to present itself online as that person. Why wouldn’t you take that opportunity?

If you don’t have time to do it, outsource it. It’s that simple.


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Relationships are Built Upon Small Talk

Social media gets a bad wrap for being a place where people tweet that they’re going to the bathroom, take selfies in their car, and review their chicken salad. It’s just small talk. So why invest?

I mean, who cares what you ate for breakfast?

The truth is, we all care.

Warning: Snark Ahead

I was sitting at a graduation party some years back, suddenly on the Defense for Facebook v People. “Our family doesn’t use Facebook,” he said. His wife chimed in saying they had better things to do. People only talk about nonsense anyway.

What you don’t know is we has spent the previous 20 minutes discussing what the best dog shampoo was.

Twenty minutes.

Are you with me?

So, yeah. Social media is stupid, because I could have asked my friends on Facebook what their favorite pet shampoo was and had crowdsourced that answer in minutes — with links to Amazon.

Of course, I stepped up to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury, presented my case, and closed it.

Today, they are on Facebook.

Small Talk Is A Relationship Builder

I feel like I’ve written about this before. Maybe I just keep saying it. And honestly, are we supposed to solve the energy crisis with a stranger? Do you sit down next to a person you’ve never met and pour out your latest heartbreak? I mean, maybe you do. I bet it’s cathartic, but that person is going to think you’re strange — at best.

It’s called small talk but it plays no small role in our lives. The people who think we waste time talking about our cat, lunch, etc. don’t understand that small talk is the structure relationships are built upon.

Office Watercooler

Where’s the office watercooler? What do you talk about with your coworkers? Who won what game and by how many points? What a ripoff that so-and-so didn’t win America’s Got Talent? Debate over the meaning of the season finale of Game of Thrones?

None of that chit chat is going to solve the problems in the middle east or bring water to a village in Africa. Does that mean it has no value?

Absolutely not.

Small talk is very valuable.

Small Talk is a Bridge

Often small talk is a bridge to an emotional discussion. It’s dipping your toe in the water to make sure its temperature isn’t too hot or too cold. It helps you evaluate the emotional status of your potential conversationalist.

Do you remember the last time you approached someone with a request? How did you start?

“Many times, much as in the outside world, family members preface a highly anxious issue with small talk. If you can listen without dismissal to what seems like small talk by a spouse, child, teen or parent, you may facilitate an opportunity for crucial disclosure.” Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP

Cutting off small talk may cut you off to larger conversations and deeper connection. Remember that the next time someone asks you an annoying question like, “What are you doing?” It may be they’re just testing the waters.

Business is Built with Relationships

I wrote about relationship marketing extensively over on WordImpress, but suffice it to say that we do business with people we like. It’s not a fair world. It’s not about the best product. We don’t hire the best candidate. We don’t promote the best person. We promote, hire, and purchase from people we like.

We may invent a six-party interview system with scoring and blind reviews, but we still choose people based upon our own instinct.

But Small Talk is Annoying and Difficult

It was for me, too, before I started. You do it on social media the same way as in real life. Starting conversations with questions help, especially if they are open-ended questions. This only backfires if you’re talking to someone more shy than you are. The truth is that most people like to talk about themselves. It’s just a fact.

Practice. Read “How to Win Friends & Influence People.” Learn how to actively listen.

The next wedding you attend, you can ask the person to the left how they know the bride. At your next meetup, ask the person a question about the subject matter. This is a great way to get better at small talk. It will not happen without practice.

“Small talk can lead to a host of outcomes, from a merely pleasant exchange to the signing of multimillion-dollar business deal.” Brett Nelson, Forbes 

Believe me, I have major panic when it comes to entering rooms full of people I don’t know and I find that it is hard to talk. But, even people waiting for an elevator can have a perfectly good conversation. Why not leverage that opportunity?

Small Talk 2.0

Enter social media. Specifically, Twitter. I think this is where most people meet others, though I could be wrong. For me, it’s where I’m open to conversations (small talk) with strangers. I could babble on incessantly about how much my life has been changed because of the people I met there, but it would be boring.

I will settle with a case in point. In a former job at a contractor, I had met a Commercial Real Estate broker in our County. I knew he and my boss would hit it off. After a few exchanges over a period of time I convinced them both to meet for lunch. At first, I was nervous. After all, this was my very first sales call — of sorts.

But when Allen walked in the restaurant it was all smiles and handshakes. The awkward small talk wasn’t awkward. It didn’t exist. Why? We did it online. We sat as friends because we were friends.

“Small talk is not wasted talk. It’s a social lubricant as essential as wine and laughter that allows strangers to make crucial first connections across demographic lines. And it’s far from meaningless.” Ruth Graham

Small Talk, The Sequel

Now, the next time you see someone you have a basis for continuing the friendship. You no longer need to talk about sports or weather — though you can. You can level up.

You can ask a question you’ve been dying to ask. You can tell them how you liked the blog post they wrote last week.

Small Talk Builds Trust

The value in small talk is this: it builds trust. I’m not going to tell you where I live, my first kiss, or my darkest secret right off the bat. Even though I’ve come across elitists who think small talk is mindless, I’m surprised at how many blog posts also say that. I even read one in the NYTimes about a “no small talk rule” when dating. Seriously? I wonder how that’s working out for you, pal. Or would that be small talk to ask?

The point is this. Humans are social. We create relationships by communicating. This includes body language, tone, inflection, micro-gestures, laughter, tears, expressions, and, yes, small talk.

If you want people to like you, be likable. There is no way around that.

Or, just enjoy your dinner for one in the corner. Alone.