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? 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.
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.
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.
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.
This morning I'm writing a blog post about change.
I typed my title into Google Search and am using "people also ask" as my outline.
It's an experiment like anything in social media and content marketing.
— Bridget Willard (@YouTooCanBeGuru) September 6, 2018
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.
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.