Did you resolve to be more present on social media in 2021? Bots and politics aside, there’s still potential to promote your business, build a brand and engage with those interested in learning about your products and services. But to succeed, you need a plan.
There’s lots of bad advice out there, and most of it is bogus. It was created for one reason: to get likes, comments and followers for the account that posted it, so they can make money selling ads. That said, there are a few concrete guidelines to use when venturing out to get your likes, comments and follows. And yes, make a few bucks in the process. Below are some to get you started.
Content is still king. A good photo or graphic will always get attention. Use these if you have them. Unsplash is an excellent place to go for copyright-free photography. Links to articles and videos can reinforce your message. Remember, the best artists steal from each other. It’s perfectly OK to take an idea you like and make it your own. But if you do use something you found, always credit the creator. Above all, be genuine in your communication.
You’re not talking to “all those people out there.” You are forging individual relationships, one at a time. As you write, imagine you’re composing an email to a good friend. Use the same language and emotion as you would when communicating with a close connection. That warmth will come through.
Create a calendar. Know what you are going to say before you say it. It’s best to plan a week or two in advance. Use a scheduler like Sprout Social, Hootsuite or Loomly to stay on track and easily organize and visualize your posts. If cost is an issue, DIY using Excel. Paper and pencil work, too. There’s a tool for everybody. Play with them all and see what works for you.
Focus on connecting, not selling. Generation Z is too savvy to fall for a sales pitch. Millennials want to be informed. Use these as your guideposts as you craft your message.
Slow and steady wins the race. Be consistent. A post a day is fine. Twice keeps you front and center. Perhaps once in the morning and once at night. If you post directly, start a spreadsheet with the date, a quick blurb about the content and engagement you received. If you’d like more in-depth analytics, the schedulers mentioned above all have excellent reports.
Hashtags. They’re essential. Do a Google search, use a website like Tagsfinder, or find an existing account similar to yours and see which ones they use.
Engagement in the first 15 minutes of an Instagram post determines the trajectory of that post. Posts are basically dead after two hours. Revive them by sharing in the “Stories” section. Instagram recently tweaked the algorithm. Again. Instead of favoring likes, the new thing now is saves. Compelling, engaging content that connects with your audience wins here.
Create something they’ll want to look at again and again and again. Insta Saves is the 21st-century version of a scrapbook or vision board. Remodeling ideas, #OOTD (Outfit of the Day) and aspirational products are things Instagram users turn to when they want inspiration or want to remember where they saw that incredible (insert your product here).
As you dip your toe into the social media world, remember that there are very few accounts that dominate the zeitgeist. Your job isn’t to join them. Your job is to find and connect with your tribe and establish yourself as an authority in your space. Remember, it’s not about followers. It’s about having a conversation with the people who choose to make you a part of their everyday habits.
Cynthia Maggard is director of social media services at Bentonville retail and e-commerce marketing firm The Levio Agency. The opinions expressed are those of the author.