Social media has come to stay, that is why you see individuals across income levels, large, medium and small-scale organisations, as well as public figures and institutions scurrying to have a notable presence on popular social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Medium, to mention a few.
The fact that you took the time to read this is another strong indication of the importance ascribed to social media these days. Business schools now dedicate modules to teaching it as part of the strategy for business success. Not to mention that 32-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, the largest social media network, is currently the 5th richest man in the world with an estimated worth of $56.0 billion.
In this age and time, to be without a social media presence is like living in the Dark Ages. That on its own has unsavoury implications for a public figure or prominent organisation, as it means unscrupulous fellows will go ahead to create a social media accounts in the name of such persons or entities and use such to defraud innocent people. In Australia alone, there were reported cases of $300million lost to social media scammers in 2016, with one person losing $1.6million out of that sum. At TRW Consult, we recently did a survey for one of our clients, a major oil and gas corporation and discovered there were other social media accounts in the name and guise of this company, all with valid and up-to-date information on them meant to defraud innocent people who are either aiming to work for or do business with this organisation.
So, the focus of this article is not about the increasing fraudulent practices around social media. That is a discourse for another day. What I intend to dwell on are some of the bad practices business owners/managers make in deploying social media networks for commercial success which ultimately result in frustrations and failures. Let’s look at them:
- Hiring IT experts to manage your social media accounts
When there were just issues around internet connectivity, hardware and software, then an IT guru would have offered more value to your online endeavours. But in this dispensation of social media, a content expert is what you need to run a successful brand campaign. Content in this regard refers to text, graphic, and audiovisual information which can be published on your social media accounts in daily or weekly frequency that will be of substance to your audience; thus positioning you in their consciousness as an expert or a provider of value in your field and keep them coming back for more. As the saying goes in social media circle, content is king.
- Hiring anyone to manage your social media accounts
Next, to ramming a square peg into a round hole by deploying a software and hardware person to manage your brand, the worst damage you can do to your corporate brand is to hire just anyone to manage your social media accounts because the person has a social media account of his/her own.
Managing corporate or individual brands on social media must be done strategically. It involves planning, trend analysis, research, reporting, and creative skills coupled with content development expertise to make a success of social media. The way you won’t approach anyone you see in the hospital to attend to your ailment is the same mindset you must deploy in handing over your most sensitive and easily accessible brand assets to anyone to handle because he/she is a graduate and has social media accounts.
- Doing it all in-house
A vibrant social media brand is usually a result of plural input. No single person can deliver a successful social media campaign on his or her own. The saying, “two good heads are better than one” holds true in social media management as in other concerns that justify it. To give your brand a vibrant edge on social media networks, you need cognitive skills in research, creativity, analysis, reportorial, content development, intuitive and trend analysis. While it’s possible to have all these talents latent in one person, that is usually an exception and not the rule.
From experience, at TRW Consult, we usually have to deploy between three operatives or the entire team to a single campaign, depending on the scale of expected result and budget of the project. Apart from this, we also have three agencies [two local and one foreign] that we also engage in running our flagship accounts. That is why we are renowned for stellar results in content, brand and reputation management, while most of our jobs come through referrals.
For you to make the most of your social media brand assets, you need to deploy between two or three of your staff to the assignment for an average brand. And they should see to such concerns as social media calendar, audience analysis, [industrial or societal] trends, marketing integration, audience engagement, etc. You should also invest in training them so they can be abreast of developments and add such to their delivery.
- Spending less and expecting more
This is another faux pa business owners and managers make. Due to the common notion about social media as a plaything or an avenue for frivolous social engagements, they do not consider it an end for business investment or marketing budget. It is this belief that informs assigning just anyone to handle their accounts in the first place.
Social media, while thriving on seeming frivolous social engagements, is a serious business. The stocks of corporate and individual brands rise and fall by the week on the back of social media hits or misses. If in doubt, then google Pepsi’s Black Lives Matter to cite a recent global example. The Nigerian scene abounds with scandalous posts by spokespersons of government officials, which have earned their principals more enemies than fans, not to mention the international embarrassments such ill-advised outputs attract.
To make the most of your social media endeavours, you must be willing to invest a sizable sum in growing your audience and increasing the reach of your posts so that more netizens can see them.
- Content is no longer king
This may sound self-contradictory, considering my first point. Yes, content is no longer king in effective social media management, quality content is. You can’t say because you need to keep your channels busy with content as well as engage your audience, then you post anything or only information about your business. You will only make your audience unfollow/unlike your accounts fast. And, once gone, it’s difficult to win them back because they would have profiled you in their psyche as a junk or irrelevant brand.
You need quality, fresh and relevant content to engage a social media audience, who by nature are restless and insatiable. And you don’t do that by posting stuff about your business alone. There must be a perfect blend of content ranging between serious and trivial, hard and soft information, business and social content to win on social media. The interesting thing is that not every social media expert or agency can offer you that blend. To underscore this point, here is a commentary from the anchorperson of a local social media outfit we engaged for a major campaign: I commend TRWConsult and the team for a great job when it comes to research and content development. We also offer content development as a service for the too busy clients, but we just always prefer that the clients pass to us useful information that will make the work smoother and easier.
I suppose that nails it on the importance of quality content as a catalyst in driving your personal and corporate brand to social media hit.
As a recap, go for the right expertise, go for teamwork, go for quality content and have the right mindset to project your brand to top-of-the-mind awareness on social media.
Babatunde is the team lead at TRW Consult, a marketing communications agency offering niche brand and reputation management services in sub-Saharan Africa.