Grabbing the Social Bull by the Horns in 2016

We’re currently in the thick of the Calgary Stampede, an annual 10-day event celebrating our city’s western heritage and culture. In 2013, during the Stampede, The Agency put on Content Saloon, a half-day event that brought together social media rock stars for an informative panel discussion on what it takes to make a great social media brand.

Coincidentally, that day three years ago was my unofficial first day at The Agency (I was a guest at the event and started work four days later). I remember that the guests that day were a great combination of personal accounts and corporate brands, and the event ended with a fireside chat featuring Kelly Oxford, hosted by Mike Morrison.

In the three years since, social media has been transformed. What we thought was an extensive arsenal of social media tools back then is nowhere close to what we have now. Managing social media for our clients means using several different platforms at a time, and tweaking the messaging to what works best on which platforms. However, whatever your social media channel(s) of choice, here are some tips on navigating social media for your brand in 2016.

  • Create (and follow!) a social media strategy. At The Agency, any social media project starts with a social media strategy. Social media can take up significant amounts of time depending on your business needs, so the most effective way to manage that time is to plan ahead as much as possible. This includes messaging, target audiences, relevant topics or hashtags, and influencers to follow and engage with. We also flag opportunities for engagement such as events, conferences, or even discussions like those on LinkedIn Groups or Twitter chats.
  • Pick the right tools. There are so many social media platforms out there and it can be tempting to join all of them and just start posting. But part of using social media strategically is knowing where your audiences are, and which social media networks they use. For some of our clients, that’s Twitter and LinkedIn. For others, it’s Instagram and Pinterest. We also keep an eye out for what other platforms seem promising for certain clients, and also keep a pulse on the latest networks. Admittedly, I never created an account on Peach.
  • Be ready for anything. Social media is constantly moving. That means that PR opportunities can come up at any time, and on the other hand, that could also mean dealing with a crisis in real time. Having a social media strategy and proper messaging can help you be ready to deal with such occurrences. Reacting to events is also key. We seldom schedule social media posts at The Agency, but we know that many other social media managers do. It is best to take down scheduled social media posts in the event of breaking news, and to be mindful of when it is appropriate to post again.
  • Restraint and respect go a long way. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you have to use it. In this context, ‘it’ can mean either a social media tool, or hashtag/trending topic. Livestreaming, in particular, whether it’s on Facebook Live, or Periscope, should be used sparingly. Ask yourself, “Will people want to watch this live?” before doing so. As for hashtags and trending topics, this cannot be stressed enough. It seems that almost every week we see a #SocialMediaFail type of post on sites like PR Daily because a brand tried to newsjack a hashtag. Or tried to be part of an important movement like #BlackLivesMatter but instead it falls flat and comes off as insincere. It’s easy to get carried away, but it is important to tread lightly especially when it comes to social issues. Be respectful and avoid making it about you and your brand. Unless absolutely relevant, this is not the time to talk about yourself. Even if you weren’t trying to market your brand, it can come off that way when your company posts about these types of issues. You can show support without coming off as self-serving.

The above tips probably apply to social media management regardless if we were in 2013, or 2016. I thought social media was pervasive then, but I didn’t know the impact it would have until now. How else do you think social media management has changed in the last few years? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @TheAgencyHeidi.

Image from New Old Stock (Public Domain)