2020 has created many challenges for the average person, but it may have created even more challenges for social media community managers across the nation. As stay-at-home orders went into effect, consumers took to social media to express themselves and engage with others in their communities.
As we look ahead at 2021, things aren’t going to change overnight. We’re now in the midst of the new normal, and our team has compiled several tips to help your social media team gear up for next year and enhance your communities through expert community management.
Not everyone in the marketing world understand the value and importance of community management and how it correlates with the consumer experience. Below are 5 stats that emphasize why your community and content strategy on social media is detrimental to your organization’s success:
Add to the stats above that social media marketers have been in crisis mode for the majority of 2020. From social justice initiatives (both in the US and globally) to the pandemic, to the election, people flocked to social media to a) yell at a brand for taking a stance, b) yell at a brand for not taking a stance, c) yell at a brand for running out of supplies/closing their facilities, d) yell at other people on an innocuous brand post about their political opinions… What we’re trying to say is, the comments section of your social media posts were extra important this year as so many things occurred, all of which had the ability to put your brand at risk. Having the right people staffed to monitor your channels and properly engage is vastly important.
Before we dive into some real questions from marketers about community management, our community management leadership team compiled these five tips to apply to your brand strategy.
There are certainly a few changes that have been made across the industry that have had an impact on community management and content production. From a content standpoint, the Facebook 20% rule was eliminated this year (meaning if your image had more than 20% text, Facebook would limit the reach on the content). When this rule was still applicable, we primarily advised clients not to use text at all in their visuals, but now that it’s more acceptable we instead advise clients to be selective about the text they want to include and simplify the messaging as much as possible. Complex messages aren’t going to look appealing or resonate well with audiences.
Another key item that’s changed this year is the way marketers approach their content calendars. 2019 was a time where you were able to really get ahead of planning and have a solid calendar laid out, and tons of those calendars went right out the window in March. Now, while it’s still important to plan ahead what you can, its even more important to build in flexibility into your calendar. Being in tune with your community and understanding the social media climate is very important. You almost need to revisit messaging before you publish to make sure the content will still resonate properly with your audience.
Finally, this last item has been an issue for a few years but more recently brands have been bringing it up again… follower count. Brands have consistently asked, “how do I get the most followers” and used that thinking to develop their social media strategies. It’s time to stop. Put simply, follower count is nothing more than a vanity metric that doesn’t do anything for you. On Facebook, you’re lucky if you’re even reaching 1-2% of your fans organically. Not to mention the brands that are literally paying for followers, then needed to pay more money to continue to reach those followers. It’s a money suck that doesn’t do anything for your business. Instead, brands should be focusing on producing quality, engaging social media content.
You might not like the answer… but YES! Ok, not EVERY single comment. We do recommend you avoid comments that fall into the “seven deadly sins of conversations” (sex, alcohol, tobacco, religion, politics, etc.) as well as spam. Aside from that, if someone has taken the time to leave a comment or reply to a Tweet, it’s important to respond. The key is to match the commentors level of effort in your response. One word comments might warrant a simple reaction, but if someone sat down and wrote a few sentences about how your brand helped them get through a difficult time, you should match that sentiment and write a few sentences back.
Social media isn’t always set up to support a B2B community, so this can be difficult. But remember that they are still just regular people that you’re reaching on other channels. Think about what value you can provide your audience and make sure that value comes across in your content.
If you haven’t already tapped into groups, LinkedIn Groups are great for B2B. You can facilitate conversations with customers or potential customers and leverage influencers/ambassadors or super-users to moderate groups. Don’t just hit everyone in the head with a marketing message all the time. Figure out what their issues are and create content that highlights how your products or services solve them.
Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all answer to this question. You need to take a look at your social strategy holistically, look at budget, resources, paid support, and your community. It’s going to take some testing and learning along to way to find a cadence that makes sense for your brand individually.
Pro-tip: Don’t post just to post. Approach your posting cadence with the quality over quantity mindset.
At Ignite Social Media, we’re tool agnostic. We don’t use the same tool across all of our clients because they all have unique businesses with different needs. Many of the top companies such as Hootsuite, Sprinklr, Sprout Social, and Conversocial are all great and are specifically designed to make your life easier as a social media marketer.
Additionally, Facebook specifically (but some other platforms as well) have recently stepped up their game in terms of community management functionality. On Facebook, you can now use the Inbox to respond to both Facebook and Instagram Direct Messages. They also have the Creator Studio which acts as a repository for content and makes it easy for you to republish assets across their different platforms. So don’t rule out any native platform tools that are available as they have drastically improved over the years.
Adobe Creative Suite is a great suite of tools to have on hand if you have a robust content team at your disposal. However, these tools do require a lot of knowledge to successfully operate them, so if you’re looking for other resources that are more approachable, we recommend Canva. Canva can be valuable for graphic design and has come a long way since it was first created and now has both some high-level photo editing and video editing capabilities. Plus, while the standard Canva subscription is free, the Pro version isn’t a very expensive alternative.
When it comes to copywriting, Hemingway Editor is a great tool that gives you feedback and tips on how to make your copy as concise as possible. This really benefits social media copywriters because there’s limited space available (especially when you run into truncated text on Facebook and Instagram).
No! As with everything else on social media, your brand needs to be strategic about where you are. You should have a reason for having a presence on the social channels you choose. Make sure your audience is on the network, make sure your industry is present on the network. The obvious example is to not just jump on TikTok just because “everyone’s on TikTok” – because not everyone really is there.
Building a brand new channel is more costly than one thinks in terms of the time it takes to get everything up and running. If you’re going to be somewhere, you have to commit. You can’t just make a channel and then never do anything with it. So take the time to research where your audience is and allocate your resources accordingly.
This happened a lot this past year and it’s something you have to think about with both paid and organic content. When it comes to determining if your brand should go dark (aka, hold on publishing any new content on social media or running ads), we apply the following creative practice. Imagine what your target audience’s newsfeed looks like at this moment on the platform in which you want to publish. Now, think about the piece of content you’re about to publish and how it would look showing up in that audiences feed at that moment. Does it look out of place? Could it come off as insensitive? For example, say a natural disaster just occurred and is trending on Facebook and Twitter. Do you want your ad asking audiences to purchase your product showing up sandwiched between two posts about the disaster?
It’s also important to think about what language you’re using in your posts. Our team saw a recent post from a grocery store that shared copy along the lines of, “Hosting? Plan a super spread.” While in normal society this messaging and terminology is normal for the brand, out of context the copy comes off very insensitive considering the coronavirus pandemic is still happening. Ultimately, it’s better to back off and play it safe to ensure what you’re saying isn’t going to be perceived in the wrong way.
Simply put – ask them to engage. There’s so much you can achieve with good copywriting. Asking an open-ended question prompts audiences to leave a comment. Ask people to share a photo of an inexperience they had. Prompting them to do something often persuades them to take action.
Some platforms also have beneficial features built-in that help incentivize engagement. Instagram Stories for example has stickers, multiple-choice questions, sliders, polls, and more. We’ve seen great success across this content type when it comes to engagement because of the native capabilities they provide.
There was once a time where this really mattered. Our team would sit and analyze all of our content to determine when the best time to post for each brand occurred. However now, because of the algorithms, you could post on Monday at 2 pm and someone won’t see it until Wednesday at 10 pm (if they ever even see the content). That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look into when your specific audience is the most engaged, it doesn’t hurt to post, but instead think more about the messaging of your content and if it’s going to make sense if someone sees it a few days from now.
To start, sizing social media content properly for each channel and each platform individually. We still see brands make the mistake of repurposing content and not optimizing those assets for the new unit. It doesn’t look clean nor does it look appealing to the consumer. Similarly, making sure your copy is also aligned for the channel it’s being published on instead of reposting the same copy across all platforms. An example we often see is, “leave a photo in the comments” on Instagram, which you can’t do on the platform.
Another tip for brand marketers, ask yourself “why” behind what you’re posting more. Too often are people posting because “everyone’s posting this” right now, and it can come off as inauthentic and insensitive. Instead, think about if the content is mutually beneficial for both you as the brand and your audience.
Finally, look outside of your own brand. We’re the biggest cheerleaders for our brand, but that’s not how everyone else see’s the brand. Getting outside of our own heads and getting a more diverse perspective on messaging and content will help your brand resonate in a whole new way with the audience.
Do you have any questions we may not have answered above? Reach out to our team of experts for their advice or if you’re considering outsourcing your community management to an agency. Additionally, keep yourself up to date on social media marketing news and trends by subscribing to our bi-weekly e-newsletter below.
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