In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not a social media expert, however, I am, however a great experimentalist. For the past several weeks I’ve been leading the Dallas Startup Week social media efforts, specifically managing most of the Twitter and Instagram feeds. I volunteered to do this mostly because I work cheaply for causes that I care about (and this was a good one!) and that I saw it as an opportunity to up my personal experience with social media.
If you’ve followed my posts so far, you know I’m a card-carrying “traditional” marketer. I tend to be skeptical when I read articles with headlines along the lines of “New Ways to Market Your Product” or “Why Traditional Marketing will Fail Your Start Up.” I believe that the tools and methods change but that the core marketing strategy has stayed the same for decades.
So here was my chance to put my traditional marketing position to a real world, short runway test and I’m happy to share with you the following 5 observations:
1. Content is (still) King. There are all sorts of ways to gain followers and there are loads of people who tout their success by how many followers they have. My observation is that, I’d rather have 250-300 highly engaged followers than 2500 faux followers.
2. Engagement is Key. People like to know you’re listening to them. In my experiment, I made a point to acknowledge the majority of all mentions in the weeks leading up to our event. There are many bots that can make up a direct message to new Twitter followers, but nothing replaces personal interaction. And nothing replicates it. If social media is important to you, you have to put live bodies on it.
3. Get your Followers to do your Dirty Work. More than once I challenged followers to tell their friends about us and to help us grow first to 1000 followers then within a few days 2000 followers. Several tweets also asked event attendees to tweet pictures of themselves throughout the venues.
4. Use Your Hashtags. I hear a lot of people discount hashtags as overused, and a few months ago I, too, was blind to the value of a hashtag. As social media continues to grow, your hashtags are shortcuts for readers to find your content. Sure, they can be funny and ironic but, generally you want them to be meaningful and relevant. It’s like a little “Google Search” built into every Instagram post.
5. Not all Social Media is Created Equal. If you’ve been using social media this isn’t news to you. And depending on your product or service, your social media needs are different. Many social media interact with each other, but the impact can be very different. Determine your objectives first THEN pick your social media weapons. Several companies offer templates to help you build messages across platforms.
So there you have it, my down and dirty observations about using social media effectively. I encourage you to conduct your own experiments. Try different content. Try different times of day. Try different automation tools. Be ready to change your plan accordingly. I’m also especially interested in how you successfully convert social media followers to customers so if you have a thought or two on that, please share via comments below.