Social Media Must be More than High School Gossip

By Charles Costa

“We have to get on social media,” it’s a common refrain of managers across the globe. The reasons for the request are valid on the surface — increased brand awareness, larger sales volumes, and efficient customer engagement — yet when employees get started on the channels they end up posting aimlessly without a coherent strategy.

Fact of the matter is that social media strategies without effective planning add just as much value to the end reader as high school gossip. While it’s common for individuals to share memes and random bits of information with their audiences, businesses are held to a different standard.

That’s not to say social media teams within companies can’t be edgy, or humorous. It just means that there needs to be a strategy in play, or as many would say, “a method to the madness”.

Effective social media campaigns begin with the creation of a consistent brand identity that resonates with the target market. This identity needs to be documented so there’s uniformity even as the marketing campaigns change hands.

After establishing brand guidelines, the teams within companies need to consider the following question. “Are we doing enough to earn the attention of social media users.”

On the surface, developing an identity and then coming up with ways to earn attention might seem daunting, but with the right strategy and action items, it’s more than manageable.

Reducing the noise

As discussed earlier, there’s no shortage of information for people to consume via social media. Information overload is one of the biggest challenges facing professionals today, which is why simply posting material on social media isn’t going to drive results.

While there’s no shortage of using flashy campaigns and tactics to attempt to gather attention, such as giveaways, viral videos, and things along those lines, there’s a much more sustainable approach companies need to embrace for the long run.

Business professionals need to focus on earning the attention of their target market by adding value to the reader. The simplest way to achieve this goal is to focus on becoming a go-to resource for relevant information and tips, that wouldn’t normally be found anywhere else.

Teams within companies need to focus on curating information that matters, while adding a unique spin that can’t be found elsewhere. Doing so puts them in a positive light with their audience and also shows that they know to “walk the walk” rather than simply “talking the talk.”

Developing an effective communication style

After figuring out strategies to earn audience attention, corporate teams need to figure out the best ways to engage with their markets.

When teams within companies begin developing their social media strategy, they need to review the company buyer personas to understand their audience and how to engage with them. The companies then need to consider how they would describe the company as if it were a person.

Choosing three to five adjectives is sufficient. For example, friendly, approachable, passionate. From there, the teams need to take the initial terms that come to mind and explore them further.

For example, take the term, “passionate.” After thinking about it for some time, other qualities that come to mind include, “expressive, enthusiastic, heartfelt, action-oriented.”

After defining the core elements of the company personality, the teams can begin documenting those qualities in a shared document to serve as the definition of the brand voice. Although brand voice evolves overtime, in the social media world, these are principles that teams need to stay true to, regardless of the audience they are targeting.

Since marketing is a broad area, another thing for corporate marketing teams to consider is brand voice. Similar to brand tone, it’s a fundamental component of how the brand speaks to its audience. Unlike a brand tone, brand voice changes based on the purpose of the content being delivered.

Making sense of it all

Two of the biggest mistakes made by professionals running corporate social media accounts, is posting without a brand identity, and sharing information without considering ways to stand out from the competition.

Developing a brand identity isn’t something that happens overnight, however by asking the right questions beforehand, the teams can develop professional guidelines to ensure that there’s uniformity in post style regardless of the team member writing the content.

When writing content, however, business professionals need to identify ways to bring value to the table, that other companies can’t. Teams can’t just post information just because it seems interesting. They need to focus on curating knowledge, and becoming go-to resources for professionals in the target industries.

By tackling these two areas, business professionals in companies can help break the trend of content on social media being written at the level of what you would see in high school gossip.