This year is shaping up to be the year that everyone should (rightly) question the role of social media in their business. What effect is it having on sales and loyalty?
2016 is also the year of the Monkey, which according to the Chinese zodiac, strengths are agility, enthusiasm, self-assuredness, innovative thinking and sociability.
The lucky direction of travel is also said to be north.
This sounds very much in line with the way to think about your social media activity whether you are a small, independent hotel or a huge hotel group spread across the world.
The traits above and direction of travel are spot on in terms of you ‘having a go’ at social or indeed hiring a social media team/agency.
2016 feels like the year where we will grow closer to understanding what social media is all about and more importantly how it will give a return on investment for your business.
The last five or so years have been based on both social media platforms and companies of all shapes and sizes figuring out how to monetise social media.
My advice for anyone thinking about starting social media activity or if you are looking to get more grip on what your business/team are doing on social media, is to think more like a (zodiac) monkey.
1) Agility – You need to be curious at all times on social.
Social in the early days used to be all about when should I post my key posts. The issue with this is that if you are a breakfast, lunch, dinner or evening business then you tend to want to post at the same time (or just before that key period). This is not how social works as actually most interaction happens between 8pm and 7am. You may need to think more laterally and also more nocturnally when thinking about social media posting. A case study relating to a UK parent and baby brand showed that key interaction with their audience was at 1.32am UK time. If you think about it, it does make perfect sense as parents will be up feeding around this time and also most of the content (noise) of posts will be from US brands at that time, so you will have an advantage and gain automatic stand out by being doubly relevant. Your brand will be long remembered, have a good chance of getting that booking/sale and will be looked for as you are hopefully entertaining/informative and a support for those in that situation.
2) Enthusiasm (Out think, out post and out perform your competitors)
Social media is increasingly becoming an always-on sport and as such the winners are those who are always there, watching, listening and getting involved. Latest best practice suggests that you should be posting up to 16 times a day (on twitter). This is due to the fact that tweeting and posting on instagram is gone in 60 seconds. It is the real life equivalent of (when driving) winding your
down you window, shouting something (140 characters or less) out of the window, rolling up your window and then driving off. You will have this much impact on the world if you just do this now and again to a small number of engaged followers. It is also vital that you understand what content works where as simply posting the same content on Twitter, facebook and Instagram is lazy and inaccurate. It is the same as trying to speak English in Japan and vice versa. Each platform has it’s own ‘language’ or more simply put, its own best practice when sculpting or creating posts and content for each platform. (e.g. 2 hashtags on twitter seems enough, whereas two hashtags on facebook are two too many on Facebook but far from enough on Instagram).
3) Self assured (know you tone of voice)
This is all about knowing what you will say and how you will say it. Do you intimately know what your tone of voice is and how you should sound? If not, then you need to look at your brand and go though a process to define your brand, its core purpose, positioning, and personality. This will help you uncover and define what your tone of voice should be and therefore how you should sound in any communications including social media. There are many great brand agencies that can help you with this (including our good selves), however if you don’t want to spend too much initially, then I can thoroughly recommend this book on getting to the core of your brand which is an easy read and is a great guide to get you thinking in this way: Winning in Your Own Way by Robert Bean which is available from Amazon and all good book shops.
4) Be Social (practice the rule of thirds)
I was lucky enough to meet with the Innocent Drinks social team and they told me that being social came naturally to them as it is what the brand is built on. If you think about it they are right. From them asking the public if they should go into business at all when they made smoothies at a local village festival and had a yes bin and a no bin for people to vote with their empty bottles to then encouraging customers to send in feedback and knit little wooly hats to help older people less fortunate than us and invited customers to visit or call Fruit Towers (their head office). All of it was social, before social media. I would translate this to you feeling like you are at a dinner party and you want to be the best guest working the room. If all you do is bang on about how great you are, successful your business is, how good looking your partner is and how amazing your car / house is, before long you will be standing alone. This is the same in social media. If you are a good listener, interject with good facts or humour and ask lots about the person you are talking to, you will endear yourself to them and be engaging. In social media that is all you want to be, engaging. The way that we approach this is to ensure that you are speaking in thirds. A third of the time, talk about your brand, a third of the time, talk about your product and a third of the time, talk about something that is core to your brand attitude (fun, health, nature, rebellion) – whatever you feel is right for your brand.
5) Innovation in thinking (new platforms, tech, trends)
Social media is all about being innovative and those that win will not be those who spend the most money, but those who are forensic in their understanding of the social media platforms, best practice and their customers/audience. Do you really know who your audience is? Have you trawled through your list of followers looking to see who each and every person is? Have you then looked at commonality between these people? Are these the right people? If not, why not? What can you do to tweak your content, posting times and platforms to attract the audience that you want? It is also a good idea to investigate newer platforms like Medium, Periscope and Snapchat to look at what they could do for your business. The quicker you are to use/market on these newer platforms, the bigger an impact you can make.
6) Only travel north (do something every day to improve)
North is the only direction that most successful organisations want to travel. It is the same with social media. What are you doing to improve all metrics (followers, fans, likes, shares, comments and DMs)? Fans and Follower numbers are a crowdpleaser (read boss pleaser) but the more important thing is engagement. It is a good rule of thumb to start tracking that. A simple best practice way of quantifying engagement to get you started is for you to have a week on week dashboard that shows improvement in your metrics and also will show clearly when a certain post or series of posts worked in terms of engagement. The social Formula for this is Likes x 1 + Customer Comments x 5 + Genuine Shares x 10 = Engagement Number.
If you are just starting out in social media or want to know more about the subject of being a champion in the social media space, I would thoroughly recommend buying Jab Jab Jab right hook by Gary Vaynerchuck (who is THE thought leader in the US when it comes to all things social). Again, this is aviable from Amazon and all good book shops. Gary’s ‘Ask Gary Vee Show’ daily/weekly video blog are on YOU TUBE are also very insightful, entertaining and inspiring if you want to get to the next level in business and social.
My final point of note is that social media is a vital part of your PR strategy. Traditional PR is dead and if your PR team are not all over social every second of every day, I would question why. Constant content creation is here to stay and you should at least be spending 50% of your marketing time and budget on this.