If the last decade-or-so of social media was about building a “personal brand” or “online presence,” the next 10 years will be about destroying it.
The latest wave of popular social networks all have one common thread: A focus on privacy. Snapchat ties you to a username and phone number, but your messages self-destruct. Yik Yak ties you to a location but keeps your messages anonymous.
In a way, it’s refreshing, if a little backward. People are embracing a more personalized social media experience by broadcasting less or removing the stresses associated with putting a byline on published material.
It can also be confounding and frustrating if you’re a brand trying to use social media to expand your business.
It doesn’t have to be, though. We’ve put together six suggestions for how brands can stay relevant on social networks, even as they see their tens of thousands of Facebook followers becoming increasingly unreachable and irrelevant.
1. Be Human
Social media is still what it always was: A place for people to talk to each other. Be a person—not a brand—and you’ll be OK.
2. Be fast
One of the hardest parts of being a brand on social media is the time it takes to get the approval to try new things. Here’s a crazy thought: Just try them.
I’m not saying you should do anything that would get you fired, but if you see an opportunity to make things happen, go for it. What’s the worst that could happen—success? nothing? At worst, you’ll end up in the same place you’re at.
This is the old “fail fast, and fail often” saying. It’s still true.
3. Make your content universally shareable
Think about the content you create: How can you make it work on multiple social networks? Whatever it is, make it as easy as possible for people to share it wherever they want to share it. Don’t try to make people share it in one or two specific places.
Oh, and once you’ve done that—pay attention! Where are people sharing? It may not be the same place where you’re spending all your time.
4. Listen, and prepare to be helpful
This is just good advice in general. Even if you’re using a network that only gets a few interactions per week, those could be important. Maybe they were from influential people. Maybe they were from customers asking for help. Maybe they were from people who want to buy your product.
The value of social interactions is always dependent on what you get out of them. I’ll take one social interaction that consists of, “Where do I buy your product?” versus a thousand ‘likes,' or ‘favorites,' or whatever.
5. Create your own stats to track toward your goals
This relates strongly to Point No. 4. Don’t worry about the stats that social networks just give you. And don’t worry if they don’t give you any at all. Figure out what your goals are, and focus on what you need to do on social media to achieve those goals. Track those stats.
Again, what’s a ‘like' worth compared to someone who shops in your store and says, “Oh, I heard about you guys on Snapchat.”
6. Incentivize people to interact
For that situation I just described to be likely to happen, you need to give people a reason to mention you. Set up something easy, like “mention our Snapchat account the next time you shop with us and receive 10% off!” And then track that. Know when you started your (in this example) Snapchat account, and what kind of activity happened in response to your ask.