If all you've done is set up brand pages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, it's probably time to rethink what you're doing there.
When I started Likeable Media seven years ago, I encountered many brands that were social media "virgins." They were just getting started with a blank canvas. Now, a reported 79 percent of businesses of all shapes and sizes use social media.
If you're like many of those, you've probably gotten into a groove. But you don't want that to mean that you're in a rut. Here are three universal ways you can rethink your social media strategy to supercharge your efforts, regardless of the tools you use:
1. How You Monitor When I talk to a potential new client, and ask if he's listening to conversations across social media, 99 percent of the time he says, "Yes." But if I dig deeper, I find that "listening" usually means "monitoring." He's on the lookout for users mentioning or replying to his or his company's @handle on Twitter, or talking about the brand elsewhere on the web. But instead of this, brands need to be proactively listening. This means paying attention to strategic keywords well beyond the brand's name. Consider looking out for key words or hashtags that your users would be apt to use. If you're a toothpaste company, for instance, rather than just searching for your brand name, check keywords like "teeth whitening" or #yellowteeth. This allows you to capitalize on conversations taking place around issues relevant to your brand. Imagine surprising someone who talks about hating their #yellowteeth with a trial pack of whitening strips, for instance. That small shift is responsible for many of the magical moments brands have created in social media, including those from Morton's, Oreo, and the Rio in Las Vegas.
2. Your Branding Messages Companies are now content producers, creating media that can be viewed and shared across multiple networks. And yet, if you take off your marketer cap and put on your human hat, you're generally not on social media to have brands market to you. Usually, you're there to have a conversation or check out pictures of your friends. When brands produce content, far too often they approach it like they're producing ads. They tend to come up with heavily-branded, shorter versions of commercials, and clog the feeds of irritated consumers everywhere. The brands that truly understand content are the ones that recognize the best content is not about them, but about something valuable to the people who see or read it. That means it should be funny, entertaining, suprising, or useful. If you try this, I'm certain you'll see far more consumers actively dissemminate what you create. Check out this Facebook post from Seamless, the food delivery service, as a great example of non-branded content that readers want to respond to and make available to their friends.
3. The Rationale I used to have to convince a company to put the Facebook or Twitter icon on its website or marketing materials. Now you'll see a slew of social calls-to-action across most brand's consumer touch points. But most brands still do not give consumers a reason to follow their Facebook pages or Twitter handles. Why should a consumer like your LinkedIn company page, for instance? Is yours chock full of great content? Does it offer deals? Are there exclusive updates only for fans? Are your social media profiles simply a fun place to go? You need to understand why consumers "like" your brand on social media (this recent study might help) and set your strategy accordingly. Still not sure? Ask people! They'll tell you--right in your feed. These tips will help you rethink and spruce up your current social media efforts--regardless of the networks you choose. What else has helped you supercharge your social media footprint. Let me know in the comments below.
CARRIE KERPEN is the co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, which she grew from a husband-and-wife consulting firm into a global social media and word-of-mouth marketing agency. She led her team to more than $15 million in revenue and landed the agency on the Inc. 500 List in 2011 and 2012. @CarrieKerpen