In today’s increasingly media-centric world, not being on social media can mean that you might not exist at all. As they say: if a tree falls in the forest without tweeting on the way down, was it ever upright in the first place? Or something like that, anyway. This means that establishing an online presence where you can hone your brand and be seen by potential customers is almost as important as having a great website or brick-and-mortar business location. As you probably know by now, the number one rule of good social media is ‘content is king’. The key to success is providing good, attention-grabbing content. We won’t belabour this point. You know it, we know it- let’s talk about other challenges that come with navigating the online world.
1. Are We Still Doing Things for the ‘Gram?
One of the most interesting parts of the internet is how deceptively niche everything is. On the surface, it seems like every site does essentially the same thing. Think about it: Snapchat stories, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, TikToks… They’re all popular types of post that feature short-form videos of varying lengths created for bite-sized consumption. Why wouldn’t you just pick the most popular and ignore the rest?
The answer lies in the nature of the site itself and how it ranks content. As much as features might be similar (you can reuse a Reel as a TikTok and vice versa), each site itself will have different audiences and focuses. Additionally, groups will naturally gravitate to one site or another- think about how Facebook is thought of as a site for the older generations whereas the young kids are more Snapchat and TikTok. In an ideal world, you’d want to have something to post on each social media site for maximum exposure. Having said that, we can’t all be digital marketing agencies who specialise in being chronically online and knowing what to post where (wink wink). Doing your research, knowing who you want to see your content, and what type of content you can commit to producing can provide key insights into where you need to be.
2. Images, Videos, and Text oh my!
Speaking of type of content, making sure you know how to use your strengths can be key to being found online. If you’re a very visual thinker or your business is product-focused, social media sites like Instagram or Facebook will be the classic ones to focus on. If you can put a bit of time into making videos about your brand, TikTok and YouTube are fantastic options. Alternately, if you’ve got a flair for the written word, Twitter is where you’ll shine. Conversely, if you aren’t great at something, it can be better to omit it entirely than put out sub-par content. You can have an Instagram post with all the most popular hashtags attached, but if the image is terrible, you’re not going to attract the audience you want. This all harks back to that Golden Rule we all already know. When you plan ahead and focus not only on the message but also the medium, you create higher value content overall.
3. The Algorithm™
These days, people will talk about The Algorithm like a bogeyman out to tank their posts or hide them from the timeline/subscription feed/FYP page. But what actually is it? Each social media site will prioritise certain content over others. The way they do this is by analysing the data attached to each piece of content and decide to promote that content based on a variety of factors, including what other content a user will view in addition to your posts, how many engagements a post has, and what format the post is in. The reason so many people are frustrated with social media algorithms is that they are prone to change without warning. One of the benefits of having a digital agency at your beck and call is that we can be the ones who keep track of what site likes what content at any time. But if you want to manage your content yourself, regularly keeping track of web and app updates for key social media sites can save you from being the next victim of the creature in the dark of the net.
4. Trends on Trends on Trends
The internet moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could be three weeks late to a trend. A great way to be seen by audiences is to involve yourself with relevant trends that audiences are seeking out. Think about the many Harlem Shake videos that went around in 2013, or that summer everyone was planking on things. The internet loves a good challenge or meme, and it can be fun to get involved in the latest fads. Not to mention that it can be a perfect way to be seen by wider audiences and garner brand recognition. Many people follow Duolingo on TikTok and Wendys on Twitter because they’re able to join in on trends successfully in a way that feels relatable.
Of course, there are pitfalls here. If you don’t get the spirit or tone of the trend right on your post, it can come across like an older uncle using dated slang in order to relate to The Kids, and nothing kills a trend faster than the feeling that fogeys are trying to get in on it. Further, if you’re shoehorning your business into a trend that doesn’t fit well with it, the same thing with happen. At the same time however, overthinking whether or not to contribute to a trend can mean missing the window of opportunity entirely. It’s a delicate tightrope to walk, but the rewards can be worth the risk.
5. I am Not a Robot: Bots and You
We’ve been there before: you post something innocuous and within the first three minutes, it seems like it’s doing serious numbers. But then you check the usernames and they’re all random numbers and letters. The bots have found you.
Bots are an annoying side effect of existing online. Instead of real people, you have to deal with these random spam accounts that are annoying at best and actually harmful at worst. They can throw off your social media data and prevent you from noticing feedback from real people that might mean its time for a site redesign or update. We have tools to help prevent this, but if you are going solo you can help deter bots by occasionally checking through your notifications and blocking individual accounts. You can also make sure you’re not over-targeting by, for instance, slapping the top twenty most popular hashtags on your post regardless of if they are related. A mix of being careful and thorough is key to success in this regard.
We can (and have) go on for hours about the nuances of navigating social media, but we know your attention is precious. We want to be able to help you make the most of your business. Hopefully we’ve given you something to think about, or even some tips you might not have known before. If you have any further questions, feel free to get in touch (especially over social media!).