Updated: Nov 19, 2021
As seen in APeeling in Summer 2020 by Shannon Peel
Social Media is a reflection of the shallows of society. It is filled with incomplete stories, misunderstandings, and insecurities. It is the pavement of good intentions and placating advice. It is messy. It is kind. It is cruel. It is supportive. It is ugly. It is beautiful. Social Media is a reflection of life as we want it to be, not life itself.
Life is more complex. People are deeper than the Mariana Trench. They have stories that are so intricately woven, they create an image you would weep to see. If we took the time to truly listen to people when they are being their most honest selves, we would find the connection we crave.
Social Media is about People not Tech
Since we communicate on social media with technology and don’t actually see the person we are talking to it can be hard to remember that there is someone on the other side of the screen. This can be seen when people make cruel hurtful comments on a stranger’s posts. Comments they would never make to someone’s face in the real world for fear they’d get beat up or slapped down hard.
How we market can also focus too much on the tech and too little on the people. We end up making a bunch of noise and never connect with anyone because we are using bots, data, software, and other people to do our posting.
I make money creating posts for people and making them look good - However, I should be seen as the advertising part of the strategy not the whole strategy. You still need to show up, post about your life, engage with your connections, and build an authentic community.
If social media becomes a bunch of hired hands inauthentically engaging with each other, where is the connection or community in that?
Take a moment to study your social media profiles, what do they say about your values and goals? Is it authentic or is it a facade of what you want people to see?
Social Media Marketing Image
We know ads and marketing messages are tailored to take advantage of people’s Insecurities and promise to make you prettier, richer, happier. Seth Godin said it best when he called Marketers liars, we are in a way. We tell the best stories and spin the worst into appearing better. We manipulate stats to fit our stories and we strategically make our topics fit what we believe society wants.
Too often we portray an image we think people want to see and then when we show up being our authentic selves, there is a disconnect between what the client was expecting and who showed up. These types of disconnects foster distrust, which can be difficult for some people to overcome when building a more authentic connection in the real world.
I read one Realtor® review that said, "He wasn't as much as an a**hole as I thought he was going to be." In this case, the client was pleasantly surprised that the person was not the image they were portraying on social media. I bet this Realtor lost a lot of potential business because he was trying hard to be what he thought the luxury market wanted and not who he was a person.
Be you. If you don't wear suits everyday, don't have all your images of you wearing suits. If you have a trucker's way of talking don't try to come across online as a Harvard educated professor. Be you. People who like the image they see on social media, will choose to connect with you.
Get the Right Marketing Help
Social media is a difficult world to navigate and a business needs a Marketing Manager who understands how to analyze the data and create engaging content to tell a brand’s story.
The rules keep changing as the industry tries to manage the large amount of content being posted to it. - Keeping up is a full time job and the information is fraught with untested ideas and repeated half truths of self educated digital marketers trying to be influencers in a murky industry.
Yes, what you post, how you post, and when you post matters. You need someone who understands how to test, measure, and analyze data. Someone who can tell a story in soundbites and make it look good in the process. You need someone who understand human nature and how to tap into it to get an emotional reaction.
Even with the right help - You still need to show up. Don't hire someone and then become a ghost or invisible
Engagement is the Currency of Social Media
The hard part is creating content people want to engage with. Unless you are in a LinkedIn pod and obligated to like whatever crap people post, getting engagement is difficult.
In 2020 I was commenting on posts for 2-3 hours a day and getting lots of engagement and meeting wonderful people, who do what I used to do - Social Media Marketing. When I started to focus more on digital magazine publishing and building a team, I didn't have 2-3 hours. What happened? I was still posting but LinkedIn and like posts of those who were supportive of me, the result was LinkedIn stopped showing my posts to people. My impressions went down from almost 2 000 to under 100. Engaging by commenting is that important to getting reach for your posts.
Is 2-3 hours a good use of your time? If all you do is comment and move on without asking to meet off LinkedIn, you will have a connection, but you won't have connection. Those you talk with on a regular basis will become your connections and they will support you while you support them.
Test the platforms to see what works and what doesn't. If you engage more what happens to your reach? If you start commenting what happens?
By analysing the reactions people have with your content, you can learn what kind of content you need to be producing. Programs like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buzz social, and Zoho social have reports to help you assess what is working and what fell flat.
A Couple Problems
There is the content you like to make and then the content people like to engage with, which usually has a dog or cat involved. You can’t create content that doesn’t fit within the parameters of your brand and marketing plan, so what do you do?
The best thing you can do is create the best content you can. Content that reflects your brand, reputation, and image. Then engage with other people's posts to get noticed, add connections, foster real connection, and build a community. Your activity as an engager will do more than any post you put out there, but not all engagement is created equal.
Comments and replying to others comments and their replies to you, will do more for your brand reach than simply hitting the like button, any monkey can hit like.
The next step is to contact your connections and really connect with them one on one, because until you do that, they are a connection not someone you are connected with. Do you buy or do business with a connection or someone you are connected with? Someone you have built a trusting relationship with and is connected with people you are connected with.
Don't confuse lots of connections on social media with real connection within a community. There is a big difference between followers and community - which do you want to foster on social media?
The other problem is the lurkers who don’t engage with any content, making it harder to know what is good content and what is bad content. Even if they love what you create, you’ll never know, so you might as well make content that reflects who you are.
What you'll discover is most people didn't even see your post because the social media platform didn't show it do anyone. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the rest all have their own algorithms, which they keep messing with and unless you have hours to test what works today - you'll feel lost in all the noise.
Keep posting. Post for the lurkers. Post because you enjoy it. Post because you want to. Don't post if its a chore and drains you of energy. For you, there are other ways to connect with a market.
If you don't enjoy engaging on social media - don't do it.
Think about how you like to connect with the market to get clients. What has worked for you in the past - do that and stay focused on that path instead of getting sucked into promises of social media marketers who want you to hire them or business coaches who struggle with their own social media marketing.
Do what works for you. Do it over and over and over again.
Social Media is Today’s Word of Mouth
Social media and online reviews are the 21st century’s version of word of mouth and are more valuable because of their reach.
Are you asking your customers to write reviews?
Are you finding social media engagers to follow your business page?
Are you engaging with your customers to be part of the conversation?
Don’t fear reviews. Good and bad are opportunities for you to tell your story, show your integrity, and inform about your policies.
Let’s say you get a horrible review from a client who wasn’t happy with your service. You did everything you could to make them happy, you even gave them the kitchen sink and they still sunk you online.
Has this happened to you?
It happens to small businesses all the time because some people are jerks. They want to get everything for free and have you thank them for the opportunity to serve them. These are the people you don’t want to have as clients, they don’t deserve your service.
When I worked in the online review industry I had clients who found themselves in this position and would call me looking for help. The good news was that the review brought them to the table and they could tell their side of the story in a professional manner. It also meant that the business owner could bring all his happy reviews to the table to offset the one bad review.
Online reviews are like a scale. Good on one side, bad on the other. As long as you have enough good reviews to offset the bad ones, you’re golden. In fact, your more golden then if all you have are good reviews, because people don’t trust companies with no scars.
Reviews and customer comments on social media are part of your story. Draw on them to show the marketplace why they should contact you.
Facebook Advertising is Different.
It is better suited to branding than it is to sales or driving traffic off site to your website.
The rules keep changing and what worked yesterday will not work today. The amount of noise, competition, and distraction the audience is faced with makes it harder than it was five years ago to get noticed online.
Businesses have to be strategic and constantly aware of how their audience interacts with the content to get the most out of their advertising dollars. Testing the market before jumping in with all resources will help businesses get in front of their target markets and ensure they get the most out of their budget. Analysing the results and digging deep into the data to understand the how your ads and posts are being received, engaged with, and charged is vital to making better decision on future ads.
It has never been easier to get in front of your target market and it has never been so complicated to manage an advertising campaign.
Social Media isn’t a Commercials only station
I know you are on social media to get people interested in buying your product and service, it can be tempting to post ad, after ad, after ad.
Thing is, people don’t like to be sold a product, they don’t want to share advertising with their friends and family, they want to share stories, images, and interesting facts.
If you want people on social media to buy your product, you need to build a reputation for being likeable, caring, and trustworthy. People want to have a relationship with you before buying from you. Developing a virtual relationship is different than a real world one, it takes a lot more time, patience, and less sales pitches.
Consider all the ways you can entertain, communicate, and include others in your business’ story. Think like an informative, educating, entertainer.... Basically, be Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Social Media is a Community...
If you approach social media as a place to build community and connection rather than a place to sell your wares, you will find success.
As people get to know you, know more about what you do and why you do it, they will start to pay attention and when someone they know needs your services, they will refer you. It can be time consuming, difficult, and frustrating, however if you approach social media strategically and create helpful content people will find interesting, you will meet your goals.
Shannon Peel creates social media content to tell brand stories of clients.