Why your social media channels should have personality
By Ian Robson
Before the days of Facebook, the potential for the Internet to nurture a conversation was seeded with services such as MySpace, Bebo and even CIX forums.
The day Facebook came on the scene most companies jumped on board with the basic premise for a social media servicing strategy that you could create a loyal following against your products and brands, with a smattering of data capture as well as user generated content and sharing thrown in.
Quite frankly, it was the type of online presence that most media websites had been desperately trying to achieve for many years, with some even blindly thinking that Facebook was the answer to their prayers. Then the problems started. Having a social media site to post content to is, of course, an initial strain on resource – especially when you very quickly realise that it can’t just be what’s already on your own sites - we do all know that don’t we?
The timing, type, length, as well as personality of content needs to be understood so as to entice appropriate responses. And it’s also important to understand why you want to engage through Facebook to extend your audience reach in the first place – it’s rarely for the same reasons as your main site. Once we were all getting the hang of Facebook; BANG – Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Snapchat, Google+, Pinterest, and other new social media services arrived vying for attention or at least desperately needing to be considered as parts of an extended audience engagement strategy.
And all with new features, new content policies, and to be quite honest all with new flavours of audience that needed to be understood before their worth made them a necessary component in a social media content strategy.
Native servicing is the key
The more informed social media strategies may look at the audience fit and specific features for a social media platform, and let that inform their choice of platform to engage through and how. Does the value and/or targeted focus of the potential audience outweigh a basic audience volume metric? But all strategies adopt a rudimentary concession in that your main online content site is not truly where the best engagement, conversations and audience freedom is experienced; that’s owned and controlled by the social media platforms, run by patriarchs who can change policies and features at their whim and to your detriment.
So don’t try to game the social media platforms to your advantage – play to their strengths and work with the community led needs, wants and facilities that are most effective with each. The obvious approach is to get the social media audience to do it all for you – but that’s not going to happen is it?
Your next best and two pronged approach should be to focus on an ideology for a community spirit that would sit well on a particular social media platform and decide upon a suitable method to incentivise them to engage with each other, such as the sharing of cool ideas and knowledge with their peer group. And then seed content appropriate and of service to that community to kickstart the momentum required to build an engaged and active community.
This, I believe, is why the skillset for this solution should still lie in the hands of the traditional media and content publishers. Building a coherent content strategy, underpinned with the personality and intricate flavours of a particular social media platform, purely to build audience engagement is a unique skillset. It cannot be tarnished with an inherent desire to convert all to buyers.
But once you have an audience engaged with what you have to say, their affinity for what else you are now able to convey to them directly is far greater and more powerful on their turf.
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