5 ways to revolutionise your social media
A social media trainer gives her best practices and highlights the most common mistakes that brands make on social media
I’ve worked in social media for over a decade and now I design courses for comms and marketing executives on everything from how to use TikTok and Instagram, to content planning and copywriting.
The idea I try to convey in all my courses is that social media should be used by businesses to engage with the public as if they're having a conversation. This requires a number of ingredients including empathy, authenticity, attention to language and a willingness to embrace the latest technology . Here is my advice to businesses who want to create that engagement:
1. Use empathy mapping to be more authentic
Authenticity is a fundamental prerequisite for high engagement on social media. One of my favourite examples is South Yorkshire Fire Services. Their Tik Tok feed is full of videos of the team training together, making fun of themselves, and recently doing a ‘tortilla challenge.’ Their success on Tik Tok is down to the way their videos make people feel connected to the team.
As with any relationship, understanding what makes the audience laugh out loud, cry or get angry, is key to creating a connection. Empathy mapping with tools like Sparktoro.com and Answerthepublic.com will help you build a personality profile of your customers so that you can understand what engages them. You can find out which TV shows they watch, the podcasts they listen to and the questions they ask Google.
Once you have your insights, you’ll need to think creatively about how to integrate the insights you’ve discovered into your content planning. This could mean holding regular creative workshops to decide when and how you post so that your audience feel you are attuned to what they care about.
2. Embrace automation tools
There is a widespread fear that automation could spell the end of creative jobs. In my experience, automation enhances our work. For example, the content creation tool Jasper.AI is viewed with a lot of suspicion by copywriters. In fact, if you use it to generate a first draft which you can later perfect, you can free up more time to be strategic.
Online video creator Lumen5 is another tool which I often find creatives know little about but once they start using it, it frees up so much time. You can do things like create videos from text, for example. Although the first draft might not be perfect, you’ll spend less time overall.
3. Start thinking about TikTok now
TikTok is popular because users get a dopamine hit with every video. It also helps people communicate creatively which means it feels less ‘salesy’ than Facebook and Instagram.
Brands can use some of that dopamine to get users excited about their product or service with sponsored ‘Hashtag Challenges’ like the #chipotleroyalty run by Chipotle in which TikTok users could win $10,000 by proving why their Chipotle order is the best among more than 4 million possible combinations.
TikTok micro-influencers are a great way to build excitement around a ‘Hashtag Challenge’ especially if you are a small and regional business because they produce content for niche audiences. You can find micro-influencers by searching for hashtags related to your brand.
4. Stop talking in the passive voice
If you are going to make a company announcement, don’t say it in the passive voice. A sentence starting with “We’re delighted to announce our partnership with X Sustainable Packaging Solutions…” doesn’t mean anything. It feels impersonal and doesn’t make anyone think ‘wow, I want to read on.’ Strike a conversational tone instead, by starting a post with a statement, or even question. This will grab your audience’s attention. For example, “How many layers of bubble wrap did your recent online order have on it? And I bet you threw it away. We’re reducing our packaging and that’s why we partnered with X Sustainable Packaging Solutions. They’re going to make all our parcels greener, lighter so you don’t carry the guild.”
5. Stay on social media to affect positive change
As a social media expert, I know there is a dark and mean side to platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok. Some brands are even turning their backs on social media altogether because of the negative comments. Take Lush for example, who decided to quit social media last year following allegations by whistleblower Frances Haugen and its view that social media discourages people from relaxing.
I hope other businesses don’t follow Lush’s example, because I believe that social media is a force for good (despite some of its obvious downsides). On a personal note, I am immunosuppressed, have psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia, and so throughout the pandemic, it was social media which allowed me to continue to run my business remotely, socialise with my community and feel connected to the world-at-large. In my experience, social media has so much to offer but we’re all still learning how to use it! Quitting it just leaves it in the hands of those who want to use it for negative purposes. By embracing social media you can use it as a tool to influence positive attitudes.
Helen Reynolds is the founder of Comms Creatives, which provides social media training courses