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Social media — don’t just tick the boxes

When analysing what brands are engaged in on social media platforms, particularly Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, one starts to realise that social media is either being used incorrectly or not to full potential.

In the 1990s, when websites became increasingly popular, without getting into the technical side of this era, they were simply an opportunity for brands or companies to have their information easily accessible and relatively free of charge to people. Content on websites was one-way traffic, with the design of that content solely coming from the perspective of the company; they shared what they thought people should or needed to know about them. It was about being present as a company on the internet. Simply put, websites were marketing and e-commerce tools.

Not the same

Fast-forward to the era of social media, and things are not the same. As opposed to websites, the narrative is different, and people are there for their own personal reasons, and not to be appeased by brands. Brands therefore need to find ways to be relevant.

Social media is different from websites and yet brands, marketers, social media managers, community managers, etc tend to be consumed by admin and the day-to-day. They have subsequently become backend content updaters — but this shouldn’t be the case. The day-to-day is important but not as important as being relevant, and being relevant is more than just about having a planned-out content calendar. It’s about being able to make emotional sense to people and be creative so that you may resonate with them and achieve your desired outcome

Social media posts tend to be as bland as the content hosted on websites, only shorter. Social media posts, especially the sponsored or promoted ones, have subsequently become like the intrusive TV adverts that pop in between content — the interesting conversation that people want to actually consume or engage in.

Ticking the boxes

If social media engagements or efforts are about just ticking the boxes (to have three-to-four posts a week to show clients that we’ve done something), then we’re missing the point. If our objective with social media is just to have posts or tweets, regardless of how vanilla and uninteresting they are, great opportunities are being missed. Just because we promote or sponsor a tweet or a post, that doesn’t make the message or content relevant; it just means that we paid money to show people content that they don’t care about. That doesn’t sound like a good investment at all.

Successful digital campaigns are just that: campaigns. Many look at those that ran in specific periods or timeframes as benchmarks or hold them up as holy grails of social media but the pre- and post-campaign periods are filled with average and uninspiring content. That’s ticking the boxes, too.

While content calendars are a great way to plan, these are also usually just ticks. They are predetermined, preapproved and, essentially, ‘pre-boring’. Are they enabling great brand presence or stifling it? Are they being used correctly and to their full potential? Do we really need to post every other day or every single day? If so, why? What are we trying to achieve? Is there a real plan behind posting so many posts that no one reads or engages with? What is the purpose?

Added to that, organic posts are as loud as people who are mute. If it’s not sponsored, it doesn’t exist. So, if you are going to put money behind your posts, make sure it’s worth the money.

Going back to fundamentals

We need to remember what social is about. First, it’s not about brands but if the brand does get noticed, then great —you’re doing something worth noticing, so continue or improve on it. Secondly, no one really cares that your brand is available on social media or if you post at all. The one time that they do is when they want to vent or, in the very rare but possible occasion, they love your brand so much that they want and expect to hear from you. An example of these are usually sporting or highly informative pages that provide value.

Social media wasn’t invented for brands; it was for people (who have feelings and think) to connect, be connected, to find things, to be shown things and to share those things. The key word here is “connect”, and connecting is about emotions. On social media, people search not necessarily for information but for emotions; they’re looking for feelings and opportunities to feel or make others feel something. So how and what are you as a brand doing to make people feel?

BOGOSI MOTSHEGWA

 

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