Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 at 2:46pm
Social media is ever evolving, ever changing and something that a business with a strong communications strategy needs to stay on top of.
As PR and communications professionals, we are at the cornerstone of developments and sometimes, even we don’t know what is coming next. What’s certain is that in the digital age, companies that don’t embrace online media platforms will soon be left behind.
So where do you start? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, blogging, Vine… The list goes on! Companies need not be afraid of social media and digital platforms and it isn’t simply about being in the space that matters – I would argue what matters more is getting social media right and putting a sound plan in place to ensure you’re reaching the people that matter to you most, with the right content, at the right time.
There are certain social media platforms that businesses will want to pursue, and others they will wish to avoid. It all depends on current circumstances, based on operations and its position in the marketplace. The old saying ‘don’t run before you can walk’ is certainly applicable here but it is the job of the communications professional to point out which channels are going to benefit the company in the best possible way. This should all be part of devising a digital communications strategy that is going to help support a company in achieving its business objectives.
Drawing up a digital strategy should start with the end goal. What do you want to achieve and how can the digital and online world help you to get there? We appreciate that within some larger organisations, some individuals may need to be convinced that social media can add real value, but that doesn’t mean the wider business should be left behind.
To give you a flavour, there are now 1.65 billion monthly active users on Facebook and Facebook still has some of the most engaged users in terms of the actions they take (sharing, liking, commenting) against the amount of time people spend on the platform. Shortly behind Facebook are Instagram and Twitter, with Instagram being a fine example of how visual content performs best on digital platforms. To give you the background to this, 90% of information transmitted to the human brain is visual and 40% of people respond better to visual information. Many of you will have noticed over the years that the homepages of your favourite social media channels have progressively become more visual – most posts made by organisations or individuals now include images or videos to grab your attention.
Not only this, the stats show that more people engage with visual content or a call to action. It makes the content ‘shareable’; one of the most important characteristics your digital strategy must have. A third party or individual broadcasting your content to their followers through shares, retweets and comments is much more powerful than the company itself projecting the message so if you can get people to share your content, you’re onto a winner. The more original your content, the more it is likely to be shared and by ‘original’, we mean posts that tell stories that matter to your clients and stakeholders.
So, which platforms should you launch into and how do you devise a social media plan that includes shareable content? This should start with an audit of your key target customers and stakeholders to look at where they live online and which digital platforms they use most. You then need to look at what conversations they’re having and how you can tap into that. There are a number of social media tools such as Buzzsumo, Feedly and scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite, that can help you achieve this this. Typically, if you’re a consumer-facing business, you might want to start with launching Facebook and Instagram. No one ingredient in your digital strategy should be prioritised over the other – there is very little worth in having a social media profile that isn’t going to be updated. In fact, that is probably one of the most damaging actions to take (or not).
It can often be difficult to know where to start and to find out what is coming next, but if you’re a company that is willing to embrace digital and social platforms and invest in a thorough strategy, it is likely that you will thrive and soon see the benefits of reaching thousands and even millions of people. One thing is for certain is that we are in the digital age and the way we consume information has changed forever – everyone is a content creator and as a company, you need to stand out from the crowd.