Every time I hear Gary Vaynerchuk say “marketers ruin everything,” I laugh out loud.
Unfortunately, he is right.
Marketers do ruin everything.
We try to automate everything and make it a process, which isn’t a bad thing per se.
But in the process, we make something that was supposed to be social and personal, impersonal.
Think about it for a moment.
How was social media in the beginning?
You were curious to learn what it did, how it worked.
You talked with people oceans away, and they answered back.
Pretty cool, huh?
And then, marketers started finding ways to automate processes in our quest to reach more and more people with our messages.
But on the way, we forgot the most important aspect of social media—the people.
We forgot, social media is about people, not brands. It’s about interaction and engagement, not about automating.
Yes, you want to be as efficient as possible in your work. Yes, you want to reach as many people as possible with your message and content.
But, please don’t forget you are trying to reach people, not numbers on a spreadsheet.
What happens in social media today is not very different from the corporate world, where customers are treated as numbers.
But social media is about being social, it’s about engaging with people, and above all, it’s about being human.
How Others Do it
In this jungle of content, there are a few who knock it out of the park on their social channels.
How is it that they can reach more and more people with their message and engage their communities at the same time?
They have a large budget; you might say or a big team.
Before you start seeing obstacles and limitations all over the place, let me stop you right there.
It’s about caring about those people you want to reach. It’s about being creative.
When you put yourself in your community’s shoes, when you see your work as fun and cool and engaging, you will find creative ways to reach and engage your community.
If you look at some of the most successful brands on social media, they have something in common.
JetBlue Airways does a great job on Twitter following their communications strategy worldwide.
But they also make it about the community. After all, who doesn’t want their pet to look all dressed up? 😉
Coca-Cola is killing it on Facebook.
I wonder if there is anyone on earth who hasn’t heard of the brand. Probably not.
Have you heard of Califia Farms?
Check out their Instagram account.
They make it about you, your family time on a Sunday morning.
Or enjoying your food while eating healthy.
Second, they put themselves in their community shoes and create content with their community in mind and for their community.
It’s not about their products or services; it’s about creating a sense of belonging, a sense of community around those brands.
That’s what we all want, right? To belong, to be part of a community, to be heard, and to be listened to.
How to Knock it Out of the Park with Your Communications Strategy
The good news is you can do it too.
The bad news is you have to put in the work.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Clean Up Your House
You can’t be great on social media if you don’t have a coherent communications strategy.
Whether you are one-person business or part of a corporation, it all starts with your marketing and communications strategy.
Define your strategy and messaging. Find out what you are all about and write it down.
Side note: your marketing and communications strategy shouldn’t be “make more money.” What are your mission, vision, and values?
Once you have the strategy on paper, use project management and create a plan of how you are going to implement it.
It should include:
- Your company’s communications channels (website, blog, social media, email, phone, etc.).
- Tasks to be done to implement the strategy for each channel (write down every single one of them)
- Milestones to achieve
- Resources needed (people, budget, etc.)
Involve Your Team
From creation to the execution of your communications strategy make sure to involve your team.
Assign roles in the project and make sure each team member knows their responsibilities very well.
One thing to add here is, when assigning roles to your team, capitalize on their strengths and assign each of them those roles that need their expertise and where they can succeed and shine.
Hold follow-up meetings for each milestone in the project. End each meeting with a clear action plan, who does what and by when.
It’s very important for your team to feel you are on top of things and that they have your support.
That said, be accessible to your team. Give them the freedom to make decisions, but make it clear your door is opened for them when they need it.
This step should go without saying, but bear with me.
You create content on a regular basis for your business. However, if you want to actively engage your community and build loyalty, you need to make your content personal.
This means to show off your team, celebrate their birthdays and special events and share images and videos on your social channels, and why not in your mailings (where appropriate).
People do not follow or engage with a logo. They follow a mission, the people behind that logo, they want to know there is a human being listening to them, making them laugh and feel good.
Involve your most loyal fans, feature them on your website and social channels, show them off and tell the world how proud you are they chose you and your brand.
Simple or not, your communications strategy needs to be supported by an editorial calendar for your blog and website content, for your email, and for your social channels.
Yes, it’s a lot of work, but the hard part is in the beginning.
Think of it this way, you work one time, in January, and the rest of the year you execute on it.
One thing to pay attention to is being coherent on all communications channels and talking about the same topic at the same time.
You don’t want to drive your audience crazy with different messages and campaigns on different channels.
Keep in mind those who follow you on social, are also part of your mailing list. At least part of them.
Once you have your communications strategy in place and running, I’d like to say your work is done, but that would be a lie.
That only means you’ve done the “behind-the-scenes” part. Now it’s time to connect and build relationships with your raving fans.
As your campaign goes on, answer the comments, likes, and shares you receive on your social channels, and via email. Go beyond thanking them, check their social profiles and comment on their content.
You won’t be able to keep up with everyone, but start small and interact with three to five people each day. Make lists to keep track or your progress.
Don’t forget, being human goes a long way.
You know what the best part is?
Once you start, you’re going to love it. You’re going to love interacting with people, having fun, while helping them and making a difference.
Social Media is About People
Social media is about being social. It’s about people.
After all, we want to do business with people we know, like and trust.
Be the next Coca-Cola in your community. Make a difference and help people.
A wonderful thing will happen. People will help you back.