Alright, alright. We all know 2016 was a mess. We’ve seen it in our social feeds every day over the past few months. We get it. It sucked. Legends were taken, world issues got more depressing, Donald Trump is about to be the President of the U.S. It really couldn’t get much worse - but the bright side is that it’s all up from here.
On a more positive note, the wonderful world of social media saw a ton of new features to existing platforms and newer players begin to solidify their place - from the introduction of Instagram Stories to the dominance of Snapchat, from Facebook Live to Instagram Live, and live streaming everything from the NFL to the American election on Twitter, 2016 was an interesting one.
In that spirit, here are some ways to continue to stay ahead of the social game in 2017.
1. Hire A Professional
This is by far the most obvious and most straight-forward way to shine on social media in the coming year. As with any other task or job role, engaging a professional will get you the best results in the shortest amount of time. The biggest issue with social media, however, is everyone thinks they can do it because they have a personal Facebook account or they send Snaps to their kids from time to time. Clearly, that’s certainly not the case; you’ll end up costing yourself more money to fix your mistakes by trying to do it yourself rather than just bringing in the pros from the beginning.
On the other hand, some folks have a natural affinity for social, and if that’s you then as long as you stay up on the latest changes and updates, post consistently with a common brand voice and imagery across your platforms, you should be fine. And if your business is in its early stages and you don’t have the cash flow to hire a pro just yet, then you definitely need to...
2. Take It Seriously
Don’t mess around. Social is a serious game, people. It isn’t 2006; it’s not just college fratboys trying to set up parties any more. Study the game; see what your competitors are doing online, both the good and the bad. Test what works, what doesn’t, and continuously pivot. Mistakes are key - the more you make, the more you learn, the more you grow.
Takes notes and learn from everyone; borrow what you like, ignore what you don’t, just make sure you don’t do the bad stuff (more on that later). There’s rules to social but a lot of them can be broken if it’s done right.
3. Try Everything Once
You’ve got nothing to lose. As long as it makes sense for your business, give it a crack. Snapchat might not seem like it could be right for you, however it costs nothing to download the app and test a few things out. You never know how it’ll go. Experiment as much as possible, and don’t be scared to take some risks and figure it out.
4. Stay Sharp
We’ve said this before, but only use high resolution, high quality photos for all your social media feeds. Even the cheapest smartphones come with great cameras nowadays, so there’s no excuse! Ditch the old Blackberry and step up your image game. Take the time to put together well framed images, use a consistent colour scheme and pick your favourite filter from free photo editing apps (what up VSCO and Snapseed). If you take your pics seriously, so will your potential followers (read: customers).
5. Do It Right
It’s crazy this still even needs to be said but we still see some shady stuff happening on social every day. Here’s a brief list of some Do’s and Don’ts: be professional, don’t be a spammer; genuinely engage with people, don’t automate comments; build relationships, don’t DM random people your links; be original and give credit where it’s due, don’t blatantly steal from other users; and for the love of social, don’t buy fake followers. Please.
Social media is all about being social, right? So talk to people! Start up conversations, comment and like posts and photos, and share great, interesting content on your profiles (with relevant hashtags, of course) that will draw people to you. Not sure where to start? There’s a Twitter Chat for almost every industry, which are super easy ways to get talking to real people in your field. Hit up our old friend Google and see what you can find.
7. Give More Than You Take
Gary Vaynerchuk says it all the time - provide value and you’ll generate an audience, and that’s why we’re all here, right? In this day and age of everything being available somewhere on the internet, nothing’s a secret so why not position yourself as a thought leader and let people know what you do that makes you successful? There’s nothing someone can borrow from you that will take away from your success because everyone does things their own unique way, so there’s nothing to lose.
8. Get Creative
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of following trends, seeing how some brands use social networks and just falling into line. Why not try a new network, do no research and just use it how you think it could be used? Or have an office brainstorming session and see what out-of-the-box ideas you can come up with for each of your profiles? It might be hit and miss but you never know what could catch on, especially in a crowded marketplace where most people generally do the same thing.
9. Plan Ahead
We know social media can be a little stressful but luckily there’s a ton of platforms available (Buffer, Hootsuite) to save you time on your posts so that you can invest in engaging with your followers. The posts, of course, will draw your audience in but engagement is what’s going to keep them around. We like to use these tools to create what we call ‘foundation posts’ - a general stream of relevant daily content so that even if you’re unable to post something fresh or engage on a given day, something will still be posted regardless.
Lastly but most importantly...
10. Have Fun!
If you aren’t having fun with your social media, that energy won’t translate across to your followers and potential customers. Just look at IHOP’s Twitter feed - it seems to have dampened a bit lately for some reason but historically, it’s been our favourite social media account of all time due to the ridiculously hilarious Hip Hop slang-oriented tweets. Clearly they’re having a ton of fun talking about breakfast and pancakes, and that really resonates. Enjoy yourself and your followers will too!
Rather focus on your business, and have a professional manage your social? We do that - talk to us.