“A powerful force for good,” said some. They believed it would be a force for good because it could immediately share information with every person in every corner of the country. Other voices feared it would “erode civic involvement” and “compete with traditional social gatherings.” These people called it “a great unknown force,” and one critic wrote that it had a “dazing, almost anesthetic influence on the mind.”
The worries over the media of radio seem quaint, don’t they?
It’s worth remembering those hopes and worries when we think about social media. Radio was eventually eclipsed by television, television by social media, and Mark Zuckerberg knows that there will be technology around the corner that makes our concerns about today’s social media look naive as well.
It would have been a mistake to ignore the power of radio, just as decades later, it would have been a mistake to ignore the power of TV, and just as today it IS a mistake to ignore the power of social media.
Social media is here to stay until a new technology sends it to the dustbin, but meanwhile, here are some tips for learning to use a social media platform to grow your business. Let’s start with studying organic content (regular posts, not ads). We’ll get to paid advertising on social media in a bit.
1. Listen to the conversation
Just as you would with a conversation at a party, it’s smart to spend some time getting to know what’s going on before you pipe up. Pick one social media platform, find some national brands and brands that do a great job, pay close attention to what they post, how often they post, and any comments their audience contributes. If you’re on Facebook, be sure to like the page so you will see more of their feed. If they’re doing a great job, you won’t see many posts with products and prices. Successfully posting organic content means paying forward with entertainment, information, or posts to make the audience feel positive emotions.
2. Pay attention to some prominent voices in your industry
One of our clients is a convenience store, so we studied one of the larger corporate players the client competes against. We found a couple of other big players to study, including some fantastic convenience store brands that aren’t direct competitors. Pay attention to the voice those brands are using. Are they formal or highly informal? Does it sound like a company speaking to a person, or is it a person-to-person interaction free from corporate-speak?
3. Follow some smaller businesses in your area to see what they’re up to
How often do they post? How does their use of social media compare with the more prominent competitors? How does their engagement compare with the bigger companies in your industry?
If you’ve studied well, you’ve gotten a feel for how companies with entire teams devoted to social media use their pages to connect with their audience and how smaller enterprises strive to connect. Now let’s focus on social media advertising.
We’re going to repeat the process used above, but instead of studying organic posts, we’re going to study their advertising.
Here’s how to gain insight into the paid advertising on Facebook. Visit the page you’re studying, and watching the left side of the screen, navigate to “page transparency.” Click on “see all,” then toward the bottom of the box that pops up, choose “Go to ad library.” Now you can see what they’re running as paid ads, and you can mentally compare that with what they’re sharing through organic posts.
Let’s say you used Target as one of the big brands to study. You’ve seen their organic posts, and now you can see their paid posts. The two will types of posts will be very different. The organic feed focuses on feel-good posts and helpful information. The paid side is all about products you might want to buy. When we last studied Target, they had 750 active ads on Facebook alone, and another 500 on other Facebook-related platforms. (Messenger, Instagram, and their audience network).
Now repeat the same process for each of the other brands you studied, industry leaders, and nearby competitors. Are they using paid ads? If so, what are they promoting?
The first steps for using social media to help your business grow involve understanding how others are using organic posts to grow engagement with their brand and paid advertising to make sure their products are in front of their customer.