Oh The Digital Places You'll Go
In its infancy, social media was all about the "like." In November 2008, I blindly created a Twitter account @jengilhoi to follow and observe as a then 38 year-old what this communication channel was all about (I now have @sparktracker, @edamomie and @emcapacity as well -- apparently I just cannot get enough). I remember receiving the invitation to join Facebook that came from my worldly friend, Megan Toner, who at the time was living in China. I hesitantly accepted. I'll bet you recall your first invite with maybe a hint of skepticism?
As a communications person focused in online content creation and digital strategy, studying and contemplating the value of social media is always top of mind. Are we still skeptical? Does social media work from a professional perspective?
I for one am glad things have evolved to an unprecedented level of measurability and technology to allow for easy-access channels. The single most common conversation pre-social media related to advertising: Should I place a print ad in this publication?
Today, of course, we have a robust amount of channels and tools to communicate ideas for businesses and create a business or personal brand online presence. In about eight online hours we're ready to roll with domain purchase, website, email campaign and social media channel builds.....whoa... where is the balance in this formula?
Let's stop and consider the impact of the increasing volume of channels and content for businesses (the impact on our personal lives and relationships is an entire blog series in its own right). Engagement was what businesses were going for when they embarked on a digital strategy. And because there is too much content and filtering our social media streams and incoming information (using tools like Feedspot or other aggregators) is not widely adapted, people are growing too tired to even "thumbs up" content much less comment to the positive (negative is a completely different story).
Given the current online climate, how will your business or personal brand stand out? Before panic sets in seeking the answer to this, I counsel businesses on reach, frequency + relevancy and timing. I work with small to mid-sized businesses strapped for resources to create and maintain healthy digital strategies. We start with a conversation about where they're at, what they've tried and what resources they have. Then we move into a doable, prioritized digital strategy.
After defining a brand and creation of all of the elements from logo to tagline, color palette to font suite, mission and messaging, you first digital step is to figure out your audience. Who are you talking to and why? Get inside their head and create top level, real-world scenarios for their lifestyle to inform how you envision an entire online experience with your brand. This should go beyond just adding followers to your Twitter account and dip into qualitative insights and market research. Find out their online habits and preferences and you'll be ready for reach.
Frequency + Relevancy
The most-oft asked question in social media related to content is, How often do I have to blog? Come to think of it, I blogged about frequency and relevancy in blogging three years ago Blogging: Your Brand-Building Epicenter. The concept of the blog as content king still remains relevant. If you're still hung up on the term blog, call it content curation. If that's not to your liking, call it brand stories. The content can play out in written or video format. The point is that it sparks a whole chain of events that become your digital strategy. I work with clients on frequency that makes sense. We plan content calendars that are relevant because relevancy trumps frequency any day and I believe the tide is moving more in that direction.
Build on the idea that consistent blog or video content is your epicenter and you'll go places. I place content at the core, then correlate social media, media relations and email campaigns in a communications approach for businesses. Timing is critical and building crescendos in all channels yields much higher results than siloed release of content, no matter how juicy the content. This means overlaying industry, general trends, seasonal, top-of-mind, pop culture to your brand story and thoughtfully planning the release of what and how you share.I'll end on a note of balance and Seussical inspiration. Creating just the right amount of structure holds you accountable. Then layer in reach, frequency + relevancy and timing for flexibility to find your ROI. In the beginning this process can be challenging, but get in a rhythm of placing a lens on your every-day business experience and the ideas and content will flow.
“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)” -- Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!