Now that social media is such a mainstay in business, those of us in the advertising, marketing and PR industries are realizing just how much time and talent it takes to succeed on these digital communication channels.
We’re seeing for ourselves that there are no shortcuts to success in this space, not to mention that even a massive budget won’t be able to offset the deficits of a product or service that’s not up to par.
For strategists and practitioners, agencies and clients, it’s certainly not an easy pill to swallow.
Social media has leveled the playing field on which companies and consumers engage, making it easier than ever for a brand’s weaknesses to be exposed.
It might be an understatement to say that audiences can be fickle on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like. Their expectations are high and their patience is short. “You’re as good as your word” may be an old adage, but it’s never rung more true than in this new era of communications.
If your strategy is to set it and forget it, you can forget about any chance you may have of succeeding on social media. Some automation is required. But if you’re not giving the human touch to your content and contacts, you may as well expend your efforts elsewhere.
Trust is earned, not given on social media. Followers will like you for the attention you give to their content as much as for what you have to share yourself.
Listen to others more than you promote yourself. Engage in real time. Respond promptly to those who reach out to you.
Courtesy will get you everywhere. Neglect and narcissism, not so much.
How do you stay sincere when all you really want to do is sell? Storytelling is your best bet.
Amuse, educate and enlighten by incorporating people and personalities into what you publish on social media. Produce visual, not just written, content. People want to see you and your team up close and in person, the more extemporaneous, the better. Involve others. Strike emotional chords. Introduce them to characters and conflict. Keep it real. Keep it up. Social media is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Stop orchestrating and overanalyzing how you’re portrayed online and start being yourself. Start using Instagram Stories for brand storytelling.
Instagram Stories makes it possible for your brand to be seen at the top of the regular feed in a seamlessly sequenced thread of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Like Snapchat Stories, this feature allows you to add text, stickers, dates, locations…you can even tag others.
With Instagram Stories, you can, well, tell a story about you and your brand that informs and inspires. You can dazzle and delight your audience with your authenticity and credibility to the point where they will want to not just engage with you online, but want to do business with you in real life (IRL).
Lots of brands are using Instagram Stories to deepen their relationships with their followers, fans and friends, but some of those that I have personally been impressed by include New Balance, the Boston Red Sox, Stand Up to Cancer, Lewis Howes, Amber Mac, Mel Robbins, Tony Robbins and Gary Vaynerchuk.
How do you use Instagram Stories? Here’s how:
• On your own Instagram account on your mobile phone, tap the plus (“+”) icon in the top left-hand corner of your screen (or swipe left)
• Take a picture or record a video (no more than 15 seconds in length)
• Add filters, text and drawings, etc. to your content
• Take advantage of the option to tag others
• Finalize your story (“Done”) and send to individual followers, too
• Don’t forget, you story can be deleted at any time, but it disappears after 24 hours
• Use analytics to see who has viewed your pictures and videos
• Consider downloading your story and sharing it elsewhere (including your regular Instagram feed)
• Remember, viewers can’t publicly like or comment this content, but they can send a private message about it
• Note that verified accounts can include links at the bottom of their stories
• Two new types of stories are currently being released, location-based and hashtag stories, which you can read more about here
• Finally, ads can even be run in between stories, which you can learn all about here