A few years ago, when social media was the new thing and Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were the leading platforms, having a username and an account was enough. Fast forward to today and not only have the number of social media platforms multiplied, but the key to being successful in using these tools has also evolved.
Social media is less about being present and more about engagement. To truly be successful, as an individual or as an organization, the key is posting content that creates a conversation with your followers. If you are posting on your business’ behalf, selling posts won’t get you far. An important thing to note is that social media is not about selling widgets; it’s about creating a voice for your brand that your customers want to interact with.
Social media should be used to tell a story. With tools like Instagram and Pinterest, storytelling is no longer limited to words. Choosing images that tell your story are vital. Whether you are a restaurant posting images of food, a bakery posting the latest cake creations, or a gym posting inspirational quotes and pictures, it’s important to think of what you want your followers to take away from your posts in the 15 seconds they might be engaged with your post.
Video has also become an accessible tool of communication with apps like Vine and the new video option on Instagram. YouTube cornered the market on user-made videos for a long time, but now it has become trendy to create quicker, more digestible, snippets of video. This opens up a whole new world of opportunity for communication and ties into engagement and storytelling as well.
Of all the social media tools, Twitter seems to have taken the biggest leap from being largely seen as a time waster to, now, a communication stream used widely by mainstream media and celebrities to communicate with their fans and the world at large. In fact, hashtags, which are search terms that allow users to classify their posts, can be seen everywhere from primetime TV and news segments to print ads and billboards.
In addition to the changes in how social media is being used, there are other tools that have come out of the woodwork like FourSquare, Reddit and Tumblr. Our philosophy at Imagine is that it’s not necessary as a person or organization to have a presence on every social media platform. Instead, we believe in picking the tools that make the most sense based on the people you are trying to reach, the message you have to share and how much time you are willing to allot to each one.
What changes have you seen in how you use social media? How do you use it? Are you over it, or has it become a mainstay in your personal and professional life?
Megan Neri serves as director of client relations at Imagine Communications. Contact Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org.