If you’re passionate about branding with social media, you’re probably finding yourself reading more and more content on how chatbots are revolutionizing the way brands communicate and build relationships with their customers.
Since robots arrived and crashed the social media party, virtual chatbots went from being characters of sci-fi movies to digital entities we engage with almost every day, when we search for information, make a complaint, purchase services, or even order a pizza.
While all of this sounds exciting to the futuristic me, I started wondering what’s going to happen to the “social” aspect of social media. Is good old human interaction a thing of the past? Has human input become nothing but a fancy add-on in the social media landscape?
The short answer is “no.” Although bots are gradually gaining ground on social media and will likely take ownership of many interactions that are currently “human powered” over the next few years, there’s still a massive opportunity for us to make an impact on social media by creating value-based experiences for our buyer personas.
Easier said than done. How do you get started?
5 Types of Posts to Get Started
While it’s true there are several custom factors to consider when creating a successful social media strategy for your brand, there are five types of posts that can help you develop a blueprint and get your social strategy off the ground.
Post type no. 1: The behind-the-scenes post
Whether we turn to social media to watch videos of puppies, connect with other professionals, or share a story of the latest mochaccino we had on our way to work, one thing is for sure: We’re striving for that social interaction that makes us feel more connected to people and brands.
When it comes to brands on social media, we expect them to show us their human side, so why not share some authentic content that'll bring your audience behind the scenes and showcase your company culture and values? Don't forget to tag these posts with hashtags that are easy to monitor, such as #ADayinTheLife, #ThatsHowWeRoll, #BehindTheScenes, #[companyname]Life, or #lovemyteam.
Norwegian Airlines (@Fly_Norwegian) offers good examples of how to boost employer branding on social media. After spreading like wildfire across social media with a tongue-in cheek campaign cashing in on Brangelina’s divorce — do you remember the ad “Brad is single?" — the airline company nails it again with a campaign in partnership with UNICEF to collect donations for the children of Mali. Filling a plane with emergency aids for children might not boost your sales like your average ends-midnight sale, but it certainly goes a long way in shaping your brand perception.
Post type no. 2: The talent catcher
If you’re immediately thinking of LinkedIn, keep reading because talent acquisition is no longer only a prerogative of social networks like LinkedIn, Viadeo, and Xing.
McDonald’s (@McDonalds) recently launched the idea of Snaplications — short videos that work as preliminary applications — to attract candidates in Australia via Snapchat. Forget about conventional career pages; if you’re interested in getting a job at McDonald’s in Australia, all you have to do is send a 10-second video via Snapchat to the company and show that bubbly personality that will land you a job with the fast-food giant.
If you don’t see your head of recruitment buying the idea of turning to Snapchat to find top talent, there’s still plenty of content you can share to help potential applicants get a feeling for what the role entails and what kind of candidates you’re looking for, from a simple team photo to brief interviews with employees.
The artificial intelligence company Oben (@ObenMe) has been promoting their current openings with a series of short video interviews with their founders and employees (#werehiring, #AskObEN, #teamoben), sharing real stories of people who make the brand: from the projects they’re currently working on to future career plans, how they cooperate with cross-functional teams, or what gets them out of bed in the morning.
Nothing better than learning about a company through the words of the people you’ll be having coffee with every day.
Post type no. 3: The trend rider
With social networks doubling down on their efforts to partner with well-established publishers, turning to social media to stay updated on the news of the world has become a habit for many of us.
As a result, posting content that references the latest news of the world and popular topics that people are researching can be an effective way to grab your audience’s attention and bring your brand closer to your buyer persona’s everyday life.
Whether you want to establish a connection between your brand and Brexit or Kim Kardashian’s latest outfit, keep in mind that the topic you pick will reveal a lot about your brand’s priorities and attitude to life, so remember to stay topical and consistent with your communication house rules.
A perfect example of how staying topical can help brands generate buzz and engagement is 365BREXIT, a data visualization platform launched by KPMG (@KPMG) that aggregates Twitter conversations about Brexit and shows how sentiment is changing throughout the year.
To monitor the performance of these posts, don’t forget to tag them with hashtags, such as #stayconnected, #TrendingTopic, #TheWorldWeLiveIn, as well as more topical hashtags (e.g., #brexit).
Post type no. 4: The coming-soon post
Social media offers a great stage to amplify company news and get your followers excited about new features, products, or services you’re about to roll out. But how can we talk about product features without sounding promotional?
Benefits, benefits, benefits. The answer is as simple as that. Flip the perspective and shift the focus to the long-term benefits for the reader rather than the dry product specs.
Trello does a great job when it comes to highlighting the “what’s in it for me?” factor of their product updates. Put it this way: Would you rather read an article on how to apply the agile framework to your roadmaps or about Trello’s theme feature to filter tasks?
Finally, before posting, make sure you tag this type of posts with hashtags that are easy to monitor, such as #WhatsNext #ComingNext #ProductSneakPeak followed by product-specific hashtags.
Post type no. 5: Sharing is caring
Resharing interesting content is a totally legitimate strategy, so don’t feel like you’re cheating in the social media game if you share content that was created by someone else.
You wouldn’t think twice about sharing an article on the newest brunch places in town with your foodie friend, right? So treat your followers as “friends” with lots of interests in common, and don’t hesitate to reshare content that can help them become more productive and successful, just like Canva (@canva) does:
How to Meet Tight Deadlines Without Sacrificing Creativity https://t.co/d6k7v8voqx— Entrepreneur (@Entrepreneur) April 14, 2017
Get creative with the hashtags and tag these posts with #inspire, #AlwaysLearning, #NerdNotes, or #SkysTheLimit to easily break down engagement by post type.
Measure Performance Using Streams in HubSpot
Once we have a compelling mix of post types, it's time to analyse what's working and what's not.
When it comes to measuring performance on social media, we need to shift the focus from measuring figures to measuring sentiment. Have you noticed that many people don’t unfollow anymore? Unless you’re doing a pretty outstanding job at annoying them, many of us would rather ignore or mute certain users than unfollow them, so keeping the pulse of social sentiment becomes imperative to the success of your brand’s social media strategy.
If you’re using HubSpot social media tools, start by creating a stream for each of the post types above to monitor conversations and engagement around certain topics, and respond accordingly.
Once you've set up separate streams for each post type, personalize your responses based on the information you know about those users. Did you know HubSpot software can match information stored in your database with users who engage with your brand on social media?
In other words, just by taking a quick glance at the conversations in your streams, you’ll be able to recognize existing customers, leads, and prospects and engage with them depending on where they are in their buyer’s journey.
For more ideas on how to use monitoring streams, check out this post on how to make the most of HubSpot's social monitoring tool.
Keep experimenting, keep learning.
I know… I promised you a short guide on how to get started with social media and 1,000+ words later, here we are, with a list of tasks to keep you busy for months.
Take a deep breath and set your own pace. Even if the social media world keeps evolving at an incredibly fast rate, your strategy should not be a race. Take one step at a time and don’t feel under pressure to create and monitor all five types of posts straightaway. Success lies in getting to know your audience and aligning your goals with your communication style, so set the ball rolling with a couple of priority streams, and keep experimenting until you’ll find your own social media secret sauce.
Originally published May 23, 2017 1:00:00 PM, updated February 15 2018