Maximizing Social Media

Words By Liz Kantner & Morgan Miller

Maximizing Social Media

Over the course of the last decade, I've been fascinated by Social Media. The concept, the platform, the users, the stories, the engagement, have all kept me up many nights. To think that when Mark Zuckerberg was creating a social network for Harvard students, that he would be truly creating “The Social Network,” is hard to imagine. It also feels like a lifetime ago. Thinking back to a MySpace page that is likely still active and a Friendster account (remember that?!) that I cannot seem to remember the password for, Social Media has really been the turning point for connection in the last century. With the emphasis moving like an ocean tide from Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat to Instagram and back, Social Media continues to be the driving force to which communication on a fundamental level is changing. This turning point, however, is no longer just limited to individualized personal consumption, but emphatically to the integral development in business as we know it today and I love it.

When I first started in this industry, I was blogging — the first step into what we now know #influencers to be. Blogging, for me, was a way for me to explore my passion and interest in writing as well as further my strengths in digital marketing within my agency. With the heavy focus, at the time, on content marketing and creative copy, Twitter and Facebook were the most important for our clients. Since then, my career trajectory has changed (now a seasoned Social Media Manager/Content Creator within the fine jewelry industry), as has the emphasis on platforms. The focus, now more than ever, is on the images themselves and video. As we have seen (and continue to see), a single strategy doesn’t work for long — brands are being forced to be nimble and to constantly challenge and change their approach while remaining consistent to their narrative.

One thing, however, has stayed a constant and that is purpose; the purpose to create a deeper connection with the end consumer, through the power of emotive and authentic storytelling. 

With 2019 upon us, the platform that continues to be most popular and effective when it comes to marketing is Instagram. Instagram, specifically, has created such an interesting way for brands to connect to their audience but furthermore give a real and direct representation of what the brand is about, what it stands for, its aesthetic, and its personality and tone within an instant. What used to take months of planning and execution within a traditional advertising calendar, could be done within days and minutes. I love the way it continues to challenge brands to think outside of the box and utilize a new strategy within its platform to convey their message.

The way brands need to use it, however, has changed. On average, of the over 1 billion users on the platform (and counting), people are spending more than 32 minutes a day on Instagram. In an oversaturated landscape, you need to not only ensure that your brand is present, but also (most importantly) that your content stands out. If the content your brand is sharing isn’t producing results, here are a few things to consider: 

Stop worrying about the algorithm.
Sure, Instagram doesn’t work the same way that it did a few years ago but that doesn’t mean that the decline in engagement is due to the platform. The real problem your brand’s experiencing is an audience that is bored with the content or the way it’s being shared. Experiment with new types of content (video, stories, IG TV, etc.), get to know your audience better, and continue to analyze the results. Instagram is so fast-paced that many brands use it as a testing ground which allows you to experiment in your marketing. Allow your audience the opportunity to feel involved in the curation of your content (brands like Glossier do a great job of having their audience feel like they are apart of the process) and use them as a focus group in return. You still need to remain true to your vision so while it’s great to look at what other brands are doing (and doing well), make sure every piece of content used feels “on brand.” 

Hashtags don’t work the way they used too.
Hashtags, originally created to make content easier to discover, have become more saturated with spam content (completely unrelated to the # themselves) and in turn, are proving to be much less effective. Yet, 300 million people daily still utilize them as outlets for discovery. Skip the big block of 30 hashtags in your post and/or comments and help your customers (current and prospective), by aggregating your content with 1-3 strategic hashtags that are specific to the content your brand post. A good hashtag to always use is the name of your company and your tagline, if your brand has one. Be sure to take advantage and utilize geo-tags in both feed posts as well as stories; this has become a much more impactful way for potential customers to discover your brand’s content wherever you go and to allow you access to a new marketplace. FoundRae, the fine jewelry collection launched by former Rebecca Taylor CEO Beth Bugdaycay, is an excellent example of focusing on specific hashtags. Founded in 2015, FoundRae has gained a cult-like status amongst fashionistas and jewelry fiends alike. By utilizing the hashtag #modernheirloom, their emblematic ethos, FoundRae helps composite their content for easy navigation. 

Context is important.
An image without a story is harder for people to connect with, making commenting and direct engagement much more challenging. By adding some personality to your brand’s content and speaking ‘directly’ to a client will make them feel special and that the content was tailor-made for that person. Context, in all avenues, is so important because it makes it easier to start a conversation with your target audience; it should also be your brand’s number one goal when it comes to social media. It’s so crucial to get the audience talking because if a potential customer is responding to the posts, they will be comfortable inquiring about what the brand is selling. This leads to more engagement, trust, and in turn, sales. Everlane does a great job of driving conversation with their clients, and clients, in turn, actually helping propel that further.

Know your brand.
The first step to a strong social media presence is truly knowing your brand and being consistent in the content shared. Spend time defining your brand and developing a narrative — Who are you? What do you believe in? Who is your target audience? The more clear your brand message is, the more likely it is to stand out in the sea of content that users are constantly scrolling through. A good practice is to work with your team to agree on five keywords that describe the brand. These “keywords” will not be the only defining quality, but they help organize a framework to guide the content strategy and your brand identity. Ritual, a start-up focused on redefining wellness, speaks in a visual language through an ongoing color palette that is bold and Millenial/Gen-Z driven, like their customers.

Quality over quantity.
Posting often won’t necessarily increase engagement. By creating thoughtful content — whether it be final production or behind-the-scenes access — you allow your followers a reason to engage with you. People follow for one (or more) of four reasons: entertainment, information, education, and inspiration. The path to hitting follow is ultimately through storytelling: you come for the above, but you stay for the personality and unique point of view. There is an incredible amount of content out there, so to stand out your brand must be creative! Doing what everyone else is doing will not necessarily work. Rather than worrying about what time of day is best for posting, spend more time thinking outside of the box. As you look to create new content consider the following: Is the content on brand? What value does it add to the audience? Will the audience participate? What is your ultimate goal — comments and conversation? Likes? A follow? Click-through to the website or purchasing a product? Catbird, the Millennial-pink jewelry haven for Brooklyn “It-Girls,” does a great job of pushing all aspects of this. By creating content that’s strategically driven, they are able to push their viewers to specific elements depending on their goals for that post, story, etc. 

Give video a try.
I think every year for the past 10 years we’ve been talking/hearing about video and why it’s so important. I’m here to say that it will only continue to get more so. Instagram launched ‘IGTV’ ~6 months ago as a way to continue to market itself as a multi-dimensional, omnichannel for its users and has no plans on stopping anytime soon. On the contrary; after colleagues attended a much-coveted space at Instagram Fashion’s “Masterclass,” it was relayed that not only will they continue to vest millions of dollars into it further, but also that it will revolutionize the way the platform itself is used. When I speak to clients about investing in video projects, they often shy away due to the cost; yet, the alternative (phone production), is just as fear-driving. Yes, quality is important, but so is creating real content that people can connect with regardless of cost. With phones being at their technological peak, cost can no longer be an excuse. Putting a real face or even voice behind your brand is so valuable and video is a great way to do it. Louis Vuitton, is a benchmark of the importance of video. By utilizing IG TV to follow Virgil Abloh, in what can only be described as shot on ‘iPhone’ with tailored cuts, Louis Vuitton allows the viewer an inside look of the heritage maison in an earnest way never before explored.

Tactics like these are becoming more and more important as the landscape of social media continues to evolve and shift. If you want to grow your business this year by utilizing the power of social media, reevaluate your plan, and make your goal to have more conversations rather than more followers. Look to take small, strategic steps, as implementing all of these ideas at once could be overwhelming. Allow yourself the opportunity to experiment with just one or two. Come back and let us know how it works out for your brand.

We have worked with a range of brands to help and develop social media strategies, brand narratives and content. If you would like to continue this conversation please reach out to us here.