Posting with purpose: why you need a social media strategy
Stephanie Ferguson, Thinking Partner, The Idea Tree Consulting
November 12, 2014.
A social media strategy allows you to link the goals of your organization to the interactions you are creating with your social media channels. With every post, tweet, pin, or photo, you should be posting that content for a reason, not just because you like it, or because it’s remotely related to your subject of interest, or it’s what other organizations seem to be doing. Why? Because every bit of effort you put into your social media content should be advancing the goals of your organization, not just giving you a presence on a particular social media platform.
It pains me to see organizations (and businesses) simply treat their Facebook page or Twitter feed as a box that needs to be ticked: as long as they have an account and there’s some activity regularly, they can consider their social media job done. Understandably, resources are limited, time is tight and volunteers may be scarce, but social media is an incredibly powerful tool, and if you have a strategy, it’s easy to make that tool work for your organization and your cause.
Here is an example of some social media use that is good, but just not quite going far enough. The specifics will remain unspecified but it concerns the Facebook page of a new café which is not open yet, but soon will be. They mainly have two kinds of posts on their Facebook page. About once a week they post an image from inside the café on what kind of construction work is taking place. These are exciting; they show how the progress is coming along and give us potential customers that are waiting for them to open a chance to peek inside the shop. They spurn questions such as what their hours will be and comments like “can’t wait for you to open!” Some other good posts have included photos of the nearby park, a new study on coffee drinking and genetics. Another positive is that the page manager promptly responds to comments.
But sometimes it seems some of their content is just so unrelated to the café, and its here where I feel they are not only posting content people don’t care about, but they’re missing an opportunity to use their posts to drum up business. Earlier in the page history they were posting recipes, and now they are posting Jerry Seinfeld’s web series Comedians Getting Coffee in Cars. I do not get it. The recipes were not too bad, it’s always something that’s popular online, and they could easily make it a little better if they related the recipes to hints about their forthcoming menu. As for the web series, these posts typically get absolutely no engagement (ie no likes, comments or shares) and are only remotely related to coffee and not related at all to the neighbourhood. The page manager is clearly a fan and just wants to share what they like. But will these posts help drive customers to the new café? I think that’s doubtful, especially given the strongly silent response to these posts. I hope the page manager takes the cue from the page fans and shifts their content to another subject.
If the café starts with the base goal that they want to get lots of customers when they open, then their posts should serve to attract local people who are using Facebook, and get them excited about the café. That’s why the local park photos and the photos of the construction work are working (ie getting engagement), whereas the web series posts are not. They could be doing so much more, if they were thinking, each post must not just be somehow related to coffee, but should be driving customers to our new café.
To some this may sound like over-planning for something that is very simple to use (after all, social media platforms are designed to be simple to use so everyone can participate), but it’s the difference between using social media as an individual to express yourself and using it professionally as a tool to create business or accomplish some change in the world.
Need help in developing a social media strategy? The Idea Tree offers consulting advice on strategy for environmentally-focused organizations and groups, and one of our specialties is social media strategy. Learn more about how we can construct a unique social media strategy for you here.