It can be tempting to measure your personal or brand’s social media success based on your number of followers or clicks. Numbers are tangible and easy to digest. But if you’re only looking at the numbers, your numbers are doomed.
Some of the best things you can do for your social media presence are not easily measurable. Branding, community building, developing influence and showing authority on your topics (Forbes) are more of a feeling than a specific number, but they’re incredibly important to social media success. With our AL.com social accounts, we want followers and clicks, but we also work to brand ourselves and show our authority as the go-to source for Alabama news. Entrepreneur might call that our specialization. AL.com also covers national topics and trends, but the thing we can offer to our audience that national outlets can’t is our local coverage, and we try to emphasize our highest quality pieces of local storytelling on social (Hootsuite).
Successful brands make their followers feel valued. People want to communicate with real people, not robots. To reach those who want to talk to you, Inc. suggests joining the social networks your target audience is already using. Entrepreneur, Search Engine Watch and Mashable all stress the importance of listening. When something goes wrong with your brand, people will talk about it on social. You need to be a part of that conversation. After we share an AL.com story, we monitor the conversations that follow. People may point out a mistake or a technical problem. If we communicate honestly and quickly, we can turn the conversation around.
Listening and responding to AL.com’s followers has been a top priority for us. It’s hard to write a rule book for every possible situation, but we’re developing a more unified voice for communicating with our audience. I respect brands that engage me on social media — whether it’s solving a problem or just saying thanks for being a customer — and I want our AL.com brand to elicit that same feeling.
I want our reporters to feel comfortable engaging their followers in a similar way. Our company encourages social media activity on a personal level, and I’m so glad that AL.com doesn’t try to restrict our voices (within reason). In a world where a Taco Bell employee thinks it’s funny to post a photo of himself licking taco shells online, it can be scary for employers to encourage social media use. But as Gary Vaynerchuk says, there are more benefits to employees having a social presence than restricting it. Companies should deal with taco-licking situations individually.
Especially since employers are looking at potential hires’ social media (Time), employees should be careful. I encourage our reporters to let their personalities shine but to use common sense. Don’t make a negative post about the company or overshare about objectionable activities. Your social media accounts have become a digital resume (Forbes), and “think before you speak” has become “think before you post.”
Tell me about your experiences in the comments: How did your favorite brand on social media win you over? Does your company have a social media policy for its employees; what does it say?