Your organization – be it a clinical institution like a hospital network, grocery store, restaurant chain, or law office, or a public sector organization such as a town, government department, or even a non-profit – is probably on social media at this point. (And if they’re not, they should be, but we’re not talking about that here).
Social media gives your organization access to advertising capabilities, free database storage, and a free, direct line of communication with your community and anyone interested in you. Which is great! But as social media and its use functions have matured over the last two decades, we’ve seen an explosion of brand personalities across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Fun fact: If you wish to go back through the relics of the Internet, you’ll uncover that one of the first corporate personalities on the internet was Denny’s account on Tumblr, and, yes, they did promote that Baconalia bacon and vanilla ice cream monstrosity. Often.
But what made Denny’s successful should be immediately obvious: 1) I’m referring to it here, and I still remember that unholy abomination of a dessert, and 2) they’ve perhaps created legacy for themselves as somewhat of an urban legend on the Internet. Not only are they one of the first examples of brand personality on the Internet – they also kickstarted a new wave of corporate marketing simply through being trendy.
Today, it’s not uncommon for brands to have a personality attached to their social media accounts. Nike and GoPro use their platforms to showcase athletic achievement and marvel at creativity their fishbowl lenses create. Steak-umms, Wendy’s, and Pop Tarts are much trendier, openly mocking themselves or other users in jest. Even governments are getting involved, the first of which being the State of New Jersey’s official government Twitter, @njgov. The personality is what you’d expect any personality out of New Jersey to look like.
Moreso, each of these brands has chosen the platform that best delivers their intended persona. NJGov, Wendy’s, and Steak-umms went for Twitter because of the platform’s character restrictions, shareability, influence, and tendency to be the birthplace of most memes and screenshots these days. Nike, GoPro, and National Geographic focus a lot of attention on Instagram because of the platform’s focus on videos and images – it is, after all, a showcasing app.
So, with all that said, where does your company fit? At this point, whether you’re a non-profit or member organization, from the private sector, or a government or institution, it’s an expectation for an organization to at least be on social media – but the next step to think about is whether you’d like to be more than just “on.”
Let’s go through a couple tips to consider if or when you decide to evolve your social media presence.
Establish a Goal
What do you want to use your social media for? Establishing a goal for your digital presence doesn’t stop at numbers like followers, likes, and shares. It’s also about the Engagement. Engagement looks at how many people are interacting with, reacting to, and how many impressions have been made on a single post. Engagement helps us tell a story of an organization’s successes and failures on social media.
In establishing your goals for this new digital presence, consider what you would like engagement to look like. Here are a couple questions to think about:
- Who is your audience?
- What do you know about your audience (and their expectations of you)?
- What are the characteristics of your brand?
- How do you want to interact with your audience?
- Ex. Do you want your audience to share your content, or simply be informed?
Of course, the other side of this will always include extensive research. The best approach is research. Research your organization, its history and values, what it’s known for in your community, as well as what you know about it too. Also research your competition. If any of your competitors have developed a social media presence, you can look at their efforts for inspiration.
Use Platforms Effectively
Facebook is great for sharing information and updates to a steady base of users in a traditional format. The platform has adopted a few newer tricks, such as Stories and Live features, but by and large Facebook remains the best “launchpad” for your organization – that is, necessary, no bells or whistles, straight information directly to your followers. Instagram and Twitter are a little more … fun.
As I mentioned earlier, Instagram is a showcasing platform. Here, micro-influencers, celebrities, and rich friends show off the best vacation getaways their parents’ money can buy. Which, albeit sometimes annoying, actually exposes Instagram’s greatest strengths; showcasing cuisines and scenery. If you are an organization looking to show off the beauty of your product, service, or physical surroundings, you’ll feel right at home on Instagram.
Twitter is more of a free-for-all. Twitter’s most attractive feature is its’ natural setup that allows for micro-blogging, up-to-the-minute reaction posts, character limits that demand use of shorthand writing, hashtags, and creative uses of emojis, numbers, and symbols. It’s wild.
Where Facebook is the brains and Instagram is the beauty, Twitter is … like the little voice inside your head that you usually ignore, telling you to burn it all. Burn it all to the ground.
Use Features Effectively
Story. Post. Live. IGTV. Highlight. Pin. Tag. Hashtag. Geotag. Thread.
Each of these features across the three major platforms can serve different use functions. For example, the Highlights feature of Instagram can be used for categorical updates; recurring information that you want your audience to know about for more than just a few hours.
Tagging is a world of itself and it serves different uses for different platforms. In short, Tags are an important part of engaging with your social media audience. On Facebook, Tags are limited to people and places, for the most part. But on Twitter and Instagram, Tags come in the form of people, places, and trending topics.
Know Your Organization
An online presence can be drawn directly from what you, your staff and/or colleagues know about your company, and what you want your audience to know about you, which can actually come from your audience directly.
For example, if you know you have an identity within your audience or base of being “cool,” you’ll want your social media presence to reflect that. If you’re known for being trendy, follow that (likely to Instagram or Twitter).
And, if you’re starting from scratch, think about what you want your organization’s story to be. What do you want people to know about you? What do you want them to think about you?
Grant Yourself a Little Freedom
Don’t take it all that seriously. Grant yourself the freedom to test out new stuff (no one on the internet remembers after a week anyway). NJGov’s Twitter was handed to two college kids who turned it into a viral phenomenon simply by responding to a criticism with a “your mom” joke.
Don’t feel pressured to create a narrative from scratch that ticks all the right boxes – on the Internet, people are looking for a good, human presence from organizations. Let that presence come from what you and your team already know about your organization – and what others know about it too.