There’s a difference in terms of having a social media presence and actually being present on social media.
How do I know this? I manage social media accounts that are examples of both. Now, I might say a few things that social media management agencies won’t like (because they’re trying to sell you their services) but I’m a firm believer that not all social media practices fit every business as a whole.
To Have a Presence or Be Present. That is the Question.
Each business will have different goals on social media because each one will have varying amounts of time they’re willing to spend on platforms and some platforms will suit their business better than others.
It used to be suggested that you should create profiles for every social media platform out there, without analyzing whether or not that platform would do anything for you. While it’s still extremely important to represent your brand appropriately online, it’s not important to be represented on every single platform.
Choose only the ones that make the most sense to you.
I’ve Chosen My Social Media Platforms, Now What?
For some companies, being present on social isn’t part of their overall marketing strategy. Many only care that they aren’t being misrepresented by fake accounts or defamed on various platforms. Because of this, their involvement and day-to-day interactions with people online will be much less than companies or organizations who make it a larger priority.
Is this okay? OF COURSE.
If you’ve distinguished that spending hours talking to people on Facebook isn’t the bread and butter of your business and that’s not what is going to get you the best ROI, that’s perfectly fine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, either. Your time and effort is best spent elsewhere, in areas you really do care about and are willing to give your attention to.
However. There are other companies that put much more effort in to social media because that participation is worth something to them. Once they’ve chosen which social media platforms they want to be part of, participation and involvement in the creation of and contribution to conversations will be their main goal.
What Does Participation on Social Media Entail?
As always, this will vary a little bit according to the type of business or industry you’re in. For the purpose of this blog post, I want to use our friends the Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM) as my example again.
POAM’s website runs much like a news site or blog. We are constantly creating content that’s relevant to legislation, union wage increases/decreases, threats to healthcare, and issues that effect their members on a daily basis. In order to share this content, we use Facebook and Twitter (as well as newsletters).
What if we had chosen to use Instagram? How would we regularly connect with union members on that platform? True, we would properly represent POAM as an organization on that particular social media platform, but what would it really be doing for us? Instagram, as an app, wants to keep you in-app. That’s why you’re only allowed to link to external sites in your bio; you can’t click on links within a post or photo. We would spend a ton of time writing lengthy captions just to turn around and say, “link in bio.”
As our partnership is currently set up, it wouldn’t be the best use of time.
What Should My Posting Schedule Be?
I’ll be frank with you. I think posting schedules are complete crap, especially when it comes to managing a client like POAM.
They are helpful in some cases for companies like Search Engine Journal who continually share older articles as evergreen content over and over again. In their case, it’s good to plan posts ahead of time and push out old articles in addition to the new ones they’re always writing. However, that doesn’t work for everyone.
The biggest mistake that companies make on social media is forgetting the human element when it comes to social. People go to Facebook because they want to interact with their friends and family. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking, “Omg, I HAVE to check Pepsi’s profile today and see what they’re up to.”
Now, let me ask you a very serious question. “When was the last time you created a posting schedule for your personal Facebook?”
Never, right? If you do, please leave me a comment below because you’re weird and we should be friends.
True participation on social media means that you’re sharing important moments as they happen.
A truly amazing example of this happened this past week for POAM when Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof proposed Senate Bill 594 (if you hate politics, just stick with me for the lesson, okay) which would create legislation authorizing the creation of a private police force. You can read about it here, if you’re interested.
This is where participation on social media truly shows its power, because participation on social media can incite action. We’ve been slowly cultivating relationships with POAM’s members through the use of social media for years, so we knew that we could share this issue with them and ask them to call our Michigan Senators to urge a no-vote.
After seeing how well the article was doing organically, we spent $50 to boost the post. We targeted “people who like your Page and their friends” who live in Michigan, keeping the demographic as relevant as possible. The response was tremendous. Overall, we reached 23k people and incited so much action and enough calls that the Bill went to a no vote.
Participation in social media always depends on your goals, your business, and your industry. In order to successfully participate on social, you must not only have a presence, but be present.
Also always remember, that participation on social media can incite great action and change.
It’s up to you how you decide to harness the power of social!