Of all the channels where you can and should engage in marketing your creative service, social media is the most debated. Your own professional experience and opinion of social media’s effectiveness likely corresponds with how much you engage with it in your personal life. But using social media professionally is different from how you might use it personally. And your expectations for how social media fits into your marketing plan may need to be adjusted.
Marketing is hard. Finding prospects, reaching out to prospects, connecting and communicating with them—it all takes precious time. And the reality is that even when all your marketing efforts finally pay off, and you gain that valuable but brief moment of attention from an identified prospect—the likelihood that they’ll need your services right then and there is pretty low. You may feel like the odds are stacked against you—that you should just give up on what seems to be a futile effort.
But don’t lose heart. Making a new contact with a prospect really is a big win. Even if the timing is off. All that’s needed is to keep your company top of mind for when the time is right, and that prospect can become an opportunity, and hopefully, if there’s a good fit, a new client.
And this is where social media comes in. I think those who tire of social media, and feel like it doesn’t pay off, do so because they get drawn into the hype, or distracted by rare viral success stories. And so when they spend a few weeks or months diligently posting to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and nothing goes viral, and new clients don’t flock to their doors—they assume social media is a bust.
But this confuses the proper function of social media as a lead nurturing platform with the unrealistic expectation for it to be a magical lead generator.
Social media is by far the most ephemeral and transient touch point in your marketing program. But it’s also the most lightweight and simple to maintain. A typical social media post doesn’t need to be highly engaging, or the most persuasive content that you produce. It just has to keep your business in the steam of your prospect’s awareness, so that you’ll be top of mind when the time is right. Of course if you can also be persuasive and engaging in a post all the better.
When you adjust your expectation for what social media is for, and how it fits into your overall marketing program, it actually makes creating posts much easier. You don’t have to swing for the fences every time. Just keep them coming on a regular basis. When your connections see your post, as they quickly scroll through their news feeds, that brief moment of remembering you is enough.
With this in mind you should consider a couple best practices for your posts. First of all, you should always include words layered over the images that go along with a post. When people flip through their feeds, they don’t click every post, and they don’t always read the accompanying text. They just scroll. And so you want your statement to be right there on the image so they hear your message as they scroll by.
Additionally, always include your company’s branding on the image. Remember, simple ongoing awareness is the main function, and if you post a photo all by itself, your prospect may never connect that back to you, unless they actually take the time to stop and read—but you don’t want to count on that. Make a statement and associate it with your brand in such a way that the connection is made even if all they do is scroll by.
Lastly, when you write your accompanying text, keep it short, and make the first line count. Often a reader will need to click a “read more” link to reveal your full post content. Don’t assume that this will happen. Ask an interesting question, or make your statement clear in the first line of your text.
When you adjust your expectation for social media and use these platforms in ways that nurture prospects in small ways over time, you’ll find that it’s much easier to keep it up. And if you have PinPoint positioning with a clearly defined content strategy, your social media strategy will be easily sustainable.
Until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.