How to establish a strong social media presence

twitter-292994_1920.jpg

Establishing a strong and lively social media presence is an important way to stand out from your competitors. When done right, the benefits can be huge -- increased brand recognition, more clients or customers and long-term brand advocates. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But the reality isn’t always so simple. Social media can be a landmine. If it’s done sloppily, sporadically or with little attention to detail, it can damage rather than enhance your company’s reputation. In fact, 90% of respondents to a recent study commissioned by Provident, in partnership with Angus Reid Global, said that social media can accelerate a reputational crisis. And in today’s digital world, potential clients or customers might question your company’s expertise if it can’t even be bothered to get social media right.

So here are some key considerations to take into account if you want to set your brand up for social media success and credibly establish your brand in an immensely cluttered space.

Be selective

It might be tempting to sign up for every social media platform available, but resist the urge. When you’re starting off, choose one or two platforms that most align with your brand identity and will reach the right audience. It’s better to do one thing really well versus trying everything half-way.

Tailor your content

Each social media platform serves a distinct purpose. So do your research, get a solid grasp of where your target audience spends their time, make sure it’s in line with your company mission and style, then execute accordingly. Are you an up-and-coming fashion brand with impeccable visuals to share? Instagram is probably the best way to engage with current and prospective customers. On the other hand, if you’re a large financial services company looking to establish your senior executives as thought leaders, LinkedIn is an excellent platform to share short opinion pieces.

Be consistent

This is especially important. I often see brands come barrelling out of the gate with solid content and regular posts, only to vanish to the sidelines shortly after. Consistency is key, and you need to establish a comprehensive content plan or calendar and be resolute in sticking to a schedule. A PR partner like Provident can help you map out a fulsome content plan that will position your brand in a positive light and achieve your core business objectives.

Don’t forget to engage

Another common mistake is not engaging with your audience. All too often brands will push out great content but then fail to interact with the people who are taking valuable time out of their days to like, comment and share. Oftentimes, brands and organizations are nervous about connecting with their audience and avoid it at all costs. But building a lasting relationship with your audience, and hopefully developing brand advocates in the process, requires engaging in real-time. Set aside some time daily to scan for relevant conversations and any commentary on your posts, and respond accordingly.

Prepare for the worst-case scenario

Remember the old saying: “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst?” It applies to social media too. There are bound to be some negative comments at some point or another -- it’s inevitable. But you can use it as an opportunity to reinforce your company’s position or to apologize for your company’s fumbles, depending on the situation. Staying ahead of the news cycle is more important than ever if you want to control how your brand is presented externally. So when developing a crisis communications plan, social media should play a big role. Again, engaging a company like Provident to help develop and implement a comprehensive crisis plan can help protect your brand reputation when you need to most.

Now that you’ve followed tips one through five, you’re likely wondering what’s next. Remember to be patient. You may want to see an immediate return on your investment, but social media is a long game. By developing authentic content that is true to your brand and engaging your audience on an ongoing basis, you’ll be well-positioned to gain a loyal following and yield positive results down the line.