Thursday night the Heartbeat Exchange hosted A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Followers: a super-informative, good-vibe Social Media Week event with mulled wine and a panel of entrepreneurs from different industries, all of whom had something unique to say about how social media fits into their daily lives.
The panel was wonderfully moderated by Alicia Evans, professor of Social Media Strategy at City College. I jotted down some key takeaways to share with you (and to reference myself).
The main thesis, once the panel’s views were averaged, was that social media is getting more personal. While viewers will always desire to be wow‘d by seemingly untouchable lifestyles and glossy finished products, they also crave the process, the humble creation story, great customer service, and genuine content shared with them—as if they were part of an intimate community.
Here are some of the tips and ideas that resonated with me during the discussion. While these are aimed at small business owners, they are directly translatable to the social media strategy of a blogger, wherein the blogger themselves and their personal style become the “product”.
6 Tips To Improve Your Social Media Strategy
Separate the social from the media.
Photographer Peter Ruprecht hit the nail on the head when he was asked how time-consuming social media is for his business. He answered by batting a question right back:
“How much time are we all spend creating content vs. getting distracted by other brands’ photos and our friend’s vacation pics?” His advice was simple: Get disciplined with your time, and treat social media like any other part of the job: with a time limit and end goals.
Do what works for your business/blog.
The existence of 100+ social media sharing options doesn’t mean they’re all the right fit for you. Likewise, some businesses may quickly snap and post photos, while others have a complex process of capturing imagery for social campaigns.
MJ Barton of Electric Picks Jewelry said she quickly stacks her jewelry on when she has downtime at events and instantly uploads photos of the product via her phone, while Diana Hardeman, founder of MilkMade Ice Cream, stands on a chair over a carefully arranged lightbox with a bowl of ice cream in the center, and edits photos on the computer before posting to social.
Bottom line? It’s a trial and error process, and you have to be willing to try new things, let go of the ones that don’t work, and adapt to your audience.
Create aspirational lifestyle content.
Rather than showing off a product on a white background, show your readers how to style it. Show it to them hanging off the back of an amazing chair in a mosaic-walled room.
Add a how-to tutorial in the form of an animated GIF to your Tumblr feed. Show some context, and let your content visually and literally explain how whatever you’re promoting will fit into your readers’ lives.
Show your process.
Demystify that aspirational lifestyle you’re selling, because pretty stuff isn’t enough. What happens before that fabulous thing (product, outfit, photo) comes into existence?
What is the styling process like?
Where are the photos being taken?
What coffee shop are you sitting in to scribble inspiration and ideas into your moleskin notebook?
Who runs your showroom? Is your favorite coffee mug that’s always at your desk while working totally pin-worthy?
People love to see the behind-the-scenes.
Let everyone know what you stand for.
People want to know what you care about. Discuss what your product is doing for the world beyond the obvious. Are you donating to a charity whose story will touch people’s lives and inspire them to help you give?
Are involved in some greater cause, or raising money for a personal life goal? Did someone just send you a heartfelt note about a way your product touched their life? These are all amazing things to share and will in turn create a deeper connection with your followers.
Balance your content.
Too much of any one thing will be less interesting over time. While listening to the panel discussion, I jotted down “Go for the 3 P’s: Product, Process, and Pretty Things.”
Product could be virtually any finished product or concept, while process is that behind-the-scenes action, and pretty things could range from inspirational quotes to aesthetically pleasing close-ups of your materials (or the embellishment on your latest DIY project).
To wrap this up, I’ll add one bonus tip that I felt was very important, stressed by MJ Barton of Electric Picks Jewelry: Don’t fake it.
When you’re paying for followers, yet no one is interacting with your content, people can tell MJ shared a story of a fellow business owner who bragged about having 20K+ followers on Instagram, yet when she clicked through the content, each photo had only 1 or 2 likes.
Does a high follower count mean anything if your message is falling on deaf ears? Your audience will grow with time, and some will come and go, but YOUR people will stick. Building a following is all about making real connections, so keep it real.
If you found these tips helpful, let me know below!