I hate to break it to you, but your Twitter account isn’t a social media strategy. Despite what some social media gurus may have told you, social media isn’t about being on as many platforms as possible. And, without a strategy and analytics, social media is largely a waste of your valuable time.
Just like any other inbound marketing tactic, social media just doesn’t work without a strategy. It can’t. Sending three tweets a day, hoping someone will take notice isn’t a social media strategy. Setting up a Facebook page and using IFTTT to sync it with Twitter isn’t a social media strategy. Trying to get 10,000 followers on Tumblr isn’t a social media strategy.
Before we get to some real strategies, let’s start by debunking some popular myths.
1. You Are Not Your Follower:Following Ratio
By far, the most common mistake that startups make is mistaking their follower count growth for real growth. It’s a vanity metric through and through. A Twitter account with 930 engaged followers is exponentially more valuable than a Twitter account with 93,000 unengaged followers.
Building your strategy around ways to get more followers, more likes, etc. is a waste of time. It’s not going to add any real value to your community and it’s not going to add any real value to your bottom-line. Must… resist… vanity… metrics… gah!
2. Just Because You’re Talking, Doesn’t Mean Anyone’s Listening
Have you ever heard the expression, “Most people aren’t listening, they’re just waiting for their turn to speak”? It’s incredibly true, especially on social media. Just because you’re sending tweets into the Twitterverse doesn’t mean anyone’s actually reading them.
Building your strategy around how many pieces of social media content you publish per day is a waste of time. In fact, it’s usually the more you talk, the less you say. Just because you’re saying more, doesn’t mean you’re getting more value or even providing more value.
3. No One Cares That You Were On TechCrunch That One Time
If you think you can use social media to throw your own parade, think again. Unless you’re among the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Neil Patel or Dave McClure, it’ll be hard to find anyone interested in hearing you talk about yourself all day.
The simple truth is that most people on social media love to talk about themselves, which means they don’t want to hear about that one time you were on TechCrunch… for the next six months.
Building your strategy around how many times you can plug and promote your own “wins” is a waste of time. You may get a few clicks here and there, but you’ll also kill any sense of community and hurt your reputation. You’re not Joan Jett, you should give a damn about a bad reputation.
So, is social media a waste of time for everyone? Absolutely not. In fact, social media is an integral part of the customer acquisition process for startups. It’s merely a waste of time for those who think having social media assets is the same as having a social media strategy.
Here are a few things you should build your social media strategy around.
1. Promotion & Traffic Generation
This is perhaps the most common goal with social media strategies. Social media is a fantastic way to reach a large audience. Essentially anyone can run a global business thanks to the Internet and, more specifically, social media. That’s why it’s a great resource for promoting content, special offers and successes.
At Onboardly, we consistently see Twitter and Facebook as our top referral traffic sources. Assuming you have a killer conversion funnel and you’re not spammy about your promotion efforts (read: you add real value for your followers and promote third-party content as well), a strategy designed to generate traffic and promote content can be extremely valuable.
2. Customer Service
Our friends at Groove know a little something about great customer service. Earlier this year, they wrote about how companies like Zappos, Rackspace, Zazzle and MailChimp are leveraging social media to offer amazing customer service. Customers don’t want to sit on hold for an hour with a call center when they have a problem. It’s an instant world and they want instant fixes.
“Despite what your feed may have you believe, Twitter isn’t all first world problems and hipster-toned photos of people’s food. Your customers are there too. And they expect you to be there for them,” wrote Alex Turnbull of Groove.
Even if social media isn’t your biggest source of traffic, you can use it to offer the best possible customer experience. Why? Well, because people expect it. So, if you’re not already providing customer service via social media, you’re already falling behind.
“Sitel did a study last year that said 17% of people between 16 and 34 expect companies to respond ‘quickly when I ask a question on Twitter’. We bet that number has only gone up, and that’s why over 70% of Groove users have linked their Twitter accounts to their help desk.”
At the end of the day, your customers are your business. Anything that makes life easier for them is worth it, so a strategy rooted in customer service is definitely worth your time.
3. Relationship Building
My all-time favourite example of using social media to build relationships has always been Innocent Drinks. If you ask me, they’re absolutely killing it in terms of social media. In fact, they’ve went a step further and almost every aspect of their company is social in some capacity.
Let’s focus on Twitter to keep it simple though. First, we need to establish one thing: investing time into building a community is worth it. When you’re a startup, it’s easy to gloss over the appeal of a community and focus solely on traffic generation and lead generation.
Second, as a startup, you’re likely going to pivot (trust me). Wouldn’t it be great to have a dedicated community willing to support you no matter what? Think of a social media community the way you’d think of blog subscribers. If you get relationship building right, there are hundreds or thousands of people who are not only willing to subscribe to your tweets daily, but engage with you as well.
Innocent Drinks puts relationships first. When you visit their Twitter page and switch over to “All”, you’ll see that the majority of their tweets are replies and outreach. They’re focused on building long-term relationships with customers because that’s what brand loyalty and customer retention are made of.
Tip: Relationship building doesn’t begin and end with customers. Make a list of influencers in your space, sort them into private Twitter lists and make an effort to get to know them!
A Twitter account, no matter how many followers you have or how many times a day you tweet or how many times you’ve promoted that TechCrunch article, isn’t a social media strategy. And without a strategy, you might as well just cut your losses now and close the account.
If you want to see real value from social media, just ground your strategy in something that has big picture value (e.g. traffic generation, customer service or relationship building).
Without a strategy, social media is simply a waste of your time. That’s the secret no “social media guru” will tell you. Being present isn’t enough. Only 10% of social media is showing up.