Beyond The Platform: Shortcuts to Social Media Success


Best practices are ever-changing. Tweet with an image to increase engagement. Instagram now lets you post 16:9 photos, so fill the screen. Don’t ask for likes on Facebook. Vertical video performs better than horizontal on mobile. The weekly and monthly updates are a constant barrage that, in all honesty, aren’t always worth keeping up on. Further, they’re typically only applicable on one or two platforms.
With the emergence of VR-AR content, live-streaming, and one-to-one brand messaging, social media platforms are aiming to knock down walls in communication between users. In response, brands will continually need to increase emphasis on social care, giving one-on-one attention to fans and followers. Brands, both established and emerging, need to take a holistic approach across all social platforms, creating a unified, connected presence in communicating with their audience.
Here at The Social Lights, we operate on core values. These values drive everything that we do, from client relationships to platform monitoring, to campaign development. The best thing about these values? They’re platform independent. Our core values are readily applicable across Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or any other platform your brand may be using.
So, let’s get started on your social presence.

10 Tips for Social Media Success, courtesy of The Social Lights

1. Provide value. Give your audience something they can’t get anywhere else. Whether it’s a sneak peek at a new product, going behind the scenes at an event, or social-only discount codes, fans are always looking for something unique.
2. Know your audience. Who are they? Where are they? What type of town do they live in? What do they like to do? What shows are they into? What do they listen to? How do they talk? The more questions about your audience that you can answer, the more relatable, chord-striking content you will be able to produce.
Further, know who your biggest fans are, when they are online, and how to leverage them. See No. 5.
3. Be relatable, be human, and do you. When it comes to customer service, most of the work can be done by bots. Find ways to create a human connection with your audience. It can be as simple as posting the way you talk, compared to the way you write.
Also, recognize that there are likely several, if not dozens of brands that are in direct competition with your product or service. Find what makes yours unique in comparison, focus on the processes and aspects that no other competitor can offer, and drive these points home to bolster loyalty amongst your audience members.
4. All users are created equal when it comes to responding. If a member of your audience has a question, comment, or problem, it doesn’t matter if they have 50 followers or 50,000. Take care of every person the way you would your best friend. For a brand or business, that’s exactly what a consumer is.
5. Encourage your audience to interact and engage with each other. Create conversations among your audience members. Find ways to get them debating which of your product’s features is the best or most beneficial. In providing a platform for your fans to talk about your product, you also increase the likeliness that those same fans will promote your product in day-to-day life. In today’s ongoing blitz of advertisements and promotional offers, nothing is more valuable than a personal recommendation.
6. Keep up, take risks. Social media moves fast, really fast. New features are coming out every day, giving brands opportunities to stand out from the crowd. Don’t wait for a feature to become mainstream. Be one of the first to do it. Then, when everyone is doing it, you’ll be doing it better.
Push your audience in your content development. Test the boundaries. Combine new features with things that only your brand can offer, and swing for the fences. You may swing and miss every once in a while, but you’ll never hit a home run if you don’t take your swings.
7. Always be learning. Learn from your successes. Learn more from your failures. Measure post performance across time of day, day of the week, and month of the year. Create benchmarks to measure post performance across content types.
Learn from your audience. Learn by following similar accounts (or very different accounts). Find resources that highlight creative or impressive work. Identify what drives success, and what it is that makes others fail. Most importantly, learn how to apply these findings to your own practices. Everything isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t supposed to be.
8. Be Consistent. Your audience wants to hear from you. Further, they want to know what, how, and when they can hear from you. Create consistency across all facets of your approach. From developing the right voice, to posting across similar time windows, to building a consistent visual aesthetic, the more cohesive your brand is, the more trust you build with your audience. In doing so, your fans will begin to look for your content and will likely look to engage on a more regular basis.
9. Don’t force it. Trust your instincts. If a piece of content, joke, or trend doesn’t feel like a fit for your brand, don’t post it. From a fan’s perspective, there are few things worse on social when brand hops on a trend for the sake of hopping on a trend, or worse, doing it incorrectly.
On the flip side, if your gut tells you a certain meme would resonate with your audience, don’t hesitate to let it fly. Often times, the most popular pieces of content aren’t the ones that are meticulously crafted and planned. They’re the ones that connect a popular trend to a brand persona. Time windows are small with social trends, so judgment is crucial. Trust yourself.
10. Listen. Your audience is your greatest resource. Listen to them. Your fans will tell you what they want. From aesthetic, to voice and tone, to important social responsibilities, if you listen, your fans will jump at an opportunity to associate their preferences and passions with your brand.
Further, combine this point with No. 7, and learn how to listen. Set up searches for your brand name, both directly and indirectly mentioned. Identify keywords for topics that you want your brand to align with. Develop a listening platform so comprehensive that if someone even whispers on a topic you care about, you can hear it. Even better, you can respond to it.
Well, there it is. 10 steps. Easy, right? Maybe, maybe not. Like any key marketing practice, social media takes a substantial investment, most importantly in time, effort, and training. When in doubt, always come back to the core five: Show you care. Stay curious. Be generous. Show passion. Drive growth.

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Background on The Social Lights
The Social Lights® is a social-first agency headquartered in Minneapolis that partners with clients to grow their business through strategy development, creative production, media buying, and social media management. Current clients include General Mills, Ecolab, Cargill, Caribou Coffee, Kwik Trip, Polaris and Massage Envy. The Social Lights was founded in 2011 and is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise. Learn more at The Social Lights.

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