Using social media correctly?

Social Media 101

The purpose of social media is to build an audience of fans for your brand and reward them with the latest news, content, and items that they are interested in. For example, a fan of a sporting team has liked the team’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. They want to be kept up to date with the latest news around their team. So, the team actively releases content onto the platforms that will delight their audience. Such as, behind the scene videos, interviews with players and the latest news with all things regarding the team. If you keep this thought in mind when approaching social media, it will enable you to start using social media correctly. Different social media platforms are targetted towards niche areas.

However, to use social media correctly, you need to build an audience. By creating a page on Facebook or a Twitter profile, it’s not going to just actively start building an audience for you. It takes time, effort and patience to build your audience. However, one thing to remember is that the size of your audience is worthless if it’s not an audience that cares about your brand. The best way to start building an audience that cares is through the customers you already have.

Perhaps a simple and quick method could be from sending them an e-mail, asking them to follow you on your social media accounts could be a big jumpstart. Don’t stop once you reach 100, 1,000 or even 10,000 – keep topping up your social media audience by continuing to tell all your customers about it. Add links to your social media profiles in all business e-mail footers, to your website and advertising material.

Social Media – Main Contenders

Facebook

Facebook should be standard for all scuba diving businesses. Facebook’s power is from the large user base with broad, functional ability to build and reach new audiences. There are 3 scuba diving related groups (Divers of the World, Scuba Diving, and Scuba Channel) on Facebook that boast a combined audience of approximately 35,000 people. Sharing content on your business Facebook page and getting the content shared into these groups enables access to a large audience instantly. However, be aware of the rules of the individual groups before posting otherwise you could find yourselves kicked out and banned.

Twitter

Twitter is considered to be the second largest social media platform in the world. It’s 140 character limit on all ‘tweets’ can be annoying when you have a lot to say. However, the point of Twitter is within 140 characters. Keep it to the point, short and sweet. It’s surprising once you get the hang of it how much you can say and how many conversations you can start with individuals or brands.

Other Platforms to consider

Instagram

Instagram is a photo sharing platform that allows users to share and like photos of things they like. You will find an awful lot of pictures of food and cats, but welcome to the internet… Food and cats aside, Instagram is a great place to upload photos and share imagery, including some awesome underwater photos. In 2012, it was announced that Facebook had bought Instagram for $1 billion USD. It was an eye-watering amount of money and many said Facebook had overpaid. Nonetheless, Facebook paid it and Instagram can now be linked to share photos between Facebook and Instagram simultaneously.

Snapchat

Snapchat is all about sharing up to 15 seconds of video or photos with friends, really quickly and easily. Most use it to microblog about their day, something random and what they are up to. As a scuba diving business, this could be your customers arriving at the dive centre, getting on the boat to go for a dive. Your customers get into their kit and jumping into the water and bubble watching on the surface. There are lots of moments through a day where a quick snap is appropriate to share with your audience. When you add the snap to your ‘Story’, then it can be viewed repeatedly by your audience.

Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing

The Process

The fundamental goal of any marketing activity is to increase revenue, regardless of which activity. Social media is no different in that aspect but it is very different compared to traditional marketing techniques. The ultimate purpose of social media marketing is to drive traffic to your website. The content you share ideally should include a link to your website to find out more about news, blogs, etc. The process of social media begins with building your audience, as previously described. Don’t bother with getting friends and family to increase your audience size. Unless they are likely to engage with content, if they follow the business pages thinking that they are doing you and your business a favour. They are not and I’ll explain that a little later.

Once you have an audience of any size, it’s time to reward them with content. Blog content, videos, news, photos are all content your audience will enjoy. As a rule of thumb, aim to give 4 pieces of content before including any sales message. If your brand and audience are engaged enough, you won’t even need to include a direct sales message. Use and exploit each of the selected platforms for its strengths to distribute content by any method possible to increase audience reach. This could be through social groups with scuba diving related interest, adverts or hashtags.

The Power of the #Hashtag

In 2009, Twitter introduced the #Hashtag hyperlink to help users find other related content of interest. These days, there is a hashtag for everything because hashtags can be made up by anyone. However, hashtags are only effective if widely adopted and used. Since Twitter’s introduction, Facebook and Instagram have followed the lead and introduced them to their own platforms.

An example of Social Media Success

In March 2016, I discovered that a local restaurant in Bristol had Shark Fin Soup on its menu from a front page article in the local newspaper and Bite Back Marine Conservation Charity. I visited the restaurant in question and hand delivered a letter to the duty manager who quickly told me it was already removed from the menu. On checking a menu at the door, it was indeed the case. However, I had the encounter filmed by a friend and I later posted it on scubawhere’s Facebook page as an example of how pressure and persuasion by the media and charities, like Bite Back, have the ability to influence.

The results were beyond what I imagined or even expected to achieve… In total, the video reached more than 82,000 people on Facebook alone. Watched by more than 8,500 people with more than a few hundred likes and 50+ shares. The video even got mentioned in a follow up article in the local paper. The physical results of the video were a 10% increase in Facebook page likes and countless visits to our website. It truly was the power of social media that made this little video, that took less than 2 hours, go a little viral.

How to go viral on social media?

It’s a million dollar question but the core of viral social media content is an emotional response such as humour, wow factor, invokes anger or happiness. Content has to be unique and quirky. There are other factors that make content go viral and that is algorithms. Twitter has one, Facebook used to call theirs EdgeRank but essentially these algorithms measure the content’s success in a space of time, the amount it’s interacted with and fundamentally shared.

Think of it like this. If a video is shared on Facebook and it takes a month to hit 100 shares, Facebook will deem it less popular than a video that has taken an hour to hit 100 shares. As a rule of thumb, think of social media interaction like a voting system. For example on Facebook, a share is worth 3 points, a comment is worth 2 points and a like is worth 1 point. Divide that score by a length of time and that gives you a rough viral score.

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