NEWaukee recently hosted a panel discussion called To Social or Not to Social, which centered on the challenges and strategies behind using social media for organizations, agencies, and businesses. This reflective and honest conversation showcased many important takeaways about social media marketing. 

Here are some of our favorites: 

Have a strategy 

In order to see success for your business on social media, it’s crucial to have a plan. “I think the biggest mistake companies make is that they don’t have a strategy,” Cheyn Crangle from Margle Media says. Andrea Sok, Sok Influencer PR, agrees, noting that you have to figure out: “What are your goals? Are you trying to get new customers; are you trying to interact with your customers; are you just trying to build awareness?” 

Creating a storytelling brand, matching your audience, and creating an extensive document to work from (especially in regards to an agency/client relationship) is key. 

Don’t try to do everything all at once 

Jessica Summerfield of Advocate Aurora notes that, “You don’t have to be on every channel. You don’t have to do all the things…Start small and build as much as you can.” A common mistake often seen among companies stepping into digital marketing is that they try to cram their brand into every possible social media channel regardless of fit, which isn’t necessary. 

There are benefits to just focusing on one or two accounts to begin with. Andrea Sok says, “Really look at what your story is and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You don’t have to be on all the platforms, but what makes the most sense combined together?”

It’s a process; don’t expect thousands of followers or viral videos overnight

Creating, building, and maintaining social media for a business or client is a process. Cheyn Crangle points out that, “You have to be willing to lose money to gather data to make better decisions later on.” That means you need to factor in a research phase as you test different content, apps, and ads to see what garners the appropriate engagement. 

In addition, Andrea Sok says, “You need to invest in this, it isn’t just a one time deal…It’s a building process.” In other words, you can’t just throw up a post every other week and expect to see real results. 

Despite its issues, social media can be used for good

Relying on social media and influencers definitely has drawbacks and challenges these days, but despite that, correctly using digital marketing can make positive changes to your brand and community. Jessica Summerfield says, “If we are using [social media] properly from a brand perspective and trying to create [positive] engagements, it can continue to be powerful in our communities.” 

By building a community instead of just an audience, you can leverage tools like influencers and sponsored posts to connect people and share your brand’s story. No matter what you’re promoting, social media has the capacity to help and change if used properly.   

Utilize your community  

Utilizing your community to strengthen an online presence can look like activating influencers, cultivating existing customer relationships, and watching what your peers and competitors do with their trends/budgets. For example, Cheyn Crangle says that it’s better to, “Let others spend money learning the mistakes of advertising…before you jump in.” 

As for connecting with your community, Andrea Sok reminds us, “Every industry has an influencer, and they are on various platforms, so it’s about looking at who’s already following you, who’s already engaged with you, and who are your customers?” 

Be authentic

Quality over quantity is incredibly valuable online. “I would really vote for authenticity over followers any day. Folks who follow that formula are going to see the results,” Andrea Sok says. 

By sticking to your storytelling and showcasing the human side of business, you can create a more genuine relationship with social media. That includes eliminating practices like posting for the sake of posting. Jessica Summerfield sums it up nicely: “You know that phrase, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything’? If you don’t have something good to post, don’t post anything.” 

 

Ultimately, social media has become a key, and often overlooked, component of building a successful brand. And as some of our panelists pointed out, some companies still seem to be dragging their feet on getting into the online game, which will have to change if they truly want to build on their organic successes. 

After all, as Jessica Summerfield says, “Social media is not going anywhere. It will continue to change and evolve.”

Let’s change and evolve with it. 

Watch the full discussion HERE

Featuring speakers Cheyn Crangle, Margle Media, Jessica Summerfield, Advocate Aurora,

Andrea Sok, Sok Influencer PR, and moderated by NEWaukee’s Wyatt Tinder.

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