Social media is fun to talk about but tough to implement. The truth is there is no cut-and-dried secret to developing a great social media program. Your social presence must be adapted to fit your business and brand. Wait, what was that? Yes, adapted means you have to do some work.

Perhaps this is why so many struggle with social media. We hear words like “strategy” and “content creation” and we automatically cringe, wondering where we should start climbing this beast of a social media mountain. It’s simply too much work.

But even though every brand needs to develop their own strategy, there are a few keys to getting started that everyone can use.

“Shop the world, steal from the best”

You do learn some things in school. An advertising professor at The University of Texas said the above quote, and it holds true for many aspects of marketing in any industry. (Don’t take the word “steal” literally, please.) Shop around for strategy and tactic ideas. Check out all kinds of brands and companies across the board, on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Note what you love and what you don’t. Take a look at regional competitors in your space and similar companies in your industry across the country. See how they engage fans from contests, images, blogs and other creative ways like highlighting clients or staff. Save pages that impress you and that you would one day like to achieve. Even if you aren’t sure how to implement something immediately, put it on a wish list so it can be top-of-mind when planning. Social media is an a la carte approach. Shop away.

Think big, be simple, stay fresh

Your content should strive to embody these three principles. Don’t be overwhelmed or discouraged after looking at brands such as Coke or Chobani; adapt (ahem, work) their tactics into your own social strategy. Remember no company is too small to utilize these ideas; you just have to make them your own. Don’t complicate things. Focus on embodying these four concepts with your content.

  • Relevancy: Take current industry news and rewrite your own opinion in a short blog post or repost to your fans. You don’t always need to start from scratch or re-create the wheel. If a story is timely, your followers will be more likely to engage.
  • Consistency: If you are consistent with posts, fans will know what to expect. One good tactic is posting specific content each day of the week; you can try utilizing weekly hashtags that the community will look forward to and share, posting tips or advice on certain days — make it fun, be creative, but be consistent.
  • Engagement: Your job is to stimulate desire and action from your audience; how you do that is determined by your goals and creativity. Pictures and videos are one of the best ways to get instant engagement and can be an opportunity for fans to share among their friends. Offer a coupon, have a small contest or solicit feedback from your followers. Whatever combination you choose, offer value, be genuine and ask for engagement — your audience will respond. Note: Be sure to share unique content on each social media platform, not everything on Twitter needs to be on Facebook and vice versa.
  • Credibility: The more cohesive your approach is, the more credibility you will have. Want to become a credible resource? Provide advice related to your industry, share industry events, community happenings, quotes from experts and of course your own words as well. Make sure you provide value to your fans and loyalty will follow.

Don’t be afraid to flop

Social media is a living breathing strategy. You aren’t always going to score a home run, but you have to start somewhere. Now is the time when you can come up with actionable items. When you make your own rules, you are more likely to abide and succeed. The goal to creating fresh content and injecting big brand ideas starts by re-evaluating yours.

Have some success stories of your own? More ideas to share? Comment and help other professionals stay creative when delivering social media content.

This guest post was written by Amy Kauffman of HMG Creative. Follow her on Twitter @amykauffman.

Want more? Check out Part 1.

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