Social media, defined as the use of web and mobile-based technology that turns communication into an interactive dialogue, has become an integral part of building a brand. As vegan companies, we have a long history of working with a passionate, engaged community (whom we love!), and these new channels offer an unparalleled opportunity to connect with customers in a way that helps shape the personality of our companies. A well-planned social media strategy should play a role in every vegan business, and with a low cost of entry, it can bring great results. But this doesn’t mean we can just turn over our social media to an intern or the 11-year-old kid next store: a great plan requires understanding this new form of communication as well as how it can help take our business to the next level (which it can). Here are seven tips I’ve implemented at VegNews that have helped us find our social media sweet spot.
1. Get the right person on the job.
Facebook and Twitter require two very different voices, while Pinterest and Instagram demand someone with a great eye and photography skills. For every social media channel, it’s important to have the right person on the right platform—someone who can write well, has a great online personality, can build and engage their respective communities, and be able to identify content that works. Short on qualified staff? The same person can manage multipe channels but should understand how the audiences and channels differ.
2. Know your magic number.
To get the most out of your social media, figure out the ideal number of daily posts in each channel for your brand. Analyze what your community is doing, how often your competitors are posting, what your industry is doing, who does what well, and where your niche is. When creating your plan, always keep your resources in mind so that your social media strategy is consistent and sustainable. At VegNews, we always emphasize quality over quantity and would rather have fewer, more effective posts than dilluting our message by posting too frequently.
3. Limit the self-promotion.
Obviously, we’re in business to build our brands, but just as nobody wants to go to dinner with someone who talks about themselves the whole time, the same rules apply to social media. Promote the most interesting content from other members of your community along with your own material, and you’ll become a more trusted source of information. At VegNews, we love sharing all of the incredible food being made by vegan bloggers around the web, and our Pinterest page reflects this.
4. Keep the content clean.
When planning your social media content, it should be taken as seriously as every other part of your business. That means there should be no spelling errors, no grammatical mistakes, no broken links, and it has to be factually accurate. As vegan businesses, we have worked hard to build our brands and don’t want to jeopardize our reputation because of inaccuracies or misspellings in our social media.
5. Follow the metrics.
With the availability of online metrics and instant feedback, there’s no need to play the guessing game with what’s working and what’s not. Numbers don’t lie, so know them, follow them, and repeat what works and stop doing what doesn’t. And don’t forget to share them with your staff so they can become even better social media whizzes. Our team meets on a weekly basis to discuss the top content across every channel we publish, allowing us to continue serving our audience the best way we can.
6. Engage with the social media community.
Nowadays, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest encompass whole sub-communities, and your social media staffer(s) needs to engage that community on a daily basis. That means they need to answer questions promptly, forward queries they can’t answer to the right staff member, and send links out to anyone mentioned in a post. Social media is a two-way conversation, and we must constantly be part of the dialogue in order for our brands to stand out in today’s digital world.
7. Get creative.
Your community deserves the best content possible, so keep your social media fresh with innovative ideas. Everyting from giveaways, photo galleries, and polls to live chats and live tweeting have worked for us at VegNews. Always look for opportunities to creatively deliver content so that your audience stays interested and engaged. After all, what’s good for your customers is good for your business.
Want to know VegNews’ top social media posts in the last year? Here’s a snapshot:
Facebook: Bat Kitty
Instagram: Colleen’s Spring Rolls
Pinterest: Tofu Popcorn Chicken
Tumblr: Vegan Mozzarella Sticks
YouTube: Vegan Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Yep, the VegNews’ audience is obsessed with food and animals. That pretty much sums up the vegan world, and I love being a part of it.
Colleen Holland is the co-founder of VegNews Media and still gets excited every time a new post on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr/Pinterest goes live.