April 21, 2016

Make Friends, Not Followers

This past month I almost got in a heated conversation with a good friend about an Instagram tool (not naming names) that basically uses algorithms to do mass engagement and following for you. While I do appreciate the ever-evolving developments of software and tools to help social media managers, I can’t help but feel iffy about it sometimes. Something in me wonders, “Is this real strategy?”

I can’t think of any uber-amazing Instagram accounts that go around following people or engaging with them using a robot…oops I mean software tool. I would never trust software to do likes and comments for my personal accounts, so why would I trust its programmed “tastes” for my clients? I’m on the fence about it, but something I 100% stand for is that no matter how you’re acquiring your users, you need to make them your friends, not your followers.

Think about it like this: Pretend your social media page is a friendly neighborhood bar or restaurant. When a new person walks into your establishment, you don’t want them to be intimidated. Here’s what you want your new friend, not follower, to do:

  1. Walk in the door. Duh. Translation: Get your desired audience to your spot using a mix of authentic content and spotlights in the media. Not sure who your target markets really are? Host a series of focus groups (you can do this on any budget)—pinpoint their demographics, interests, what media outlets they are tuned into, what they’re looking for in regards to your brand/services, etc.
  2. No one wants to see a sad, mopey individual sitting at the bar not doing anything…it’s bad for business (unless it’s Don Draper). Give them an opportunity to engage with your posts, whether it’s a question, call-to-action, contest, etc. Also, while it may not be practical to engage with everyone, make an effort to read comments and check out your new friends (consider it market research!). Note: Try to stay away from social automation tools—humans are smart and they can usually spot when a robot is talking to them (besides, it comes off as really unoriginal). If you want a good example of a big name that does it right, look at what Kimpton® is doing on Twitter (https://twitter.com/Kimpton).
  3. Leave skipping. They should leave feeling excited for their next “visit.” The spots I adore most are the ones who pay close attention to who their customers are, and they are constantly evolving the menu/events to stay fresh and interesting. Translation: Stay consistent with your content, but curate it so that it’s current and in the moment when it needs to be. Make it so good that they literally seek you out and tell others about you. This point is especially important, as the on-going changes in newsfeed algorithms make it harder and harder to standout unless you’re actually worth of standing out. Challenge accepted, Instagram!

With all of this algorithm buzz going around the least you can do for your brand is take the time to reevaluate your social media strategy and and develop a human-controlled method to keep your followers (guests!) coming back for more, regardless of what’s happening in the socialsphere.

What’s your favorite account to follow on social media and why? Sum it up in 140 characters or less and tweet us at @OlivePRSolution.