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Find your voice and become a social media leader

The average person spends nearly three hours on social media in a given day. While this simple fact doesn’t make the average person a social media guru, it certainly proves a point: if your brand is not using social media well, you are missing a huge opportunity for face time with your customers.

Gaining and maintaining a brand following is incredibly important. But it ain’t easy.

Not to worry! A few simple social media fundamentals will allow you to get your brand page up and running in no time—setting up a solid social media foundation.

1. Know who you are talking to. Don’t just look at the number of followers you have, but at who your followers are. Are the majority of your fans local? National? What do they care about? Which publications are they reading? What businesses have they taken the time to “like”?

Go ahead and dig up all the dirt you can on your followers. It helps you stay in tune with what they want to hear and who they care to hear from.

The same goes for following people you want following you. Always look up publications you think your target audience reads and take a few minutes to look at their social media following. Give them a “like” if you see an online relationship that will help you strategically build your own following.

2. “Tag you’re it!” Tagging and mentioning not only shows your audience that you’re connecting to brands and people they care about—it potentially exposes you to other brands’ followings.

On Twitter, make sure you’re mentioning people with their Twitter handles. If you need to use someone’s handle at the beginning of your Tweet, make sure you drop a period before the “@”, which allows your tweet to show up in more users’ feeds.

Businesses and tastemakers you tag may return the favor and tag you in their next post. At the very least you know that they got a notification that your brand/organization tagged them, and they might check out your page. Now you’re on their radar. Bottom line: the increased exposure build momentum and lends itself to a larger, more engaged following down the road.

Tagging and mentioning media outlets can also reap major rewards. In fact, it’s how we got the attention of Shape on behalf of Mecca, leading to inclusion in their article featuring the top Gym & Spas in the country.

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3. Establish a voice. Facebook and Twitter are NOT your website. If people wanted to read a bunch of promotional, pre-approved messaging, they would visit your website. Social media offers you one unique place to show your true(ish) coIors. Stay up to date on daily news in your industry and don’t be afraid to editorialize in smart ways.

There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to phrase a post – there is just YOUR way. Find a voice that feels like an authentic extension of your brand—a look into the minds of your company’s leaders. And—this might also seem obvious, but it must be said—don’t “like” or post anything that might offend your primary demographic. Just like you’re on a first date, steer clear of anything else that might make your date, er, customer in this case, question whether your brand shares their values.

4. Customize. Not all social media outlets are created equal. Make sure you’re not checking the dreaded “sync” box when building your social media presence. No one wants to see #hashtags on #Facebook (unless you’re being ironic, which can be very affective in the right context). Nor do they want to see that your latest tweet has been cut off halfway through because you simply pasted your most recent Facebook status into your Twitter feed.

The same goes for choosing which social media platforms work best with your brand. Start off by researching the more highly used sites and see which ones are relevant to your business.

Not every brand needs every social media channel. Yes—you read that correctly!

Don’t feel like you have to master Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Youtube, LinkedIn, Vimeo, Instagram, Vine, Flickr and every other social sharing platform right off the bat. In fact, spreading yourself too thin may burn you out or turn you into a follower (and not the good Twitter kind). You want to be a leader, so start with the platforms that work best with your product and that your target audience uses the most. Let the others platforms come later when you have the manpower and creative bandwidth to manage them well.

Side note: You should, however, go ahead and snatch up the profile names for your company on each platform so someone else doesn’t beat you to it. Just make your profile unlisted and save it for when you brand is ready.

Taking the extra time to be strategic in planning your brand’s social media voice will pay off in spades down the road. And if you’re already a few paces into your social media journey but not loving the results, don’t be afraid to change course—it’s never too late to readjust what you’re doing.

Bottom line? Social media is about creating and sharing a personal experience by connecting and engaging with your audience. Make your message count–be strategic and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a social media leader yourself.

For more on generating social media content and choosing the best platforms for your brand, stay tuned for Nina’s May blog post.

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