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Growing Your Social Media Presence: Attention is the Commodity, Not Followers

A 3D neon light-up sign on a dark wall, shaped like a social media ‘like’ icon

The following is an edited extract from The End of Marketing.

The lines between reality and virtual reality are becoming increasingly blurred. Eventually, Mark Zuckerberg will fulfill his objective of “bringing the world closer together”, which in many aspects he already has. To put the numbers into perspective, there are 7.9 billion people on the planet as of March 2021. And as of February 2, 2021, there are 2.8 billion monthly active users on Facebook. 

But, what if there’s more to Facebook’s potential for world domination that neither you nor I can see yet? I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I do look at life through an objective lens and always feel that there’s more than what meets the eye. 

Many marketers and people who use social media in their business fall into the trap of only thinking about right now. You might currently be asking yourself: 

  • How am I going to meet my sales numbers? 
  • How am I going to obtain KPIs? 
  • How am I going to get more engagement? 

These short-term questions are obviously important and understandable for anyone who’s trying to grow their business. But there is also a single, long-lens question that you need to continually ask yourself: How am I going to stay relevant? 

The answer lies in part in harnessing what makes your brand unique. In the digital ocean of social media, you need a way to stand out, because there are so many brands as well as individuals on social media today contributing to the overload of content. While you might see some 17-year-old kids who have more clout than the Ferraris they rent, or make-up artists on YouTube that have more fandom than MAC Cosmetics, standing out on social media is not easy by any means—especially for a brand. 

Getting attention

We are all competing against each other for consumers’ limited amount of time and attention. 

Adding to the challenge of standing out is the difficulty of standing the test of time. Very few posts have long shelf lives; instead, the lifespan of content on social media can range anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes on average. And if you don’t immediately get engagement on your posts, it’s as good as you never posting at all. However, there are ways to improve shelf life by posting and engaging more like a person than a brand. 

To better understand this concept, try doing this as a “test.” Look up two or three of your favorite brands on Instagram and analyze the following: 

  • When was the last time that they posted? 
  • How far apart are their three most recent posts? 
  • When was the last comment? 

Now, go to Facebook and see how long it takes for you to see any brand in your newsfeed with a non-sponsored, “organic” post. See when that post was created and compare it against the first 10 posts in your newsfeed. Do the same for Twitter while you’re at it. 

In conducting this test, there’s a good chance you’ll find sporadic organic posting from brands, compared with the frequency at which individuals post and engage. People check on their social media accounts throughout the day, often posting and coming back multiple times a day to follow up and converse. They are the ones who are carrying the conversation on social media, while brands, in many cases, are not genuinely socializing. Many brands only post once every few days, and when they do, they’re often trying to get you to buy something from them. Even if they are posting daily, it often looks as if they are posting because they have to, such as tweeting out a link to a product page, and as a result, the brand gets little to no engagement. 

If you are a personal brand or represent a corporate brand and are becoming increasingly frustrated because whenever you post, it seems as if nobody is paying attention, the reality is you don’t have a social media presence. Instead, you are on social media making noise, and sadly nobody is paying attention. Don’t feel bad; you are not alone in this challenge. As an entrepreneur or business owner, social media can be mentally draining, and as a corporate marketer, it’s not any easier. It’s a lot of maintenance and more complex than people assume. 

The fact is that no matter how good your content is, you can’t bank on one single post going viral and walk away; instead, you need to find ways to consistently be in your followers’ newsfeeds to remain relevant to them. 

Now, if your content resonates and appeals to enough people, these people will “like, comment and share,” and this is when you need to dive in further. You must be prepared to engage within your posts by commenting on other people’s comments. Every touchpoint is an opportunity to build advocacy with those who are genuinely paying attention to your content. 

Monitoring reviews of your brand 

 

Reviews left on your Facebook page, and your competitors’ pages, are “low hanging fruit” to engage real customers. 

When I worked at Winn-Dixie and Save-A-Lot, I lived for the thrill of a bad product review because it was an opportunity to publicly showcase how much my team and I valued the unsatisfied customer’s business while further showing our commitment directly to the customer. Most brands hate negative sentiment directed toward their company and often try to “sweep it under the rug.” Many social media managers are reviewed annually by their bosses based on net promoter score (NPS). While negative customer experience isn’t something that you have complete control of on the social media team, you can undoubtedly steer how a customer thinks about you going forward once you’ve had an opportunity to address their concern. The best way to handle a negative comment or tweet (example: “Publix Winn-Dixie cake” search) is to address it head on, not ignoring that it exists. By using key phrases like “Thank you” and “We appreciate your business,” you’re able to quickly defuse a situation online, get a customer over to your support team through private and direct conversation, and show public onlookers that you care. 

Try this: Go to your competitors’ Facebook pages and purposely search for negative reviews. Are they replying, or is there an open window of opportunity for you to swoop in and convert that user to a new customer? 

Conclusion 

Remember how I said before that a post’s life expectancy ranges anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes? The next time you’re on any social network, refresh your newsfeed and see how fast the content displayed changes. Your feed could look completely different within just a few seconds. But post engagement is how you combat this. For every occasion where there’s an engagement action on that post, it gives your post a “bump” within the algorithm, giving it added priority in newsfeeds and extending the life expectancy ever so slightly. 

Engagement is oxygen to a social media post—write that down.