by Ross von Metzke
Gone are the days when brands, businesses and industry experts turn to the Sunday Times and local news to communicate their message to consumers. Sure, the news is still the most reliable way to communicate information, but it’s rarely — if ever — the first way to communicate information.
That job has fallen to social media, and in 2015, if you rely on consumers input to keep your brand relevant and stay in business and you aren’t routinely using social media, you need to get with the program — and we’re here to help.
Social media can seem daunting. With one click of a button, your words are public fodder for the world to critique, and frankly, that scares people. But in a time when people are turning to social media for information, it’s also a unique opportunity to get your voice and thoughts out into the universe without a middleman. You control your messaging.
Food, diet, cooking, exercise, wellness, nutrition – search any of these subjects on social media, and what you’ll get in return is hundreds of thousands of people talking about these topics. In fact, in a 2013 Prollie study of the most discussed topics on social media, “food, drink and travel” were second only to people talking about social media itself. Yup — food and drink beat out the Kardashians. People are craving more information about food, and the social space is ripe with opportunity to deliver your messaging on your terms. Below, we’ve cobbled together some tips to guide you through the murky social media waters — a few pointers that will help you stand apart from the crowd.
Write like you speak: No one likes to read a bunch of big, technical words that look like they were cobbled together by a Rhodes scholar. It makes people feel like they’re back in the classroom. Instead, convey information like you’re talking to a friend over coffee. If you have a lot to say — too much for Twitter — preview your information with the most interesting stuff first and then link it to a blog post. People will click through if they’re intrigued.
People like a hashtag: But make it something unique to you. If you’re a nutritionist, simply adding #nutrition to a post won’t set you apart from the crowd. Create something unique to you. #kathynutrition (if your name happens to be Kathy, that is) or #nutritionwithamission (if you want to bee cheeky). Or, check Twitter’s “what’s trending” list on the left side of your twitter feed and see if any news topics relate to what you’re discussing. If they do, toss that hashtag on.
Post often, but not too often: You want to be reliable – post fresh items every day so that when people visit your social media profile, they’re likely to see something new. But don’t dump a ton of posts out into the social media space at once. If people feel like they’re being inundated with information from you, chances are they’re going to unfollow you. No one likes a clogged news feed. As a general rule, start with three to five posts per day. Enough to whet people’s appetites without burying them in information.
Post when people are paying attention: Unless you’re suffering from insomnia, you aren’t checking Facebook and Twitter at two in then morning, so chances are other people aren’t either. People browse social media during their morning commute, while they’re stuck on boring conference calls, when they’re wrapping up their day. Target those times for posts.
Embrace Instagram and Pinterest: We live in a visual world. People love pictures. Food is pretty. So embrace your inner shutterbug and start snapping some pics.
Follow people whose info you trust: Share that info with your audience. Not every bit of information has to originate from you. People trust sources who rely on a variety of sources to get their information. And if you follow someone and share their post, they’re going to be inclined to share yours right back.
Most importantly, have fun: Social media shouldn’t feel like work or a chore. It’s a chance for you to have fun, interact with people, answer questions and feel like an expert in your field. And if you screw up… that’s what the delete key is for. Approach this with a fun, can do attitude, and it will show in your posts.
Ross von Metzke is a social media strategist and journalist. His work has appeared in The Advocate, Entertainment Weekly, Seventeen and The Los Angeles Times.