Northern Insight - September 2017

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SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS, IF YOU WORK AT IT Beth Cronin, Account Manager at The Works, a full-service creative, marketing and digital agency, has seen how the functionality between nearly all social media channels has become increasingly interchangeable and heavily overlapped with each landmark update.

Here, she discusses why this might not be such a bad thing if the channels are used in the right way... Snapchat’s most recent addition 'Snap Maps' isn’t hugely different to the ‘Find My Friends’ app. When Instagram stories launched, it mimicked Snapchat stories. After Facebook reported success with its messaging app, Twitter increased its direct message character limit and then LinkedIn rolled out its own messaging experience. You can see where I'm going with this... So, if the platforms are starting to become homogenous in many ways, do they still individually hold importance for brands, businesses and individuals? The answer is, of course: yes, but in varying degrees and only if they are channels that are relevant to you or your business and if they're used to the best of their capacity. Take, for example, LinkedIn. As one of the top three platforms for businesses and individuals, and as the world’s largest professional network online, a lot of people seem to think that LinkedIn will help them just by being on it. Wrong! LinkedIn, like all social channels, is a tool – and just like all tools, you must make best use of it to get results. So, whilst recognising that every individual, brand and business will need a social media strategy to

suit them, here are some quick tips on using social media that apply to all. Play to each platform’s strength(s). Take the time to learn how you can best utilise the strengths of each channel – for example, Twitter is the global go-to platform for real-time events and is trying to position itself as a breaking news source rather than a social platform – but it’s an open network, so it can’t provide in-depth user profiling. Conversely, Facebook and LinkedIn can glean much more information about users to give you more insight into your audience(s). The clue is in the name: social. Posting content – photos, blogs, updates – is obviously important, but that may not be getting the most out of your platforms or your audience. The point of having these profiles is to be social – if you’re not engaging with people, you’re leaving the conversation one sided. Use the analytics insights that are available to you (for free) to see where you’re getting the most engagement with users and what type of content achieves that – video? Images? Limited text? Cross-promoting and cross-posting are not the same thing. Your audience on Twitter will likely interact with you in a different way to your audience on, say, Instagram. Sometimes you will

have content that will speak to both, in which case, post it on both networks but tailor it before you do. Copying and pasting on multiple accounts gives off a negative perception that you’re lazy. We're all busy and it may save time, but taking the extra 10 seconds to tailor your message to the platform is more professional and will have more much more of an impact. Measure twice, cut once. Forward planning, where possible, and goal setting are not just going to make it easier for you to keep focused and give you the time to do your homework on your content, but also identify your engagement, reach, conversions and more to inform future content generation too. Not all content can be produced ahead of time, there will always be real-time events that you want to talk about, but make it easier for yourself where possible. Social media marketing isn’t going to disappear anytime soon and the channels will continue to overlap even further as they compete for user’s attention. But for marketers, this is no bad thing. If you use the tools social media platforms give you to drive business results by using the channels that are relevant to your audience(s), ultimately, the homogeneity between the platforms means better features and options.

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