It’s 2019. If you don’t have your business active on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc., well – first off, what are you doing and why? – and second, there’s probably not a lot ahead in these paragraphs that’s going to help you. If you haven’t embraced the fact that these platforms are THE way nine out of 10 of people communicate, discover, influence, and purchase by now, chances are you never will.
I read about the negatives of social media all the time. But name any other advertising or communication medium that’s ever entered our culture that didn’t/doesn’t have some sort of flaw. Everything has its hiccups. But when it comes to platforms where millions of people are active daily, the positives far outweigh the negatives. That’s what social media is. At this point, social media IS the Internet.
So before we move into the heart of today’s feature, let’s be real with each other for a hot minute: Have you seriously dedicated the proper time, attention, and funds into your social efforts? Have you built a consistent strategy for communicating with your customers daily? Are you conversing with your audience, helping them understand your beers and, ultimately, the beer world as a whole? Have you given the responsibility of one of the most critical areas of your business to someone who specializes in it and not left it in the hands of a part-time employee with no significant attachment to your brand?
If you answered no to any of these, now’s the time to pivot. Seriously. If you’d like to discuss how, I’d be happy to chat.
But let’s say you answered yes to the aforementioned questions. You’re in the game, you’re gaining yardage, but maybe you’re having trouble punching the ball over the goal line. Or maybe you’re kicking ass, but really want to run up the score. Chances are excellent you’ve noticed that harnessing the power of the social web is a pretty daunting endeavor.
Despite your best efforts, things change that keep you in a constant ‘audible-calling’ state. All platforms try to provide the best user experience and, to do that, the brass listens to what their users want. This results in updates, new adaptations, sometimes even the eventual drop off of a service. Just a few years ago, Foursquare was a very powerful platform for businesses of all shapes and sizes looking to provide deals for folks who checked in at their venues. Today, Foursquare gets next to no play in its original function, has changed its name to Foursquare Swarm, and simply doesn’t pack the punch it did at its onset. When’s the last time you got a discount for checking in on Foursquare?
Algorithms are built to help maximize your time spent on social platforms in the most enjoyable way. And those algorithms change constantly. Equally as important, people’s attention spans change constantly. As do where they spend their time. One day they’re all over Facebook, then too many posts about an upcoming snowstorm make them close that app in favor of Instagram. This is why I preach a presence on all platforms on a consistent basis. No matter where they land, there’s a chance they’ll find you.
While all these changes require you to be nimble, there are some initiatives and philosophies with social media that, regardless of where people spend the most time on any given Tuesday or how many times an algorithm adjusts to improve user experience, will remain constant. Continue to do these items religiously and your presence will remain in tact no matter what happens next.
Below are six aspects of social media that will remain important and live through any changes thrown your way:
1. Conversing with your audience will never change – When a person interacts with your brand, be it liking a post, dropping a comment, leaving a review, or sharing a photo of your latest beer release, it shows they’re invested in your brand. While that investment may be small to start, it’s up to you to engage them and increase that investment. Talk to them, answer their questions, respond to any type of comment they leave. Ignoring comments someone drops on your social platforms is the equivalent of a customer asking the bartender for a beer and the bartender turning away without saying a word. The social web was built upon being social. The businesses that remain social as it evolves will win.
2. Getting results by consistently posting to your networks daily will never change – In today’s content-driven world, you have nothing to lose posting to your networks on a daily basis. Some may say this is too much, but I disagree. With the amount of other content in front of people every single day on every single platform, being part of that gives you a better chance to draw a consumer’s attention and spark that ever-so-important first engagement.
3. Being a thought leader in your industry will never change – How can you establish your authority within your craft beer community? Get in there and chat it up! Join conversations relevant to your brand and/or your industry. No matter what algorithm or attention span shift comes next, people will be conversing about everything via social platforms. Be part of the conversation. It’s social media, not solo media.
4. People asking their social networks for recommendations will never change – It’s a practice that’s been around since the dawn of time: People helping people. Today, it can be argued that more people will turn to close circles of friends for advice on an upcoming purchase, the next brewery to visit, or the next beer to consume versus consulting a search engine. This will never change. What will change is how this information is delivered to the end user. Facebook Recommendations has become a powerful resource. It’s only a matter of time before more services come along to harness and exploit this power. And, undoubtedly, Facebook will continue to evolve their platform as well.
5. People being dicks on social media will never change – Accept it. Social media gives everyone a platform and many choose to use it to wield negativity. There’s no changing it, but how you react and handle unreasonable behavior and requests can be uber-powerful. If someone tweets you something negative about your beer or drops a bad review about your taproom on Facebook, treat it as an opportunity to start a dialogue and learn where things went wrong. Respond directly on your page so others see you not only read feedback getting sent your way, you’re also actively working to rectify the complaint and make your customers happy.
6. People using social media will never change – This seems like a no-brainer to have to say, but with people STILL questioning social media in 2019, it bears repeating: social media is not a fad. If, for some reason, you woke up tomorrow and Facebook was gone, you’d probably open up Twitter to find out why, amirite? The world wide web is driven by social directives and the most successful businesses, big or small, are the ones harnessing its reach and the attention people are giving it. There’s no way this train reverses track. Changes and improvements may come. But no matter what those changes may be, more and more people are joining the social web by the minute. Be sure your brand is on the right side of the wave.