What kind of social media messaging should you be promoting on social media right now?
For SMMEs, particularly in the tourism sector, social media is a key tool in the marketing mix. A great way to leverage marketing efforts, engage with your target audience and promote and market your product or services. It’s also, for the most part, free.
But many small businesses, especially those just starting out, struggle with their social media messaging, the right platforms to use and how to get the best out of online engagement.
Cue 2020, a global pandemic and lockdowns – and social media engagement just became a whole lot more challenging.
So what kind of messaging should you be promoting on social media right now?
First, let’s take a closer look at the different social media platforms.
1. Choose your platform
According to Search Engine Journal, the four biggest social media platforms in 2020 remain:
- Facebook, with 2.45 billion active monthly users;
- Instagram, with 1 billion active monthly users;
- Twitter, with 330 million active monthly users; and
- LinkedIn, with 310 million active monthly users.
The individual platforms have a different profile and audience, so you should use different social media messaging for each.
Still the largest social media platform (despite an ongoing decline in popularity, particularly among younger audiences), Facebook is a great place to build relationships, convert leads into followers and customers, share photographs and updates, celebrate milestones, and show a very ‘human’ side of your business.
What kind of messages are brands sharing on Facebook right now?
Information around how the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown is affecting their business, including trading updates, customer care lines, hotlines and advice. Rallying support for local NGOs or informing people how they can get involved and help. Real engagement with their customers, including empathetic messages of hope and support – as well content aimed at easing lockdown boredom and anxiety, including online resources, reviews and memes.
Instagram is the glossy, aspirational, photo-sharing platform which explores the world through an inspirational (and often filtered) lens. Great for travel, hospitality, décor and retail brands, users share beautiful photographs, instantly creating Insta-worthy looks, meals and destinations.
What kind of messages are brands sharing on Instagram right now?
Photographs which tap into a sense of nostalgia and memory. Inspirational messages. Armchair travel – exploring the world (and wonderful experiences) from the comfort of your home.
It’s been said that while “Instagram is for the pretty people, Twitter is for the interesting people.” And while this is a broad generalisation, it might hold a tiny nugget of truth. Twitter is certainly the go-to platform for breaking news, up-to-the-minute information, articles and debate. Images perform well on Twitter, but it’s really the home of text-based content and current opinion.
What kind of messages are brands sharing on Twitter right now?
Real-time updates on the COVID-19 situation, ideally from reputable sources, and possible impacts on the business at hand. Relevant articles, quotes and opinion, including trends, strategies and useful information.
LinkedIn is a networking site for business professionals. It can help establish you (and your brand) as a trusted authority in your field, raise brand awareness (typically through benefits, skills and track record) and educate potential customers on your products or services.
What kind of messages are brands sharing on LinkedIn right now?
Brands are using LinkedIn to establish themselves as thought leaders – exploring new ways to navigate this crisis. They are openly discussing the challenges at hand, and networking with like-minded individuals and companies to plot a way forward.
SMMEs do not have to be proficient in every social media platform. Thank goodness, as the majority of us are still coming to terms with the unexpected juggernaut that is TikTok. Rather, brands should become comfortable and proficient in one or two, before spreading their wings. Also, remember that you don’t have to post every day. Quality over quantity is a great rule of thumb, although the more comfortable you become on a platform, the more frequently you will begin to post.
2. Rules of engagement
Matthew Kobach, Social Media Analyst, believes that the single most important lesson around social media messaging is:
Don’t create content that speaks to your brand’s needs. Create content that speaks to your audience’s needs.
In other words, people will only engage with content that has some benefit, relevance or meaning to them. Other tips include:
- Keeping your messages relevant, relatable and engaging;
- Using strong images;
- Writing like you are texting or chatting to a friend (while still keeping it error and typo-free);
- Enjoying your social media engagement – keeping your tone warm, open and friendly;
- Looking at your post on your phone before publishing it, i.e. experiencing your message like your audience will experience it;
- Avoiding too many hashtags (maximum of two); and
- Being available to respond to comments and queries.
Remember too, that social media does not occur in a vacuum. Have a look at what other players in your industry are posting about. Can you tag partners or share content? How are audiences reacting to posts – both to yours and others? Keep an eye on current sentiment. Now more than ever.
3. Social media messaging in times of crisis
But what has changed in the face of a global pandemic? Are there new rules of engagement? And what kind of messaging should you be promoting on social media right now?
First and foremost, it is not business as usual, so don’t act like it is. Brands cannot come across as self-serving or promotional – current sentiment will not allow it.
Other guidelines include:
- Turn off your scheduled posts;
- If it feels uncomfortable, don’t post it. Listen to your gut;
- Never share fake news, sensationalistic headlines or ‘clickbait’ – you’ll only lose credibility; and
- Only share information from credible, reputable sources (or information that you can confirm).
Today, social media messaging is all about empathy, relevance, information and value. And with more people sitting at home scrolling through their social media feeds, you need to tread more carefully than ever before.