Social Media updates are often short and sweet. And fast. By virtue of 140 characters or an Instagram photo paired with a witty caption, brands can stay present in their fans' lives on an ongoing basis. If you're a social media manager however, this task can sometimes seem daunting.
Tweets and Facebook posts may be short but that doesn't mean that a lot of time and effort didn't go into them. If your job is to be the voice of a company (or if you're like me, multiple companies) day in and day out it's easy to feel like you're falling into a rut. If all your posts start to read the same a change-up may be needed to get the engagement levels back up. Here are some tips on getting your inspiration levels running on full capacity.
1) Sign Off
Just because social media is an immediate communication medium doesn't mean that you don't have to monitor it constantly. It's easy to fall into "work tunnel mode" and before you know it you've spent hours staring at so many Twitter feeds and Pinterest boards your brain has turned to mush. When this happens I like to sign out of all of my accounts. No Facebook, no Twitter management system, no Pinterest. Completely turn off the internet if need be. Then pull out the old pen and paper (sometimes old school is better) and take a moment to jot down the key goals of your brand's social media outreach. The simple act of writing it out often breeds new ideas for reaching one of those goals for me.
2) Get Out
This tactic especially holds true for brands with a brick and mortar storefront or office. If one of the goals of having a Facebook page for your dessert shop is to get people to come in and make purchases then you need to put yourself in the shoes of your intended audience. One can only look at pictures of the same old cupcakes for so long. Have fun with your posts. Take pictures of employees enjoying themselves. Then grab your smart phone and take a walk around the shop. Survey the neighborhood. What makes your shop different from the others?
One of my clients is the oldest candy shop still operating in New Orleans. It's located in the heart of the French Quarter. I try and get down to the shop as often as possible to snap photos of not just the shop and the candy making process but also the historic and eclectic neighborhood in which it is located. Posting a photo of a brass band playing on the street outside the shop reminds people that the company is locally owned, that it's part of the city and that its owners and employees love all things New Orleans as much as their patrons do. It's an easy way to give your brand a sense of community online (and get some exercise in too).
3) Read a Magazine
Social media is a perfect and cheap way for many brands to launch specials and promotional campaigns. When coming up with new online promotions for some of my clients' I often like to look for inspiration offline.
Grab a cup of coffee and a stack of your favorite magazines and start flipping. Traditional print marketing isn't dead, and it's a great source of inspiration if you can look at it with a social media mind. I've often come across an ad or a giveaway in a print magazine and re-crafted it to work over social media channels. It's even given birth to some excellent hashtag based promotions.
4) People Watch
Launching a new company means one thing - you drink a lot of coffee. Since launching my own business I spend a rather large portion of my time in coffee houses (I have the Foursquare badges to prove it) which are excellent people watching spots. I've found that one of the best things you can do sometimes is to look up from the computer screen and just watch the crowds for a bit.
If you look at people and situations with the eye of a marketer you can tell a lot about them from seemingly small indicators - their appearance, what sort of computer they use, are they listening to music, what book are they reading, are there kids pulling at them to get their attention, are they a dog owner, teenager or soccer mom, did they order espresso or the largest cup of iced coffee they could find? Survey the crowd and size them up. Then think about your brand and pick the person that best resembles your target audience. Putting an actual face on your target demographic makes running through the various options to execute your marketing campaign easier. Go down the list of possible tactics and messages to use and try and imagine how this person would react to each. Visualizing your customers on such a personal level will help you create the perfect message and envision the best possible plan to execute that message.