Every summer, the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) – a department at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona – hosts a series of summer workshops aimed at helping professionals to acquire media skills through short courses. One of the more popular courses has been ‘Creating Winning Social Media Strategies’, taught by digital, social and mobile media expert Ross Sheil. This year, diGJamaica had the pleasure of being part of this course, which covered methods through which companies can capitalise on social media. Here are our top 10 takeaways.
1. Jamaica’s mobile market is BIG.
This was one of the first and most oft-repeated points: In Jamaica, mobile is KING. It stands to reason, therefore, that any company trying to reach large audiences in the country will take advantage of what is already most popular and widely used.
2. Social media requires trained, skilled personnel.
This is not, as is sometimes the custom, the job you give to the teenage intern who seems a little more ‘tech-savvy’ than the rest. Social media management is a significant post with mammoth implications for your business. Social media staff selection should be carried out with great care. You need more than someone who knows how Twitter, Instagram and Facebook work. You need a person who understands the science and the math of social media, and can convert posts and messages into customer loyalty and company profits.
3. Social media provides a convenient, direct, personal way to connect with more consumers.
Social media bypasses traditional media and reaches your audience directly. There is no filter or barrier between you and your audience. That kind of access is almost intoxicating, and smart companies know better than to let the opportunity to have a direct conversation with consumers go unexploited. There are so many possibilities …
4. Social media should be a cross-departmental consideration.
Social media is everybody’s business. While it is the specific responsibility of the social media team, it should remain in at the forefront of everyone’s minds. No matter what area of a company you work in, what happens with that company on social media can and will affect your bottomline, so pay attention. How the company is represented online, the ways in which they interact with customers … The way they carry out campaigns and promotions … All of this should matter to you.
5. Telling a compelling story.
This is where social media can make your company shine. Think of the brands that you feel an affinity for – the ones you find memorable. In every instance, you’ll find that they always tell a compelling story that offers more than just a product. They craft their messages in ways that are relatable, fun, inspiring, and creative. You have to do the same. Your story must be compelling … so compelling that people will remember it, remember your company for it, and want the product or service that you are offering.
6. Maintain a consistent tone.
Your tone is the attitude that comes through your message. The tone you present will determine how people perceive your company and product/service. Which brands come to mind when you think of fun? You may not realise it, but that’s highly likely to be because that is the tone they set through their advertising messages. Now think of a ‘kind’ brand. Or a ‘Jamaican’ one. The tones they set through their messages determines how you view these brands. What tone is your company conveying to its audience?
7. Content must blend in and stand out.
The content you produce for social media should carry a conversational tone that blends into the general ‘vibe’ of social media. If you sound like you’re trying to push a product, people may not respond well to your message. However, if you find a tone that is relatable and social-media friendly, people are more likely to develop a sense of affinity for your brand.
8. Produce content in formats people want.
This cannot be emphasised enough. In this day and age, people are less willing to read large blocks of continuous text. They want listicles and bullet points, infographics, and lots and lots of photos and videos. If content is not produced in formats that people want, they will not engage it. And then what would be the point of your presence on social media?
9. Each post should be able to stand on its own.
You know the line in ‘The Farmer in the Dell’ that says “the cheese stands alone”? That’s how strong each post ought to be. Your audience should understand fully what your post is saying without referring to a previous or future post. Each post must stand on its own – and effectively get its message across. To accomplish this, Sheil recommends one message per post. Mixed messages will only confuse you and your audience, so ensure that one very clear message is sent per post.
10. Pay attention to the numbers.
In the world of social media, analytics matters. You should pay close attention to the numbers: how many followers you have on each account; how many visits, views and reposts; what are engagement levels like … these things matter because, at the end of the day, numbers will tell the story and make the case for whether you are winning or failing at social media.