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Putting the ‘Social’ Back in Social Media

Social media is like life. Develop your personality, build friendships, have realistic expectations, and engage for real success.

social media
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Two words that many an integrator loathes: social and media. But why? Usually, it’s because integrators are just too busy and can’t handle the daily grind of posting and tagging. However, spend some time building your brand on social media and you’ll reap the rewards, often in ways you can’t predict. Social media is, after all, about networking. Networking in turn creates a conversation, which opens the door for opportunity. Change your view about social media from blech to heck yeah and watch those opps begin to pop.

Related: How to Create a Simple Marketing Plan

Find Your Voice

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for social media success.

Really. There isn’t.

Sure, you can follow best practices, but really, it’s about putting in the effort to see what works for your brand and what resonates with your audience. “A lot of people think just opening an account, like Instagram, and posting something once in a while is enough. But you need to devote time to it. You need a plan,” says Scott Abel, director of quality and customer at SAV Digital Environments ( — a company known for their digital marketing chops.

But before you can have a plan, you need a voice. Start out by evaluating who you are as a company and crafting your brand’s voice. Why? Because social media is crowded and you don’t want to sound like your competition. Are you Aspirational and Passionate? Honest and Friendly? Brands often say to us, “We want to be like such-and-such company on social media.” But, in reality, they are vastly different from the company they aspire to emulate. You simply can’t fake authenticity. What makes your company your company? Sometimes just asking these questions is a catalyst to better marketing messaging that defines your brand identity.

Paul Bochner of Electronic Concepts in New Jersey, for example, has had great success (14K+ followers on Instagram) by honing the brand’s voice to be aspirational and showcasing brands like McIntosh and B&W — that have incredible brand loyalty — in richly produced product and showroom videos. “These videos get thousands of views. Then, someone will come into the showroom and say they saw us on YouTube or Instagram.”

Content Do’s and Don’ts

Now that you’ve spent some time thinking about what makes you different in your market and how you want to show up on social media, think about your content. Here are some quick do’s and don’ts.

Do vary your content based on the platform. An Instagram post should be very different from a Twitter post, a Facebook post, or a LinkedIn post. Tailor the content and use best practices for each platform.

Don’t let your feed get stagnant. Posting the same type of content ad nauseum is no bueno. You want to deliver a variety of dynamic content that keeps your audience engaged. “There are only so many pictures of a beautiful living room or exterior that you can post without boring your audience,” says Abel. “Mix it up. Post a gorgeous professional shot of a project and then a day or two later post a photo of someone in the trenches or a project in the works.”

Do look for the “wow.” “New content is always good, but you need to be selective. Always look for the wow, even on the smaller projects,” says Otto Benson, president of Modern Home Systems. “Also, keep it clean and organized.”

Don’t put text on your images. Abel advises not posting images with text on them. “Statistically, images with text get less engagement.” However, he does recommend using longer-form text in social posts that allow you to click off to a blog, and has increased SAV’s traffic by 200 percent in doing so. “Those people reading that much of a social post want to read more and will follow the link to our site, increasing our retention rate and decreasing our bounce rate.”

Don’t use watermarks on images. Bochner recommends avoiding watermarks on images, which, he says, diminish shareability. A huge, colorful logo might not be so appealing for an architect to repost on his or her Instagram, for example. However, it does protect you against others sharing your image as their work. So, consider what’s most important and post accordingly.

Do champion others. “It’s called social, which means you don’t want to make it just about you,” says Abel. “Make it about others — employees in your company, trade partners, even clients (with their permission of course).” Having a cause is also a good thing and is becoming increasingly important for consumers who are looking to invest in companies they believe in.

Also by Katye McGregor Bennett: Is It Time for an Image Revamp?

Engage and Re-Engage

Voice and content guidelines down, now it’s time for the fun part: growing your followers. Every post is an opportunity to grow your network. But you must remember that conversations are two-way streets. If you don’t tag, follow, and mention those you want to engage with, they simply won’t hear you. Use hashtags to invite others into the conversation. “Team up with other trades and cross-market, even with Instagram. Tag others’ work and they will do the same,” says Benson.

You wouldn’t expect to continually be invited to dinner if you never hosted, right? Same is true in the digital sphere. You need to engage with other accounts to create a two-way conversation; don’t expect them to simply come to you. “That means liking other people’s content, and commenting — but positive comments only,” says Abel. Again, it’s about being social!

Build Naturally, Not Sneakily

You can easily tell when a social media account’s following is not really engaged, which speaks to suspicious methods for building a following, fast. When an account has 50,000 followers and only gets a handful of likes per post, for example, something is amiss.

A little social ad spend can be a very good thing and get your account and your posts in front of the right eyeballs. “It takes less than 30 seconds to create a targeted ad. I might spend $100 to $200 a month but get 50,000 relevant, geo-targeted video views,” Bochner says.

Stay Calm and Socialize On

You didn’t build an entire network of friends, family, and colleagues over the course of a few months. So why would you expect to build thousands and thousands of followers in the same short span? “I recommend just trying things out. If something doesn’t work, try something new. And be social about it. Don’t just leave social media to the platforms. Talk to people about it, such as in casual conversation over a cocktail,” says Abel.

Most of all, be patient: If you build it, they will come!