The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we're about to watch could be our journey. (narrator) "Where is Everybody" Twilight Zone Season 1 Episode 1
We are on a journey in business and personal branding. If I were writing a Twilight Zone episode, social media would be akin to a slot machine that compels businesses and wannabe influencers into continuously seeking to hit the jackpot. Just keep pulling that arm and add coins until you finally get the right mix of likes, views, shares, comments and followers. If you do this long enough you might become an influencer or make a sale. But most likely you will spend a lot of money. But wait that's not enough you know you have to keep getting the same results to stay relevant. Isn't that what social media feels like for business people?
A friend and I, a few years back were discussing social media and we came to the conclusion that it is like gambling on a slot machine. Today there also seem to be as many experts on how to teach you to engage an audience, win more customers and grow you brand. In fact, a Google search showed that there were 2.1 Billion results. Good luck with that! But like the twilight zone people and businesses looking for that stardom may have better chances of identifying a planet with life in our galaxy.
But there are people and companies gaming the system in hopes of tricking the algorithm. It is rather a simple template from what I have seen, ask your friends, family, colleagues, suppliers and employees to like a post. It happens all the time; we all know it does. Unfortunately, that's not how to build a brand, it just doesn't last.
For businesses e-commerce, social media and the digital assets they deploy either work or don't work to grow revenue and brand awareness. All of this has taken a toll on executives at all levels. The positions with the highest turnover are CEO's and CMO's. That also includes directors, managers within digital marketing teams. Why? Because they can't crack the code on social media. Not enough coins! A lot of money is being invested in digital assets and creatives but what good is all of that if you can't grow revenue and loyalty (followers)?
In fact, I will challenge the process further. I took a university course (certificate) on viral marketing. The biggest takeaway from the course? You are still trying to game the system, only this time with emotional content. The problem, if it's not authentic, it only works a few times eventually your audience sees through you. Being authentic and building relationships from those efforts builds trust and continued business growth.
Gaming the system doesn't work, it will not grow revenue or make one an influencer not even those who currently have a 1 million plus followers. Their disingenuous behaviours, comments, claims all come through. Social media see's it and does not recognize them as influencers.
If you want to grow your presence on social media here are some hard and fast rules.
Forget about winning overnight; you need a long-term plan that is fluid and can adapt. Don't mistake a few posts with hundreds of likes that they acknowledge you, your work or your brand. You have to work harder to own that.
It's about being a brand with a social purpose. What do you actually stand for?
Social media at best is Public Relations and a channel to communicate and network it is not about being a shark trying to close sales.
Tell your story and stick to it. If you want the followers to stay, be authentic. Don't try to fit in, be the brand. If your brand isn't attracting enough audience go back to the engineering room.
Show how you treat your family, friends, customers and employees. I've told people about my growing up as the son of immigrants, and my family's humble beginnings because it makes me human. I am not perfect. In spite of my success in life I have never forgotten being without.
Don't be selling all the time. If people know who you are and trust that you are one of the better consultants, writers, manufacturers or retailers they will buy your products or service based on the word of others.
There is a lot of garbage on social media and populists I wrote about that in my book. But worse there is a lot school yard collusion that goes on and it is so obvious. The most astute will want nothing to do with a person or brand that is openly playing that game.
Be inclusive. If you are not growing your brand, its because you are likely being perceived biased. Simply you are only as good as the audience that follows you and the guests you choose to interview or associate with.
Not everyone is or will be an influencer. There a number of people who claim to be CEO's, have led HR or run employment search firms all to get attention. They post interesting claims. Some how they've interviewed or hired thousands of people. But a close look shows you they have no such background. And their websites have no contact information or they have no website. Hint!
Others tell you about their millions, their planes, homes, cars and lifestyles they are not influencers.
Likes, Views, Shares, Comments, Followers. Unfortunately these are the metrics that social media provides.
Dedicated Teams: Social media works when you have the resources to commit to a team that knows what they are doing and have a proven track record to deliver. A lot of people reach out to me for example on Linkedin but I don't reply back because they all promise the same thing. Unfortunately, no one has ever introduced themselves with real wins and contact information to prove that they did it. Choose wisely!
Focus on service if you have a physical location tell the world about your service. Give examples.
Make delivering convenience both a part of your brand and service messages. Do things that customers will rave about. You need to have that builtin to your consumer model before you can post it.
Do short testimonial podcasts with customers.
Open up the door to live streaming, its newer and it works in Asia. Above all don't follow lead with purpose.
Like the twilight zone, don't get lost in this by being trapped into everything. Step back every now and then and reevaluate. There are no short cuts to growing a brand or personal presence. There is only a lot of hard work and creativity. But above all be consistent.
George Minakakis is the CEO of Inception Retail Group Inc. Author of the Great Transition The Emergence of Unconventional Leadership