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To Succeed on Social Media, Ask Yourself This One Question

Date: February 21, 2020 • Category: Social Media • By: Jonathan Jacobs

Ask anyone working in a digital marketing agency what email they’re most likely to get from a client when a new social network or tool hits the scene, and they’ll likely tell you it’s this:

“Hey, platform X seems like a big deal. Let’s get on it!”

As TikTok has exploded over the past 18 months, I can’t tell you how many clients have emailed me saying we need to “check this out” and “put some viral content up there.” Their enthusiasm is awesome. It’s great to have clients that are excited about the evolution of digital marketing and willing to experiment.

It’s also a real pain in the ass.

Trying out a new social network isn’t just a matter of claiming a username and repurposing past content. It involves research, design, and experimentation. Participating in TikTok is one thing, winning at it is another. And when we chase the shiny red ball (the newest social network) instead of focusing on the cash cow (wherever you’re currently converting your audience), you risk blowing up your entire social strategy and effectiveness.

So if you want to succeed at social, I always recommend you ask yourself this one question:

“What stories can I authentically tell?”

That’s it. That’s the question.

When a client comes in and reviews a social strategy and sees a popular network omitted, they ask why. We tell them the answer is quite simple—they can’t tell the types of stories or create the types of content that would make a presence on that platform effective. Attempting to would divert resources from the networks where we can tell meaningful stories and connect with audience members, harming the efficacy of those efforts.

Instead, orient around what you already have, and what you already do best. If you are a strong creator of video, then focus on YouTube, TikTok or Instagram and forget Twitter. If you can create rich food photography of your at-home meal creations but don’t have the capacity for video, skip out on the YouTube channel and aim for Pinterest or Instagram instead. Create a social strategy that exists at the synergy of your strengths, a network’s preference, and your audience’s interests.

Best of all, people can sense when you’re speaking your truth, and they respond to it with attention. There’s a palpable difference between the blog post written from the heart from the Instagram Story video you begrudgingly produce on the way to the office, and no amount of acting or editing can hide that. When you do the former and share a piece of your authentic self, you’ll be rewarded with that well-deserved attention.

So as you’re designing your social strategy and social channel portfolio, consider asking yourself the following to understand the authentic stories you can bring to your brand platforms:

  1. What content am I already creating? Are there any networks where these are valuable?
  2. What resources (time, money, relationships) am I willing to invest in content creation?
  3. What platforms have a synergy between my content/story and my target audience?
  4. Where am I willing to experiment and fail?
  5. What stories are hidden in my business, waiting to be unearthed (e.g. customer successes, case studies, how-to guides)?


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