Benjamin Intal My Thoughts on Web Business Experiences, Life & WordPress

Why We’re Doing Social Media WRONG, Maybe You Are Too

If you have your own business, it’s most likely that one of your goals is to increase your social media presence. It would sure be nice to have tens of thousands of people following you. Imagine that your every new product update Tweet, every Facebook wall post would be seen and commented on.. business would be good.

If you’ve ever pondered on this and thought to yourself that “I’ll just post interesting and shareable stuff every day to get followers!” Then you’re not alone. I thought about that too, and after months and months of doing exactly that, I can truly say that just posting interesting and shareable stuff doesn’t work.

This is a realization article. The purpose of this article is to document my thoughts for future reflection, and so that others might gain insight from it. 

Note: I’m applying these realizations as this article comes out, so right now this is just a theory. I might be wrong, or I might be right, we will know in a few months. Kindly comment on this article if you’re reading this in the future to nudge me so I can write an update on this.

Background

I have a web agency which has its own social media accounts in different networks. I also have a few WordPress products that have their own social media accounts.

Here they are for reference:

Basically, my goal was I wanted to grow our company’s and product’s social media presence.

I had no idea how to do this, so I read lots of books, lots of podcasts, YouTube videos, checked what other people are doing and Googled around for what stuff to post in social media.

Researching social media

What Should You Post in Social Media According to My Research

After consuming tons of social media marketing strategies and tips, most of what I found can be gathered into this short list. In your topic of business, you should post…

  1. interesting stuff – like infographics & great articles
  2. engaging stuff – like questions & polls
  3. shareable stuff – like quotes & funny pics

Posting should also be done consistently, like every day or every two days.

Sounds easy.

In order to execute this “social media plan”, things just needed to be organized and posted accordingly, and soon our follower count should supposedly sky-rocket.

I tasked Macci, who headed my office’s marketing efforts, to gather a bunch of stuff we wanted to post (those that fit the list above and beyond), we registered in Buffer and starting scheduling posts and Tweets.

The Results

We did this for more than a year, and… it only kinda worked.

In the end, we had some follower growth. Here’re some stats:

Once we hit around a few hundred followers, it was a delicate balance of constantly losing and gaining followers. The follower count plateaued and didn’t move much.

Gaining close to 500 followers isn’t bad, it’s actually a decent number. However, I think our endeavor can be called a failure.

We had little to no engagement from our followers, it’s as if they followed us and hit ignore. If we posted a poll or a question, almost nobody would answer. So if we posted about the launch of a new product, or if we posted news about a sale, it won’t have any impact even though we have followers.

So, what went wrong?

Clearly, lots of other companies and people also post according to the “formula” above. And lots of them find success in doing so.

However, I think it’s not that the formula didn’t work, but instead, I think simply sharing stuff for the sake of sharing doesn’t work.

The Wrong Things We Shared in Social Media

Here’s a partial list of the stuff we’ve shared. This is basically (part of) our posting strategy:

  • Posting links to interesting articles (we did this a LOT)
  • Posting a super short summary of an interesting article and linking to it
  • Posting an image related to our product and asking “What do you think?”
  • Putting out “Hey, Check this (insert cool thing we found) out” posts
  • Putting out “Hey, Check out our product” posts

The reason we shared these things was that we needed to share something.. anything. And after posting, we were expecting that people would follow us because of the fact that we shared something remotely related to our field of expertise.

I think that we were dead wrong in our mindset.

(If you think the strategy above is

Probably one of the most important things we forgot while coming up with our posting strategy was to ask ourselves “why”. Why would people follow us?

Nobody cares who you are

Nobody Cares Who You Are

We got caught up in thinking up of what to post, and we forgot the original goal was to have people follow us.

Gambit is a web agency, we create websites and WordPress plugins… why the heck would people want to follow us?

Also, we’re not celebrities, not famous, not influencers.. basically we’re nobodies. Who would want to follow a nobody web agency?

I think asking those questions makes it clear why the posting strategy or “formula” above didn’t work.

Let’s say that you saw a web agency’s Facebook page, and it had posts with links to interesting articles written by someone else.. would you click on the follow button on their Facebook page? No, but you’d probably follow the one who wrote the interesting article.

If you saw a funny photo posted by a company you didn’t know, would you follow that company? No, but you might share that funny photo, but you won’t care who originally shared it.

If you saw a company saying “Hey, check out our new product!” Would you check it out? No, unless it’s something really cool like a real hover-board or even a fake one like that Lexus crap a few years ago.

The bottom line is that nobody cares who Gambit (or insert your product/company here) is.

So what should we share? What’s the new formula?

Formula

Provide Authentic Value

I think a better formula for growing your social media following is to provide people value while being authentic. 

The value part is the reason why people “follow”. The authentic part is the “you”. So if you give value that’s authentic, then people will “follow you”. If you think about it, it makes sense.

We were thinking too hard and lost sight of what people really do online and why they really follow something. We were treating social media as marketing and disregarded the social aspect of it all.

It might be better to forget about marketing and just share. Share what feels natural and be authentic, share your works, your process, your company culture.

Here’s my new game plan to grow our social media presence:

  1. Share what’s natural to us that gives people value,
  2. Be authentic

Share What’s Natural

Share what’s natural in your company or office.

We’re a web agency, and we naturally have to design stuff for a multitude of purposes – logos, icons, graphics, websites, mockups, wireframes, and more. Most of those aren’t seen by people who aren’t our clients. And now those graphics are just rotting away inside our hard drives and we aren’t really doing anything with them.

Designs are what feels natural for us, and people might find value in our graphic creations since they can serve as inspirations for their own works.

We can also share our processes on how we create those designs so that people can learn from them, doing this might give out more value.

Also, the best part of sharing what’s natural for you is that it lessens the work. We don’t have to go out of our way to create something specifically for social media. Of course there’s still some work involved since you need make sure what you post looks good; but at least we’re not creating something from scratch purely for social media marketing purposes.

Be Authentic

Looking back at what we shared before, a lot of the stuff felt unreal. There was a lot of “Don’t you agree?”, “What do you think?” and “Comment if you want to know more!” What were we expecting? For people to comment because we asked? It was like we were forcing people to engage with what we were sharing.

Plus, those questions just made the entire thing we were sharing feel inhuman. It was too much like a marketing spiel.

And the truth is, nobody cared to share what they thought since typing a comment is too much work, especially if that something is not really worth commenting on – for example, a link to an interesting article. It’s way easier to portray what you thought by hitting the heart or thumbs up icon.

I think it’s best to keep it simple and be real. The tone should reflect the culture of the company, and stop begging for a comment in the post’s description.

The New Posting Strategy

With all those realizations, I think new posting strategy now becomes:

  • Sharing our finished designs
  • Sharing our design processes: sketches, drafts, almost finished works
  • Sharing our finished client work and thanking them for working with us
  • Sharing interesting things that happen in the office

To be consistent, I think a good time frame would be to post something every week. I feel this would give us enough time to have a good design worth sharing from our existing pool of work.

If you compare this posting strategy than the one we had before, this new one feels more like a proper fit for a web agency.

In the following months we will switch the way we share things to the new strategy above. I’ll write back after half a year to report back the results.

Closing Words

  • During my research, I mentioned that it could all be summarized into just posting these: interesting, engaging and shareable. I do not mean to say that everyone is wrong, it’s just that if you do some research, most of the sources are just lists of sharing ideas.
  • If you’re thinking whether the posting strategy works in all the different social media accounts, it doesn’t. Every social network’s usage is different, Twitter is more for thoughts / conversations, etc. This is for another topic.
  • I’m not 100% sure wether my realizations here will work or not, it might though.

About the author

Benjamin Intal

Benjamin is an avid WordPress plugin developer, a full-stack developer, owner and lead developer of Gambit, creator of Page Builder Sandwich, and creator of more than 30 WordPress plugins in CodeCanyon. Follow me on Twitter @bfintal

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By Benjamin Intal
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