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Social media. It’s a mess out there. It’s noisy, it’s cluttered. There’s even a plugin you can get that removes the entire feed from Facebook.
But here’s the truth: If you’re not on social media, you’re going to lose.
Social media used to be all about friends. You meet someone, you add them. You know someone, you add them.
It’s not like that anymore. You follow your interests, not your friends. People hate the noise, so they block it out. Facebook added “mute” so you could “stay friends” but not have to listen to the wild political rants of your friend’s mom that you’ve only met once.
Presence on a social platform is not just about posting whatever you want, it’s about connecting with the people who want to connect with your brand. We talk about the importance of brand consistency and why scheduling matters when it comes to your activity on social media.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Social media is a tool that can be used in good or bad ways.
- If you don’t have an online presence, people are going to forget about you.
- You become what you share to your audience.
- Consistency isn’t taking humanity out of your business, it’s respecting your audience’s time instead of wasting it.
- Respect each platform and the people interacting with you on those platforms.
- Funneling people is the whole point of content marketing and being on social platforms.
- Figure out ways to repurpose the same content but make it unique to each platform.
- Build yourself into the routines of your audience.
- By establishing consistency, people will view you as part of what their lives are all about.
- When you have a presence on social media, you’re making a promise—how you deliver on that promise is how people are going to think of you.
- Use as many platforms as you’re able to without sacrificing quality or consistent output.
- Automation stunts creativity.
- 02:30 Cory: People have so many opinions about this. Everyone on social media—professionals or non-professionals—have their own idea of what they think it should be and how they want to interact with it. Building a brand and engaging with people, along with trying to stay productive and not waste time, can be difficult. Social media can seem like a chore. There are negative connotations, but on the other hand, people say you should be on every platform imaginable and that’s the only way you’re brand will last.
- 03:26 Kyle: A lot of people perceive social media as a time-waster in general. For a lot of people, that’s true and the way they use social media doesn’t reflect anything productive. It comes down to social interaction. Even if you own a brick-and-mortar store, you should still have an online presence. Not going to social media would be like never leaving your store—you’re not going and educating people on what your business is about. Social media could be used the same way. You can leave your building, try to influence growth in your business, and raise awareness of what you’re doing, or you could go out in public and waste time.
Social media is a tool that can be used in good or bad ways.
- 05:00 Cory: The forefather of the social media generation was MySpace back in like 2004. It set the standard of, “This is where you go to find me.” I don’t think a lot of businesses were present there, but bands were, and it was all about “me”.
- 05:35 Kyle: MySpace was a little different than current social media and it evolved overtime. I remember MySpace being very much about blogs and it was an introduction to having your own space online where you can easily share things. A lot of businesses were creating their own websites because they had the resources and infrastructure to do so, but MySpace was a newer version of GeoCities. With GeoCities you could set up your own website, then MySpace came along and it was even easier to have your own little place online where you could share things or write blog posts. It was a new experience online and it wasn’t built for companies. I don’t think companies would have thrived there because it was about individuals making a space online with minimal effort.
- 06:45 Cory: I just realized this morning that I’ve been registered on Facebook for almost a decade—that’s terrifying! I joined Facebook in 2006, back when you had to have a school email address to join. Being a homeschooled kid, I tried to hack into our local high school’s web server to get an email before Facebook opened it up to anyone. At that point, it was all about friends: you meet someone, you add them—you know someone, you add them. After a month, you had 600 people who were you’re “friends”, but social media isn’t like that anymore.
- 07:33 You tend to follow your interests, not your friends. I read a fantastic article recently where this guy was arguing that social media has evolved away from the people you know and now it’s about what you’re interested in. People hate the noise, but that’s what social media has become in a lot of places. There’s actually a plugin you can get that removes the entire Facebook feed, you can only see if someone has messaged you or added you. If you do that, why are you on Facebook? Facebook itself added a “mute button” so that you can hide people you didn’t want to listen to.
Presence on social media isn’t about posting what you want or adding friends anymore, it’s about what you’re interested in.
- 08:55 Kyle: I think people have increasingly realized that social media isn’t very productive when it’s only about friends and family. That may sound harsh, but the reality is if you don’t have a “real life” relationship with someone, odds are you aren’t going to try to build an online relationship with them. You want to consume things you’re interested in or hear from people who have interesting things to say. What value are you getting from the weird uncle you haven’t seen in forever? There’s so much noise now and social media platforms are essentially inboxes. We’ve had email inboxes for a long time and now we have things like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc. There’s all of these inboxes to check and people don’t care about the noise anymore.
- 10:27 Cory: A lot of brands think that social media is a time-waster and that it’s not as important as a business card, flyer, or ad. The truth is if you’re not on social media, you’re going to lose. The reason why is because that’s where everybody is! The internet is made up of small and large communities and that’s where everyone is. When you think it’s annoying, it takes up too much time, or you don’t want to be consistent, you’re going to lose.
If you don’t have an online presence, people are going to forget about you.
- 12:00 Kyle: A marketer’s goal is to get in front of as many people as possible and now there’s internet with endless amounts of people to get in front of, so it’s funny that it can be misconstrued that way. There’s such an opportunity there that’s overlooked because of the stigma social media has.
- 12:38 Cory: Any opinion or definition can be changed. If social media is seen as a time-waster, it doesn’t always have to be seen or used that way, just like I recently talked with Sean McCabe about. We talked about how to get people’s attention through giving value and going where the people are (Related: e005 Set Your Brand Apart With Content Marketing).
Consistency on Social Media
- 13:21 There are two important aspects of consistency on social media: brand consistency and scheduling. Kyle, what’s the biggest problem you see in how people conduct themselves on social media when they’re trying to represent their brand?
- 13:52 Kyle: People like to represent themselves instead of their brand. Like it or not, you’re a representative of the brand you associate with. A lot of people mix business and their personal life online, and there’s some margin for that to some extent. Let’s say you have a new product and you share about it consistently, but then you post your coffee and donut in the morning. It’s like, “I thought you did these products?” People don’t care about you when it’s the brand. The biggest thing I see is people assuming that “people care about me, that’s why they like the brand”. The opposite is actually true—people care about the brand and eventually they’ll start to care about you as the person who owns the brand.
- 15:09 Cory: You become what you share to your audience. If you’re a professional software company and you post pictures of your team eating ice cream in the break room, you’re going to become the ice cream eating software team. Does their business have to do with ice cream? Are they sponsored by ice cream? Why do I need to see this? I primarily follow adventure and lifestyle photography on Instagram. The moment I see a picture in one of those feeds that doesn’t click, I’m not interested. It doesn’t make sense with what I consume. I personally am not interested in latte art, but I was in that person’s audience because I wanted to see adventure photography.
It feels like whiplash when you get your audience used to something and then, suddenly, you throw something out of left field.
- 16:40 There’s no context for it. The story has suddenly been interrupted. Let’s say you’re reading through Lord of the Rings and there’s a Harry Potter ad that’s part of the book—you’re not expecting that. At a conference I went to earlier this year, I heard someone say the reason they share about their life and post selfies in their professional feed is because they don’t want people to think they’re a robot who only does the work they do. They said, “I have a life,” but I didn’t follow you to see you wear your beanie that you bought at Macy’s. I followed you because I like your art and I want to see more of that. That’s what people are looking for on social media.
- 17:54 Kyle: You brought up a great example with someone who does lifestyle photography. They’re sharing pictures from trips they take, but the really successful lifestyle photographers aren’t showing you their life. They’re trying to get you to experience what they’re experiencing. They’re not taking a selfie in front of a beautiful canyon and saying, “Hey, this is where I am.” They’re sharing a picture of the canyon and they might say, “This is where I am. It’s beautiful here.” It brings you into an experience through the photos. It’s not about them at all.
- 18:59 When they suddenly share their breakfast or their coffee, it’s personal to them. If they post something like that, it’s like, “Well, I followed you because I was looking for this certain experience.” If they were known for sharing coffee photos or there was a beautiful landscape with their coffee in the shot, you might relate with that. You feel like you’re in the driver’s seat there. You can picture yourself in that moment, but if you’re just focused on yourself, it’s not helping people feel like they’re a part of the story.
- 19:43 Cory: Everything you post has to filter through your brand goals.What are you trying to accomplish? If your brand goal is getting people to know you as a person and having them see the breakfast that you eat, like a vlogger who shares every second of every day and that’s what your audience is interested in, then go for it. If you’re trying to project a particular thing or you’re trying to funnel people in the right way, you’ve got to filter what you post through your brand goals. As we talk about this, I don’t want people to hear that humility has to be pulled out of this and there only has to be productivity or business.
Consistency isn’t taking humanity out of your business, it’s respecting your audience’s time instead of wasting it.
- 21:40 Kyle: I’m going to share something that has completely changed the way I post on social media, specifically Twitter. I’ve struggled with Twitter. I don’t want to share how my day is going, I want people to get value from what I’m sharing. A great trick for this is to make it part of your story. I’m experiencing this podcast recording right now and I’m feeling certain ways, so I’ll take that and write it down. Then, I find a takeaway from that. If I could express this to someone else and they could take away anything from this, what would it be? Maybe I write that I did a podcast recording, but then I write what the takeaway is.
Posting Across Platforms
- 22:48 Cory: It’s about respecting the platform you’re posting to. Ask yourself: how do I present myself in different mediums? Do I continue to be the brand that posts the exact same thing? You have to understand that every platform is different and contains different audiences that might be in your target audience, but that come in different facets—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Femke asked, “Should you post the same content across all platforms or should you tailor the content based on the audience you have on that platform?”
- 23:35 Kyle: I’m a big believer in tailoring your content to the platform you’re sharing on. Instead of sharing the exact same thing across all social media platforms, figure out what the strengths or weaknesses are of those platforms and share things that are relevant. On Dribbble, I’ll make an icon and share the screenshot of the final product, then I’ll take that same digital product and make it into a picture of a print on Instagram. Instagram is much more about the real-world. It started with iPhone photography and a lot of people take pictures of real-world things there. A random digital image on there completely throws me off when I’ve seen one. I don’t like it.
- 24:40 Sharing the print version of that icon does a lot of things. Not only does it give a variety, but because there is variety, there’s more incentive to become part of your audience on those different platforms. They don’t see the same content on two different platforms, they see two different things. You’re reaching different audiences that way. Maybe you release a product and it’s better suited for promotion on Instagram because that’s the type of audience you want to see it. If they see you sharing the same thing on both platforms, it won’t have the same impact.
- 25:29 Cory: People consume things differently. Dribbble is one kind of medium, Instagram is a different setting, and Twitter is about one-on-one engagements and connecting. It’s real-time and a lot of people use Twitter to get their news because it’s instant. You have to look at these platforms as different. How are you going to stand on this particular platform and make yourself known? How is that going to be cohesive to your ultimate brand strategy?
- 26:22 Emily says, “I feel like I don’t want my social feeds to be consistent. If every social channel has the same content, why would people follow me on those different channels? I’d rather keep some consistency than have exclusive content on each platform.” She’s spot on. If I post a picture on Instagram with a caption, and link it to Twitter, where I have the same picture with the same caption, and I have the same picture with the same caption on Facebook, it’s not tailored. It’s not curated and it’s not specific.
The beautiful thing about multiple platforms is you can show different parts of your brand in different ways.
- 27:16 I’m not on a million different platforms, but I love the diversity of what’s available. One of my favorite brands is a company called Everlane—they represent some of the best parts of a healthy and world-impacting brand. They are transparent, authentic, diverse, quality-driven, ethical, etc. They’re on a lot of different social platforms along with having their own site, like Twiter, Tumbler, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Facebook. However, they don’t do the same thing on each platform. Tumbler is just a stream of images. On Instagram they share products in stylistic ways and open a story. They’ve taken Snapchat to a whole new level—they’ll have behind-the-scenes or to tell a story. They’ll say, “We’re having a secret meetup, follow us to figure out where we’re going.”
- 28:50 Their Snapchat is just shot on an iPhone, not in a room with great lighting and depth of field focus. It’s a behind-the-scenes that shows a different side of their brand, but it’s still consistent with their brand. Tobi, in the seanwes Community, is an actor and she said she likes to present who she is because that’s who people are looking to hire, but you can still show parts of yourself on these different platforms as they need to be shown to respect each platform and the people interacting with you on those platforms.
- 29:35 Kyle: When it comes to diversifying your content, the question you need to ask yourself is: do I want people to pick and choose one of these platforms to follow me on, or do I want to engage on many different types of social media? Just like MySpace isn’t even a blip on peoples’ radar at this point, the odds are some of these social networks will shut down, change their policies, they’ll move on, the way you’re sharing will change, or people won’t be interested in that platform anymore. If they’ve just chosen one of your content streams, then you loose that person.
- 30:23 If you have them on multiple streams and their content because they see different things from you, then if one of those streams goes away, it’s not a huge impact on you. There are still people who will only follow you on one, but if you don’t give any incentive for people to follow you on multiple platforms, then you’re really missing out. There’s also a big impact in posting one piece of content and then a few hours later, repurposing it with more value added to it. Now, they don’t just skip it because they’ve already seen it, they see it and think, “I saw this earlier but it looks different, what is this?” and they read it again. You’re there much more than many other people.
- 31:17 Cory: You have to filter your content through your brand goals. As you’re posting this stuff and determining that incentive Kyle just talked about, you ultimately have to deliver value. Funneling people is the whole point of content marketing and being on social platforms. We’re trying to get them to accomplish a certain goal, whether that’s buying a product, subscribing, or going to our website. We’re trying to do something that motivates our audience to do something in return and you do that through delivering value—by posting things that people are interested in.
- 32:02 Kyle: I see a possible way of misconstruing the diversification of content here. It’s not about doing something completely different on every platform. You might do something radically different on some, but:
Figure out ways to repurpose the same content but make it unique to each platform.
- 32:32 You don’t have to necessarily create a whole new piece of content. For example, when you release a blog post, you don’t have to release three blog posts for three different platforms. You release the same blog post, but you have a certain thing to say on each platform. You may have the same image to go along with it, just in different formats. The key is to have something different about it. Especially with images, people will say, “I’ve already seen that,” and they’ll skip instead of bothering to read anything below it because they assume it’s the same thing they saw on the other platform. We’ve been conditioned for that because of all these auto-posts from Facebook to Twitter. There might be something different about those auto-posts, but they’re not letting us understand that.
- 33:30 Cory: Scotty asked, “Is it crucial to keep up the same appearance and content on each platform from a curation standpoint? For example, I’m highly curated on Instagram, where my largest audience is, and I created a second account, but I’m a little more personal and authentic on Snapchat and Twitter. Do I need a separate personal account for everything?” Curate to the platform, but don’t waste your audience’s time.
- 33:53 If I had an Instagram account that was all about branding and I just posted pictures of my kid, it wouldn’t make any sense. However, if I had a branding Instagram and a personal one, then I could post pictures of my kid all day long and people who want to follow that will follow that. Curate for the platform, don’t waste your audience’s time, and post things natively as they are meant to be experienced on those particular platforms.
- 34:26 Kyle: A lot of social networks have started reprimanding people for not using native content. Twitter removed Instagram posts—you used to be able to see the Instagram image with a link when you posted it there but they’ve removed that.
- 34:46 Cory: YouTube as well. You have to understand there’s different ways these platforms allow you to share content and it takes some time, research, and testing to figure out how it will best work for your brand and audience.
Scheduling Social Media Posts
- 35:14 When it comes to social media, there’s a huge aspect of consistency that’s wrapped up in scheduling. Build yourself into the routines of your audience. Sean McCabe and Ben Toalson of the seanwes podcast talk about this all the time. People operate within seven days—Sunday through Saturday—and they have personal, consistent schedules. The way you’re the most impactful is by getting inside that routine and establishing consistency, so people don’t just view you as noise.
By establishing consistency, people will view you as part of what their lives are all about.
- 36:24 Kyle: This has been a really tough topic for me recently as far as posting consistently. Things happen in life. It will be a struggle and we’re not here to make it sound like it’s an easy thing to do. There will be struggles and you’ve got to figure out how to make it work in the best way. I’m glad we’re talking about this today.
- 37:19 Cory: Garrett asks, “Do you recommend automating social media posting and if so, what tools do you recommend? If not, why not?” When Kyle and I discussed this topic yesterday, we had some back and forth about this. A lot of people are asking about this. They’re downloading apps that allow them to schedule out the same post to all 538 social platforms they use. What are your thoughts on automating social media, Kyle?
- 38:04 Kyle: My answer to this is absolute not, ever. No. I despise auto-posting to social media. Auto-sending newsletters or blog posts might be a different story. Earlier we mentioned that one-on-one interaction where you get to talk to people and hear from people—that’s what social media should be. Social media is supposed to be conversational. It should be where you can hear from people and understand what their struggles are. If your posts are just scheduled automatically, then you might be there or you might not. Cory and I were talking about IFTT yesterday.
- 39:07 Cory: If This Then That is an app you can get on your phone, where you can create these “recipes”, like if I post something to Instagram, it’ll make a tweet about that content, then it’ll collect stats from Google Drive. It’s an interesting app.
- 39:33 Kyle: If you use that, it’ll post on your account. It might have all of what you said in the post or it might trail off, especially on Twitter because of the character limit. It’ll say, “Today I want to talk to you about…IFTT.com.” Who knows what that is? Why are you even on social media if you don’t want to actually engage with people? It’s so unauthentic. If you’re building a company that’s authentic, especially a young company, you should be excited that anyone cares about what you’re doing. Having these things auto-post across platforms makes me wonder if you care, especially auto-posting between Facebook and Twitter. Do you care about Twitter? Why don’t you take the time to type something new for Twitter? It doesn’t seem like you care about that platform or that you’re really there.
- 41:39 Things like blog posts or newsletters are a little more passive—they aren’t looking for immediate action. Something like a blog post is meant to be read, consumed, and thought about, then there might be a response to that by replying to an email. They might save it to read later and it could be days later. The same with newsletters you send, it’s going to an inbox so it’s kind of like mailing a physical letter. They’ll check it when they want to and read it when they want to. It’s more casual. You’re not expected to be sitting at your email, waiting for responses. On social media, it’s immediate and it’s in the moment. I don’t want to respond to someone’s tweet now and then tomorrow at three o’clock get a reply. I honestly wouldn’t remember what I asked and it seems like they didn’t care enough to read it yesterday.
- 42:49 Cory: It’s important to remember that everything is scrolling. If you post something, an hour later it’s going to be way down the page and your viewing percent will plummet the longer it takes to get someone to read it. It automatically has a downward curve, unless there’s sharing and it goes viral. Automation works for some things but not for others. I agree it works for long-term content like blogposts, newsletters, and podcasts. I send out a newsletter every Saturday for the podcast along with the post and we set up all that stuff before hand and schedule it. Once it’s posted, I go onto Twitter manually, with stuff I’ve prepared in the past, and I post to that network so I can actively respond to what people are saying. Within three hours, everyone’s Twitter feed is going to be full of other things.
If you believe you don’t have enough time to be on social media platforms, you’re communicating that you’re more important than the audience you’re trying to reach.
- 44:50 That’s not going to work, because your audience needs to believe there are people behind your brand, on the other side of the screen, and not just some auto-posting robot. You can automate and if you decide to automate certain things, then you need to be set up for notifications at those times so that if someone comments, replies, or tweets at you, you’ll be ready to respond in the moment. That’s what people are looking for. It would be like going to a Q&A of my favorite brand and they just send a video answering a couple of questions, instead of someone on stage to answer my questions I was there to ask, it wouldn’t make any sense.
- 45:42 Earlier, Kyle related this to a physical letter. If you wrote an article for the newsletter, that would have to be scheduled. On social media it’s all about moments. Humans operate inside of moments and social media amplifies those moments. The more you scroll, the less interested you get, so if you’re going to automate, first consider why you’re doing it. If you’re too busy, then you shouldn’t be doing it. All it takes to post to social media is setting aside some time. Pick the image you’ll use, figure out your Facebook, Twitter, or Dribbble snippets. Set aside some time before hand and then throughout the week, or all at once, hop on there. It takes like a second to send out a tweet on Twitter. It doesn’t take a lot of time if you’re prepared. If you’re sitting down thinking, “I need to send something out. What do I do?” then it feels like a waste of time.
- 47:02 Kyle: There’s someone out there thinking, “You don’t understand, Cory. I work 10 hours a day at my day job and I’m trying to build this brand on the side. I don’t have time to do that, I need it to auto-post for me.” Number one, forget about the “ideal time” to post. It doesn’t matter because the world is not on the same clock. There’s plenty of people looking at social media at various times. Even more important than that, a week has 168 hours, so if you work 50 hours a week and you sleep 8 hours a night, that leaves 62 hours in a week to do other things. It should only take a few minutes a week to put this all together and figure out a strategy. If you can’t find a few minutes in your 62 hours of “free time”, there’s issues there. I’ve had this issue lately because of all the stuff I have going on. That’s if I work 50 hours and I don’t get 8 hours of sleep either!
How Many Platforms Should I Be On?
- 48:58 Cory: Tobi asks, “What would you recommend as far as balance between two ends of the spectrum—very deep and involved presence, i.e. lots of responses to people, very engaged beyond just initial posts—on one platform vs. spreading out on a ton of different platforms but perhaps not being able to interact personally on each one?” Use as many platforms as you’re able to without sacrificing quality or consistent output. If you really can only focus on one or two, use those the best you can. If it’s important to you and you’re able to take all day to prepare and post to all these different things, then schedule the time for that. Make it a part of your routine and make sure you’re not sacrificing quality or consistent output.
- 50:10 You can also do whatever you want and spread yourself thin, but if you’re only able to do Instagram, then do Instagram the absolute best you can. Tell amazing stories and use the 15-second video feature. Daniela, from the seanwes Community, is a musician and she wondered, “How many keyboards do I have to post until it gets boring?” Do some videos of you singing, post about your next recording project, or tell a story about the lyric writing process. There are so many different ways you can be creative and you have to be creative on social media. That’s the ultimate problem I have with it—automation stunts creativity.
- 51:06 When you have a huge blog post and you only have 40 characters left on Twitter after the image and link, what are you going to say? How are you going to make that valuable to people? It has to be valuable and high-quality. If you have the capacity to be on 14 different social media platforms and you have the time scheduled out, and you’re not going to sacrifice quality, then absolutely do it! If you can only handle a certain amount, that’s ok too.
- 51:43 Kyle: One thing I’ve done is looked at conflicting platforms. A lot of people want to use Google+ because they don’t care about Facebook, so more than likely, you’re either on one or the other of those two platforms. I might post the same thing to those, because they’re very similar platforms. Find strategic ways to post on potentially more platforms if you can, but if you only have time for one or two, then do a great job with those. The others aren’t going to matter if you’re spread too thin because you’re not sharing anything that’s helpful anyway.
- 52:50 Cory: You don’t have to overthink social media. If you want to bring people back to your website where your blog is, then put your featured image and add a snippet to a Tweet that gives a takeaway, so that there’s value even if no one clicks. Spend the majority of your time working on your blog post or your video, then have a couple of snippets on Facebook or Twitter—whatever it takes to funnel them back to whatever your goal is.
When you have a presence on social media, you’re making a promise.
How you deliver on that promise is how people are going to think of you.
- 53:35 If I’m delivering a promise of quality and I don’t deliver quality, that’s going to reflect on me. If I promise I’m going to show up every week and post a particular think, then I either don’t show up every week or I don’t post a particular thing, that’s going to reflect on me. It might or it might not destroy my brand, but you want to follow through on your promise because that builds trust, allegiance, and ambassadors. Those are the kind of people you want following your brand.
- 54:28 Kyle: There comes a point where if you don’t create a cue of things to share with people, it starts to wear on you. If you’re writing a blog post the day of or the before it should go out every week, inevitably there will be days you can’t do that because life is crazy. Anything could happen that would prevent you from putting that post out. There’s a huge value in creating a reserve for what you’re posting. Even with things for social media, like tweets, I’ve begun to take some focused time to write out some valuale things. Have that sitting there so you can grab them when you want to tweet, then start talking with people. That’s something I need to do and I want you guys to keep me accountable. I want this to be public because I don’t want people to think consistency easy.
- 56:09 Cory: It’s hard to show up every single week. There are days where I don’t want to write a newsletter or show up for the podcast because it’s hard, but guess what? Life is hard. Building a brand is hard. Getting people’s attention is hard. You have to put the work and time in. You have to invest and the results will show for themselves.