In a relatively short period in human history, social media has managed to make a rather significant impact. From the dawn of the first social media site called Six Degrees in 1997, to the growth in popularity of blogging sites closer to the 200s, social media at large has come a long, long way. And not all of the impact that it has made has been on the positive end of the spectrum, which begs the question, can the powers of social media be used for good rather than evil? And the answer is yes, but it’s like walking a tightrope, so the only way to be successful is to keep your eye off the prize and not fall into the negative trappings of social media.
“to answer the question, ‘Can social media be your best friend?’ people need to first examine what social media’s initial intent was, and try as best they can to allow that to guide their decision-making.”
What is the power of social media? Simply put, social media’s purpose, when it began, was to connect people, help them communicate easily and also to facilitate businesses to grow by enabling them to reach their desired audiences. And the power of social media lies in the fact that people can leverage these platforms that have a reach that is far and wide, to widen their circle of influence and engage directly with the people they want to talk to, easily and effectively.
How do you correctly leverage the power of social media and make it your friend?
1.) Focus on content creation and curation People tend to get hung up on the numbers very early on, when in fact the thing that should be in focus when trying to build a business is in fact the content creation and what the aesthetic of the feed should be and so on. The content that is posted needs to be visually appealing, have a story and have some takeaway as well. This ensures that the audience and people consuming the content walk away with something—be it a good feeling, some new learning etc.
2.) Know your audience It is the job of every business owner to know their target audience. When someone starts a business, one of the first questions they should ask themselves is who am I speaking to or creating this for and what need is it filling? Basis this, they can then zero in on all the demographics that will allow them to understand how to build their social media strategy, depending on who their audience is, what needs they have and what they are looking for.
3.) Strategise It is also helpful to think of tools that might help the business and break it up into phase growth. If phase one is about allowing the audience to get to know the brand, then phase to can be studying competitors and figuring out how to capture more market share for growth and so on.
4.) Collaborate While healthy competition keeps people on their toes, one should never shy away from collaboration. In today’s world, a lot can be achieved and accomplished by steering clear of toxic competition and choosing to seek out like-minded people and collaborate with them for mutual benefit instead.
“ The helpful thing to remember is that everyone is on their path and has their own struggles that might not be publicized on social media but it doesn’t mean that they are not there.”
Engage with your audience as well as others It is also prudent to remember that one cannot and should not create content, put it out there and then forget about it. Some of the most successful social media celebrities and brands make it a point to not only engage with their audiences on their own content, but go one step further and engage with pages they follow as well. Followers love to feel like they are being heard and paid attention to and other pages also appreciate getting attention from contemporaries.
Network Seeking out people and building a network is essential to putting something out there. The more the reach, the higher the likelihood to find someone who may help take the business to the next level. As the old verse in the Bible goes, ‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened for you’
Mix it up While building the business/brand should be the priority, there should always be a mix of genuine value-adding content and promotional brand-led content. The least successful pages on social media are always those who blast their followers with promotional posts after promotional posts with no respite.
Don’t compare or be obsessed The downside about social media that everyone needs to be aware of is that it becomes very easy to fall into the trap of comparing one against another. The helpful thing to remember is that everyone is on their path and has their own struggles that might not be publicized on social media but it doesn’t mean that they are not there. Also, obsessively tracking your growth is something everyone does, but always remember; there are many metrics to gauge and measure success, and follower count is only one of them.
If followed, these steps (some simple and some significantly more difficult) will help in decoding how anyone and everyone can make social media their best friend and use its powers for good.
About the Author Malini Agarwal is a pioneering digital influencer, an entrepreneur, the founder of MissMalini and and creative director Malini's Girl Tribe.