Virality doesn’t happen by accident. Clever witticisms and funny GIFs that make the rounds succeed because the people behind them study the best ways to get themselves noticed. If you want to enjoy the same success, you need to practice the same good habits.
Brands turn to influencers and social media gurus because these channels deliver proven results. One 2017 survey found that 69 percent of marketers have built loyal fanbases for their brands through social media marketing. Practically everyone with purchasing power has a social media account, and if marketers don’t use that platform, their competitors will.
Many who fail on social media neglect to follow some of the obvious best practices. First, you need to have goals before you can achieve them. Following that, you should benchmark your progress toward those goals and understand the metrics by which you measure success. You may enjoy it when people like your posts, but if those likes don’t translate to revenue, they don’t help much.
Unfortunately for the anti-social, abstaining is not an option. The power of social media is too great. Even word-of-mouth marketing, the secret weapon of small businesses everywhere, depends largely on social media presence. There is no escape.
Top habits of social media leaders
If you want to get noticed and make money this year and beyond, social media holds the key. I connected with a few entrepreneurs and business leaders to learn more about the social media habits that help them succeed.
1. Sarah Fruy, Director of Online Marketing at Pantheon
In order to optimize your social media, you need to be in the habit of measuring your social strategy’s success. To do so, Sarah Fruy believes businesses should focus less on appearances and more on the value to customer engagement. “Avoid tracking vanity metrics such as likes and reach; focus on higher-value engagements like social shares and comments,” says Fruy. After all, anyone can like a post, but people who take the time to engage actively are far more likely to spread the influence of the brand.
As quickly as that influence can change, Fruy stays on top of her company’s metrics. When it comes to both managing and measuring social media efforts, Pantheon has found success in making immediacy a habit — or, in other words, its default.
“Nothing beats the immediacy of social media, for better or worse,” explains Fruy. “It gives us instant insights into how our customers and community feel about the content we are sharing — both paid and owned — while also providing space to respond to and create a dialogue with our audience.”
2. Michael Kiel, Founder and Captain at Boat Planet
No matter how valuable your social media metrics are, they don’t mean anything until you put them to use. When Michael Kiel and his team measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, they use that knowledge to spend more of their time on high-value work.
“We analyze the results of each of our social media posts and revise our strategy depending on how well our posts are performing,” says Kiel. “This way, we know which of our posts are worth spending time on in the future.”
The quick-scrolling nature of social media increases the value of eye-popping visuals. Kiel advises others to find out which graphics resonate most with their audiences and invest time in upping the quality of those posts. One viral image is worth more than a thousand ignored pictures on a company Facebook page. Of course, Kiel attributes some of his team’s social media success to the industry. “Boaters are a very passionate group of people, and we’re fortunate to work in an industry where our audience engages with our content on a daily basis,” says Kiel.
3. Michaela Krivankova, Founder of Yummiewear
Speaking of visuals, Michaela Krivankova’s online-only business depends heavily on Instagram to make sales. Like Kiel, she believes that past performance can help optimize future results.
“Part of my team’s routine is to regularly check our Instagram profile page for consistency in design, visuals, and content,” says Krivankova. “It seems like a minor ritual, but we regularly base our future designs off the colors that we think will make our page pop.”
Sales are important, but Krivankova says that engagement comes first. A win for her team is seeing the audience take time to comment and use emojis. Her company also participates in comment conversations, which helps fans connect with the growing brand.
“We are constantly referencing our own brand guidelines to make sure that the content we put out is something that resonates with our followers,” explains Krivankova. Her designers create graphics with Instagram’s audience in mind — using quotes and a somewhat sassy tone. For instance, for New Year’s Eve, the company created a graphic that aimed to oppose “the glamorization of resolutions.” The graphic’s quote read: “New year, new me? I like the current me just fine, thanks.”
4. Daniel Robbins, COO of Bintana Sa Paraiso
Like Krivankova, Daniel Robbins achieves high engagement rates by maintaining a presence in the comments section of his company’s posts. “We respond and comment on every message that people leave on our accounts,” he says. “People love to know that a brand listens and responds, making the brand stronger.” Attention spans online don’t last long. Brands need to strike while the comment is hot at every opportunity.
Robbins also said maintaining a consistent brand message in the process is key. “Telling a consistent brand story, I think, is one of the most underrated habits of driving success,” says Robbins. The company also responds to other social media posts by people who fit into its target audience. Direct messaging or commenting on posts allows Robbins’ company to join the conversation happening on a specific topic.
5. Ali Mahvan, CEO and Founder at Sharebert
Branded social media accounts do not just serve the brands behind them. They also serve the people who find an online home in the communities the brands create. Ali Mahvan says his team’s most valuable habit is to build a community, rather than just flood social networks with branded messages. “No one cares about your message,” says Mahvan. “You need to build a community. Stop trying to sell and start trying to become a part of culture.”
Mahvan’s company does not just post about deals and sales. Instead, his brand fills its accounts with posts about the talented people and musicians with whom it works. “The most successful strategy you could have is one that’s authentic and facilitates conversation,” explains Mahvan. Followers see brands as extensions of their personalities, so the more ingrained the brand becomes in the culture, the better.
6. Anthony Davani, CEO at The Davani Group Inc.
Not all followers are created equal. Anthony Davani would happily trade 1,000 passive followers for a handful of people who truly engage with the brand.
“We are not interested in the number of followers we have,” says Davani. “We are focused on creating a strategy that breeds organic growth catered to relevant followers who find our content useful and inspiring.”
To accomplish that, Davani is picky about the content his brand displays online. And his team has made a habit of making social media posts that aim to “inspire and educate.” He values consistency but believes that too many posts with branded messages could drive away people who would otherwise feel inspired or educated by the brand’s less sales-driven content. His team incorporates a lot of images and installations into its social strategy, noting that those posts are more impactful and relevant to his brand’s design-sector audience.
Good habits don’t form overnight. These experts make it a point to not only identify the strategies that work, but also incorporate them into their social media marketing repertoires. You can do the same, but be careful in how you approach social media — bad habits form just as easily as good ones.