Back to Basics: 3 elements of good social media

The Back to Basics series is about what makes good online content for all platforms. This post’s topic is on the three elements that make good social media. There are hucksters out there that will try to get you to buy their secret formula to cracking Facesmash’s algorithm. It’s my experience that no amount of jury-rigging will get followers interested in you. To get followers interested in you, you must have:

Good copy.

Good visuals.

Good service.

Sounds simple enough, but it’s really more complicated. Coherent shouldn’t be the bar, you can push your business farther than that. Ideally, you should have one person for each role. Expecting your copywriter to shoot breathtaking photos or create an infographic will result in mediocre copy and visuals. Asking either of them to handle questions on Twitter or Facebook beyond “Where are you located?” and “When are you open?” will result in hilarious Yelp reviews. Well, it’s funny to us not to you. So what makes good copy, good visuals and good service?

Good Copy

There are a plethora of books dedicated to good copywriting. You can pick one up and try your hand at it. But the best way to get good copywriting, is to hire a good copywriter. I’m sure you feel that you can best represent your business or your brand, but you haven’t been trained (read: tortured) into remembering the essentials of good copy. Despite the more conversational tone on social media, good copy should always have the essential elements: Features and Benefits.

A good copywriter will make those Features and Benefits seamless in almost every post – even the ones with you and your furball. They will come up with creative methods to weave the Features and Benefits into your banners, your flyers, your posts and your blog.

You don’t have time to stare at wall or a yellow legal pad to come up with those ideas. You’ve got a business to run. So hand over the keys to someone who can handle it.

Good Visuals

I’ve done photoshopping, graphic design and video editing but I would never consider myself a pro. I’m a hack graphic designer (I am a pro-writer, though). Most writers would rather write. And most graphic designers are crap writers. They also don’t have time to think of clever turns of phrases. They’re busy thinking of clever uses of your logo and weaving it through all the elements of your social media pages and website.

A good graphic designer will create arresting visuals. Even if it’s a little flyer for your shop’s pizza party, it’ll stop people in their tracks as they’re scrolling along. It’ll communicate what words cannot. You know it when you see it: clear, balanced, clever and detailed.

Unless your business is graphic design, don’t leave this up to your 13 year old niece (unless she’s a genius).

Good Service

Probably the most overlooked aspect of social media is good customer/client service. I suppose business owners assume, incorrectly, that anyone who comments on their posts don’t have legitimate concerns, have too much time on their hands and can be ignored. Yes, there are many trolls in the comments, but for each troll there are half a dozen real people with real questions. An intern will not know how to handle criticism or even praise. Your social media manager probably doesn’t either because you nor she took the time to write up a customer service policy. And that dumb bot someone (not naming names) decided to create to autoreply to users will fail spectacularly.

Please, assign someone competent and well-versed in your business to address questions on social media if you’re a small business. If you are the business, run your replies by someone with a level head.

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