Now, this is going to be a fun blog post to write! How social media is like your pet dog? Bring on the metaphors.
We’re sure that most of you have had the feeling before, you see a picture of an adorable little puppy and your heart melts. You start thinking about how much fun it would be to have a dog, how it would test your adulting skills - like a try before you buy and commit to the small human version.
You’ve heard about how a dog is man’s best friend. You’ve seen the bond that has been made between your friends and their dogs, you want that rewarding relationship too.
So, sure enough, you go and get yourself a little puppy (from the animal shelter, of course). You take him home, give him a name, show him off to your friends. You make a plan for training and regular walks, you give him all the best food and heaps of cuddles.
Then, he chews your favourite slippers to absolute shreds. He whines all night, causing you extreme sleep deprivation for the first few weeks of your lives together. You come out in the mornings and he’s weed all over the carpet.
You knew that it would be a learning curve, but you just weren’t expecting it to be this exhausting! This pup wants a lot of attention and takes a bit of work!
But, as the weeks and months go on you build a stronger relationship with your pup and you start to see improvements. He stops wrapping the lead around your legs when you go for walks and starts to walk by your side. He knows when to stay calm and when to growl and protect you. You adjust to the routine of waking up a bit earlier every morning to let him out for a wee, take him for walks, feed him. Increasingly the two of you become best friends, looking after each other’s needs.
Now let’s draw the parallels between this little story and the story of building a social media presence and community of followers for your business.
The exciting beginning
You start with an idea and a lot of enthusiasm. Diving into setting up all your different platforms, developing your style and plan for content can be a lot of fun. You give it a name, make it your own. Everything is new and exciting and at the beginning, the likes and follows start to flow in, which is most encouraging.
Just like a new puppy, your social media accounts are all fresh, beautiful and exciting. The reality of how it’s all going to work hasn’t quite set in yet.
The learning curve
The next phase is where the challenge comes in. After you’ve got everything set up and all your friends have signed on, your follows will start to slow down. This is when you really get to test out your strategy.
Social media strategies take time to cultivate. Just like the relationship with your puppy, at the start you’re both still figuring each other out. It takes some time training and building relationships for things to start happening the way you want them to.
Those wees on the carpet might be equivalent to a negative comment that you don’t know what to do with. Take a deep breath and clean it up, reply to the comment and resolve any issues away from that public space.
If going for walks with your dog in the afternoons is leading to a ripped up yard during the day, try walking in the mornings! Your strategy should be flexible as you figure out what works best. Depending on your target demographic, you get more engagement when you post around lunch time, or in the wind down time when people are finishing work.
There are frustrating aspects in anything new you need to learn, and just like with your puppy, relationships take time to build. Social media is all about relationships and building a loyal community. That doesn’t happen overnight, you need to invest the time into learning how people think and what they want to see on your social media channels. From there, you will develop strong relationships and see past, present and future customers form a community around your brand.
The ongoing benefits
Once your strategy is ironed out and you’re following a regular routine for posting and engaging on social media, you will start to fully understand the benefits of this platform. Social media allows you to communicate with your audience in a way that is much more personal. You get to build a lasting relationship with your community. Comparable to the bond forged between you and your dog, once you’ve put in all those initial hard yards.
Before you know it, your social media platforms are running like a well oiled machine. You know exactly how to engage with your audience, your community is steadily growing and coming into it’s own. The community that engages with your page are loyal and will defend your brand without you having to say anything.
Maintaining a strong and personable social media presence is an easy and affordable way to make sure that your brand is recognised by a broad audience. It is also the best way to create loyalty amongst your customers. By engaging socially with people who are interested in your business, you are building personal relationships. From there, customers form attachments and will associate your business with how you made them feel.
It doesn’t take long for that puppy to become a well ingrained part of the family. Routines become normal and that little ball of fluff matures into a loyal friend who fits in with your life and your goals. Just the same as your matured social media strategy, which before you know it will just become a part of life. Maintaining your strategy, updating your content, engaging with your community, will all become like second nature. This in turn will keep your brand interesting and your customers loyal.
While just like anything new in your life, maintaining a social media presence takes some getting used to, it all works out in the end. It doesn’t take long to get to the point where you can’t imagine your life (or your business) without it! A bit of patience, training and commitment go a long way in both the raising of a puppy and the integration of social media into your life!