Taking leadership to the next level through social media

A media revolution has redefined how you advertise success, reports Tao Lin.

Example of a flatlay, which is one way businesses might be able to compose photos on social media.
CHLOE ZARA STYLING

Example of a flatlay, which is one way businesses might be able to compose photos on social media.

With hundreds, if not thousands, of social media platforms in the world today, businesses can reach and influence a greater audience than ever before. 

The social media gurus at Socialites, led by managing director Wendy Thompson, help businesses make the most of this new, fast-changing way of communicating.

Her team of 16 has helped some of New Zealand's most recognised brands including Spark, Mitre 10 and House of Travel achieve social media glory.

Socialites managing director Wendy Thompson started her company after successfully helping her husband build a social ...
PETER MEECHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

Socialites managing director Wendy Thompson started her company after successfully helping her husband build a social media community around his physio practice.

Thompson believes social media is one of the most exciting developments to happen to humankind.

Is it really necessary to be on social media? 

Social media really can be one of your best weapons as a business.

Not all companies need to invest in lively Facebook pages or Twitter accounts, but all businesses should be listening to what customers and prospective customers are saying on social media about them.

Hopefully it's all good things, but if not it gives you a chance to improve your offering.

Where do I start?

A great question! If your business isn't big enough to employ someone to do it for you, DIYing is a great option, but get some advice from an expert first.

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There are some excellent online groups and courses that are inexpensive.

How should I re-evaluate my social media strategy if it's ineffective?

The most important thing is to work out WHY you are using it first.

From there evaluate what isn't working and why not.

For example, if you are using social media to get feedback from customers but aren't getting much, then maybe you just need to ask more questions.

If you are wanting to drive online sales, perhaps you need to look at who you are targeting and making sure it's very easy to click through and purchase.

How do I get noticed and build up a profile, especially when there are so many other people making so much noise?

It is very difficult for smaller businesses to compete with the big brands on social media nowadays.

There are more than 1.3 million Facebook posts, 350,000 tweets and 100 hours of YouTube uploaded EVERY minute - so it's all about owning the moment.

You need to design content that evokes an emotion in your target customer.

At Socialites we call it "thumb-stopping"; take the time to create something that will stand out in the chaos.

If you're a clothing brand it could be a birdseye view of a collection, called a flatlay. 

How do you deal with negativity on social media platforms tastefully and swiftly?

A tricky one, and something that as Kiwis in the Tall Poppy environment, we really feel uncomfortable with.

But actually it's really easy.

First off, a lot of critics don't realise they are engaging with a real person on social media.

They think of a business account as non-human. So, if you simply answer them calmly and using your first name, they most often can turn out to be quite reasonable.

This works 95 per cent of the time. The other 5 per cent is when people get involved in personal attacks.

It's important to have house rules for your social  media communities, for example if someone is racist/sexist/abusive then they are banned from interacting with that social media account.

We call it the "Ban Hammer" at work but it's needed rarely - we engage with over 50,000 digital conversations a month for our clients yet we only need to use it two or three times a year.

What are your top tips to remember when engaging with other people on social media?

Be yourself, be kind and remember that everything you write IS public.

And enjoy it - Iiving in a world where we can talk to people about anything and everything around the world from real people in real time is pretty special.

What are some up-and-coming social media trends and how can businesses best prepare for them?

Purchasing through social media channels is going to get easier and more accessible for businesses of all sizes over the next year. It could open up new opportunities for business growth.

 - Stuff

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