What no one tells you about making social media work for you in 2021

Social media, iPhoneUnsah Malik is the UK’s leading social media and influence expert. She is a female entrepreneur and the author of best selling ebook ’Slashed It’. Here she shares how you can make social media work for you in 2021:

1. Avoid falling into the content fatigue trap

To no surprise, social media is one of the industries which has really thrived during this pandemic from increased activity from the general user and brands alike. People have fewer places to go, fewer people to meet, fewer holidays to take, and there’s only so much TV one can watch! As physical retail has taken a massive hit for brands worldwide, all efforts are now placed on the digital marketing front with social media being the easiest — and best — way to connect with customers while amplifying brand awareness.

While it’s great to see everyone finally realising the power of social media, audiences are now experiencing what I describe in my Instagram post here as ‘content fatigue’. There are hundreds of more Instagram Lives, thousands of more content uploads, way more exposure to ads and, frankly, way too much for the general person to consume (there always was, but now it’s increased tenfold). This means the average attention span is evenlower, and people are becoming far more selective with what they decide to engage with. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes: If you see an Instagram Live for the first time, you’re going to click on it because it’s new and exciting, but once you see a notification pop up for the 500th time, you’re well and truly sick of it.

The assumption many people make here is the basic idea of more people using social media equalling to a need to triple the content. While I have always been an advocate for posting daily (providing it works to your audiences’ wants), the height of content fatigue combined with this unprecedented global situation has me advising clients and my ebook readers the very opposite. More people using social media should equal a need for triple the  It’s not about how often you can post. It’s about how valuable you are perceived as by those scrolling through their timeline.

2. Revisit what your audience is responding to frequently

Every brand, influencer, coach and group of people who utilities social media professionally should be doing an audit of their followers regularly, irrespective of circumstances like a pandemic (!), but now more than ever there’s a greater need for it. If you haven’t taken the time to reevaluate your audience and your niche in the past six months, you already don’t know enough about them. Too much has changed in the world for consumer habits not to change… and we all know there’s no money, no followers and no growth where there is no understanding of the customer/client. It’s why I place so much emphasis on doing the groundwork here in my ebook before I even talk about the best content types for your niche.

3. Learn to listen

Having a following on social media makes people feel important, valued and authoritative. There’s nothing wrong with this, but too many influencers, thought leaders and brands allow the idea of having a strong voice overtake what social media is first and foremost about: Two-way communication. I don’t doubt you have an area of expertise or your product is worth people investing in, but if you’re too busy hooting your own horn to listen to what others are saying, you willsee a gradual decline in engagement. No one wants to feel unimportant just because the other person is held with more importance from a greater following…

4. Let go of perfection

For a social media trend report in 2017, I said we’re coming close to the ‘rejection of art perfection’ for social media feeds. I said the same for 2018, 2019 and 2020 (before COVID19 took over our lives). Maybe I was ahead of my time since many people still didn’t understand it to the extent I had hoped (even though my reasons about aesthetics meaning very little in the grand scheme of social media growth remain the exact same, as my ebook readers have learnt and grown from), but with the help of a good ol’ pandemic, brands and influencers are finally understand human-like, raw and authentic content will always be key to ultimate growth. No one cares about the white border, level of saturation, or the right hue of orange; that’s not why people engage with content! They engage because they see value.

5. Keep your eye on the trend and test it in small phases until you know how it can work for your audience

Similarly, for a social media trend report in 2019, I predicted the peak of audio content. I said the same at the beginning of 2020 and even hinted I wouldn’t be surprised if social media platforms introduced audio-based features. Podcasts were on the up, and video content felt like an undeniable thing to consider at this point, so, naturally, audio felt like the next big thing.

While it boomed in the US way before it boomed elsewhere (in terms of monetary value), in comes Clubhouse (an invite-only platform for now; it’ll be available for the public soon enough, don’t worry!), Twitter Spaces and hints of Facebook launching something very similar.

The best way to jump on a trend and remain in-the-know is to test it out in small phases. You don’t need to go full throttle and create a whole strategy for audio content, but you do need to start dipping your toes into the water. That way, you’re growing an organic audience who are open to such content from your brand (or maybe not… trying is the only way to find out) and you have a good starting point when things kick off.

And if it doesn’t, so what? At least you know what does and doesn’t work.

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