As soon as I wake up I turn on my phone to look at Instagram.
I scroll through my feed aimlessly to see what happened in the eight hours I was asleep. Facebook is next. I scroll through looking for funny animal videos and the latest pop culture news. Social media is my source of news and I look for content that is informative and entertaining at the same time. I look for videos that make me laugh and photos that make me smile. I want a combination of connectedness and feeling informed without information overload. Being bombarded with relationship updates and pictures of last night’s dinner is not appealing to me. I look for content that sparks an interest and prompts me to investigate. I want content that allows me to engage and respond.
As I consider social media management as a profession, I’ve had many thoughts about what impactful social media campaigns look like and how I could translate these into my possible future profession. An organic, authentic social media campaign is a concept that I find to be truly refreshing. And I am starting to understand the lengths a social media professional has to go to in order to run such a campaign. At first, I thought it was as easy as what I’ve been doing on my own social accounts: find a good profile picture, write a witty status update every once in a while and post a funny pop-culture video to my wall. Easy enough. But, it turns out that’s not the case.
Looking at social media as a professional entails one to think about a specific audience and tailor messages to them. It can’t just be about what is appealing to you. It’s about the audience and what appeals to them. It’s about how messages will be received and how impactful they will be.
What I’ve learned so far
Be engaging and approachable
The task of formulating a combination of words and visual content that is engaging and appealing to the eye is an acquired skill and one I am eager to learn more about. What I have learned so far is that you have to observe your audience and make sure your content is serving them appropriately. You have to see what your target audience is liking, sharing, posting and commenting on. You have to engage with them. By getting to know your audience and having content that appeals to them, it will seem more authentic and prone to be well received. If your audience is well understood, then the content will flow nicely with the rest of the posts they see in their feed.
It’s more than words
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And content matters. There are photos, memes, GIFs, and videos and they each have different functions in terms of portraying a message. And, they help with engagement.
A message with purpose
I have been a social media user and on the receiving end of social media for so long that I was convinced it would be easier to translate my experience into a profession. But what I am learning through my college education at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and as an intern at Cookson Strategic Communications is that it is definitely not as easy as it looks. It requires research, planning, and strategy. You have to research what else is being posted about your subject, how people are engaging with it and what they are saying about it. You have to plan what you want to say and combine it with visually appealing (and related) content. You have to plan when to post and who to target.
It’s about your audience
I am learning that becoming a social media professional requires a different mindset than just a social media user. You aren’t just tailoring what you post to what you like. You are tailoring it to a specific audience in the hopes that it resonates with them and creates a positive response. Creating content that engages and attracts your audience; that’s the golden ticket.
Written by Emily Blossom, Cookson Intern