🐚 The Salty Shell: Build to Last, Not to Trend

Published 6 months ago • 7 min read

The Salty Shell

November 1, 2023

Welcome to The Salty Shell: your dive into candid social currents and navigating success. Was this forwarded to you? Anchor your spot here to sail with me every week.

Set Sail on Strategy, Not Hype

It's beyond time for me to share more of what everyone loves from me (I hate talking about myself, but the people have spoken): writing and social media strategy. You can get to know me more here. I have built thriving communities and global social strategies with my approach of being a consumer first.


🧂 Salty Insights

Trends are engaging and can be fun, but they lack long-term substance. The ROI of a strong, well-thought-out strategy is measured in years, not likes. If you don’t have a strong backbone (social media strategy), every wave in social media will throw you off course.

Trend chasing makes many brands look desperate and inauthentic. And not every trend is applicable to every brand. Read that again. Also - if you haven’t experienced marketing Twitter or LinkedIn . . . um. . .well, I’m not really sure what to say to that, but my point is they (we) are ruthless. I’m not saying I support it, but there is NO hesitation to drag a brand, especially, for doing something stupid/misaligned on social. 👀 If you want to jump on a trend and the legal approval gods are on your side - by all means, go for it - but make sure it makes sense and it’s not too late.

Instead of following the crowd, aim to build a foundation that stands the test of time. Your strategy is your roadmap, and in no way do I mean that you have to create a strategy, stick to it, and never navigate off course, because timely and unplanned often becomes top-performing content, but because it’s still relevant to your audience.

Brands that can easily jump on trends do so because they’ve focused on their strategic foundational elements, and all involved understand the context of their strategy:

• Do you know your audience (like they’re your best friend)?

• What kind of content performs best? (photo, long/short video, text, gif, teaser, BTS)

• Why should someone follow your page? (Seriously - think about what it takes for you to decide to commit to following an account)

• If someone follows you today, will they understand the upcoming content?


⚓️ Anchor Your Success: The Strategy Skeleton

Audit your content and audience

Before you dive into creating a strategy, understand what’s going on right now. Who is your engaged audience? How do they align with your target audience? What content is resonating? Which content is not performing and why? Your audience’s behaviors should influence content planning.

Brand voice and tone

Brand voice is what you say, brand tone is how you say it. To define voice, think of your brand as a persona and list the attributes that make it relatable. For tone, consider the emotional impact you want to make in different situations. (Also, please stop talking about Wendy’s Twitter - that was so 2017).

Example: Authenticity: each post should feel genuine, rather than staged (like mine). You could share candid stories from employees, spotlight customer testimonials that aren’t overly polished. Connect with your audience instead of broadcasting to them.

Core values and social media goals

These are more than just words to stick on a poster or throw in your annual report. Your core values and social media objectives should be your guiding light, serving as the litmus test for every decision you make – from the campaigns you run to the posts you share.

Community management expectations

Be clear about how you’ll interact with your audience. Will you respond to every comment and DM? If you’re posting and ghosting, delete your accounts. Liking comments is easy, but your community craves connection - talk WITH them all of the time, not just one-off moments of viral fame. How else are you going to truly learn about your audience?

Storytime:

I managed an FMCG brand for 4 years and haven’t worked on it in 3 years, and I still talk to people from that community on my personal accounts. I even went to a competitor, and some of them followed me - supporting both brands (the OG one they loved, and the one they were willing to try because I was managing that community). I could talk about the community for..ev...er.

Content Pillars

These are the big rocks of your strategy - the foundation. Typically these are 3-4 broad categories that encapsulate the main types of content you’ll produce, and sometimes 1 piece of content may fall under multiple pillars.

For example, a restaurant’s may be:

• Community

• Food + Beverage

• Private Events

• About the restaurant/owners/staff

Channel Strategy

Each social media platform is another individual space for your brand - some audiences may overlap, but you should not be posting the same content on each platform, and please know: your brand does not have to be on every social network, even if it’s trendy. Tailor your strategy according to the nature of each channel (professional, raw content, fast-paced, etc).

Deciding which networks to be on:

  • Where are your core audiences spending their time?
  • What kind of content do you have (video, blog posts, photos etc) and what platforms do they make sense on?
  • What are your messaging and conversion goals? What platforms are most likely to convert?

Content types

Video is king – but you don’t only have to post video - the opportunities are endless so long as it is relevant to your audience. Want to know my secret to top-performing content? Reply here or Tweet me (yes, tweet) and I’ll tell you.

What you really need to focus on first, and foremost is where your content is coming from and if you have a budget.

  • In-house production
  • Photo/video shoots
  • UGC
  • Influencers
  • Creators

Data is your compass

Data doesn’t lie - it’s impartial and unemotional (what’s that like? lol). Whether you’re refining your current strategy or pivoting, data should be the backbone of your decisions.

In the rare case that a client doesn’t want monthly reporting, I still do it. Why? How else am I going to know if the strategy I built and the content I’m executing are performing well? You can learn so much by digging into your data - my favorite is uncovering new audience segments or content our audience is unexpectedly LOVING. Another major reason I do it is because we all have those clients who say: “this is our target audience” and I say: “K, great, but this is your ENGAGED audience.”

Think on that.

Don’t be such a stickler for your strategy - you can stray from it. I recently pulled data for a former client’s (cable network) data - over the last 12 months, and their top-performing posts have been unplanned. Not trends, not the content they spend hours upon hours creating and scheduling, but time-sensitive content related to new releases or talent. . . that aligns with the core strategy.

  • Don’t feel the need to chase trends
  • Create a solid social media strategy (it doesn’t happen in a couple of days)
  • Be flexible and encourage flexibility within the company and leadership
  • Let data be your best friend

By focusing on foundational elements, you'll find new trends and platforms there will become opportunities to extend your existing strategy, not distractions that divert you away from your brand's core objectives.

If you believe in the Algorithm Gods, trust me – when they change their minds, a solid strategy will keep you from sinking.


🌊 Brain Waves

I want you to write/type your answers because then it will become more real. Reply, Tweet or LinkedIn me (it’s a term. . . now) for accountability or feedback.

  • Why should someone follow the account?

You may really take a pause and think “I have no idea, I wouldn’t if it wasn’t my account” and that’s okay, I’ve said that before. Usually, if I don’t love a feed/content I work on, it’s because the client puts so many restrictions on what they think we should/not post - this is where we (social media professionals) need to step in with our authority, but that’s a lesson for another time. (let me know if you want it)

  • Who are your primary audiences?

If you don’t know who is engaging with your content and taking action (purchase, order, download etc) stop right here - you don’t know who you’re creating content for or why - skip straight up to the audience and content audit part of the strategy.

  • What content pillars and content types get the most engagement?

Is it video or photo? What type of video? Are you able to have more of those created? Knowing this should inform your content calendars, and all of this comes from data and reporting - which area do you need to adjust right now to be able to answer this?

  • What does “top-performing” or “highly engaging” look like to your brand?

These are subjective terms. Top performing to some could be views, to others likes, but to me, depending on the type of content, I think shares or saves speak the loudest. Each of my clients has a different definition of a successful post - some I’ve defined, some I have to play along with (that’s for another newsletter).

Let me know – I’ll try to help with your hurdles.

Thanks for being here, I love (over)sharing!

Chelsea

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Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 16 years of social media strategizing and community building. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

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