A few weeks ago, I asked you all to submit your social media related questions for the first edition of Ask Link in Bio. This is a new series where I answer all of those nagging social questions that don’t get addressed in dedicated newsletter sends. I’m excited! I also want to note that just because I am doing this, does not mean that I know everything there is to know about social media! Nobody does! But I feel at least somewhat qualified to answer a few questions.
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Okay, let’s dive into this week’s questions! (Part two will be sent out one week from today.)
“Do you think it's possible for a brand to be successful on social media without their SMM having to be a "spokesperson" of sorts? Any examples?”
To back up, I want to address this recent shift in social media from curated brand presence to personality-forward brand presence. When I first started working in social, the closest thing we got to “personality” was figuring out brand voice. If there was a face on social, it was either highlighting team members in a very HR recruitment way or it was a founder of the brand itself.
I actually think back to Birchbox’s social media in 2014ish and what made them stand out. It was the fact that they essentially had brand personalities who were faces on their social channels helping editorialize their products. I would say, at the time, Birchbox was an outlier and much of other brands’ social accounts revolved around flatlays and curated product shots.
Fast forward to today, if you go to any brands’ TikTok page you are very likely to see a face of someone participating in trends or explaining how they started their small business. You can see this now bleeding into Instagram, with Reels featuring founders and heads of social.
For many brands, social media managers have had to go from behind-the-scenes strategists to front-of-camera talent. And that’s not for everyone. Just because you work in social media doesn’t mean you want to be the face or spokesperson for your company. Especially when that company is most likely profiting and benefiting off the use of your image way more than you are.
All of that is to say that I do think there is a way to be a successful social manager without making yourself the face of your brand. For example, I think brands like Our Place and Parade do a great job of infusing their brand with lots of personality by tapping their community for content. (Side note: if you are a brand, pay for this content.) I also think Seed’s social media presence is super weird and good, without making their social person a spokesperson.
To me, it’s less about making your social person the personality, and more about making sure your social media presence has a personality—which can express itself through everything from UGC via community members to brand copy.
“What brand post made you smile recently?”
I love Diaspora Co.’s social media a lot. I think some brands feel like they need to choose between being a serious storytelling brand vs a meme posting brand vs a personality-forward brand. The reality is, you can do it all. You’ll find Diaspora Co. creating posts about everything from how to build a more equitable spice trade, to Spotify Wrapped memes, to delicious recipe Reels with Asha Loupy.
This is the particular post that made me smile, but I love the way all of Diaspora Co.’s posts work together to give a cohesive, full picture of who they are as a brand.
“How do you feel about the Wendy's Effect taking over social media strategy? I may be the lone cynic, but I've never desired to build a friendly connection with major corporate brands. So I find it all a bit fleeting. Do you think this marketing style is here to stay, or will people start to get tired of brands having such distinct personalities?”
Great follow up question to the one I answered earlier!
I think a lot about how to be successful at social media while also understanding I am posting on behalf of a brand or corporation. The rule that I’ve always followed on platforms like Instagram and Twitter is to keep the interactions within your own brand ecosystem. It’s okay to have a distinct brand voice and personality, but it should be kept to conversations happening around your product/service/etc.
But then there’s TikTok.
If you log into TikTok right now, you’ll likely notice a lot of brands commenting on seemingly random (but viral) videos on your FYP. The newsletter Embedded (big fan!) did a great job breaking this down the other week. It’s jarring to be scrolling through and all of a sudden see the History Channel, Met Museum, and American Lung Association commenting on Taylor Swift’s newest TikTok. Why buy an ad when every viral TikTok can be an ad, right? But to my earlier point, there’s something about a brand going outside of their ecosystem, much like DailyHarvest did here and brands are doing all over TikTok that feels a bit unnerving. It doesn’t matter if you choose to follow a brand on social or not anymore, they will always be there in the comments. And is that really what the consumer wants?
I think this strategy has led to very few brands having a truly unique or distinct TikTok presence. They are all just clamoring to do the same trends first, comment on the same viral TikToks, and get their logo revamped by the same “graphic designer” in Wisconsin.
When you work in social media, you’re essentially asked to humanize corporations. And I do think there’s a way to intentionally do this. But where do you draw the line? And, in the end, who really benefits from that extreme humanization?
“I am not a math person and find social analytics challenging. Any good tips or resources for learning how to do analytics better?”
I feel this. First, I’d decide what metrics you want to track. You can really go down a rabbit hole with social analytics so establishing, for example, the five key metrics you want to track per platform up front at the beginning of the year (or quarter) will make your life much easier. My next piece of advice would be to invest in some sort of social media marketing tool that has analytics built into it. Being able to pull data from a platform and then digest it from there always makes my life much easier. I would then keep track of all of this information either within the dashboard of the social marketing tool or in an Excel document.
Then really try and editorialize your weekly or monthly reports. Make them fun to read! No one but your manager will want to go into the Excel document and try to decipher what’s going on with social media at any given time. When I worked at Bon Appétit I would send reports that included more words than graphs. I explained why something performed the way it did (or was honest and said I had no idea!), included impactful wins, hypothesized on underperformers, and included Easter eggs for people who scrolled to the bottom.
I also want to note that these reports were often what would get the attention of higher ups. Use them as an opportunity to toot your own horn and highlight your social chops. If anything, it’ll finally make that one person who walks by your office and says “wish I could scroll Instagram all day!!” stop.
Hope you all liked this format! Very open to feedback!
Part two of Ask Link in Bio will go out next Wednesday! You can submit more questions for it here.