Last week was Kalamazoo’s annual Social Media Week, which featured eight local and regional speakers discussing their unique perspectives and use cases for social media and marketing.

A great communication tool for keeping in touch and seeing what others are doing, social media can be even more powerful when its strengths are utilized for business growth.

Speakers at the event echoed several themes, including how to use social media to build a consistent voice, scale business, create customer-centered relationships, and much more. Below are the top five takeaways we gathered for you to implement today and start making social media work for your brand:

1. Deliver on Your Brand Promise

Standing out as the most common theme of Social Media Week was the ability for social media to hold a company accountable to their brand’s promise, day-in and day-out. Brooke Foley, of Jayne Advertising, addressed the need to tell people what you’re going to do and then going and doing exactly what you said you were going to do.

In the world of social media, staying true to who you are as a brand is paramount if you want to be seen as authentic and influential. At the end of the day, branding is the accountability of the business owner. Social media is what gives it a life and platform.

Ask yourself: What can we operationally promise day-in-and-out? Are we delivering on that promise?

2. Build a Consistent Voice

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. If there was ever a more obvious way to build a brand’s voice, we haven’t found it–and neither had the speakers.

Maintaining consistency on social media promotes your brand’s voice and builds authenticity with your audience. The key to leveraging this, however, is by choosing platforms that make sense for your brand’s personality and audience while making sure you have the right story (or brand promise) out there.

As Fritz Klug, of Bell’s Brewery, stated at the end of his presentation: Find ways to inspire your customers, just as you’re inspired to do what you do.

Ask yourself: What inspires us to do what we do? Does our voice consistently present that on social media?

3. Make it Scalable

With its ability to generate and provide instant interaction with leads, social media has broken down the wall that once stood between sales and marketing teams.

Maneeza Aminy, Marvel Marketing, and Fritz Klug, Bell’s Brewery, both emphasized the importance of marketing and social automation tools for scaling and growing a brand’s presence. They shared several tools and platforms, but they repeatedly said there is no magic bullet; it’s about finding the combination of tools that make sense for your brand.

Each stated the need to evaluate where your pain points are in social and marketing communication and align those points with tools that perfectly match those needs. Sounds vague, right? Have no fear. We’re going to be diving into this in greater detail in the next few weeks.

In the meantime…

Ask yourself: What tools are we currently using, if any, to scale our brand? Are we automating the right things?

4. Failing Forward Can Be… a Good Thing

Over and over again, presenters shared stories about misses and fails of companies trying new things on social media. If there was one piece of advice that stood out, it was the fact that you should never be afraid to fail forward.

Failing, if viewed in a positive light, creates a learning opportunity for your brand to grow from. It opens up doors of communication with your customers and lets them know you’re human, too.

Ask yourself: What mistakes have you seen occur on your social media platforms? What did you learn or take away from them?

5. Make One-On-One Connections

One-on-one connections are key to growing brand loyalty and advocacy from customers. Obviously, there will be differences depending on whether you are B2B- or B2C-facing, but the principle is the same–people buy from real stories.

Presenters provided several ways to create or improve connections with customers, but the ones that really jumped out were:

  • Specifically sponsoring live events (and forgoing national campaigns!) to connect with grassroots fans
  • Implementing fun and creative ways to answer customer services questions through video, podcasts, and other engaging media
  • Being able to have the “tough conversations” with customers and provide pushback from time to time (Guess what? They usually all turned out for the best!).

Just a simple checklist, right? Okay, okay, we get it–these things take time. Branding, consistency, scalability, and relationships don’t happen overnight. Given time and a strategic initiative, these five themes will have social media working for your brand for the long haul.

We’ll dive deeper into each theme over the next few weeks to give you practical next steps for your social media strategy.