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Social Media in Healthcare: A Surgical Guide for Marketing Professionals

A few years ago, the idea of following your doctor on Facebook may have seemed flat-out ridiculous.

Fast-forward to present day and it’s clear that times have changed.

Did you know Darth Vader could help you perform proper CPR? In honor of the release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,”…

Posted by Florida Hospital on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

According to Deloitte’s 2018 global healthcare outlook, more and more providers are making their presence known on social media.

This migration isn’t due to dollars and cents, though. Instead, the overarching purpose of social media in healthcare is to improve the patient experience and form a “customer-centric relationship” with followers.

Look: it’s no secret healthcare represents a massive, multi-trillion dollar industry and the US’ largest employer.

And just as people are researching products and services via social, they’re doing the same when searching for a doctor.

But the role of social media in healthcare isn’t as simple as attracting new patients. Providers need to not only understand the best practices of using social media, but also the challenges and responsibilities of doing so, too.

Educating the public. Creating communities for patients. Providing stellar customer care. The list goes on and on.

Hashtags provide an opportunity for health communities to come together.

In this guide to social media in healthcare, we’re going to tackle these challenges head-on. Breaking down how healthcare professionals can use social media as a force for good, we’ll highlight what a fine-tuned presence for medical providers looks like in action.

And with that, let’s dive right in!

The Role of Social Media in Healthcare

Healthcare providers are in a unique position when it comes to their social presence.

After all, you’re marketing a service that represents a human necessity rather than a potential impulse buy.

And between rising healthcare premiums and patient anxiety, winning over your target audience is easier said than done.

Social media is a key component of how your practice is perceived by current and prospective patients alike. Practices of all shapes and sizes should therefore prioritize the following to market themselves as a top-tier provider.

Educating the Public

According to a recent Pew Research study, 36% of Americans haven’t visited a doctor within the past year.

Yikes.

This stat signals the need for education among the general public when it comes to check-ups, seasonal wellness and preventative care. The good news? The same Pew study notes that 87% of people hold doctors and their opinions in high regard.

The takeaway?

Educating the public isn’t just as an expectation: it’s a duty. Healthcare marketers actors are therefore tasked with keeping current and prospective patients alike informed year-round about treatments. Topical posts like this one from Florida Hospital represent a much-needed dose of education for their followers.

Chicago White Sox pitcher, Danny Farquhar, recently returned to the mound after collapsing from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Learn more about the causes and treatment for this type of aneurysm.

Posted by Florida Hospital on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Making Patients Feel Comfortable

Spoiler alert: not everyone is exactly jazzed about going to the doctor.

Something as seemingly simple as a check-up can be incredibly daunting on a prospective patient. In fact, white coat syndrome impacts approximately 30% of the public.

And so you can imagine the need for practices to display their empathy when it comes to patients dealing with terminal illnesses. Social media represents a great avenue to both show off the measures you take to make patients feel at home in their time of need.

Posts like this one from Northwestern Medicine prove that it’s possible to put on a smiling face regardless of the prognosis.

How about a little #FBF to when @starwars characters paid a visit to our patients out at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital? #MayThe4thBeWithYou, today and always!

A post shared by Northwestern Medicine (@northwesternmedicine) on

Signaling Yourself as a Staple in the Community

The concept of competition in the health sector is a touchy one. Even so, any given community is full of providers and it’s only natural for prospective patients to “shop around.”

It only makes sense for healthcare marketers to present their practices as the go-to for their respective communities. From showing off employees in action to local advocacy efforts, social media allows practices to be more transparent and personable to prospective patients.

Posts like this one from Massachusetts General Hospital are a shining example of the much-needed personal touch that patients want to see from their providers.

Today is National Nurses Day! We want to thank all of our nurses for providing expert, compassionate care to our patients every day. Please comment below to thank your favorite Mass General nurse.

Posted by Massachusetts General Hospital on Sunday, May 6, 2018

Understanding the big-picture goals of social media in healthcare is key to honing in on a content strategy, which leads us directly to our next point.

Which Types of Content Should Healthcare Providers Publish?

As highlighted by the examples above, healthcare content on social doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom.

Nor should it be.

A diverse content strategy is a smart move for any type of marketing and healthcare providers are no different. For the sake of diversifying your content calendar and keeping your followers happy, consider the following types of content which are fair game for healthcare marketers:

1. Educational Content

The growing phenomenon of self-diagnosis and letting Google serve as a doctor again signals the need for practices to educate the public.

Whether it’s the tips for the latest bug going around or touching on health-related news, marketers should strive to keep followers in the loop.

Health tips and “Did you know?”-style content is also popular for encouraging interactions and debate among your followers. Whether it’s busting myths or quizzing your followers, posts like Instagram Story from Cleveland Clinic are prime for healthy (pun intended) discussion.

Should you avoid carbs at all costs, or just certain ones? Click 🔗 in bio.

A post shared by Cleveland Clinic (@clevelandclinic) on

And although not related to content directly, educating potential patients about your practice is a vital piece of social customer care. If someone has a question about treatment options or what your practice can do to help, strive to respond in a timely manner.

2. Inspirational Content

Especially in the face of progressive diseases such as cancer, patients and their family members could often use a dose of inspiration and motivation.

“Don’t let the diagnosis scare you beyond the initial shock. Be stubborn. Deal with the cancer, and find doctors you can trust. Don’t be afraid to ask for support, and don’t give up. That’s become my mantra: Don’t ever give up.” – Suzanne Stone, a glioblastoma survivor who ran her first half-marathon two years after her diagnosis #cancer #braintumor #braincancer #glioblastoma #survivor #runner #halfmarathon #cancersurvivor #mdanderson #endcancer

A post shared by MD Anderson Cancer Center (@mdandersoncancercenter) on

As such, you’ll oftentimes find patient success stories sprinkled through any given practice’s feed to provide a much-needed sense of hope. These types of posts are oftentimes the ones that get shared around the most, expanding your reach and telling a compelling tale at the same time.

At 22, college athlete and elite runner Gabriele Grunewald was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Today she continues to run, not only for her health but as a way to support other patients and raise funds for research. In August 2016 — seven years after her initial diagnosis — Gabriele learned her cancer had returned. This time, it metastasized to her liver. She had another surgery, and doctors believed Gabriele was cancer-free. But in March 2017, follow-up tests revealed more tumors in her liver. That’s when doctors recommended she head to Mayo Clinic, where she now has biweekly immunotherapy infusions, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Through it all, Gabriele has continued to run, applying lessons learned on the track to her approach to treatment. “You have to take running one day at a time, and it’s not easy every single day,” she tells us. “Running has served me well in this. Gabriele believes it could serve others well, too. She recently launched a foundation, Brave Like Gabe, in part to encourage cancer survivors to incorporate physical activity into their lives. But the most important goals of the foundation, Gabriele tells us, are raising awareness of rare diseases and funds to support the research that may lead to their cures. “So many things are uncertain for me right now, but one thing I can do is work to make a difference,” Gabriele tells us. “I have been inspired by so many people and organizations, and that made me want to try to inspire others. I’m trying to do as much as I can by sharing my life story. I’m trying to make some good come out of this diagnosis.” Read the full story on https://mayocl.in/2rKVdGK. . . . #MayoClinic #MayoClinicMN #Cancer #PatientStory #BraveLikeGabe

A post shared by Mayo Clinic (@mayoclinic) on

3. Harnessing Hashtags

Despite popular belief, social media in healthcare isn’t completely divorced from the world of social marketing at large.

For example, you can totally take advantage of clever captions and Instagram hashtags while still being totally tasteful about it. This post from Northwestern Medicine for #NationalDonutDay is a prime example of how to do just that.

Three (now six) chemotherapy treatments down, one delicious donut on deck. This #NationalDonutDay, we wish Jen all the best during her journey to being #cancerfree! #FBF // 📸: @timmort

A post shared by Northwestern Medicine (@northwesternmedicine) on

Additionally, there are tons of community-specific health hashtags such as #cancersucks and #cancerfree in which patients and providers alike can show their support to each other. Including such tags on your posts helps you expand your reach and likewise show off your practice in action.

4. ‘Behind the Scenes’ Content

Speaking of practices in action, highlighting the “fun” side of your team by taking followers behind the scenes is always a smart move. Posts like this one from Johns Hopkins serve as both wholesome content and the brighter side of working in healthcare.

A four-legged friend stops by for a special visit to The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s critical care unit, bringing smiles and comfort to patients, families and members of our nursing staff — and getting lots of belly rubs in return. #JHH4EverMagnet

A post shared by Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) (@hopkinsmedicine) on

5. User-Generated Content

Sometimes the best way to highlight your practice is by letting others do the talking. Through user-generated content, you can provide an unfiltered view of what your practice looks like from the eyes of your patients.

“Use your smile to change the world, don’t let the world change your smile.” #MondayMotivation #KeepingFamiliesClose 📷: @rmhc_albany

A post shared by RMHC Global (@rmhc) on

This is why geotagging on Instagram and allowing followers to tag your location via social is so important. People are checking in en masse to let their friends and family know what’s going on, and such tags are critical to spotting UGC in the wild.

Check-ins and geotagging are important for social media in healthcare

Don’t Forget Your Practice’s Reputation

Beyond publishing content, we need to briefly touch on reputation management and its place within social media and healthcare.

Social comments and sounding boards such as Facebook reviews provide an avenue for patients to share their experiences both good and bad.

Reputation management is an important aspect of social media in healthcare.

Since these comments are out in the open, it’s crucial that you respond in a timely manner and address any negative feedback with grace. Just as practices are expected to handle patient concerns in-person with extraordinary care, the same rings true online.

The takeaway? Prospective patients will undoubtedly check out comments and reviews prior to checking out your practice, so just keep social reputation management in the back of your mind.

Important: A Note on HIPAA Compliance

By now your head is probably swirling with ideas.

Awesome!

But also, don’t forget about the need to stay compliant with HIPAA in terms of social media and healthcare. This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of practices which often flies under the radar.

In short, you need to take special care when publishing patient content which would potentially reveal sensitive information or otherwise violate HIPAA. For example, did you know that using your patients as part of your marketing materials requires explicit written consent?

As such, we really urge you to check out our HIPAA and social media cheat sheet to ensure that what you’re doing is on the up and up.

How Does Your Practice Mix Social Media & Healthcare?

Healthcare marketers have a distinct set of challenges when it comes to social media and healthcare. That being said, there are tons of opportunities for educating the public, creating a sense of community and using your social presence as a force for good. Hopefully this guide was helpful in providing both directions in what you should do in terms of your own social media strategy.

We want to hear from you, though! What do you think is the biggest responsibility for healthcare providers via social media? What’s your biggest challenge? Let us know in the comments below.

This post Social Media in Healthcare: A Surgical Guide for Marketing Professionals originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Sprout Social’s Justyn Howard Named a Glassdoor Top CEO for Second Year in a Row

We’re proud to announce that Sprout Social founder and CEO, Justyn Howard, has been recognized as a Glassdoor Top CEO for U.S. companies with 1,000 employees or less in 2018. This is the second year in a row that Glassdoor has named Justyn to the list and it is especially exciting as the honor is based entirely on reviews from Sprout employees, who awarded him a 99% approval rating.

Justyn is a leader whose vision not only drives the growth of our business, but also inspires our team to do and be better each day. He is committed to a culture of openness and has worked tirelessly alongside our executives to create a workplace where team members are empowered to share their ideas, work collaboratively and embrace the diverse qualities and characteristics that make each employee unique. This has helped Sprout to maintain a close-knit, yet scalable culture that has developed organically over time.

“Being named to this list for a second year is a true honor and I am grateful to the team for their steadfast belief in our vision for the business and product,” Howard said. “I’m as excited about Sprout’s future as I was eight years ago when we started, and that is due in no small part to the nearly 500 team members that show up ready to tackle the toughest problems in the industry each day, while continuing to provide great value for our customers.”

So, what are employees saying on Glassdoor about leadership at Sprout?

“I have never worked with a more hard working, talented group of people! I look forward to coming to work every morning. It all starts with the leaders at the top who have been a consistent group from the very beginning.”

Anonymous Employee

“Sprout continues to foster a collaborative workplace. There’s tremendous opportunity to make an impact as leadership encourages feedback to shape company goals and processes. Sprout is routinely recognized as a best place to work for good reason.”

Account Manager

CEO approval ratings are gathered through Glassdoor’s online company review survey, which gathers current and former employee sentiment about job and company satisfaction, the work environment and the culture. Among the 770,000 companies reviewed on Glassdoor, the average CEO approval rating is 69%.

We are thankful to our team members who have taken the time to share their experiences on Glassdoor. And more than ever, we are proud to have a leader who is fiercely dedicated to team and customer success.

Want to join Team Sprout? We’re hiring.

This post Sprout Social’s Justyn Howard Named a Glassdoor Top CEO for Second Year in a Row originally appeared on Sprout Social.

With IGTV, Instagram is Becoming Television for the Mobile Generation

The way we consume content has always been driven by technology.

In the early 20th century, cinema was the clear leader, with 65 percent of the U.S. population attending the cinema each week in 1930.

Then came the television, and scarcity turned into abundance. Instead of having to go to the cinema to watch the news or a catch a bit of light entertainment every week, it could be viewed from the comfort of your own home, daily.

Following this, the percentage of people that went to the cinema each week took a steep decline:

And now, as traditional TV viewership declines, the next-generation television and entertainment product will almost certainly be in your pocket.

From Facebook Watch to Twitter’s live video broadcasts, and most recently, the launch of IGTV, a new app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favorite Instagram creators, it’s clear that social platforms are vying to be — and likely will become – the next big broadcast channels.

Introducing IGTV



IGTV is a standalone vertical video app, and unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long.

As soon as you open the IGTV app, a video will start playing — much like when you first turn on a TV. This means you don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram.

“Also like TV, IGTV has channels,” Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom said on the Instagram blog. “But, in IGTV, the creators are the channels. When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator — you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel.”

Vertical videos have changed the way in which many of us create and consume content, capturing a large percentage of the video-watching market in the process.

Last year Facebook revealed that its users were more likely to watch vertical videos for longer than traditional 16:9 videos, so it makes sense that Instagram would want to follow suit and embrace, full-screen, vertical video (aside from Stories).

And at IGTV’s launch event, Systrom, explained: “The tools we watch video on are old and out of date. Think about it—we still watch videos formatted for TV, on a vertical screen.”

Examples of IGTV content

1. Manchester City FC

Manchester City FC shared a video containing every single one of the team’s goals in the Premier League during the 2017/18 season.

On Twitter, Manchester City social media manager, Christopher Parkes-Nield, explained: “Seeing lots of accounts just dipping toes in with repackaged one-minute clips in vertical rather than square in-feed. We kicked-off with all 106 #ManCity PL goals from last season – that’s over 37 minutes-worth.”

2. The Economist

The Economist published a 9-minute show a pioneering eco-resort that is trying to prove that tourism can help to revive and protect marine life.

3. National Geographic

National Geographic debuted on IGTV with a 47-minute documentary hosted by Will Smith. The documentary titled ‘One Strange Rock: Home’, follows NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson as she returns home to Earth.

How we got here: From photo sharing to long-form video

Raymond Loewy was one of the 20th century’s most prolific and influential designers. And the theory behind all of his designs was a simple one, called MAYA: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable.

He said to sell something surprising, make it familiar; and to sell something familiar, make it surprising.

For an example of Loewy’s theory in action, look no further than Instagram.

Five years ago, an Instagram product that focused purely on longer-form, mobile videoes may have been met with skepticism. And in 2013, we might all have been thinking, “I’d never watch a 15-minute show on Instagram.” But now, it feels like a natural progression.

When Instagram first launched it was an app that enabled users to filter and share photos. In 2013, videos were added, allowing users to share 15-second clips to their Instagram feed. Next came 60-second videos, vertical video formats, full-screen live video experiences and Stories.

Now, IGTV, though brand new, feels somewhat familiar and a next logical step for Instagram.

How will brand content evolve on IGTV

Will we all have to start producing, high-quality TV-like experiences for Instagram?

Maybe.

If you have the time, budgets and skillsets to put together this type of content, then yes, it might be a great play for your business.

But as video content gets longer, production values and time investment increase. And whilst creating a bunch of engaging, sub-10-second videos for a story on Instagram is a science in itself, creating a 15-minute video is a completely different challenge.

Success on IGTV will be more akin to creating and growing a YouTube channel than an Instagram profile and we’ll see plenty of experimentation from brands and creators alike to see what works on this new platform.

Content production likely won’t be the only way to make IGTV work for your brand, though.

Getting paid has always been a problem for creators and at the IGTV launch, Systrom confirmed that Instagram is focused on ways to help creators to make a living.

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, recently launched its Brand Collabs Manager to help creators land sponsorship and partnership deals so we could see partnerships and sponsorships between brands and creators become a trend on IGTV, with brands seeking to align themselves and create content alongside stand-out IGTV creators.

And while there aren’t any ads on IGTV at launch, they’ll be on the way soon and ads could also be a way for brands to reach their audience through IGTV. With longer-form content, we may also see Instagram experiment with new ad types such as pre and mid-roll ads.

Over to you

What do you think about IGTV? Are you excited to create and consume long-form content on Instagram? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

15 Tips to Building a Better Social Media Presence

If you’re a brand today, there’s a non-zero chance you’re on social media in some way, shape or form.

But many brands have an active, thriving social media presence?

And how much of them are just sort of there?

Reality check: you can’t expect much from social when you post random links, @mention a few folks and call it a day.

You need some structure. You need a strategy.

After all, you don’t reach the level of Wendy’s on Twitter totally by accident.

And likewise, there’s a reason why GoPro’s Instagram posts get “likes” by the tens of thousands.

Photo of the Day: Not knowing where the path leads is what #TravelTuesday is all about. 🗺 @brymza explores the wetlands of Costa Rica while on vacation with his wife. 🛩 Share your #GoProTravel with us at gopro.com/awards. • • • #GoPro #CostaRica #LandscapePhotography #Exploring

A post shared by GoPro (@gopro) on

And although some of these brands might have blockbuster budgets, the principles they use to create an awesome social presence can be replicated by businesses of all sizes.

Struggling for followers? Stuck on what to do with your social accounts? We’ve all been there.

That’s why we’ve broken the bite-sized tips any brand can follow to get their social media presence off the ground.

Now, let’s dive in!

1. Set SMART Goals

Pop quiz: why are you on social media in the first place?

If your answer is resounding “Uhh…” or “Everyone else is on it,” you might have a problem.

The concept of SMART goals has been around for decades, but they are so important to your social media presence today.

In short, brands should set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

An example of a good SMART goal for social media marketing would be something like “Well increase our Twitter response rate by 25% by the end of the first quarter.”

  • Specific: “We’ve specifically identified the social channel (Twitter) and a metric (response rate).”
  • Measurable: “The response rate can be measured from the Sprout Social dashboard.”
  • Achievable: “We didn’t make an outlandish goal of say, a 100% increase in 10 days.”
  • Relevant: “Our goal will have an impact on our overall social media presence, making it very relevant.”
  • Time-bound: “The goal has to be met by the end of the first quarter.”

Assigning your social media efforts a concrete purpose helps you avoid the trap of posting aimlessly.

2. Identify Your Audience

After you’ve outlined your goals, you need to outline your target audience.

Pro-tip: “everyone” is not an audience.

Maybe it’s prospective customers. Perhaps it’s industry players and influencers. Either way, breaking down your audience will help you figure out the following:

  • Which social media sites you’re active on
  • Your posting schedule
  • The type of content you publish
  • Your brand’s voice
  • The information in your profiles

Many brands spin their wheels because they don’t post content that speaks to a defined audience. Spend some time looking at your audience personas, understanding what their challenges are and what brands they already love via social. This sort of competitive analysis can help you understand how your own social media presence can stand out from the crowd.

3. Be Human

This is a big one.

One of the worst mistakes to make on social media is coming off as the faceless corporation with zero personality. In the modern age of transparency, people want to get to know your company on a more personal level.

Many brands today crack jokes and aren’t afraid to talk to their followers like they would their friends. Whereas brands were once lambasted for coming off like robots, a human social media presence has become an expectation among many followers.

Similarly, showing off the human side of your brand means showing off the faces behind your social feeds. Whether it’s office photos or snapshots of your team “in the wild,” getting personal with your followers can help you form a much-needed connection.

Yesterday, #TeamModCloth took the day off to give back to Los Angeles Mission @thelamission, PATH West LA @hopeforla, Golden Gate National Parks @goldengatenps, Larkin Street Youth Services @larkinstreetyouth, SF Public Library’s #SFPride Programming @sfpubliclibrary, The Garment Project @thegarmentproject, Free Store 15104 @freestore15104, Heritage Community Initiatives @heritageserves, Raphael House SF @raphaelhousesf, Venice Beach cleanup, and #PittsburghPride cleanup. Watch our IG Story for more highlights from the day. #ModClothGiving #ModCloth ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Regram: @shibby_15 So proud to work at a company that takes time to give back. #TeamModCloth went clean the beach today. Also, our design team made us these super cute shirts. ❤️

A post shared by ModCloth (@modcloth) on

And hey, that leads us directly to our next point!

4. Seek Relationships, Not Just Followers

We can debate all day whether or not your follower count is a vanity metric.

That said, having 100 followers who regularly engage with you and your content are infinitely more valuable than 10,000 that ignore you.

It might be cliche to say, but don’t leave the “social” out of your social media presence. The beauty of social is that you can form relationships in an instant with followers from just about anywhere.

For example, Sprout Social’s own #SproutChat gives us the opportunity to regularly connect with our lovely followers who are likewise stoked to get in touch with us.

If you’re not exactly sure where to start when it comes to relationship-building, here are some quick ideas:

  • Always @mention people you reference in your social media posts
  • Answer questions people ask
  • Reply when people @mention you or share your content
  • Don’t just Retweet and Like other people’s content; reply with a comment to start a conversation

5. Create an Editorial Calendar

Spoiler alert: sticking to a content schedule isn’t just something “extra” that brands do.

If there’s a common thread between the biggest brands on social, it’s that they post on a consistent basis.

Chances are you’re juggling multiple social channels and are trying to make sure you tick a lot of boxes in terms of descriptions and when to post, right? Consider how a content calendar can make the process much easier by…

  • Allowing you to fine-tune each of your posts for each platform without having to jump between sites.
  • Timing your posts to maximize engagement, keeping you from having to constantly post in real-time.
  • Avoid repeating the same content over and over again, ensuring each of your articles or pictures gets the most love possible.

In short, taking the time to make a schedule does double duty of keeping your social media presence organized while also maximizing your contents’ reach.

Social scheduling helps you save time and legwork when it comes to your social media presence

6. Automate the Right Way

Automation is all the rage in marketing right now, and for good reason.

However, you can’t expect to successfully put your social presence on autopilot and walk away.

For example, mass auto-replying has gone the way of the dinosaur as it typically comes across as insincere. This now-classic tweet from Bank of America is a good example of how to turn your social followers off via improper automation.

Poor automation can make your company appear cold or uncaring

Fast-forward to present day and it’s clear that customer care is a piece of social media that should be personalized, not autmoated.

Providing personalized help is a huge aspect of any given brand's social media presence

That said, automation in the form of scheduling or curating content is totally fair game. Just avoid it when you’re dealing with actual customers or followers’ questions.

This is why brands rely on social tools to help curate pieces of content already approved by marketing leaders. Bambu by Sprout Social, is in fact, just that piece of software needed to turn your employees into brand advocates. Tap into your workforce to help build your presence!

bambu current stories feature

7. Focus on Helping Over Selling

Although social selling is indeed on the rise, rarely should your social media presence be about the “hard sell.”

Sure, if you’re in ecommerce it makes sense to push offers and deals to your followers. What’s more important, though, is answering the questions of followers whether through replies or content marketing.

If your followers ask a question, you should respond in a timely manner.

And if your followers seem to be buzzing about a particular problem, you should craft content that speaks directly to it.

By offering solutions to problems instead of just pitching your products all the time, you’re proving your company is an authority and potentially earning a lifelong customer.

8. Optimize Your Accounts for Engagement

First thing’s first: don’t let the word “optimization” freak you out.

Unlike SEO, social media optimization isn’t particularly technical. That said, profiles can be optimized through imagery, keywords and fully filling out your account information.

For example, brands can use their Instagram bio to link to promotions, advertise their hashtag and let their brand’s voice be heard.

An optimized Instagram account includes relevant links, hashtags and a taste of your brand's mission

Similarly, a well-crafted Twitter profile with the right @mentions and HD imagery can signal your authority, helping you attract more followers.

An optimized Twitter profile helps prime you for more followers

And as noted in our guide for conducting a Facebook audit, a fully optimized page with complete business info can actually help your page rank better in Google.

Marketers should make sure that their profiles are 100% filled out based on that platform's best practices

Some quick ways to optimize your social media presence across your various accounts include:

  • Adding relevant keywords in your profile (hint: but not stuffing them)
  • Sharing content related to your industry—including keywords and hashtags in your posts
  • Connecting with popular accounts in your industry to additional exposure (hint: don’t be afraid to follow others)

9. When in Doubt, Get Visual

No matter where you’re posting, photo and video content are totally killing it right now.

Instagram’s image-based platform is exploding.

Facebook notes that Live videos get six times the engagement versus any other type of content.

And for those looking for more Twitter followers, graphics and videos get way more shares than text-based posts.

The good news is that getting visual doesn’t mean you need any sort of insane equipment or a full-blown production budget. Instead, consider imagery such as:

  • Team photos or videos
  • Photos of customers
  • Photos of events
  • Behind-the-scenes photos and videos
  • Quote photos
  • Infographics

Juantastico: Break the Trend

It’s easy to get stuck in a routine, but creativity lives outside the lines. Take it from Juantastico, grab a #Sharpie and Break the Trend! #SharpieSquad

Posted by Sharpie on Friday, December 1, 2017

And with so many tools to create social images and videos already out there, it’s easier than ever to get visual with your audience.

10. Make Your Presence Known

If you’ve gone through the legwork of establishing your social media presence, you need to let the world know.

From homepage feeds to icons on your site footer or email signature, anyone who comes in contact with your brand should only be a click away from becoming a long-term follower.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram feeds can all be easily integrated into your site with little more than a copy-paste code. Check out how ThinkGeek makes their social feeds a must-see on-site.

Advertising your social media channels beyond social media is a smart move to gain more followers

Cross-promotion on your website and through other social channels is a proactive way to grow your following over time.

11. Stay Active

Inactive social feeds are a bad look for brands, plain and simple. Rather than let your Facebook or Instagram gather cobwebs, you need to “show up” day after day with fresh content.

Some quick tips to help you stay active include:

  • Incorporating social scheduling and automation to save time and energy.
  • Picking and prioritizing your social networks based on your audience location.
  • Finding ways to repurpose content so you’d not always trying to reinvent the wheel.

Staying active on social doesn’t have to be a total time-suck. Through scheduling or simply blocking out 10-15 minute chunks throughout, you can post content and respond to customer concerns without wasting time. Also, you can try to base your activity around best times to post on social media to maximize engagement.

Instead of going overboard with content, optimizing the timing of your posts is much more efficient

12. Piggyback on What’s Trending

Between breaking news, trending hashtags or whatever the latest meme might be, brands always have room to get topical with their content. This is a great opportunity not only to build off of buzz of an existing trend, but also show off your brand’s personality.

For example, understanding the in’s and out’s of hashtags can help you brainstorm time-sensitive topics you can piggyback on. Of course, tread lightly with anything overtly political or controversial that could isolate your audience.

13. Don’t Be Afraid to Pay

Like it or not, social media at large isn’t the totally “free” channel it once was. While there’s still plenty that can be done organically, Facebook’s updated algorithm and new business features being rolled out Instagram signal a clear need for businesses to experiment with ads.

It’s not just ads that deserve your attention, though. Looking at the recent boom of influencer marketing, paid relationships among social movers and shakers is becoming more and more common.

The good news is that both social ads and influencer marketing can have an insane ROI. Between laser-targeting on Facebook or tapping into hyper-engaged influencer audiences, a paid strategy certainly has its time and place depending on your business’ social goals.

14. Use Tools to Monitor Your Activity

When people complain about the lack of ROI they’re seeing from social, there’s a good chance they aren’t taking social seriously.

Just like we’re often knee-deep in Google Analytics data, marketers need to treat social with the same sort of scrutiny. There are tons of analytics tools out there to help you identify your top-performing content, performance trends and essential break down your social media presence by the numbers. These data points can help you treat social media less like a guessing game and more like a science.

By tracking your social analytics, you can better determine which content performs the best

15. Create Content People Actually Want to See

If you want to stand out on social media, you can’t just parrot the content everyone else is posting.

In short, you need to create.

Whether you’re trying to build yourself up as a thought leader or want to stand apart from your competitors, original content is exactly how you’re going to make it happen.

Perhaps it’s your original blog posts, research or infographics.

Maybe it’s an eye-popping snapshot you took during your last vacation.

Or hey, it might be an opinionated rant on the state of your industry.

Either way, you should strive to post content that forces your followers to stop in their tracks. There’s a lot of noise out here on social media: make it a goal to break through it.

@ronnaldong takes creativity to new heights 🦒. This month we’re sharing images that are out of the ordinary. Share your eye-catching work using #Adobe_Unexpected for a chance to be featured.

A post shared by Adobe (@adobe) on

What Does Your Business’ Social Media Presence Look Like?

Listen: there is no “secret” or turnkey solution for a better social media presence.

Instead, there are small tactics and strategies that can help you build toward social accounts that prime for engagement.

And yeah, fifteen tips might seem like a lot on the surface. That said, these principles are staples of brands killing it on social right now. If you can follow them yourself, you’re already way ahead of the game.

We want to hear from you, though. What’s something you struggle with when it comes to your social media presence? Any tips or tactics that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

This post 15 Tips to Building a Better Social Media Presence originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Coffee and Community: Foster Coffee Company on Growing Their Social Media Following and Business

Too busy to read? Just click the play button below to listen to this post.

“We love coffee, but we love community and people more.”

This Foster Coffee Company credo isn’t just a brand statement.

It’s at the heart of their social media strategy too.

We spoke to co-founder Nicholas Pidek and marketing associate, Justin Ozanich, about how social media has helped them grow their community and business.

“Two and a half years ago we were just brewing coffee at the farmers’ market, and we learned early on that social media was a huge part of our strategy to grow our business. You know, we were serving coffee one day a week. Saturday mornings we would get up at 5 a.m. and serve people from 7 till 1… but we were able to use social media every day of the week to touch people.” – Nicholas

What began as two friends experimenting with craft coffee at a farmers’ market has become a local business success story.

Foster Coffee Company now has two thriving locations in Michigan, where people gather to drink great coffee, work, converse, celebrate the local community and build relationships. Along the way, that initial partnership has blossomed into a team of coffee and community enthusiasts, whose faces feature regularly on their social media platforms.

Part of our strategy with growing was just producing really good content.

We’ve got some really great resources at our disposal of people who work for pretty much next to nothing because they believe in the brand – to take photos for us and come out and shoot our product and photograph people, to really tell people our story.

Our philosophy is products are great and there are so many great companies out there that have the most beautiful photographs of their cappuccinos, and their lattes, and that’s something that we do speckle in there, but primarily people are attracted to people. So we want people to see other people interacting with each other and with our products at the same time.

People drive our community, not products.” – Nicholas

Foster Coffee Co instagram photos

Discovering Buffer through a personal touch

With a people-first philosophy and content strategy, Nicholas started exploring ways to better plan out social media campaigns and expand Foster’s reach on social. His exploration into social media management platforms even involved a serendipitous personal connection, the exact kind of thing their coffee shops aim to cultivate.

“Early on, I started using Buffer and just kind of did the gamut of looking at what platforms were out there. I was just really thrilled with the platform.

Adam, who works for Buffer, started coming into Foster, and when I found out that he was working for Buffer, that was kind of a cool connection there – that someone from this company is actually working in our coffee shop.” – Nicholas

Buffer is the ideal publishing platform for Foster because it enables them to plan, schedule and deliver their content in a consistent, yet flexible way.

“I start off with photographs, so really our Buffer scheduling starts at the photoshoot. We capture new content on a weekly basis and decide the direction of that content anywhere from two weeks to a month in advance – where we want our publishing schedule to go. Two weeks seems to be a sweet spot for us. It is far enough out that we can stay ahead of the schedule without scrambling to find content, and at the same time it’s not that difficult it add something or make changes or last minute – we can just click and drag stuff around.

I use the calendar feature in Buffer all the time. I schedule pretty much exclusively from that perspective.

For example, if something awesome is happening in the shop or if we have something unique that pops up, it’s really easy to insert that into the schedule. We don’t have to be married to a plan, which is a great feature.” – Justin

Foster's Buffer calendar

“One of the things that I think has really helped us, as far as social media engagement and growing our following goes, is early on Nick understood the power of really great content, instead of just settling for mediocre.

He took the initiative to make sure that we have really good photographers working with us regularly to produce great content that represents our vision. I really like that because it shows our audience that we have a certain level of care for every aspect of our business and want to bring our customers the best in every avenue.

We want them to know that we really care about our product, and that we really care about them and their experience, and I feel that is transferable through those photos. And then when they generate their own content about Foster, they also understand that we care about their experience and are willing to share their images on social.” – Justin

Harnessing user-generated content is something the team at Foster are being more deliberate about. It’s an opportunity to generate word-of-mouth, build loyalty and create advocates for their brand.

“We are reaching a certain level of popularity, where people from all walks of life with varying degrees of photography skills are drawn to capture their version of community attached to our brand. So now we’re sprinkling these into our feeds to feature other people’s viewpoints of the Foster vision.” – Nicholas

Making decisions with data

Social media analytics are also playing an increasingly important role in helping to guide content decisions.

“One of the things that I really like about Buffer is how I can build out as far as I want into the foreseeable future, but really start to tailor campaigns if we see certain trends within the industry. We can get ahead of that and it’s really easy to customize the publishing schedule afterwards.

We want to know our top performing posts for the year, we want to know what content was in those posts, so that way we can build a better model moving forward of content that generates more engagement.

Because as we know, the more engagement we can get online, the more that’s going to translate to a possible sale, or somebody walking through our doors, or checking out our website and maybe making a purchase that way” – Justin

A peek inside Foster Coffee Company’s social media analytics

Foster's Top Posts

Foster Engagement report

(Advanced Analytics and Reports are available on Buffer for Business plans)

They’re also exploring how social media tools can help with their market positioning and benchmarking their growth.

Being a small business, one of the best ways that we’ve found to determine our market position is with social media.

We aren’t directly competing with large publicly traded companies and franchises, but in a way we are. From a purely economic and capitalistic viewpoint, we’re all competing for coffee consumers. We intentionally add an altruistic community-centric mission to our vision, but through our social engagement measurement systems, we can at least get a rough estimate of the market position of the purely profit-driven companies around us in comparison to ours. We can measure how we’re both making an impact based on our reasons to exist.” – Nicholas

Say hello to amazing coffee

If you’re ever in town and in need of a fresh brew, do pop by Foster Coffee Company in either Owosso or Flint and say hello. Aside from excelling on social media, they’re great people who make amazing coffee!

Foster Coffee Company: Key Stats

2013: year founded by Jonathan Moore and Nicholas Pidek
2: the number of coffee shop locations
15k+: combined social media audience
30%: year-on-year social media follower growth

Instagram | Facebook

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