CODE-SWITCHING: How to make your business appear “authentic” online (whatever that means)

February 10th, 2020

Whether you’re a social media manager for a company or a small business owner doing it all yourself, being online and engaging with your followers and other accounts is vital to ensure your brand is being seen. SEO is vitally important for any business to be searchable online and we definitely recommend making sure your website and content is optimised BUT ask yourself this question: Do you spend more time online browsing websites via Google or browsing news stories, videos and images on your various social media feeds? We’re sure the majority would be going with the latter.

To be found people have to know to look for you. This is why social media is a great tool for brand awareness. You can appear “organically” to people via hashtags or by commenting on other accounts which creates what essentially amounts to “social media backlinks”, a trail of breadcrumbs tempting people back to your account and hopefully onto your website.

We tell our clients all the time that it’s important to be consistent online across all channels. You want your brand image to be the same whether someone is on your website, your Facebook page or your Instagram feed. But when we say consistent what do we really mean? Yes, by all means, have your logo and business info correctly displayed across all your accounts. Does this mean anything you post on one network should be shared across all of them? Well…. yes and no.

CODE SWITCHING: NOT JUST FOR BILINGUALS

The term “code-switching” originally referred to people who spoke multiple languages switching between them during conversation (though if you’re a part of the LGBTQ community you’re probably familiar with the term as well). To have a two-way conversation online you and the person you’re trying to engage with have to speak the same language.

If we think of each social media network as a different “language” in terms of how people communicate and the kind of content they upload it can help figure out what your business’s voice should be. If you’re a B2B business your voice online will most likely be different to how an eCommerce business “speaks” but that business voice has to change across the different networks you’re on as well.

THAT SOUNDS VERY COMPLICATED

If you’re not particularly minded towards social media you may schedule a post a few times a week and blast it out on every network and be done with it. If you’re not spending time on a platform engaging with other people then what you’re saying as a business is:

“Here’s what I have to say, I’m not here to listen to your ideas.”

This is a one-way conversation but it’s important to remember marketing was like this for a very long time. Watching television, listening to the radio, reading a newspaper or magazine; ideas are being communicated to you but there’s no easy way for you to communicate your ideas to that brand. This is why social media is such a vital part of any business. It creates that direct link between you and your customers.

 

OKAY SO HOW DO I DO THIS THEN?

We’re so glad you asked! We put together a little guide to help you navigate the four major social media networks that businesses are generally on; Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter and there’s a TL;DR infographic at the end that summarises it all up so you can use it as a reference for later.

FACEBOOK:

This is most likely one of the first social media networks you would have signed your business up for. Facebook provides a huge amount of functionality for businesses. Their ads platform includes Instagram and an audience network of third-party websites providing value for money and a very large audience to target.

Business Voice: Because of the amount of information about your business you can include on your page think of your Facebook account as being the closest thing you have to a shopfront on social media. When you’re interacting with customers on here act exactly the same as you would if they were asking you a question in your store. Be friendly, be engaging but above all be professional.

Also works well as a Tinder bio

How to Engage: We’ve talked before about the fact that it’s nigh on impossible to gain followers “organically” anymore on Facebook. If you’re merely looking to increase the amount of people who follow you then use some money on an ad campaign with engaging creatives. Your business may lend itself to joining some Facebook groups but those groups tend to skew more towards personal interactions (avoid “business” Facebook groups, in our experience they’re usually just businesses posting ads to one another and no one’s really engaging with anyone else’s posts).

Check your business page: On the right-hand side, you should see a column with your response rate at the top of it. This is the metric to focus on with Facebook. When someone finds your business Facebook page it’s usually because they want to find out more about your brand. Seeing that green response rate badge instantly let’s them know that if they send you a message or leave a comment on your post, they’re likely to get a very quick response to their query. Start publishing regular, engaging content related to your business and get a conversation going. Stay on top of your notifications so you know when someone contacts you (if you’re running ads also monitor any comments made on them as well).

INSTAGRAM:

The visual social media platform has always been more popular with specific types of businesses over others. Fashion, hospitality, beauty and fitness brands traditionally do well on Instagram as these businesses lend themselves more towards visual content. If your business does not fit into one of these niches that’s not an issue. Instagram is also a great way to show a “behind the scenes” look at your business.

Business Voice: What is social media all about? Validation. We can lie to ourselves that we use social media to connect with people across the globe but be honest, if you post an image on Instagram and it doesn’t get any likes you’re probably going to be more than a little disappointed. When it comes to Instagram you want to be a ray of sunshine. Keep it light. Keep it upbeat.

How to Engage: Instagram is all about discovery and exploration. Unlike Facebook, discovering an account “organically” is possible thanks to features like the explore tab, tagging accounts in reposts, stories, IGTV and the more prevalent use of hashtags. Don’t just post content and hope your followers will increase. Go out there and engage on other people’s accounts! Every positive comment you leave on other accounts creates those delicious breadcrumbs we mentioned earlier that will lead people back to your brand. If you spend enough time every day on Instagram commenting and liking other people’s posts and comments you might even find you gain followers without having to constantly pump out your own content.

P.S: Don’t just leave a generic “This looks gorgeous 😍” comment on every account you come across. Savvy users can spot an empty statement a mile away and bots are prevalent on the platform. Specify something you like about the image they’ve posted, you’re more likely to get a response if they see you’ve taken the time to appreciate their content.

TWITTER:

Here in Perth, Western Australia, Twitter isn’t the most widely-used social media network. It is however extremely popular world-wide. The micro-blogging platform is especially popular with celebrities and public figures. Some businesses have found huge success on Twitter like the famous Wendy’s twitter account which eschews all expectations we generally have about how businesses should present themselves.

Business voice: Set up a “Business Person account”. What does this mean? Not quite a business account and not quite a personal one, you’re creating a personal identity that is linked to your business. It can be for the CEO, owner or even the social media manager. Give people a face to associate with your business. Blend discussing topics related to your business with personal interests to create a more human side to your brand. Speak with more of an “I” voice than a “we” voice. You can get a little argumentative on Twitter. This isn’t to say you should find your direct competitor and curse them out; this is still your company’s reputation you’re playing with.

How to Engage: The best way to get traction going on your own account is to discover other people and engaging with their posts. The “Who to Follow” section is a quick and easy way to discover popular twitter users, journalists and local news outlets will generally have twitter accounts and they’re a good source for local news and also finding twitter users in your area.

Retweeting and commenting on popular posts are some of the quickest ways to engage with other users on twitter. When choosing who to follow remember the persona you’re trying to create for your business. A good ratio would be 70% accounts related to your brand and 30% relating to “personal interests”. These personal interests should align with your brand identity so choose carefully and obviously avoid any accounts that deal with controversial topics (remember this isn’t about YOUR interests, it’s about the interests of the persona you’re creating”.

LINKEDIN:

Now we’ve left LinkedIn to last because it is predominantly a B2B network so not every business is going to utilise it. Being more focused on interactions between professionals in a business setting it can be difficult getting into the right mindset to understand. You not only have your business’s company page but then your staff will also generally have their own accounts as well giving a fuller picture of your organisational structure. The important thing to remember is LinkedIn is all about ensuring you are putting your best foot forward.

Business voice: Imagine if your resume was a person. Think of when you’ve written a cover letter when applying for a job and the kind of voice you speak with. That’s basically what you should sound like on LinkedIn. You’re a walking talking advertisement for your skillset. LinkedIn is not the place to talk about your favourite sports team or the last TV show you watched (unless you can somehow relate those things to your industry). Because optics is so important on LinkedIn it’s also a good idea to avoid leaving negative comments or challenging ideas. LinkedIn is not about rocking the boat, it’s about everyone acting like they’re having a great time (no matter how seasick of it all you might feel).

How to engage: Remember when we mentioned Facebook business groups and to avoid them? Well when it comes to LinkedIn you should actually try and join a few groups related to your industry or networking groups for your local area (if you’re targeting local business). You’ll find more people actually engage with the content because everyone wants to appear knowledgeable. If your business has a regular blog consider republishing a post directly in LinkedIn and sharing it to those groups. Another good idea is to add as many as possible. Go through that list of your fellow university alumni and hit that add button as many times as you can. The perception on LinkedIn is that any interaction is an opportunity so don’t be afraid to send a comment to people you don’t know.

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TL;DR: How to appear authentic online as a business

And there you have it! Hopefully, you should have a clearer idea in your head of how you want your business to sound across all your social media platforms. If you’d like a little bit more help with your social media we’re always here to help businesses get the most out of digital marketing.

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CODE-SWITCHING: How to make your business appear “authentic” online (whatever that means)
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CODE-SWITCHING: How to make your business appear “authentic” online (whatever that means)
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Marketing your business online relies on understanding how best to communicate with your target audience. Find out more in our latest blog post!
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Digital Meal
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