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Five Tips Barney The Biking Bird taught me about social media

Here are 5 Social Media Tips I have learned from managing Barney’s Facebook page. They will help you build a following as well.


Building a “Brand” and growing a social media presence takes work and insight. For the last 6 years I have taken my parrot Barney for bike rides and share the experience on Facebook. Both the rides and Facebook page have been fun. Over the 6 years I have learned a lot about managing and growing a social media presence. Barney’s Facebook page now has over 12,000 likes and followers. So how did we reach that level of success? To achieve success, you must have two things. An interesting and engaging topic as well as insight on social media best practices.

1. Maintain a regular posting schedule

Think of your social media presence as a relationship with your audience. Regular communication is an important part any successful relationship. The same thing is true of your relationship with your audience. You must put forth the effort to communicate. This means that you will need to post. If you do not post at least once a month your audience will move on to other social media relationships.

I do not know about your specific industry or organization, so I cannot tell you how often you need to post.  You may need to post every day, every week, or every month. You cannot build a meaningful social media following without regular posts. Do you feel that you need a social media presence?  If you are not willing or able to post yourself, then hire someone to post for you.

2. Know your audience

Your social media audience demographic will be like your customer demographic. When I ride with my parrot Barney I of course see young and old, male and female people. Men will laugh, smile, or ignore us. They are most interested in showing how fast they can go, or how cool their bike is. Women will often stop and give me an “Aww how cute” greeting and ask if they can take a picture with their cell phone. So, am I surprised that 85% of Barney’s Facebook followers are female? Not at all.

What does this mean, it means that I craft my Facebook posts for the audience that is most receptive. I speak to them about things they care about. I feature content that interest them. In my case my posts are all about Barney, and little is ever mentioned about me. Social media requires checking your ego at the door. Your audience will not care about your company Christmas party, who won the sales contest. What they will care about is the respect you have for them, and how you can solve their problem, or enrich their lives.

3. Know who you are and why you exist

Does your organization exist to meet the needs of its customers and prospects?  Of course it does.  Following up on the theme of knowing your audience, you also need to know yourself.  This means that you must step back and look at your organization from the perspective of your clients.  You exist to meet their needs, not the other way around.

This means that when you consider a post you need to think about what need will it meet.  Will it entertain them?  Will it inform them? Do you want your audience to take some action because of your post? Then you must give them a reason to do so.  Ask yourself why a customer should act because of your post.  If you have not provided a clear answer do not be surprised if you do not get the response you want.  Your posts should be about what your audience wants to hear, and not about what you want to tell them.  This does not mean that your posts should be all unicorns and rainbows?  Not at all. It does mean that you think first of how you can serve your social media followers.

4. Social Media loves images and video

I am an old guy (don’t ask) and I like words.  It drives me nuts that the news sites I visit are going more and more toward videos and using less and less text.  What does this mean about my social media and web perspective when it comes to my posts?  It means that I must think like my audience and not like myself.  Here is an example from a recent post.  Notice the image, it tells the whole story.  The story is about Barney and 16,000 miles and the image tells those who know him everything that they want to know.  I make a milestone post every 500 miles as Barney’s friends like to see how he is doing.  The image tells them that Barney looks happy and healthy and is still going for rides.

When I am able I will use video in my posts.  I have found that the post engagement is more than 2 times greater on posts with videos.  I also know that it is hard to get viewers to watch for more than 60 seconds.  When you do use video, keep it short and sweet.  You do not need to have super high production values on your videos.  Do make sure that the message is clear and easy to understand.

5. Timely response to comments

Part of respecting your audience is responding to their questions and comments.  Also, post comments can be social media gold.  Meaningful comments let you know what content resonates with your audience.  It also may let you know what questions they have. This can guide you on future posts or inform you of where your post fell short.

Watch your page for at least 48 hours after posting.  Try to respond to comments within an hour or so if you can.  It is very important that you respond in less than a work day.

When you respond, do so with clarity and respect.  Thank the person for the comment. If it brings up an issue or question be thankful that you are now aware of the need for clarification.

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