Social Media Marketing: Building Brands in the Digital Age

We live in the digital age, where social media has completely revolutionised the way people and businesses engage with their audience and build their brands. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn offer unparalleled opportunities for reaching and connecting with a hugely diverse and widespread population of potential customers. Just imagine if you would have described this scenario to a business person in 1950. They would never have believed it! Even in the 90’s I clearly recall my Maths teacher telling me off for using a calculator when he I thought he wasn’t looking, stating that as an adult “you will not always have a calculator with you”! That was only thirty years ago too! Indeed, the transformation brought about by social media is nothing short of extraordinary. Back in the 1950s, the concept of instantly connecting with millions of people worldwide was inconceivable. Businesses relied on traditional forms of advertising and communication, things like cold calls, print ads, wireless broadcasts and face-to-face interactions. I even recall as a child when my parents wanted to sell an item of furniture, like a chest of draws or a table, they call up a ”land line” (what even is that!) and have it listed in the ‘Friday Ad’, along with their phone number for folk to call. This was a paper that came out weekly full of listings of items people were selling. If that didn’t work, you really go big and put it on a card that went on the wall near the checkouts in ‘Safeway’! The idea of reaching a global audience with the click of a button would have seemed like something out of Back to the Future! However, as easy as it is to post content on these platforms, leveraging them effectively requires a strategic approach to maximise impact. Simply having a presence on social media is not enough. Businesses must understand their audience, tailor their content to resonate with them, and actively engage with their followers to build meaningful relationships. It’s a full-time job in itself! Moreover, the sheer scale and scope of social media present both opportunities and challenges for businesses. While the potential reach is vast, standing out amidst the sea of content can be daunting. Algorithms, trends and user behaviours are constantly evolving, requiring businesses to adapt and innovate to stay relevant. Sometimes I read a post on my timeline, yet before I even download in my head what I’m looking at, it’s gone and its ten scrolls down! It’s non-stop! Yet, despite these challenges, the benefits of social media marketing are undeniable. From increasing brand awareness and driving website traffic to generating leads and fostering customer loyalty, social media has become an indispensable tool for businesses of all sizes. At the core of social media marketing lies audience engagement. It’s not merely about broadcasting messages but creating meaningful and memorable interactions with your followers. It’s just like speed dating, where you’re seeking a quick and instant connection that prompts them to hit that ‘follow’ button and keep coming back for more. Understanding your audience has never been more paramount than in the current day. I dedicate hours every week to scrolling through analytics tools, meticulously analysing trends and patterns in my content, from optimal times of posting to the types of posts that resonate most with my audience.   According to research by GlobalWebIndex, a staggering 54% of social media users say they actively use these platforms to research products before making a purchase. This statistic underscores the importance of creating engaging and informative content that not only captures attention but also drives action. Whether it’s showcasing product features, sharing customer testimonials or offering exclusive promotions, providing value to your audience is key to fostering engagement and ultimately driving conversions. Furthermore, understanding the preferences and behaviours of your audience is essential for crafting targeted and relevant content. By leveraging insights from analytics tools, such as demographic data and engagement metrics, businesses can tailor their messaging to resonate with their target audience on a deeper level. So, you’ve finally done it, you’ve got your content out in a post on social media, you’re done! Well actually no, it’s only just started! You see, consistency is key in maintaining audience engagement. Regular posting keeps your brand top of mind. The more you post, interact with other posts, share etc, the more your posts appear on others timelines. It’s like a huge game! HubSpot reports that businesses posting 16 or more times a month on Facebook receive 3.5 times more engagement than those posting less frequently. Responding promptly to comments, messages and mentions fosters a sense of community and trust around your brand. The type of content is also incredibly important. Visual content is a secret ingredient for capturing attention and conveying your brand message effectively. High-quality imagery plays a crucial role in shaping brand perception. According to MDG Advertising, articles with images receive 94% more total views. This makes sense too, because as humans we know that we connect better with visuals over written words due to our brain’s efficient processing of visual information, the emotional impact of visuals, their memorability, universality and their ability to stimulate creativity. Visuals evoke emotions, trigger memories and resonate with experiences more effectively than text, making them a powerful tool for communication and connection in the digital age. Video content has emerged as perhaps that premier league standard of content. Generation Z and Generation Alpha now expect on demand, video shorts in content that they demand. According to Synthesia, video made up 82% of all internet traffic in 2022. Over 2.6 billion people around the world use YouTube every month. Viewers retain 95% of a message when watching it on video (vs. 10% through text). Incorporating videos into your strategy, whether promotional clips, behind-the-scenes glimpses or customer testimonials, it’s a no-brainer! Platforms like Instagram Stories and Reels offer unique opportunities for storytelling and interactive content. Instagram reports that 500 million accounts use Stories every day. Leveraging these formats

Procrastination: Our Arch-Nemesis

Procrastination the time leech of best intention, and in the work environment it’s a silent but pervasive menace that infiltrates most, if not all of us at one time or another, undermining productivity and even obstructing career growth. The term “procrastination” itself derives from the Latin word “procrastinare,” meaning “to defer” or “to delay. But what are its manifestations, root causes, prevalence and the true impact on both employees and organisations? Are there strategies to overcome procrastination? Let’s find out! I’ve been writing this blog for 15 minutes, yet already I have spent at least 3 minutes procrastinating! The irony of this is comical! I know what I want to say, I have a plan, a framework and time set aside to pull it together. Yet, despite all this my brain still says “sorry, our lines are currently busy, please hold!” Having given my brain a good telling off, in which I heard no argument, I am ready to go again. So, what actually is procrastination? Procrastination itself can be defined as the act of delaying or postponing tasks, often despite knowing the negative consequences of such delays. At work, it manifests in lots ways. Let’s see how many of these you mentally tick off? Putting off important projects or tasks? Avoiding challenging assignments, emails or conversations? Or even succumbing to mindless distractions? Things such as YouTube worms (the process of watching one video that then leads to another and another and another, then before you know it, an hour has passed and you’re watching a video of something far from where you started! Or becoming engrossed in some random on TikTok bouncing ping pong balls down the stairs off of various kitchen pots and pans – you know exactly what I’m talking about! Based on this then, is procrastination a biproduct of the immergence of social media? The link between procrastination and the rise of social media is complex. The evidence of a connecting comes from several studies. For instance, a study by Steel in 2007 found that around 20% of the global population identifies as chronic procrastinators, that’s 1.32 billion people at the time! Another study by Junco and Cotten in 2012 discovered that college students using Facebook reported spending more time on the platform than intended, potentially affecting academic performance. This highlights the addictive nature of social media and its potential to lead individuals to underestimate the time spent on these platforms – some completely oblivious to how much time they actually spend on it. Why are we so addicted to social media? One theory is “Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)”. This is a psychological phenomenon associated with social media. It’s the anxiety we feel when we think others are experiencing rewarding events and we’re not. This concept gained prominence with the rise of social media, where constant updates can create a sense of inadequacy or the fear of missing out on enjoyable experiences. Understanding FOMO is crucial in grasping how social media contributes to procrastination. The constant stream of idealised portrayals and achievements on social media can trigger FOMO, prompting us to seek solace or distraction on these platforms instead of focusing on our work. Yet, while I’ve not been able to find any evidence of a direct study linking social media to procrastination, the broader research on procrastination, along with studies on social media’s impact on behaviour provides a foundation for understanding the connection. So, we know what procrastination is, where it’s meaning comes from, and how the emergence of social media may increase the potential of distraction. But how does procrastination commonly manifest itself in a work environment? Here’s a few common signs that you may recognise: Task-switching: Constant task switching to avoid tackling a challenging project, leading to a fragmented workflow and reduced efficiency. Excessive planning: Procrastinators often over-plan tasks, unconsciously using planning as a stalling tactic instead of taking meaningful action. Endless perfectionism: Some people delay starting a task due to an unrealistic pursuit of perfection, leading to missed deadlines and increased stress. Why Does Procrastination Happen? The root causes of procrastination are multifaceted and may include fear of failure, lack of motivation, poor time management skills, lack of understanding or complexity of a task or even a cocktail of these factors and more. Additionally, the prevalence of procrastination may be exacerbated by workplace culture, unrealistic expectations or inadequate resources. I know for sure that these three scenarios have played a big part in my procrastination in the past. Procrastination’s impact extends beyond missed deadlines and incomplete projects. It can lead to increased stress, diminished job satisfaction, lack of engagement with colleagues and strained interpersonal relationships. From an organisational perspective, procrastination can contribute to a decline in overall productivity, hinder innovation, performance and adversely affect metric performance. Over the years I’ve become mindful of the signs of procrastination in myself and in my teams. I can’t say that I’m 100% on it, but I believe that I have developed an awareness that has allowed me to implement some strategies to reduce the frequency and impact. Let me share my Top 5 with you: Break tasks into smaller steps: Divide large projects or tasks into manageable steps to make them less overwhelming and more achievable. Celebrate mini milestones with a coffee and a biscuit or something else that releases positive emotions. Set realistic deadlines: Establishing clear, achievable deadlines helps create a sense of urgency and minimises the temptation to procrastinate. Prioritise tasks: Identify and tackle high-priority tasks first, ensuring that critical assignments receive the attention they deserve. Make a “To Do” list and actively tick things off. The “tick” element is important, the subconscious impact of a “tick” is positive, correct, a “well done” in our minds. I don’t know this for sure, but this may come from our school days and how we were conditioned that a tick was good and a cross was bad. Remember the dreaded teachers red pen? Still gives me shudders now! Create a conducive work environment: