And still, we continue to see many businesses (and nonprofits) stuck in outdated practices, missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with their audience and drive incredible growth for their organizations. In this article, we share strategies to help you use social media to maximize your growth and build your community and things to stop doing in 2024.
Social media is a great medium for sharing a narrative that resonates with your audience and target customers. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok offer unparalleled reach and the ability to engage directly with consumers. By using social media effectively, you can expand your brand awareness and drive real growth.
The thing is, simply posting and ghosting won’t work. Pushing links and only asking your audience to buy, to register, to share, etc. isn’t going to get you the success you’re looking for. Asking for action and sales on social media definitely has its place, and you SHOULD do this, but this type of content can’t make up 100% of your posts.
Brand leads everything. Your social media efforts should be an extension of your brand's voice and ethos. Social media is not a brand strategy, a sales strategy or a marketing strategy. It’s a channel that is part of your overall strategy.
Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways for businesses to build their brand, support content marketing distribution efforts (a critical channel for this), create trust, and remain top of mind for potential clients over competitors.
If you’re focus on social media is only to drive sales and registrations from each post, you’re going to be very disappointed. Social media can absolutely help drive sales for your organization — but unless you have sophisticated tech and a great team who knows how to interpret your analytics and overall marketing data, you’re not going to see black-and-white data showing you which sales came directly from social media.
Attribution for social media (and some other marketing channels) can be a little bit murky for small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits. This is because most businesses and non-profits don’t have the tech stack, or the skillsets on their teams, in place to do this well, and even then, how do you correlate a first touch-point from three/six months ago on social with someone who came back and purchased/signed up?!
Here’s an example of a realistic customer journey for a service-based business:
This should be attributed to social media—but most of the time, that’s not how it would happen because many businesses don’t have the tech stack or resources to track the customer journey to that level. Instead, it would be attributed to the last touchpoint.
When organizations say “social media doesn’t work for me,” we know there’s so much more to the story. There are so many reasons social might not be working for you, but here are just a few:
If you’re doing any of these, it’s time to shift and update your approach to social media.
1. Extensive Hashtag Use
In 2024, it's about being strategic with hashtags. Use them to target specific communities and conversations, not just as a way to get noticed. We feel so strongly about this that hashtags have their own section later in this article.
2. Quantity Over Quality
Shift your focus to creating high-quality, engaging content and then increase the quantity of your posts. Each post should add value and reinforce your brand message. Many ‘gurus’ online are telling you quantity is the only thing that matters, and that’s just not true. More is only more if the quality is good.
3. Cross-posting the Exact Same Image & Captions
We’re all about reusing content as much as possible, and you should be too. But, don’t post the exact same image and copy on every social media platform. Tailor the message, use properly sized images, and add or remove hashtags based on each platform.
4. Always Pushing Links
Social media is about engagement and the different platforms would prefer to keep users engaged on the platform vs driving them away. Use your analytics and find the balance between pushing links and providing on-platform value for your accounts.
And, if you’re adding multiple links to your social posts … cut that out immediately. We mostly see this with bilingual organizations, a simple fix is to push out dedicated posts in each language.
5. Using Jargon
Speak the language of your audience. Ditch the industry jargon and connect on a more personal level with your audience.
6. Focusing on Features & Packages
Features, benefits, and packages definitely have their place in your marketing funnel, and you do still need that messaging … but not in every social media post. Spend more time making your customer the hero. Showcase how your product or service will make their life better or how it will make them feel. Use social media to build trust and authority with your audience.
7. Not Using Analytics to Optimize Your Content
If you’re not using analytics to continually refine and improve your social media strategy and content, today is a great day to start! What works today might not work tomorrow, so keep a close eye on your analytics.
SEO isn't just for websites; it's crucial for social media, too (especially on Instagram and TikTok). Incorporating SEO into your social strategy will increase your reach and discoverability.
Use keywords strategically in your profile, posts, image alt-text, and hashtags. Specifically, this looks like:
Hashtags are a tool for discovery and engagement (albeit they’re far more important in 2024 than in the past), and there is a LOT of conflicting info online about how many to use and where to use them. What we’ve found works best is using 7-15 hashtags that are a mix of trending hashtags, location and/or topic-specific, and that include your keywords.
We know, we know, Adam Mosseri (from IG) said that hashtags don't influence reach...but, that's not what we've been seeing (supported by analytics) across almost all client accounts. This could change, but at the time of this writing, this is what we've found. Your hashtags should be post-specific, so although there will be some duplication on your posts, they likely shouldn’t be the exact same every time.
We’ve also found that hashtags work well on Instagram and TikTok but don’t make much of a difference on Facebook or LinkedIn, as long as you use well-written and thoughtful captions.
Speaking of captions, your captions should tell a story, provide entertainment or value, evoke emotion, or inspire action. Pair them with visually compelling graphics that stand out in a crowded feed. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, so good design and great image selection make a big difference.
And please, for the love of all things that are holy, STOP USING GENERIC CANVA TEMPLATES and using ChatGPT to write your captions. Use ChatGPT to help you brainstorm and speed things up, but it’s very obvious when brands have ditched the real humans and are pushing out only ChatGPT drafted captions … they’re pretty bad. Invest in graphic design, or at a minimum, incorporate your brand colours and fonts into the Canva templates and pick a consistent style. Doing social media poorly is still a lot of work, so consider dedicating an internal resource to do it well or get some outside support.
Consistency is key in social media. A well-planned calendar helps maintain a steady flow of quality content and ensures your messaging aligns with key business goals and trends. If you’ve read any of our content (or worked with us), you know we believe wholeheartedly in a robust organizational-wide editorial calendar; social media would be included within that calendar.
Additionally, scheduling tools to streamline your posting process is extremely helpful while still remembering to log into the accounts in real-time to engage with your community.
Social media presents a HUGE opportunity for businesses and nonprofits in 2024, but it needs to be done well and not an afterthought. By embracing these strategies, you’ll experience growth and the power of building a strong digital presence. Rethink your social media approach and watch as it transforms into a powerful engine for growth.
We know the time and effort it takes to do social media well. That’s why we offer customized live social media workshops for individuals and teams. To book a workshop, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.