One of the biggest compliments I get from racing peers and competitors is on my use of social media to gather large numbers of passionate fans who love our team, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing (JJCR). Our Facebook and Twitter followings number a combined 150,000 and we are steadily growing on Instagram and Snapchat. However, it’s not just about having a lot of followers. You need an effective message to engage those followers! Here are a few of the do’s and don’ts I’ve learned along my bumpy social media journey.
Do Become an Expert
Don’t worry: This is not a test. Become an expert in your field by posting about trending topics in your area of interest. When something happens in your wheelhouse that is newsworthy, post about it.
How We Do It:
We regularly peel back the curtain on our racing strategies to showcase just how much research and expertise is part of our racing team. For example, our racing series has introduced an “optional” engine for all teams to use in 2018. We will be one of a very few small teams to use this engine. I’ll talk frankly on social media about my hopes and fears for this engine, its strengths and weaknesses, potential pitfalls, and race strategy. What I will not do is brag about how we have the latest, greatest engine out there and guarantee wins. Which brings me to my first don’t…
Set performance expectations at a realistic level, then aim to surpass those expectations. Capitalize on your strengths, but be willing to talk about your weaknesses and the solutions you are considering. Honesty will always pay off.
How We Do It:
Instead of promising to win the next race, I make a point to post about meaningful interactions with fans. Hopefully, the race results will speak for themselves, but win or lose, my fans know I care about them.
Do Be Authentic
Share the good and the bad. For example, imagine you own a pizza restaurant and you burned a guest’s pizza. You could turn that bad experience into a good one for them and yourself by posting a picture or video captioned “Oopsie! We burned a guest’s pizza! Guess we’ll have to give them this one and the next one for free! #ItHappens #HappyCustomer” along with a photo with the customer showing “thumbs up.” Isn’t that a lot more interesting than “Come in and get a discount for mentioning this post?” You bet. All too often, people fail to realize the power of authenticity. Be who you are: good and bad.
Don’t Get Caught Up in The Haters and Trolls
The higher you rise the more people will show up to pull you down. Handle trolls, but don’t get bogged down:
- Don’t engage them. Pretend they are invisible.
- Delete and block only if the language or behavior is abusive. Then report them.
- Train your family and friends. They should not engage either.
- Learn to use the “ignore” feature. This function restricts a troll’s visibility to themselves and their followers without notifying them you have done so. Others will notice and appreciate how you handled the situation.
Do Remember Your Silent Followers
Whenever I post, I find that about 90 percent of the positive comments come from the same active, vocal followers. It’s easy to think I’m only speaking to those avid fans. A recent holiday promotion cleared that misconception right up, though. I was shocked by how many people answered my call to action without ever having commented on the message. For example, take the woman who purchased four of the experiences we were offering, then ordered apparel for her entire family. Another: a business owner who, after a conference call and business meeting, became an associate sponsor for the entire season! I was absolutely amazed at the opportunities that were just sitting out there waiting for the right post from me with the right call to action. But be careful…
Don’t Repeat Yourself Too Often
I am very protective of my followers. For every call to action, I try to provide three times the volume of behind-the scenes action. Push coupons and requests to follow you and your partners all day and watch your following disappear.
Reach for The Stars
If you are looking for reach, there is no better way to build that than through social media. Your next big deal is out there waiting for you (just as mine are for me). You just might be pleasantly surprised to find it come from a stranger who loves your social media content.
Between Social Media Platforms
Here are my personal notes on each platform I use.
Facebook: This is probably where most of my activity falls. I have every Facebook post mirror to my Twitter timeline because there are many people who “gave up” Facebook for other social media. Mirroring is a great timesaver but be alert to the distinctions between social media platforms.
Twitter: Tread lightly! In my experience, Twitter has the most trolls. I have someone monitor my account if I feel like I’ve posted something that might make my account “vulnerable” to attack.
Instagram: I can choose for each post on Instagram to mirror to Facebook and Twitter as well. This has the added advantage of letting people on other platforms know you’re on Instagram, so they can follow you.
Snapchat: I love Snapchat because I feel like I can “let my hair down.” Since each post disappears after 24 hours, I post more fun and laid-back items. Each time I post anywhere other than Snapchat, I scrutinize my own posts with as much negativity as I can muster to make sure I, and my sponsors, can live with that scrutiny. Snaps are more of a one-way street. Nobody can like or comment on your Snaps, so you can show a fun side of yourself. And if you happen to create a brilliant Snap, you can save it to post on your other social media page.