Lessons in Tailoring

By Valerie Marie Exnicios

“Social media platforms are like any other communication channels, each has their own unique personality, strengths and weaknesses. Good digital communicators craft messages in different voices for each of these unique channels.”

– Steve Lee, APR, Chief Pathfinder, QuickSilver Interactive Group

Adjunct Professor, Southern Methodist University

While there are many successful bloggers out there, not all of them have the same success on alternative social media outlets.

In today’s social media-crazed world, we have to be masters of not only blogs but also every other relevant channel. Understanding the differences between social media outlets is important because although the image you are portraying should be consistent, the content should stand on its own.

Written content seems to be shrinking, so that 500-word blogs have become 140-character Twitter updates.  As sites have developed, visual communication has become the norm.  With the mass adoption of Pinterest and Instagram, we are moving toward visual communication with little to no writing at all.

One of the most common mistakes we make is not tailoring posts specifically to each social media channel.  Too often we take a photo on Instagram and merely use the sharing feature to upload the same content to our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr or foursquare posts.  This prevents us from taking full advantage of each social media platform.

Each channel’s audience is looking for something different: Facebook is like an intimate dinner party with your closest friends. It encourages storytelling with a personable and relaxed tone.  Twitter acts as a newsroom with headlines that are short, to the point and contemporaneous.  Pinterest is a storyboard.  It is lifestyle-oriented so the content should be motivational and inspiring. LinkedIn should be strictly professional.  The final medium, the blog, seems like a soirée where everyone is invited.

While managing oneself on social media, it’s important to always be yourself, but it’s OK to emphasize different facets depending upon your audience. I recently spoke with Caitlin Paulette, a sales associate for Ralph Lauren in Highland Park Village and founder of the fashion blog , during an SMU Retail Club event.

Paulette says she tailors her Ralph Lauren posts to each channel: “For example, I’d post a merchandising photo to Instagram with a cute tag line, a photo of my co-workers and me to Facebook, and an update on my current employer’s financial successes to LinkedIn. All of this content is related to my career in fashion but is differentiated based upon the knowledge that the audience for each social media outlet is different.”

Photo credit: Caitlin Paulette, Chic Young Thing

Photo credit: Caitlin Paulette, Chic Young Thing

I also sought advice from Molly Miller, one of the sisters behind the successful Dallas lifestyle blog A Piece of Toast. She says they carefully tailor content for each social media channel.

“We tweet various things throughout the day — usually things we are loving and are always conversing with other bloggers and followers through the platform,” Miller says. “Our blog is where we tell our stories and share the most. Facebook is just really a vehicle for us to encourage our readers to read the full posts on the blog, and Twitter is a great way for us to connect on a 24/7 basis.”

Photo credit: Molly Miller, A Piece of Toast

Photo credit: Molly Miller, A Piece of Toast

It’s important to reveal just enough information to catch someone’s attention — without spoiling the entire post.

Katie Sarah Roberts, editor of the popular blog Dallas Does Brunch, told me how she leaves her readers wanting more: “What I choose to reveal on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is content interesting enough to get people to click on the link and direct people to the website.  However, at the same time, I don’t want to reveal too much information.”

Roberts adds: “We don’t want our readers to feel as if they’ve got a ‘spark noted’ version of our blog through our social media posts. There needs to be an element of surprise — which can only be found on our actual blog.”

Photo credit: Katie Sarah Roberts, Dallas Does Brunch

Photo credit: Katie Sarah Roberts, Dallas Does Brunch

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