Social media marketing seems to get easier with every new technological development. New social platforms debut on a rotating basis, offering new functionality and new target audiences for the savvy poster, while new tools emerge to help marketers better plan, organize, and execute their social media campaigns. These tools have posed a new problem, however; rather than posting about what's happening "in the moment," during a specific event or time of day, many social campaigns now depend on pre-planned posts, scheduled long in advance.
In many ways, this approach is effective--you get the opportunity to write and edit your posts far in advance, and you can adopt a "hands-free" approach for whatever time you have posts scheduled. But overreliance on this premeditated strategy can have devastating consequences for your campaign. Your campaign needs more "in the moment" posts, and here's why:
1. Other mediums exist for retrospective and future-focused content. An "in the moment" post is all about the present. Scheduled posts, more often than not, are either about the past (such as re-posting a previously popular article) or the future (such as announcing a company update). Social media is generally a medium that revolves around the present, as there are plenty other mediums for past- and future-focused content. For example, you could use a press release to spread the word about an upcoming feature, or rely on your blog to talk about the past. Social media can, of course, help you in these areas, but it is primarily a present-focused medium.
2. Seeking immediacy turns your brain "on" to more opportunities. When you force yourself to develop more "in the moment" posts, you start naturally looking for more opportunities to post. Your brain, in the background, evaluates all your experiences for potential posting opportunities, and turns on when one makes itself apparent. In this way, the longer you get used to making present-focused posts, the better you'll get at finding them naturally. Even if you've been relying on scheduled posts for the past several weeks and months, this adjustment can help you overwrite your strategy.
3. First-person perspective makes your brand more personal. Present-focused posts demand a first-person perspective; for example, if you take a photo of a speaker at a non-profit event, it implies that there is a person behind that photography. If you mention enjoying some new feature of your office, it implies there is a person doing the enjoying. Scheduled posts, like practical advice, special offers, or general updates, tend to lack this first-person applicability, meaning the posts are less personal. And of course, less personal posts means a less engaged audience and a weaker overall brand presence. Inject some personality into your posts.
4. "In the moment" posts force you to check replies and conversations. Though not always the case, scheduled posts have the potential to make you lazy. Because all your work is done up front, you can sit back and relax while your posts roll out on their own. Unfortunately, the rest of the social media population will not relax the same way. They'll be seeing and replying to these posts at a somewhat steady rate, which means you could miss out on a valuable opportunity to reply with more information, acknowledge your engagers, or rebut a counterargument to your post. "In the moment" posts force your attention to these ongoing developments.
5. Scheduled posts become predictable. No matter how hard you try to stagger your posts or mask the fact that they've been pre-written and scheduled, scheduled posts tend to form predictable patterns. It could be obvious, like seeing a post every day at exactly the same time, or less obvious, like a funny image always following a post to an old article. Mild predictability can help you build a recurring audience, as they'll learn what to expect from your brand, but too many posts like this can make your brand seem stale and boring.
6. "In the moment" posts encourage more participation. Naturally, your "in the moment" posts will attract more participation from your audience. For example, if you post an image of your attendance at a community event, it might inspire more people to come out to the event. On another level, posting about something that just happened will prompt people to respond more quickly. As you're likely well aware, more audience participation, whether in real life or on your platform of choice, is always a good thing.
7. Immediacy is only going to become more important. Today, "in the moment" posts are mildly important, but consumer demand for them is only going to grow. New platforms like Snapchat and Instagram cater specifically to "present" posts, and even long-established platforms like Twitter are getting in the habit of emphasizing the "moment," like with Twitter's recent acquisition of Periscope. The sooner you grow accustomed to posting with immediacy, the better you'll fare in the coming years.
"In the moment" posts don't have to be anything special. They can be pictures of your team attending an event, or a special occasion hosted by your company, but they can also be more mundane, like pictures of the office or posts about upcoming developments as you learn more about them. The key is to make your followers feel like they're learning about your business and seeing it in real-time--otherwise, they won't get any "news" in their newsfeeds.