Recently, I had the chance to sit down and talk all things social with Arik Hanson, an expert in the field and good friend of Bellmont Partners. As a self-described social media nerd myself, the conversation focused on trends, important things for brands to remember and what everyone should stop doing on social media. Here’s What’s Brewing with Arik Hanson and the world of social.
Arik’s start and background
Like many of us in social media, Arik fell into it. While working full time as a communications consultant, he started blogging out of curiosity. And curiosity is what eventually led him to social media. With the rise of Twitter and how clear it was that social media was here to stay, Arik’s curiosity about that side of the marketing and communications world is how he found himself jumping in. Now over two decades later, Arik continues to be a trusted expert for mid-sized and large companies across the country.
We asked Arik a big question – what’s brewing?
“I’m about halfway through the semester teaching social media at the University of St. Thomas,” he said. “I’ve been teaching this class now for four years and it’s just as fun as the first year I taught it. I’m also really busy on the business side of things—I’m working on a couple social media audits at the moment and starting a big coaching engagement with one of the larger companies in the Twin Cities. All in addition to the five retainer clients I work with every month! Finally, I have a couple big speaking engagements coming up. One I’m particularly excited about is the reboot of Social Media Breakfast! I’ll be talking about social media trends at the first SMB event since the pandemic on April 14 at Improving in northeast Minneapolis.”
What makes social media exciting?
“It’s constantly changing and evolving,” says Arik. “There’s always something new – you have to constantly be learning and evolving which is, in and of itself, what makes working in social media so exciting.”
Speaking of changing, how do you stay on top of what’s “in” and what’s “out?”
“No one keeps track of it all, so don’t feel bad about not keeping up with it all,” Arik says. Compared to years prior, there are fewer people talking about trends in social and offering thought leadership. “Everyone’s busy doing the work,” says Arik.
Overall, it’s important to stay on top of the trends but don’t feel like you have to spend considerable time scouring the internet. According to Arik, there’s simply so much information out there and not all of it is worthwhile. Acknowledge the things you are reading but combine them with what you’re seeing in your own work – you know your brand and audience best.
It feels like we’re constantly being told to do a thousand things on social in order to be successful. But let’s be real — what should brands stop doing on social?
Arik’s immediate answer to this was quick. “Holiday posts,” he said. “You’re wasting valuable time and resources at a time when social media people are very stretched. No one really cares.” While certain holidays may tie into your business or make sense to post about, say, if you’ll be closed or if you hold an event related to a certain holiday, but for the most part leave these out of your strategy.
Simply put – no brand needs to post 30–40 times each month. “You’ll get impressions, sure, but at what cost?” Arik asks. “You’re gonna kill your social media team. Impressions just to get impressions is not really helping,” he says. The need to post often is a common misconception.
Along those same lines – there’s no need to be on every social media platform. Prioritize the places where you’re seeing the most progress, effectiveness and efficiency.
Teams are stretched thin. Oftentimes we’re seeing brands that have one person managing social media and sometimes that person has other projects under their umbrella. Prioritizing channels and content helps everyone keep their head above water.
What advice does Arik have for social media managers and the people managing the social media managers?
“We’re all in the same boat – we all have days when we don’t feel like doing it anymore. It’s important to shut off,” Arik says. “When you’re done with your job, don’t feel bad about not doing it at night.”
Stepping away is a common theme that’s come up not only in this conversation, but in conversations among social media managers across the board. It can be overwhelming to be the person taking the brunt of everyone’s unfiltered thoughts about a brand and being on all the time. Give yourself permission and grace to turn it off.
Personally, Arik himself has stepped away from social media. Other than Twitter and LinkedIn and the occasional holiday post, Arik knew how important it was to allow himself to unplug.
And to those getting into the world of working in social?
“You have to know how social media fits with the business,” Arik says. “Even at a midsize company, social media touches marketing, PR, communications, the product team, HR when recruiting, customer service – it touches everything.” It’s going to take some time to learn the needs of each department and how social media works with them, but it’s an important piece to being a successful social media manager.
There is so much going on in the world of social media, and our conversation could have easily gone on. Having gone from being a forum where people posted about what they had for lunch to becoming an incredibly powerful tool for brands to connect with audiences and grow their business, social media continues to evolve and we are excited we get to help our clients navigate it.