Expert Essays: An agony aunt’s guide to social media

4 May 2021

In this collection of blog posts, we are featuring experts and influencers we work with to support our student learning and development.

Helen Mincher, a marketing consultant and freelancer for SSE, takes on the role of agony aunt to answer some of the common problems our students face when building relationships on social media.

“Dear Helen…. I long to feel loved and to develop a relationship on social media, but I feel lost and confused and just don’t really know where to start”

It’s common to feel overwhelmed, but you deserve relationship success! Now, I really wouldn’t advocate fumbling around and diving straight in, so here is a practical approach to get you started.

    1. Be strategic. Spend some time up front thinking about the following:
      • What is your overall aim for your social media efforts?
      • What are your competitors doing on social?
      • Who are you trying to reach, and what are their interests and pain points?
      • What influencers can you connect with to amplify your message? • What type of content will resonate with your audience and be of value to them?
    2. Choose where you invest your time.  Try focusing on the one or two platforms most popular with the people you are trying to reach – and do them well. Remember that each platform requires a different approach. You can, and should, repurpose your content, but tweak it to suit the platform.
    3. Make the most of yourself.  My darling, this is a biggie.  Your bio, profile picture and header image are prime advertising slots – so do invest some time here. Incomplete descriptions and poor or inconsistent branding could cause people to leave your page straight away, or worse, leave with a negative impression.  A great bio will include keywords relevant to your organisation, explain what you offer to whom and include a call-to-action with a clickable link to your website (or Facebook group perhaps). Your header can be updated regularly to include details of awards, events or promotions.
    4. Consistency is key.  Blowing hot and cold? One minute you are showered with attention, then no contact for weeks. Doesn’t feel good, does it? (‘Dump him!’ would be my advice!!) And similarly on social media, a consistent posting schedule will get better results over time than the occasional flurry of activity. Of course, there will be days when you are not around to be posting, and this is where a scheduling tool, such as Buffer or Hootsuite comes into its own – and building out a content plan.


“I’m on social media, but nobody seems to like me. Do you have tips to get things going?”

Sounds like you need to spice things up, and you know what they say, “Variety is the spice of life.” This is certainly the case on social media. For a well-rounded feed that keeps people interested and coming back for more, try to mix it up with different types of posts (how-tos, inspirational quotes, behind-the-scenes posts, customer stories) as well as different formats (blogs, photos, infographics, videos). People come to social media to be entertained, inspired, and informed, so consider how you can meet these needs.

First impressions count, so make sure your posts are appealing. Canva is a great free-to-use tool to help with your appearance. Always include a  photo, or video. Visual posts are more likely to grab someone’s attention, and demand more space on someone’s feed.

And while we’re on a roll, here’s another technique you can try: hashtags, baby! Hashtags are a great way to increase engagement and reach new followers – especially on Twitter and Instagram. Spend time researching high-performing hashtags for your niche. Look at the hashtags used by your competitors, by influencers in your field and by your followers. Jumping on trending and seasonal hashtags and awareness days is a good idea too, as long as they are relevant.


“I feel let down by social media. I’m regularly posting about my events and products, but it doesn’t work for me”

Grab a cuppa and a seat – it’s time for some tough love… No one likes the goon in the corner who talks only about themselves and refuses to acknowledge anybody else in the room. Engaging with other people’s content – liking, commenting and sharing – is just as important as sharing your own. Respond to all your notifications. Answer people’s questions. Show that you are interested in what your audience have to say and that you value the conversation with them. Sharing and commenting is reciprocal – you should find that you begin to win fans who will do the same for you and share your content.

On another note, have you ever stopped and dug your mitts into the analytics tabs in social media? The data here will point to which type of posts are resonating more with your audience, what days of the week and time of day is best to post. It will also breakdown your audience demographics and interests so you can further shape content to suit them.

My advice to you all feeling unlucky and out of love with social media is to invest a little bit of time here and think about what VALUE you are bringing to the relationship. Ask for feedback and then listen. Try and delight your intended on a regular basis. Be brave and let your personality shine.

And in true agony aunt style, if you are not enjoying the relationship, then get out!  If you really dislike a particular platform or struggle to create certain types of content, then consider focusing your efforts elsewhere.

Helen Mincher is a regular contributor to our Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs programmes.