Whether you have an established social media presence or whether you are just now investigating the potential of becoming ‘social’ - there is one thing that you need from the start.
That one thing will ensure that the time you spend on your social media channels will be time well spent. Without this ‘thing’, the effort you expend on social media will disappear down a black hole and achieve nothing.
So, what is this one thing?
It's strategy. You must get strategic with your social media in order to get results. If you are about to start social media marketing, make sure you have a strategy in place from the get go. If you have been using social media for a while and feel that your hard work is not paying off - stop what you are doing and strategise.
While it may feel strange to talk about results before you have even started, this is exactly the first question that you should ask yourself. What do you want your social media activity to achieve? Do you want to drive traffic to your blog or website? Do you want to increase the number of applications that you receive? Do you want to become more engaged with your community?
Social media marketing can help you to achieve all of these goals. However, if you are not strategic you will never truly understand the return that you are getting from your time and monetary investment.
If you are about to start a social media marketing campaign, consider noting down where you are at the start so that then you can measure the impact of your new social media strategy. Bear in mind that real results will take time - but if you have your goals in place from the start you will know if your plan is working or if it needs a little tweak here and there. Indeed, most successful social media strategies have evolved over time.
So, how can you measure your social media marketing? How can you understand your social media return on investment (ROI)? Well, in the beginning, your success can be measured in terms of reach. How many people and organisations are noticing your social media efforts? You can measure this by looking at the number of followers and fans you accrue and also by looking at how many likes, shares and comments you receive after you post content on your platforms.
Going forward, you can develop how you measure your social media ROI. Compared to when you started social media marketing, have you seen an uplift in inquiries or interest in your organisation, product or service? Has there been a marked increase in traffic on your website? Are key people engaging with your social media content?
One way to measure your social media ROI is by using analytics tools. All of the social media channels offer analytics that can provide you with crucial information. Facebook, for example, offers its Insights analytics tool once your page has over 30 likes. Insights allows you to find out demographic data about your audience and see how people are finding your posts and responding to your content.
Twitter, meanwhile, allows you to see how many impressions and engagements your tweets have made over a rolling 28 day period.
Pinterest has recently upgraded its analytics allowing you to see what pins and boards from your profile your audience loves the most, what people like to save from your website and what devices people use when they are pinning your content. Pinterest also gives you data on who your Pinterest audience is - including their gender, location and other interests.
You can also use Google Analytics to track your progress on social media. I use this tool to test a wide range of different plans and really focus in on the detail of my social media strategy to find out what works and what, perhaps, needs to be changed.
For a more bite-sized analytics tool, I use Clicky Web Analytics. I find Clicky gives me a quick update on what social media channels and content are driving traffic to my website and where my audience is coming from.
When you are starting out on social media, one of the first questions that you will inevitably ask yourself is what platform or combination of platforms should you focus on? Should you post content on Facebook, Twitter or Google+? Should you share visual content on Pinterest or Instagram? Should you produce video content and upload it to YouTube or Vine?
The answer to this question is that you should be where your ideal audience likes to spend time. If you find that your audience loves Facebook then that is where you should be. If you love Vine but your key audience hasn’t really embraced this platform you may find that your social media marketing efforts are in vain until they do.
Once you have worked out what platforms to focus on, you can start to build your own ‘social’ presence. Make sure that you brand consistently across all of your new social media channels so that your visitors will know you when they find you. Each platform gives you some online real estate to customise - and this is an effective marketing tool in itself.
As I mentioned earlier, successful social media marketing takes time and commitment. Your strategy should take this into consideration. How much time do you or your team have to devote to social media marketing? Who will be responsible for what social media task? Be realistic with your time as consistency is key. Don’t leap onto every platform out there and then disappear.
You need to be present and engaged with the community that you build.
One way to ensure that you have a consistent flow of social media content is to use automation or scheduling tools. Tools such as Buffer, Sprout Social and HootSuite enable you to post specific content at regular times on a daily basis.
I love Buffer and use it to schedule social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Buffer also offers me content suggestions that I might like to share with my audience. This is crucial for my business as I find it is just as important for me to create content as it is to curate content.
When using automated scheduling tools such as these, it is important to remember that the audience on each social media platform likes a slightly different type of content. It is a mistake to push the same content out on all channels. Context rules over all.
The best way to succeed in social media is to be social! Automation tools can save you time and you can use that time to be a human being on your social media. Engage with your audience, thank them for following you, jump into conversations, ask and answer questions, thank people for sharing interesting content and interact.
It can be tricky to know when people are talking about you or about an area where you have interest or expertise. You probably don’t have the time to trawl every social media platform for mentions of your organisation or industry every day!
Luckily there are tools out there that can help you and save you some much needed time. I use Hootsuite, for example, to create a content stream so that when my name and business is mentioned or any of my keywords or hashtags are used I will know. I also use Google Alerts to keep track of relevant online developments and Pin Alerts emails me when someone pins something from my website onto Pinterest.
Once you create a social media strategy that focuses on these five elements - results, measurement, focus, commitment and engagement - you will soon find that the return from social media marketing is well worth your investment.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
Do you have any tips or tricks about your social media strategy that you would like to share? I’d love to hear all about them so please do leave a comment in the box below.
Have a great day, Jane