Social media use is going to be the next big equalizer for businesses.
But you need to use it right for the best benefits.
Over Facebook and Instagram, there are 4M story ads uploaded every month and 1BN stories shared every day. It’s a lot of content to cut through, especially if you want to take advantage of the 58% that learns about a product on social media and immediately wants to go and buy it.
However, without a plan on how exactly you’re going to use your social media, all of that money spent targeting and putting up beautiful ads can net you nothing.
Here’s how to start planning and stop wasting your effort on socials.
Are you measuring success?
You need to know what works for you before you can make it. Similar to mapping out a route to visit a local hot spot, picking a vague direction and hoping for the best only really works out in movies. Most likely, you’re going to wind up lost, stuck in traffic, angry, and out a few Euros, not discovering the long lost landscape of your dreams. So, dial back the enthusiasm and start right.
We’ve spoken a little bit about the importance of testing your social media strategy. We’re going to speak about it more here because it’s fundamental that you know exactly what you’re doing on social media to avoid getting lost in the stream of irrelevant content, content that doesn’t apply to your audience, or content that just doesn’t connect.
What content types do you post on your pages? Is it just sales ads, is it engagement-related, is it posting straight from your mind? Do you use stories or just text? Do you throw images in at the last second, or have them planned out in advance?
Where are your sales coming from? What posts are getting the greatest engagement?
It’s easy to chart a successful post. There’s always going to be evidence of people liking it, and if you’re lucky, of what they like: the picture, the tone, the way you’re addressing the audience. A post with likes, comments, and shares is easy to pick apart and sift through the remains, looking for what makes it work.
A post with nothing gives you nothing.
So start with nothing. Post one type of content, see how it works. Vary it up the next time you post, see if it does better.
You need to know what you’re measuring.
You need to know what’s working.
Without a goal in mind, you might as well hire a single man to stand on an unspecified road in Gzira and shout about your latest offers – it’s the same drop-in-the-ocean luck that you’ll get from posting on socials without a goal.
Are you looking past the short-term benefits?
Let’s say your goal is to get more likes.
What happens after that?
Likes, reactions, video views, and shares are important, don’t get us wrong. But they’re only important to make your Facebook or Instagram page look good, and to give you a basic breakdown of how many people are interested in your content.
Beyond that, vanity metrics – where it’s focused specifically on pimping out your page for likes and comments – don’t really have any real-world benefits. People who like your posts might not buy your product. Maybe you do a great line in humorous adspeak – great! – but there’s tons of brands out there who are funny and who manage to keep themselves afloat by selling. If people are following and reacting to your posts, but the engagement stops there, that’s a problem.
And that’s a problem that starts with you.
Look: vanity metrics are good if you want to justify to your CEO that what you’re doing has traction. Spending money on just those metrics will just lead to a loss in the long-run since the audience you are actively seeking out isn’t always going to be interested in making a purchase.
You’re just being funny on the internet.
And you’re paying for it. Literally.
What are the long-term benefits?
Brand recognition. Building a community. Building authority.
User-generated content that comes from the people who love your brand.
Customer service that people write glowing reviews of.
Clever, long-term use of social media is a money-saver. When you have brand recognition and a loyal customer base, you have a tailor-made safety net to keep your business going, even when something like a highly infectious viral pandemic takes a chunk out of your profits.
Audiences that are a fan of what you’re selling happen because you put time and money into building the right community on your social media channels. When you have that fanbase, you don’t need to spend large amounts of money to convert: they’ll follow your brand page, and hype up your products with a minimum amount of input.
Just take a look at Apple.
Are you engaging with your audience?
Your business idea is gold. You’re pretty sure you’ve found the Product to End All Products In Its Category: a throw-back to liminal, long-houred summers, something that everyone has fond memories of.
It’s been a while since you’ve posted on your Facebook page, but that shouldn’t matter. This is the product that’s going to go viral.
Problems with virality aside, that’s just not how it works.
Ernesta, our head of social, says: “Think of social media as a conversation, not a billboard. One of the main benefits of social media is that brands have direct access to their audience, and vice-versa. Creating conversations with your audience helps to understand who they are, where they are, and what they want. That way you can adjust your strategy towards success.
If you only use your Facebook page to post updates on your business hours and advertise a sale here and there, your audience doesn’t have a connection with you; they have a condensed form of what they could find out if they came to the store in person.
Creating a social media strategy that works includes talking to your audience.
So talk to them.
Do you understand your audience?
Most businesses will have more than one audience and more than one priority, overlapping or phasing into different ones depending on business cycles. That’s normal.
You need to know how to talk to all of them, and you’re not going to know when it’s the right time or how to talk to them without trial and error.
And that’s where testing comes in.
Ernesta, our social media specialist says: Testing lets marketers make their message relevant to each audience and keeps their marketing spend in check in a way that brings the maximum results for the business. Test everything from captions and images to timing, placements and more. We recommend setting up objectives for each test, test aggressively, document your findings, make changes and repeat!
Are you gathering information to plan better content?
How are you keeping track of what you’re doing and how you’re doing it differently each time? We’re fans of Excel and the Microsoft Office suite for a lot of multiuse applications, but for this, you’ll need something with a little more tailoring.
You need a technical set up.
As Ernesta points out, “you can gather all of the data in the world and it will be completely useless if you don’t look at it methodically for your business. Create a set of objectives that you are interested in testing, ask questions you want answered, and go from there. Whatever data will be the most relevant, and what adjustments will need to be made, will become obvious. That’ll help you plan your communications better.”
What’s happening with your website?
Ernesta is a big, big fan of websites.
As she says, “leveraging social media integration is how you can increase your website traffic and its authority. By using social media accounts as an extension of your marketing strategy, you give the audience more ways to interact and connect with your brand.”
And more connection is always better, especially now.
There are two ways you can go ahead with this:
- Direct your social media audience to your website. Use link-in-post, link-in-bio, call to action buttons that send people to your website on moving ads, the works. They’re all effective.
- Link your social media accounts to your website to make it easier. Clickable icons will cut down a lot of effort in actually opening a separate website, typing in the social media page, finding your page: it’s just easier. And people love easier.
By using your website and your social media in tandem, people can keep up with how your brand is changing and advancing. They can stay in touch with you as you adapt to new challenges and launch new products, and make your connection to them feel like it’s always been there.
Luke has a secondary comment on this: “Leveraging your website for social media means finding ways to communicate more effectively with consumers who have already shown an interest in buying from you. For example, if 10% of all your website visitors spend over 2 minutes browsing and visit multiple pages, they’re likely quite interested in what you have to offer. Using a well-organised social media setup, you can communicate specific messages to those high-interest individuals. The possibilities for meaningful communication are endless.”
That’s what everyone is looking for. That’s what everyone’s been looking for ever since the economic downturn of the late nineties, ever since communicating with your audience became the way to sell, and not a way to sell.
If you’re still stuck in the part of history where selling is all about lower prices and undercutting the competition and having the loudest, most-attention seeking ads, we’re sorry to say that you’ve missed out on a couple of decades of ad development. It happened quickly, so you’re forgiven, but you need to get on that now.
If you haven’t missed it, but you don’t know where to start, here’s your sign to start: do it now. Do it before it’s too late. Tell better stories. Tell stories that matter.
We’ll help you.