Remember when figuring out how to break down your messages to reach your audience in 140 characters on Twitter proved to be a challenge? Nowadays we only say something in 140 characters or less! This goes to show how fast things move online, particularly with social media, so instead of just “getting on with things” make sure you take a look how social media has changed and adapt your social strategy to it.
In the first half of 2014 we have identified two key areas to focus on for your social strategy; engagement and streamlining:
If you’re a Facebook or Twitter user I am sure you have noticed how clogged up your feed has gotten – the amount of people in your community are increasing, they are posting more regularly, they are posting more visual content (which uses more space) and the networks are holding back more of the page for themselves for sponsored updates / Ads. As a business owner or social media manager you must wonder how you can be found among all that ‘noise’ and ensure your posts are lost or missed.
Well, as you may have assumed, social networks as well aware of this issue and have been tweaking their platform with the solution; engagement.
More and more of what you see in your social media feedback are being dictated by what other are engaging with as this is how social networks are deciding what is noise and what is valuable.
How to track engagement
If your social media team or agency are still only using followers and reach as their key metrics this should be a warning sign to you. To keep our clients’ social media on track we also report the:
- Amplification rate - how many times on average each of your post are Shared / Retweeted
- Reaction rate - how many Comments / Replies on average each post has received
- Applause rate - indicates how many Likes / Favourites on average each post receives
How to engage
Now you know what social networks are looking for to deliver your content in front of people and which metrics really matter the big question is how do you improve things?
You may have already guessed the growing trend here - people are engaging more with visual content. Pictures, memes, short burst videos (such as Vine or Instagram) and even longer videos are attracting more amplification and applause for the vast majority of networks which has two major outcomes for you:
- A lot of people often bypass the text information and make a like / share / ignore decision made purely on the visual aspect of an update so if you are not attaching images to your posts or links now, make sure you do so going forward.
- Ensuring your social media presence is creative will gain the engagement between businesses to consumers (B2C). The more engagement you have relating to a campaign, the easier it is to measure the feedback. The richer the medium of the format (i.e. pictures or video) the more affected, credible and engagement you will gain with your audiences.
Showing your human is our other main tip for engagement. If you had the chance to talk with someone who does nothing but talk at you or someone who listens and responses to your conversations as well as starting their own which would you pick? The same applies to social media so make sure you are listening to what your customers and other stakeholders are saying, gather the feedback, and join in the conversion.
Another great way to show you are human is to bring some of yourself or your company into your updates. 99% of companies would put a stock picture (perhaps of Scooby Doo) next to a link about pet t-shirts but that won’t be as effective as actually taking a photo of your staff in the t-shirts. Remember being quirky, fun and original on your social media sites lets your audiences know that you are human and that they’re not dealing with just a message sender!
The 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report published in last month saw 92% marketers indicate that social media is important for their business, that up from 86% in 2013, and with the list of social networks that people tell you to get on board with getting longer and longer you know you should be putting more effect into social media but how do you ensure you are making the most of that effort? Well, we have two main tips – chose the right networks and use tools:
Choosing the right networks
Business owner ask me all the time “how can I be expected to keep up and post on all these new social networks” well the simple answer is you shouldn’t be expected and in most cases you shouldn’t do it!
My advice is always to choose your network carefully – be it by audience (which networks are your customers using) or content type (is your content written, image or video) – and only go with the networks which make sense and you can commit too. Its better to have real engagement on one page then be on every network but do have half arsed job!
With this in mind, and to help you decide which network(s) are right for you here is a break down of the major networks:
- Type of content – microblogging site with a 140-character text limit, able to share pictures and videos
- Audience – Very broad from large multinationals to local businesses. Consumers mainly of a middle to younger age
- Best for – Short burst messages and links for information straight to audiences. Also great for B2B interaction
- Type of content – networking website that allows you to share most types of content
- Audience – Anyone from the age of 13 can create an account with Facebook and as the largest networks the range of people you can appeal too is huge
- Best for – Most companies due to the huge range in audience and acceptability of most media types. It is also great for beginners as most people are familiar with the interface and it has easy interaction due to the comments posted on the page which encourages engagement
- Type of content – as a social network for business professionals it has tools specifically for professional networking such as job finding, sales leads and connect with potential business partners. You can share most media types but it doesn’t have a built in video player
- Audience – Business professionals
- Best for – Networking and building contacts. LinkedIn can limit you by not actually allowing you to reach potential clients or customers without further growing your network. At this point in time it is better for individuals than companies.
- Type of content – Instagram has grown to be one of the most popular social networks for photo sharing that the mobile web has ever seen. It's the ultimate social network for sharing real-time photos and short videos while on the go
- Audience – Younger audience as a whole. Good communities for lifestyle, food, fashion, personalities and luxury brands.
- Best for – Companies with visual products and services. Can gain a good level of interaction and audience reach by using hashtags. Links can be posted in the picture or video caption, however they are not clickable (i.e. not great for building traffic)
- Type of content – Pinterest is quickly becoming a major player in social networking, and proves just how important visual content has become on the web. Users pin and re-pin posts to Pinterest Boards, which naturally push the content on Pinterest into categories
- Audience – Mainly female audience however growing amongst men
- Best for – Again companies with visual products and services. Amazing for show casing portfolio work. Unlike Instagram you can link the picture to a direct website.
- Type of content – As with Facebook most content types can be used. It has a very similar feel to Facebook in the way it works
- Audience – Was mostly adopted by people who wanted to be ahead in the tech industry so it is very heavy with that audience
- Best for – Those who want to target earlier adopters although Gogle + has built up a larger user base in 2014 so has a wider appeal. Has great SEO benefits if you can build an audience
- Type of content – After Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine. Mainly revolves entirely around content like video production, vlogging (video blogging), movie-making and music sharing
- Audience – Extremely wide
- Best for – Interacting and promoting your brand through the medium of video. The videos you upload to YouTube can be shared on many other social media sites. This is very much B2C (business to consumer)
- Type of content – Pictures, videos and text blogging website
- Audience – Heavily used by teens and younger users
- Best for – Pushing information to people who are interested in your content so that they can share it on their pages. Visual content usually works best
Now that you have carefully selected the networks you are going to get involved with you need to make the most of the time you, or your staff, has dedicated to them and one great way to do this is by tools.
A must have tool, for any social media campaign, is a scheduler and synchronising. Using a tool (we use Hootsuite and others such as Buffer) like this enables to update networks at times you are not in the office, in advance (such as at the start of the week) and at the right times but, perhaps more importantly, they can synchronise these updates across networks – if you are still switching between social media accounts to post the same updates then this is a real time saver.
These can be powerful timesaving tools but don’t just select all the networks and send the same messages – make sure you are thinking about the different audiences on and uses of each network. Hashtags aren’t as popular on Facebook as they are on Twitter and funny cat videos don’t go down as well on LinkedIn as they do Facebook!
The other must have tool is for tracking. Only Facebook has any meaningful type of analytics software built in called Facebook Insights, so to get standardised metrics across a range of networks you need to go to a third party. These tools make it easy to report those critical engagement metrics which otherwise can be impossible to track.
Make a start by grading your competitors social efforts with our Competitor Comparison Tool:
What are your key areas for social media focus this year? Any further tips for engagement or streamlining? Let us know your thoughts below!