How can you keep afloat on social media whllst everyone’s engagements and referrals go down the plughole? Buzzsumo’s latest content trends report found that ‘shares’ of content on social media halved between 2015 and 2017 and referrals to websites from social media declined sharply.
The aims of social media
When using social media to promote your business, it’s important to engage your audience through conversation and items they want to see.
Remember that the aim of social media from its users point of view is to socialise and be kept informed and entertained. You will turn your followers off with repeated ‘look at me’ and ‘buy now’ messages so avoid doing this.
The aim from the media owners’ point of view is to make money through advertisements. It’s not to connect people as you might think, and it’s certainly not for other businesses to make money without the channel getting a share. There are times it will be more effective for you to play by the channel’s rules to succesfully promote your business.
Above all, identify what your aim is for your social media activity. Think about how you can measure your success and ensure you do analyse your results regularly and adapt your strategy accordingly, to make sure the benefits you’re getting are worth your time.
12 tips for planning successful social media activity
1. Plan social media in advance (eg Wednesday the week before), writing down your plan for what you will post and when (and who is responsible for posting what).
2. There are researched formulae for successful social media engagement and selling such 5,3,2 – for every ten posts, 5 are reposts from other people (“community”), 3 are posts you start but that aren’t about you, and 2 are new that about your business (one soft sell, one hard sell).
3. Reference calendars for significant dates.
Look at https://www.daysoftheyear.com/ for topics that may trend, and the Twitter calendar. Remember these are geared more to the US, and that there are regional or national variations of dates eg Mother’s and Father’s day are on different days in the US and UK.
Remember other key cultural and religious holidays eg Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Eid, Chinese New Year.
Include sporting events.
Include television shows that will trend eg Strictly, I’m a Celebrity, Bake Off etc.
4. Factor in any planned seasonal marketing or special offers (remember not to have too many special offers as they become unbelieveable and devalue your product/brand).
5. Tuesdays and Thursdays are statistically the days people are mostly likely to buy, however, this may be different in your industry, so refer to any trade bodies you’re a member of, or hire a marketing consultant to perform research using their CIM professional membership or subscription databases.
Your soft sell could be mildly encouraging buying eg “read our blog on x” or use a community post with text that refers to your services. Remember to cycle in your old as well as new blogs unless they are out of date (in which case, can they be updated and re-used?).
Also, use short, key soundbites/facts from within the blog to attract attention and demonstrate the value in reading the blog. Avoid “link bombing” – a phrase I’ve coined from seeing people use social media to drop ‘read this’ links and run away. If someone did this to you at a party or a face-to-face networking event, you’d think they were very odd! Initiate conversations instead of dropping unlit bombs.
Your hard sell should be a clear action you want your readers to take. Provide the tools for them to do so eg book now button, message us button etc. Remember you’re selling ‘why you’ over your competitors so tell them about who you are, what you like, what you have been up to – birthdays, staff dos, charity initiatives. This type of post gets more engagement and reactions than the informational ones.
6. Identify any opportunities for paid boost/promotion (videos are most effective).
7. Look up themes which trend each day and consider aligning some of your posts with them if appropriate. Not necessarily for hashtag visibility since everyone is doing it and probably no-one is searching those hashtags actually looking for inspiration, but just to be part of the culture.
Monday motivation – something inspiring
Back to work Monday – something cheerful
A sell day
Charity Tuesday – your company or personal efforts, or inspiring stories
Hump day – celebration/fun
A sell day
Throwback Thursday – memories, old photos. Remember cultural differences eg TV programmes for the US.
Funday/Feeling – something feel-good for the weekend.
Relaxing things, social things, activities/hobbies.
8. Monitor the web through a Google alert to find new ‘community’ things to post. This will email the results to the account you’re logged into Google with. The results arrive at the same time each day (or day of the week) as you set up or last altered the alert.
New searches should be set to come in daily so there aren’t too many to look through until you establish common false results that you can exclude using the exclude (“-”) function.
9. Write your posts in Word so you can see spelling and grammar errors. Consider word and spelling variations for multinational audiences and try to avoid such issues, or else remember that the UK is more exposed to and understanding of Americanisms than the other way around.
10. Paste from Word into Facebook or scheduling tools such as Buffer (often free at low usage levels) to schedule your posts for the week.
11. Reposting ‘community’ content is important as customers will engage more with posts aimed to help or entertain them, and that are ‘trending’ than they will with your sell messages that I bet have received radio silence. And you need engagement because the algorithms of Facebook and Twitter put popular posts to the top of people’s feeds, not the most recent posts. So when people have interacted with your posts, Facebook shows your new posts at the top of their feed.
Reposts should be relevant to your brand but awe-inspiring or humorous, or current news or trends that people will find useful or funny etc. Ideally these will be so good that people will share it with their friends, getting your company logo in front of more people generating more follows, and improving your engagement levels in the social media platform’s eyes. Posts that have had millions of views and thousands of shares already are likely to do well.
12. It’s best to focus on one channel and do it well. Each channel has its strengths based on type of activity (eg visual only (YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest) v. text and visual (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn)), and demographics.
Table is from Weareflint 2018
You can read detailed guidance on each of the channels on my other blogs: