Social media continues to play an integral role in attracting and engaging new customers, no matter the business size. For the skeptics among us, that value is less obvious. Arguably, it has been difficult to measure the value of a social media marketing strategy. KPI’s were often loosely based on subjective data.
What is less arguable is the sheer volume of Internet users who are actively participating on social media in one form or another. Of the 3.7 billion internet users, 2.7 billion are active social media users.
In an effort to bridge the gap between the believers and the skeptics, let’s dig into the world of community management.
Below are 5 things to consider when evaluating your social media marketing strategy:
1. Define Your Expectations:
Clearly defining expectations prior to launching into any social endeavor will make measuring and managing those expectations much easier. How will your social voice differ than that on your website? Are you using social media to attract and convert new customers, or to engage existing ones?
Once your business’s social objectives have been clearly defined, the next step is defining internal roles as they relate to execution. How many people will participate in drafting, curating and promoting content? Who will report and to whom? For every business the answers to such questions will differ, so it’s important to understand what your objectives are.
2. Set Goals:
One of the easiest ways to measure the success of a program is to put goals in place. Decide which metrics are most crucial to the success of the program and ensure everyone is aiming for these goals.
For example, if you are looking to increase returning visits, then be sure those involved are focusing on improving the customer experience as well as engagement. If you are looking to increase mentions, be sure quality content is being published with a level of frequency.
3. Find Your Audience:
The days of Facebook vs. Twitter are over. With Pinterest growing in popularity and photo and video content on Instagram and Snapchat becoming increasingly popular it can be tempting to want to be all things to all people. But in this case, less truly is more. Your chances for success increase when you focus your efforts. So it’s vital to understand your audience and how they engage. As a general rule of thumb Facebook typically cater to a B2C audience whereas Twitter can caters to both B2B and B2C. However YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest have increased in popularity with brands, so do your due diligence and find the platforms that are a right fit.
4. Substance Over Style:
Think about the conversations you have with the people in your life on a daily basis. Which conversations capture your attention and which ones leave you glazed over? The same logic applies to the conversations you are attempting to have online. Of course, not everything will appeal to everybody, but having a firm understanding of the types of content your audience enjoys will increase your opportunity to engage with them in a meaningful way.
5. Measure Twice, Cut Once:
Whether you are self reporting, or reporting to a team you will want to establish a method that clearly interprets results. In addition, define the frequency of these reports – weekly, monthly, quarterly or all of the above? Once you have established reporting, refine your strategy as you go along. Typically this is done incrementally depending on the volume of data you are working with. Think of your social media marketing strategy as a tanker, adjusting over the course of time will increase your chances to impact your brand in a meaningful way and hopefully decrease the likelihood your ship will sink.
Now that you have the basics in mind, let’s take a deeper dive into evaluating the effectiveness of your current social media efforts.
You should consider auditing your social media marketing anytime you make a change in marketing budget, personnel, branding, or department goals. Best practices should also include at minimum an annual review to spot big trends and patterns missed in the day-to-day operations.
Recently, we took a look at the most common opportunities missed by brands. From that webinar, we pulled the Top 5 takeaways–things you absolutely must examine for a successful social media audit.
Claim the Name
This obvious tip is legitimately the most important. It’s critically important that you grasp onto profiles and handle names that exactly (or, very closely) match your business. That said, it’s more important that your name be recognizable than exactly correct. If your customers know you as Uptown Glasses instead of the full Uptown Luxury Sunglasses, embrace that difference–you’ll appear more often to searchers.
If your exact name or desired variation has already been snagged by an unofficial source, consider disputing that claim. Just remember: recognition (and consistency across platforms) is far more important than exact-ness. The dispute might not be worth your time and resources.
Invest in the Right Channel
If your audience is older, Snapchat probably isn’t the right place to dedicate time. If your audience is primarily female, Pinterest might be worthy of your content (See our Tips for Launching your Brand on Pinterest). Think carefully about who your customers are and which social platforms are drawing their daily attention. Then, concentrate your efforts.
A bonus tip for identifying key platforms: Ask yourself, “where are my competitors earning the highest engagement?” Spend a little time pretending to be a customer and find out who’s showing up where.
Check Your Links
When trying to establish a digital and social footprint, there’s no excuse for broken or confusing links anywhere in the customer journey. Start with your website:
- Are there social media icons in the footer? If so, consider replicating them in your header.
- Do they all link to the right place?
- Is there recent content on the platforms they link to?
- Do the social share buttons on your articles and content actually work?
In the same vein, check on the links and bios of your social profiles themselves. Phone numbers, addresses, and websites should be consistent and universal. This is chiefly important for not only legitimacy, but visibility; there should be no obstacle for a potential customer to find you wherever you’re creating content for them. Links to your website should also be designed using best practices (see how to do this here).
Refresh Your Ads
On Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, new campaign styles and targeting options come fast and frequent. If you haven’t examined your strategy lately, stack your current advertisements up against new options. Switch from boring single-image ads to carousels, slideshows, or true videos.
Extend that creativity to your audience, too. Have you installed the Facebook pixel on your website, opening up remarketing? When’s the last time you made any audience change–is lifetime Frequency hitting the 10+ range? Take care with audience burnout and mix up your tactics, comparing results to past “wins.” Chances are, there’s a wealth of untapped potential in your paid social mix.
Be Consistently Active
Think about how you view other brand pages as a social user, not an employee. If a company posts rarely or not at all, the chance you’ll follow their profile is probably slim-to-none, and their perceived lack of organization or effort might bleed into your general feelings about that brand.
From that lens, examine your own efforts. Are there big gaps of time between posts? Do your posts seem random, without thematic consistency? Get yourself a social media scheduling tool (we’re big fans of Hootsuite and Buffer) and fix that. Give people a reason to stick around with shares of value from non-competitive sources, and experiment with different times of day to find moments of high engagement.
Boiling down to just five things everyone should do when auditing their social presence is tough. There’s so much of value to examine in the pursuit of improvement. Below, take a peek at a few other worthwhile actions to take.
- Understand your Social Share of Voice — Where do people go to talk about your products and services? Who’s dominating the conversation around that topic? What social strategies is the leader using?
- Create Content with Influencers — If non-competitive users are dominating that conversation, hook up with them for promotions, partnered content, or sponsored posts.
- Install Pixels and Event Tracking – Make sure that any advertising tracking tags provided by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others are installed and working. Use events to monitor specific actions and establish campaign KPIs. Use Google Analytics events to extend this sophistication to organic social.
- Test, Test, Test – Mix up your images, copy, and advertising audiences. Wherever possible, try split-testing, running the same creative to audiences with a single dependent variable that changes.