Social media has been mainstream for many years now, but are you still struggling to figure out what you should be doing?
Have you been spending time on social media but finding that the time spent isn’t generating enough results?
Turning social media conversations into ROI takes careful planning and execution. It’s far too easy to invest your energies into time-consuming activities that yield negligible to no results.
So how do you make sure that you’re working in the most efficient and effective way possible? How do you make sure that you’re converting your social media activities into solid business benefits that boost your bottom line?
The key is to cut through the fluff and focus in on the indispensable actions that really work. The ones that you can actually pinpoint as fueling your business objectives and raising your profits.
Here’s Our Guide to the 5 Social Media Activities That Actually Get Results.
1. Your Strategy Must Match Your Objectives
One of the main reasons social media activities flounder is that they don’t have an end goal. To get the best results, you need to have a plan.
First of all, you need to identify your ideal clients.
Get really clear on who your ideal clients are, understand the language they use when describing themselves, their problems and what keywords they use to search for someone who offers the kinds of services that you do. Know where they connect with their peers and find industry related information.
Once you’ve developed a sense of where your clients are and where you’re going to interact with them, break it down even further. How will you use each social media platform at your disposal to connect with your client? What message are you trying to put across to them? How will each of these platforms help you to achieve each goal?
Draw up a pre-planned content calendar, along with a daily or weekly checklist to help you stay on top of these goals and interactions – and stick to it. To keep things as efficient and effective as possible, draft message templates and scripts for each platform or type of client, which can be swiftly and easily personalized as you need them. This will speed things up.
Finally, make sure that you’re crystal clear on how you’re going to track and measure the ROI of each task or interaction. What are you trying to achieve – and what does success look like for you? For example, is the aim to generate more likes or followers? Or are you looking for deeper engagement indicators, such as comments and shares? Or maybe you are trying to convert new leads to phone calls? Whatever it is for you…you must know what you are looking to achieve.
Beware: this is where many marketers can start to lose their way. As important as it is to generate “softer” outcomes like building brand awareness and nurturing relationships with potential clients, for your social media strategy to be truly successful it also needs to raise your sales.
That means you’ll need a reliable method for linking sales revenues to your social media efforts. Creating unique links will help you track traffic from each platform or campaign, establishing which of these are most likely to lead to a sale. Google’s URL builder, for example, is highly specialized and links straight back into your Google Analytics.
And finally, remember that your social media strategy isn’t set in stone. Review it regularly, test and tweak for best results.
2. Curate or Create Content That Educates & Entertains
When it comes to selecting content that gets results, this is the winning formula.
Focus on entertaining your audience or teaching them something useful for their business, this will help you to establish yourself as an expert voice in your industry, communicate a sense of your personality and connect with your audience on an emotional level. Plus, by giving something back, you encourage a sense of reciprocity – people feel more compelled to give something back, whether that’s in the form of a retweet or by ultimately by becoming a customer.
So what kind of content should you offer?
Broadly speaking, there are three types that really work:
- Content that helps to solve a problem, such as “how-to” blogs/articles, checklists, white papers, videos, podcasts, eBooks etc.
- Items that connect on an emotional level, be it aspirational, humorous or reassuring – for example, such as inspirational blog posts and interviews, visually content and infographics, and articles outlining mistakes to avoid or taking a satirical view of common frustrations in the industry
- Content that informs or reinforces their belief about something in the industry, e.g. case studies, expert commentaries or key statistics
3. Be Consistent
Branding is all about having a distinct voice. On social media, that means establishing a tone and style that is recognizable across all your platforms – and making sure that everything you make and share fits in with the persona you present. If you start posting content that feels “out of character” you’ll confuse your audience and weaken their trust in you and your brand.
Consistency also means positioning yourself as a reliable source of valuable information. You should only ever share content that you genuinely think is exceptional; no one will thank you for mediocre content. They won’t read it or share it – and it certainly won’t improve their opinion of you and your brand. Far better to err on the side of selective.
Also bear in mind that “valuable” is relative and specific to your audience. Valuable content is that which helps to address their unique pain points or appeals to their business interests and niche. Always ensure that you’re evaluating content from the perspective of your audience, asking yourself why they, specifically, would read or share this. What is it about this particular piece of content that will hold their attention?
“Content Marketing Institute research found that marketers said just 30% of their content was effective, which is down from 38% last year.” ~Joe Puliizzi
As well as being consistent in what you post, you also need to be consistent in when you post.
Getting your audience used to a weekly blog post, or a daily share of interesting content through LinkedIn or Twitter helps to build familiarity and brand loyalty. Having a carefully planned content calendar can help to get you posting top content at regular times and intervals, while scheduling apps like Hootsuite save time and hassle by automating the process.
4. Keep the Conversation Going
Putting out fabulous, conversation-starting content is only the first step – if you ignore people’s comments and attempts to connect, you’ll undo all your hard work.
Social media is a great tool for engaging an audience and building relationships, so make sure that’s what you are doing. Posting a steady stream of content without following up on conversations makes you look like a robot and will NOT build trust.
Timing is key. People have short attention spans and they expect your reply to be as immediate as their comment. If you wait a week to respond, the opportunity is lost.
Just as your content and planned posts are carefully crafted to further your business objectives, so too should your interactions with potential customers. Focus on adding value by giving helpful insights and clarifications, and by presenting your company in the best possible light.
Engaging with people in a positive way encourages others to interact, too, strengthening the community around your brand and encouraging others to join your following.
5. Build Your Tribe
One of the most powerful things about social media? Engage with your audience authentically and they’ll become your brand’s biggest champions and advocates, making your task easier and more effective.
People are constantly bombarded with advertising, and they’re cynical. Having you tell them how great you are will never be as convincing as a recommendation from a peer. Infact 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations (source: Socialnomics).
Reviews and comments posted online, as well as the opinions of family, friends and colleagues, will shape people’s perception of your brand.
Whatever you call them – cheerleaders, brand champions, ambassadors, evangelists, advocates – having an online army of people with no agenda of their own talk up your brand is an incredibly effective sales tool.
These are the people who absolutely love what you do and will shout it from the digital rooftops – but don’t ever take them for granted. Always, always, acknowledge and thank your brand ambassadors, even if it’s just a shout out on a social media platform.
And, if you can, go even further, offering advocates and customers occasional perks or personal touches that surprise and delight them. Hand written thank you notes, coupons and discounts, advance warning about new products and services… these kind of things can go a long way.
Remember what we said about reciprocity? If you don’t show mutual respect and appreciation, there’s every chance they’ll lose their enthusiasm for your brand, and you’ll lose one if its greatest assets.
So there you have it: the most effective activities you need to do via social media. But you don’t have to do it all yourself.
If you don’t have the time or resources to offer consistent, quality content and social media engagement, you may want to consider hiring a social media agency or manager to do it for you.
If you’re considering going down this path, there are three important things you need to consider.
1. What to Look for in a Social Media Manager or Agency
The best way to ascertain how good a job your social media agency will do for your brand is to check out how they manage their own accounts. The biggest giveaways are these:
- Do their social media profiles look professional and consistently branded?
- Do they show thought leadership?
- Do they post regularly?
- Do they vary their post type (links, quotes, infographics, videos, etc) and include thoughtful comments about what they are posting?
- Are their services too cheap?
And, perhaps most importantly, how big (and how engaged) is their social media following? Because after all, if they can’t grow their own following, how can they promise to grow yours?
2. Think Carefully About What to Keep In House
Just because you CAN outsource everything doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
An obvious limitation is your budget: the more work you hand over to an agency, the more it will cost you, so you’ll need to be very careful about what kind of activities it makes sense for you to outsource.
For example, blog posts and infographics are both time consuming, high-cost items, and if you’re outsourcing them you can expect to pay more for these services. If you’re working with a tight budget, focus on outsourcing things that aren’t covered by your team’s expertise.
And then of course there are those “in the moment” content marketing opportunities that can only be seized yourself. For example, if your business deals with hospitality or tourism, you might well want to post photos of happy customers or participants enjoying a great meal or engaged in a fun adventure activity, and to post it in real time with links to their Twitter or Instagram handles.
Authenticity and genuine engagement are also areas that you just don’t want to lose. It’s hard to build a relationship with your customers if you’re not the one doing the talking, and activities like replying to comments can quickly lose their magic if they’re handled by a big agency that doesn’t know your business inside out.
Really, it comes down to this: if having an outsider take over a particular task could make your market doubt the authenticity of the interaction, don’t risk it. This isn’t advertising, this is conversing – it’s a way of finding, connecting and building relationships with your market and customers. Make sure it feels real, or it won’t work.
3. Stay Involved in the Process
The beauty of outsourcing the creation and curation of your content is that it leaves you with more time to engage in conversations with followers and customers – which, after all, is the very heart of your social media strategy.
Schedule a small amount of time each day to reach out to people who have taken the time to engage with your brand. Make sure you’re feeding back insights and up-to-date information to your social media manager to help them tailor content to your market’s preferences and interests. And, of course, keep reviewing and revising your strategy all the time, to stay at the top of your game.
Which social media activities do you find help to boost audience engagement in your business? Which tasks are you happy to outsource – and which do you prefer to keep close at hand? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you need help with your social media strategy or social media management, we are here to help! Please email us at [email protected] to find out more!