Social media is all about creative content and numerical analysis. Producing social media messages that are attention-grabbing and engaging takes one set of skills which then must be coupled with the ability to analyse forensically what’s working and why. Although corporate social media can be so anodyne it is easily ignored, when it gets a lot of attention that can be worse as it means it’s gone horribly out of control. There’s a real element of danger to social media as organisations can feel very vulnerable so the result can be a somewhat vanilla feed that’s unlikely to cause controversy…or win new clients or customers.
Setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based) for social media marketing, just as you would around your sales or marketing strategy ensures that rather than being a slightly nerve-wracking adjunct to your company, social media moves you nearer your company goals and gives a good return on investment.
As with any other area of your business, when devising your social media campaign, think about relevant goals for your organisation, target, timing and budget. Once you have established these, think about which platform most suits those goals. Some platforms, even if relevant, are very resource heavy. YouTube might work brilliantly for you but obviously relies exclusively on video content – do you have the time or the resources to produce this?
It's easy to get distracted by the number of followers and likes but bear in mind these are essentially vanity figures. They are not necessarily going to help you move closer to what your organisation is trying to do. What you should be valuing are engagement, clicks and reach and how they are moving you closer to your company goals. And what are these?
- Clicks are the number of times a user clicks on your account or your post – tracking clicks enables you to see what people like or respond to. Clicks become leads - what’s working, who’s looking at your product, where do they come from? How can you capitalise on them and turn their interest into a sale?
- Engagement is the number of social interactions such as likes, comments and shares. This lets you know what your audience thinks about you and whether they see you as open to interaction. If you divide it by the number of impressions, you get the engagement rate, which is a more precise metric of your performance. The higher your engagement rate then the more chance you have of making them solid leads and ideally customers.
- Post reach, the number of unique users who see your post, shows the content that reaches your users. Why does reach matter? Because everyone that sees your post is a potential customer. It’s a numbers game - the further the reach, the greater the opportunities
You might have different goals for different platforms; maybe you are using LinkedIn to attract talent, Instagram for customers and Twitter to heighten awareness of your brand story. Look at your competitors and see how they are segmenting their audience.
Don’t aim too high – goals are great but keep them achievable. Single focus objectives for each platform work well, as too many mean your message gets blurred.
There are many social media management tools that can help you schedule your posts in advance but don’t get too carried away with automating the entire process or you’ll lose the sense that there are humans behind the feed. Social media is still linked to mass media; it’s a symbiotic relationship, so keep your posts relevant to what’s happening that day or week. You are also in danger of the system putting out a perky corporate line on the day of a disaster; we’ve all seen this happen and it’s uncomfortable to say the least. Likewise, don’t slavishly follow the recommendations of the automated posting software about the ‘optimum’ time of day to post. If the optimum time of day to post according to the software happens to be when your social media team aren’t in the office, then that’s not going to be effective. Make it work for you, don’t be intimidated by the analysis.
Remember that social media is not a science. Yes, there are algorithms, but ultimately, they work with and for people. People respond to stories, so make your posts a short story to a person. Then be prepared to test, learn, and adjust until you find your perfect formula, one that fits in with your business goals and moves your organisation one step closer to where you want it to be..