Social Media Continues to be the poster child for big brands and small alike, and understandably so. Social can be utilised irrespective of small budgets by organically growing audiences to increase awareness; whilst bigger brands see it as a route to deeper engagement. Plus, consumers are increasingly turning to social to run searches, which puts further pressure to be present in this space. However, it can be a massive time commitment which makes many scrutinise the return on investment. The desire is for social to drive tangible action, but fill newsfeeds with endless promotional posts and audiences instantly turn off, or worse – unfollow. So where is the middle ground that engages fans but still drives results? To commit to this extensive channel it’s inevitable you want to get off the starting blocks and driving results fast. Fortunately, we know a few people that know something about that – so I asked our top Openr users for their top tips to get going and get results on social, and compiled it into the Ultimate Cheat Sheet for getting results on social.
1. Be selective (and be proud)
Don’t jump on the bandwagon of every social network – you’ll blow every hour in your week and soon find the majority don’t work for you. Your single most important cheat is to pick the right place(s) to focus your valuable time and energy. Then set out to do these really well by learning from others. Select your most-suited social network based on your target customers – quite simply you want to invest your time where you can reach the most of them. Consider their needs and wants when they’re on that network and select where they are both most prevalent, and most receptive to interaction. Start by researching what others in your sector use, and the customer demographics of each network to find your match.
2. Get the basics bang on
Your social profile is a measure of your professionalism and impacts your reputation as much as your website. Furthermore, it’s worthless investing in paid-social to boost reach later, if your profile doesn’t look credible. So lay the foundations early and set up your profiles well. Add a professional profile image; a page header image that reflects your offering; and include an introduction that would attract your target audience to follow or like you. Be authentic and interesting and include keywords that are most relevant to your profession to enable others to find you via search.
3. Don’t be tempted by the shortcuts
No buying followers please. It will only come back and bite you when they all disappear overnight because the social network did a purge of fake accounts. Just accept that a little bit of time needs to be taken to build your chosen networks organically, then you can utilise this free audience you’ve just earned in the future. Once you’ve set up your chosen networks, start a steady flow of following or liking each day to trigger others to follow you back. A good place to start is to find influencers in your industry, and your key competitors, and find and follow their followers.
4. Interact & reward interaction
Social is… inherently social. It’s not about you – it’s only about your followers – but this works in your favour. Liking and retweeting others; replying to questions; and including others in your posts when you share their content, are three quick cheats that take 10 seconds or less (especially if you connect your mobile). This simple level of interaction encourages more followers, and increases your reach by placing you in their feeds too. Don’t endorse everything though, do it when you mean it to maintain authenticity.
5. Plan it out
Like any other marketing channel the best results come to those who plan, and in fact mapping out a simple plan is key to keeping your social media management time to the right level for you. Create a simple spreadsheet showing the frequency and timing of your posts per week per channel. A quick bit of research will tell you the optimum amount for your chosen channel as well as the ideal timings for your target. Then overlay any key events, campaigns or promotions you have planned to see when you’ll feature these too.
6. Ruthlessly respect the 80/20 rule
Fill your feed with promotion, after promotion, after sales message, and it’s social media suicide – every follower you’ve earned will disappear or ignore you. It’s all about striking a balance. You earn the right to share something about your brand such as a promotion or competition, by sharing and posting things that add value to your audience over 80% of the time. The cheat here is all about sharing content – find a few trusted sources of content that your audience will like and build your posting plan around these. This can be a mix of your own helpful blogs (if available) and useful or interesting third party content. Just seek out ways to link the third party content you share to your offering. You can even set up automatic posts from RSS feeds with tools like Hootsuite too.
7. Scheduling is your new best friend
It is entirely achievable to keep your ongoing social media management down to an hour of set up per week, plus a few real-time interactions via your phone. All you need is a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck. Using these tools you can schedule all your planned posts for the week in one easy sitting. Plus you can set up streams to keep track of activity too – such as competitors, notifications, or particular search terms – making interaction even easier.
8. Be visual
On Facebook, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more clicks. On Twitter, photos or content shared with images, generate an average 35% boost in retweets. It goes without saying that your conversational posts don’t need to include images, but when you’re sharing content incorporate a relevant image where you can to increase standout on your feed.
9. Increase reach with #Hashtags
Put simply, your posts reach your followers but posts including a #hashtag reach anyone who is searching for posts with that hashtag too, so it significantly increases your reach. Watch out though, recent research shows that you shouldn’t include too many: on Twitter, two hashtags per tweet result in 2x more engagement, but 3+ per tweet result in 17% less! To find the best hashtags for you, do a bit of research. Seek out ones linked to your industry that are active; as well as ones that your target audience is using. You can also look for trending hashtags, but never hijack ones that aren’t relevant to you.
10. Plan ahead for real-time events
Following on from the free reach you can get with well-used #hashtags, it’s worth seeking out events that have hashtags you can get involved with too. This happens a lot with sports and games, as viewers are really engaged in the moment and you can utilise this momentum to engage and get involved too.
11. Invest in highly targeted paid ads
So you’ve got a professional looking profile, with an organically grown audience and a social schedule that is perfectly manageable, with the right balance of content and promotional posts. Now is the time to promote the actions you want with social paid advertising. It could be a featured tweet on Twitter, or a promoted post on Facebook – but all the social media paid options are fantastically targeted, letting you choose exactly who you want to reach and when, with small and fixed budgets too. To start, try using posts with a contest or competition that has received some good organic interaction as this tells you it’s attractive to your audience.
12. Track results then scale
You know all about tracking results – so just take the same analytical approach to your paid social ads. Set benchmarks, run a small test, check the stats, improve and repeat. Try different messaging for each post, try different offers, and target audiences, then build a picture of what works with your audience. From this solid base of learning, you’ll know what drives the action you want. With a consistently filled newsfeed and credible profile you have created yourself a whole new marketing channel to amplify your wider marketing campaigns, and given it’s highly targeted and affordable nature, it’s one you want in your marketing mix so it’s worth putting in the initial set up time to earn it.