16 Simple Steps for Social Success — Part 2
The first part of this two-part series took you through the initial steps you need to follow in creating a successful social media presence, and would need to be revisited monthly or quarterly. The remaining steps outlined below are the steps you will find yourself repeating weekly, if not daily, in order to achieve your objectives.
Respond and Engage With Your Audience
Your website is a one-sided communication channel, where you share information with your audience, and try to convert new customers. This is also true for your presence on social media networks, except it should not be one-sided. Social media is an opportunity for you to properly engage with your audience by reacting — and responding — to their comments. Customers see social media not only as a means to learn more about brands and products, but also to initiate a dialogue regarding any problems they are experiencing, and to pose questions. Some brands choose to steer these conversations towards private channels such as direct messaging, email or even telephonic communication, which is good for complex problems that may require personal information in order to resolve. But this should be the exception, and not the norm, especially when your response could help other customers with similar problems.
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The John Lewis social team responds to customer comments[/caption]
As mentioned previously, try to keep the tone light and conversational, and use plain language wherever possible. And don’t forget that your audience’s comments and questions can be used to further shape your social media strategy, and future posts.
Coordinate With all Internal Departments
A small business might not have large teams managing different departments, but they would still have individual employees responsible for separate business functions. It is vital that these departments, or individual employees, are involved in every step of your social strategy; not only will they be able to suggest ideas for actual content, but they will also have better knowledge of what goals and objectives they would be able to contribute to. Each department (or employee) will have intimate knowledge of what their internal pains are — what obstacles they face each day — and who their customers are, allowing you to create more detailed buyer personas.
Have a Content Calendar
In the first part of this article, we covered some steps involved in outlining your content strategy, and one of the documents linked to your content strategy is a content calendar. Aside from listing the days and dates in each month in chronological order, your content calendar should include the following:
- Content description — a brief description of the content that will be posted.
- Time — this only needs to state whether it will be posted in the morning, afternoon, or in the evening.
- Type — is it a link, text, image and text, video, etc.
- KPI — how are you going to measure the success of each post? Clicks, views, shares, comments, etc.
- Result — the actual KPI result, updated after the content is posted.
Populate your content calendar as far in advance as you can manage, but never less than a month in advance. This gives you sufficient time to create any media that is needed — graphics, videos, etc. — and by planning ahead, you also reduce any stress associated with coming up with content to post, and ensuring that it addresses specific objectives. It also assists with automating your social posting, as discussed later in this article.
Analysing the performance of each post, on each channel, serves a dual purpose:
- It allows you to track your progress towards achieving your objectives, and
- It allows you to see what types of posts perform best.
There are many paid solutions for analysing your performance, but before you start investigating them, get to know the free analytics tools that are included with each channel.
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Image source: SproutSocial[/caption]
Some of the key performance indicators can be recorded on your content calendar, while others will need to be plotted separately.
The key metrics to measure include:
- Number of followers, including growth.
- Reach, which is different to the number of followers you have. Each post will only reach a fraction of your audience, and even then, not all of them will actually see, or pay attention, to the post. Analyse reach in relation to the time each post is made to help determine the optimal day and time for sharing updates on different social channels.
- Engagement, which is first measured in terms of the number of likes, shares and comments each post attracts, and then in terms of referrals and conversions — if any of the posts include a link back to your website, how many people follow the link.
- If you are posting videos, then you would also need to measure how many times each video is viewed.
Post type performance: a comparative measure of how each post type performs in relation to other types.
Have a Unified Look
We previously discussed having separate strategies for each social network you are on, but this needs to be managed carefully to ensure that your brand identity remains consistent. Even if the type of content you share is very different on each network — as is the case with Denny’s — your audience should never have any doubt that it is your official account.
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Denny’s Facebook & Twitter profiles are identical[/caption]
From having the same handle/username on each network, to using the same profile photo, and largely similar bio’s, a consistent brand identity is important. And while it isn’t essential that all images you post include branding, your videos should.
Know When to Spend Money
Creating a presence on social media doesn’t need to cost you anything apart from some time and effort, but being willing to spend a bit of money — and knowing when to spend it — can only benefit you and your business. The growth in the freelance economy means you don’t need to hire a full-time designer to get great looking content, and finding freelance photographers, videographers and designers is incredibly easy, and much more affordable than a full-time employee. Not every single post to your social networks has to be professionally designed, but it can make things easier for you, while also helping to ensure your brand identity does not suffer.
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Image source: Facebook[/caption]
Another part of your social presence that can benefit from a willingness to spend money is exposure and reach, in the form of advertising on the various networks. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all offer advertising to a global audience, while Pinterest is currently only available in the US and the UK, and they all offer you an opportunity to not only be seen by more of your existing audience, but also to reach people who aren’t following you yet. Each campaign is highly customisable, right down to how much you are willing to spend.
Consistency is not only about having a unified look, but also about posting regularly. Ideally you would be posting every day, but this is more challenging for small businesses, so ensure that you consistently post on the same days) each week, at roughly the same time. This can be extended further by also posting specific types of content on certain days, so Monday’s see you posting helper videos, and Wednesday’s posting image links that drive traffic to your website.
Automate to Simplify
The final step to social success is automating your posts, which is only possible if you have taken the time to compile and populate a content calendar.
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Image source: Hootsuite[/caption]
Knowing what content you are going to post, and when you are going to post it, allows you to use tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule everything in advance, with the added benefit of enhanced analytics offered by both tools. However, automation is only meant to save you from having to remember to post, they do not take away the responsibility you have to actively monitor each of your social channels, and to respond to customer queries and comments.
There are no shortcuts to having a great social media presence, but by implementing a clear strategy, with specific objectives, you are more likely to achieve success. And with a lot less stress.
Learn more about the 31 essential digital marketing tactics that can boost your business in our handy guide: here