Social media has gone from an exploratory novelty to a must-have for companies large and small in just a decade or so. In just over a decade, we have seen the public adoption of Facebook, rise and fall (and reemergence and fall) of MySpace, a storm of success brought on by Twitter's 140 character micro-posts, and more. The landscape has quickly evolved and continues to do so - and with that, our tactics must also shift to keep up with the new.
Beyond the actual social media sites available, the social media public has also changed. Teens are abandoning Facebook, leaving this once social media giant to the 30's and up crowd (who'd have seen that one coming five years ago?!).
Being successful in social media marketing has countless variables, but there are three main factors that most affect your success in the social media realm: timing, your network evolution, and your metrics.
Read on to learn more about the three factors that most make or break your social media marketing success.
Like they say, timing is everything.
Dropping a newsworthy post at the wrong time of day is the quickest way to let it go unnoticed while, in contrast, posting it while your audience is most likely to be online is the quickest way to skyrocket your headline to the top of the trending list.
Interestingly, nearly 50 percent of the U.S. population is in the Eastern timezone - think about that in terms of your social media posts. For example, if you are based on the west coast and drop huge news at 2:30 p.m. - right about the time that everyone in your timezone is bound to be back from lunch, that also means that nearly 50 percent of the national population is most likely in their cars, stuck in rush hour without access to social media. By the time they're online, your news will be buried.
In whole, 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in either the Eastern or Central time zones - aim to post when these populations are most likely to be online to get the most traction out of your social media posts.
Infographic credit: Kiss Metrics
Within Twitter, aim for around either noon or 5 p.m. (ET/CT) - six percent (the highest percentage attributed to any singular time) of all ReTweets occur at 5 p.m. Facebook primetime is around noon also.
2. Not ignoring the smaller networks
Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ remain the big three - and you should certainly focus your efforts there, but don't forget to introduce the smaller networks into your mix. SlideShare, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are all worth a bit of effort - after all, with the social media landscape shifting as frequently and suddenly as it does, you never know what you'll miss out on if your hand isn't already in the pot.
Pinterest and LinkedIn are fairly well known in the social media space, but in case you haven't yet heard of SlideShare, the quick and dirty is that it's a Web 2.0-based network used to share graphic assets, such as Keynote, PDF, or OpenOffice files. As of May 2013, the site claimed 60 million monthly visitors - no small feat. Learn how to reach out new customers using Slide Share.
3. Measuring social media success
What's the point of doing anything in marketing if you aren't measuring whether it works? Measurement is important for more than just tracking ROI, though - it is also important for continuous improvement in your tactics and approaches.
Track your engagement metrics carefully to learn about your growth and audience - metrics such as likes on Facebook, shares and retweets, followers, and more will give you track-able metrics as to who your audience is and its rate of growth.
Look also at conversion rates - things like website visits, traffic sources, and landing page entrances will help you to learn which topics are popular and which posts had the most interest. I wrote about several case studies and tools suggestions on how to improve your site's conversion rate effectively in the past - do check it out if you wish to learn more.
There are tons of free apps and websites for tracking metrics out there, but they of course offer limited information. That said, bit.ly is a great one for shortening those Twitter links and offers built-in metrics specific to the links. Google Analytics is again free and can give metrics for your entire website, including those entrance pages and traffic referral sources. Hootsuite is a very popular one these days and Tweetdeck is a classic for Twitter metrics.
Alternatively, there are a number of paid metrics site, such as Radian6, which come with pretty substantial price tags but also offer pretty substantial information.