Four years post founding Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg predicted that the content shared on the platform each year would be twice the amount shared the previous year. Two-thirds through 2016, and his proclamation seems to be perfectly on cue.
Competing against the ever-expanding number of posts calling for people's attention is no mean task, however seasoned the marketer or large the brand. Simply increasing your activity won't work (as many have already discovered), to truly succeed on social media you've to face and overcome the facts that few people talk about.
Here are five social media marketing secrets that every marketer needs to know.
1. There's no predictable pattern for success
As observed by Puranjay Singh, there are several self-proclaimed 'experts' who have made generic suggestions that are founded in the past. Following their advice to increase your number of posts per week or write blog posts more frequently won't always work.
Irrespective of how confident or compelling the posts are, there's no proof to the existence of an absolute, conquer-all formula for social media marketing.
First off, every company is unique, as are the problems they're trying to solve, and the characteristics of the audience they want to attract. Additionally, social media platforms are constantly evolving, and with them the behavior of audience groups. There's no plausible way for one formula to produce brilliant results for every single business.
Imagine you were marketing an IT services based company and a restaurant on social media. Would your approach to both be the same? Study your audience and niche, and formulate the best plan possible for your brand, specifically.
To help with this, there's a range of solutions available which every marketer can use to analyze their results improve their performance.
Here is a short list of four such tools.
- Google Analytics is a great way to study and optimize your social media efforts. By determining which platforms drive most of your conversions, you can make an informed choice on where to invest your time and money.
- Content curation app DrumUp is a quick source for content to fill in your engagement gaps. Its online content reserve option and advanced scheduling (with creation of account groups for multiple account management) are great time-savers.
- Social monitoring tool Social Mention helps monitor brand mentions, competition and important keywords. Their sentiment analysis option, in particular, is great for brand reputation gauging and management.
- Image optimization app PicMonkey is the ultimate destination for images. Not only does the app have canvases to choose from for different usage, but there are also pre-made templates with background and font styles for each of them.
2. High ROI requires an engaged following
The target for any marketer, on social media or otherwise, is ROI - unless you can justify your spend, marketing on any platform is pointless.
One of the first barriers to this, in social media terms, is building a following. Unlike TV or radio where you advertise based on viewership that already exists, on social media you begin posting content to attract that viewership before you can expect any real results.
The hard truth is that, initially, no matter how brilliant the content is, your engagement levels will probably be low. Consistency in content quality and frequency, over time, and when paired with the right strategy, is the path to respectable social ROI.
3. A documented and intentional content plan is crucial
To get past that first barrier of building an engaged following, a content marketing plan is essential. According to this study, 70% of marketers lack a content marketing strategy that's consistent.
What makes content effective?
1) Relevance to your audience (Do your research)
2) Effective storytelling (Hire the right create people)
3) The ability to trigger the response you desire (Fail fast and learn from experience)
What are the challenges that keep marketers from succeeding at content?
1) Shortage of time and bandwidth to create content (Curate don't create all, use a content curation app)
2) Trouble matching required volumes of content (Same as above)
3) The inability to create original and engaging content (Develop reliable content creation processes)
4) The inability to measure effectiveness and refine content (Measure and evaluate your attempts, use a social media monitoring app)
Documenting your strategy is extremely important. As proved by Content Marketing Institute a documented strategy gives you more confidence and helps you justify your spend better.
4. Word of mouth can be generated in less traditional ways
Companies have always channeled promotional messages and marketing models through their employees (offline referral based marketing). What most marketers still fail to realize is the tactic works equally well on social media. In fact, considering the virality of social media, referral or employee based marketing could provide even more effective results.
Who can generate word of mouth for your brand on social media?
Customers, employees, partners and fans. Building relationships with people is a pre-requisite for running any type of business. Extending these relationships to social media has benefits beyond simple measurement.
With customers, you could collect and share testimonials or success stories on social media (guide to user generated content).
With employees you could create an exciting employee advocacy program around promoting your company content (employee advocacy guide).
With partners you could initiate mutually beneficial social media marketing partnerships.
With influencers you could request them to help you gain visibility in exchange for a fair payment (influencer marketing guide).
Word of mouth is powerful because of the increased visibility and credibility it affords your brand, and cannot be compared to traditional marketing (self-promotion). Also note that people are more enthusiastic when they're involved themselves.
5. Data is only as valuable as your interpretation of it
Data is the holy grail of marketing for many marketers, but unless you're capable of comprehending that data and drawing actionable insights from it, it'll remain little more than a bunch of numbers.
There's only so much that data, itself, can do. For instance, there are algorithms that can read comments, identify positive/negative words and tag them as relevant - but no algorithm can accurately depict how people feel about your brand.
Your entire strategy can't rely on data alone. The best approach is to assimilate data, apply other, relevant insights and build the rest of your strategy based on your experience and understanding of your audience.
The better you get to know your audience, the more beneficial it'll be for your business - in fact, unless you personally interact with them, you'll find your growth on social media limited.
Give social media its due, but see it for what is is - a medium - and focus on connecting with the people on the other side of that medium. That's undoubtedly the best perspective for success on social media.