As marketing discoveries go, it can be disappointing to realize that your social media channels aren’t having the impact you’d like. Instead of feeling disheartened, though, try seeing it as a good thing. How? Many businesses never make the discovery and spend both time and money investing in a channel that offers them no business benefits in return.
Now that you’re not making the same mistake, it can be tempting to let this new information propel you into action, implementing tips, signing up for tools, and creating plans with renewed vigor. Don’t. Instead, you need to remain calm and laser focus your brainpower – now is the time for strategy, not action.
Many marketers in a similar situation would immediately jump into one of the many articles that list tips, advice, and tiny tweaks and recommendations for improving and optimizing your social media performance. Some of these tips are awesome, but they’re not what you need right now – optimizing your social media is 80% analysis and 20% execution.
Sometimes, you have to stand still to move forward!
9 Steps To Optimizing Your Social Game
Step 1 – Analyze
Your social media may not have failed where you think it has. What’s beyond a doubt is that something isn’t working, but there might be plenty of things that are. Finding the good and the bad, then doubling down on the first and eliminating the second, is key to moving forward successfully.
To do this, you need to take stock of where you are. Find out what platforms you’re present on, what you share to each, how it’s being received, and what impact it has (or could have) on your business. Depending on how much social media contributes to your revenues, you might consider contacting a professional for help in this part. If you’re doing it alone, research to find out how best to conduct a social media audit for your channels.
Step 2 – Goals
I have never met a single marketer that enjoys setting goals and KPIs, but it has to be done. It’s a boring and frustrating job that’s often done badly or not at all. Goals are key to everything you do on social media being worth doing at all, however, so make sure you set aside the time to do them properly. SMART goals are not only solid in terms of goal setting, but they also provide a physical framework for setting out the goal, which makes it easier. Finally, reward yourself (and your team) when it’s done – it will make it an all-around more pleasant experience!
Step 3 – Audience
All of our analysis, goalsetting, and targetting are steps on the road to setting our strategy, which will inform everything we do from here on in. A key part of this analytic stage is finding out who your audience is and what it is they want from you.
Your social media audience is comprised of existing customers and potential customers at various stages of the sales funnel. Understanding them and giving them what they want is the same as understanding and pleasing your customers, so it’s important you know who they are, and why they’re following you online. Many businesses will use personas to do this, but the concept is losing popularity. Either way, make sure you address it one way or another – the audience is the lynchpin of why you do social media at all.
Step 4 – Target
The analysis you performed at step one should give you a perfect overview of all the social networks your brand is present on. How many are there? Don’t fall into trap of being active on all social networks. You need to pick between 1 – 3 of the most appropriate and focus all your creative effort (and time) on them.
Most appropriate? Find out where your audience and target customers hang out and interact with them there. You’ll have limitations in terms of team size, the skills and likes of the people managing the accounts, and where your content performs best. When you take all of these into account, it will be much more obvious where you should focus your social media efforts.
Step 5 – Strategy
Now and only now, it’s time to create a social media marketing strategy based on what you’ve discovered about what’s working now, what isn’t, who your audience is, where they are, and what your goals are.
Like goal setting, creating a social media strategy is hard work, but it is essential. It will provide a base and reference for everything you do for the next 6 months or so, and will ultimately make your marketing life a whole lot easier. Additionally, if you’ve followed steps 1 – 4 above, 60% of the work that goes into making a strategy will already be done.
Step 6 – Frequency
Perfecting the frequency with which you should post and the time of day you do it at is blissfully easy compared to all the goal setting and strategy you’ve been tackling and it has a surprising effect on how well your content will perform. You can sit back and relax here – other people have done the work for you.
You may have to do some testing to see what works best for your business, but you can use other business’ data as a starting point. Once you’ve made a final decision, you won’t have to worry about it for months – but do check in occasionally, as new research comes out about once a year.
Step 7 – Content
Most businesses will have a mix of content to share on social media – content you produce yourself, content you’re resharing from others, and promotional material. It’s important that you get this mix correctly balanced, because if you get it wrong, your risk putting your audience off (if there’s too much promotional material), boring them (too much of your own content), or confusing them (if there’s too much of other business’ content and not enough of yours).
Getting the balance right is a matter of trial and error. There are a few approaches you can use to start off – the 80/20 rule was popular a while back (80% created content and 20% promotional content), but many social media marketers have now moved to the 5:3:2 rule – 5 pieces of curated content, 3 pieces of in-house content, and 2 pieces of fun content for every 10 pieces of content shared.
This balance will change depending on lots of things, including what platform you’re looking at. For example, Facebook pages tend to need quite a lot of “fun” posts, while LinkedIn can do without. Either way, mix it up and learn from your experiments.
Step 8 – Trends
Marketing in general and social media marketing in particular feature a lot of new trends and expert opinions on what businesses must or must not do. It’s very easy to get carried away by these trends, some of which are very high tech and complicated, but you can’t neglect the basics of goals, strategy, engagement, and growth. Dominate basics first and later you can think about innovating. Above all, keep your actions in line with your resources, because overreaching and burning out will sink your social before anything else will.
Step 9 – Spelling & Grammar
Once your strategy’s set and you’re back posting regularly, take a close look at your posts and make sure they’re up to standard. People can slip into a rut when it comes to posting for social, so check carefully to make sure you haven’t let anything slip – take a look at your spelling, grammar, images, and user-friendliness (font size and choice, formatting, etc.). If there’s nothing technically wrong but the posts are just a bit boring, try using a few post templates to shake things up and see which ones work best with your audience for the long run.
If an untimely discovery of ineffective social media has befallen your organization, you need to stop. Fixing the mismatch between what you’re doing and what benefits you’re receiving should be your number 1 priority – it’s the only action that makes business sense. It’s important to remember that social media is a business tool and, as such, should have goals and a strategy (as well as a way to measure the impact). You wouldn’t let any other business tool get away with being pointless, so don’t let it slide in social either!
If you find yourself with social media content that just isn’t performing, you need to stop and direct all the brainpower available for social towards analyzing and building a strategic base for your actions. The problems you’re having are unlikely to stem from the fact that you posted a terrible meme last week or that you’re not doing enough live interviews on Instagram – the problem is far more likely to be a fundamental mismatch in how you approach social and what your audience needs.
Fixing this mismatch isn’t an easy job – sometimes posting away blithely (especially if your vanity metrics look ok) is a whole lot less effort than rebuilding your social strategy from scratch. Even so, you need to persevere, if not for the potential business benefits, then to stop your team hemorrhaging time and effort on a social media strategy that just isn’t pulling its weight!
Have you noticed that your social media isn’t performing? What metric gave the game away? Tell us in the comments.