What do you think is the number one concern of people who've been tasked with running their company's social media marketing? I've had a real insight into this over the last months - and the answer has been a total eye-opener!
"I've been asked to take responsibility for managing our company's social media presence and been told I need to get business results from this. I'm a frequent social media user myself, but I feel totally out of my depth figuring out how to do this. Help!"
This is the kind of response we've been getting over and over and over again from people who've been signing up to join our social media training course. We ask them what they are hoping to achieve by joining our training - and variants of the above are far and away the most common response!
So given this recurring concern, we thought we'd share five things you should focus on if you're trying to drive better results from your social media marketing. Implement these five ideas and we'd expect that to have a major impact on the results you're generating within a matter of weeks:
1. Really understand how each platform works
2. Focus on driving engagement
3. Always be looking for opportunities to spark relevant conversations
4. Know the results your social media drives - and what activities drive them
5. Invest time to save time [including 5 tools you can start using today!]
I can't stress strongly enough that there is a world of difference between having a presence on a social media site and having actually mastered getting results from that site.
What types of posts are shown most often in the feed? Who are they shown to? What causes the site to prioritise showing certain posts to far more people than others? Who are the influencers in your niche on that particular social platform?
These are all key questions we must address - and they demonstrate why most small businesses will get far better results from trying to become expert on one or two platforms, rather than attempting to be absolutely everywhere. It's no small task to figure this out for each social media platform - and then to adjust your activities on each platform to leverage this knowledge and get meaningful results.
If we take LinkedIn as an example, a simple text-only post will outperform a content-share several times over in terms of the number of people it reaches. If the post generates some good engagement shortly after being posted then it may be kept in the feed for several days... and if you've befriended some influencers in your market and you are able to engage with them via the post, then the reach of your social media will be driven further still. The cumulative effect of doing these things well can easily be the difference between a post being seen by 100 people or 10,000 people!
All of this is far removed from the simple act of "scheduling some posts" that so many companies make the cornerstone of their social media marketing. So make sure you take the time to learn how the platforms work and adjust your focus accordingly.
It's a bit of a generalisation, but one that also holds true. All social media sites have had to deal with the conundrum of what to show in your feed. As the volume of posts from users has ballooned over the last years, each site has had to decide what to prioritise showing you as there simply isn't space for everything in your homepage feed!
There are various factors that come into play here, but pretty consistently you'll see that greater engagement is a key to having a post be shown more prominently in each social media feed.
So how do you achieve more engagement?
Well there are lots of factors that come into play here, from the imagery you use to the phrasing of your posts and ensuring you prompt people to engage. But there's one thing that drives engagement more than anything else...
... taking time yourself to engage with other people's posts!
Yes, engagement is reciprocal - and so you get out what you put in. If you never engage with other people, but simply schedule posts to go out, then no-one you're connected to feels any great warmth towards you or feels particularly inclined to engage with what you are sharing.
Whereas if lots of people in your network have seen you or your company engage with their posts over the last weeks, then they are far more likely to choose to do so on your posts as they see them in their feeds.
Put simply, if you aren't allocating a portion of your working week to engaging with others on social media then everything else you do is going to produce far less compelling results.
There's general engagement that builds relationships and increases the likelihood of others engaging with your posts. But then there's engagement that actually drives conversations that are really valuable for your business - meaningful conversations. You should try to figure out in your business what kind of conversations are going to produce business wins - and then seek to spark those kinds of conversations more consistently.
To give you a couple of examples that'll help you see how this works:
- we decided several years ago that we needed a thriving guest blog to help us drive awareness of our business in a way that was achievable and scaleable. So we sought to share the content of bloggers we'd researched whose content would be a great fit for our site. Those shares started conversations that would ultimately result in us offering people a guest blogging spot on our site and large numbers of them accepting and regularly contributing.
- we reviewed the profiles of every account that shared our content on social media or that retweeted or interacted with our posts. Whenever that profile was a person or business fitting our ideal client profile, we would thank them for sharing and ask a question about the content they'd shared and the relevance of this for their business. This got us in direct conversations with potential clients about the business challenges they were facing - and a portion would go on to join us on a call to figure out how social media could address that business issue.
Whether you're looking to drive event registrations or candidate applications or demo requests or sales enquiries (or anything else for that matter) - there are certain types of conversations on social media that are far more likely to result in people going on to take the step that is a business win for you. Figuring out what those conversations are - and how to track down or initiate those kinds of conversations - then becomes a key to your social media success.
Expanding on the above point, it's key to your long term social media success that you can demonstrate to the business the actual business results that your social media investment is driving. That way you can justify the ongoing investment in this activity.
What's more, if you can determine what activities are actually driving those business outcomes then you can firstly try to do more of those activities - and secondly you can build a case for the business to invest additional resource in doing more of those activities.
In the examples above, if we dedicate X hours to doing this blogger outreach activity on social media, that results in us adding another guest blog contributor and saves us £$Y on having to write this content ourselves.
If we dedicate X hours to engaging with those who've shared our content and look like good prospects, that results in us generating an additional call request to discuss our services and that will typically translate into £$Y of new business.
It follows on from this that if we hired another person to do additional hours of this type of work then the result of that will be an additional number of call requests to discuss our services and a predictable amount of additional new business won. This is your social media nirvana. Known input produces known output (and the result is profitable for the business).
Last, but by no means least important, is to regularly review the tasks you're undertaking and in particular to determine what activities you are undertaking repetitively. There are so many social media tasks whose processes can be streamlined, that lend themselves to a form of partial-automation, or where external services could allow you to achieve the same results in far less time.
Being conscious of what these time sinks are - and always being on the lookout for new tools and advice - are the keys to ensuring that over time you're increasingly productive and able to generate the kind of output and results that would otherwise require a more sizeable team to achieve. Just this last month, I've added several extensions that have been ramping up my productivity considerably. So never assume that you're so expert at social media that there's no further room to learn or room for improvement! A few Chrome Extensions for you to experiment with would be:
Any others you'd add that you've just discovered yourself?
Anyway I very much hope this post has been informative and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you're looking for an external social media partner to take this all on for you then do check out our services and book in for a call. If you're determined to try this yourself - and have allocated a meaningful number of hours to this each week - then by all means join us for some social media training calls to build on some of the ideas you've read about here. Whichever option you choose, I wish you every success in driving better social media marketing results!
At Social Hire, we don't just do social.
What the Social Hire gang loves is making a difference for our clients, and we don't want to waste your, or our resources on marketing for marketing's sake, if it doesn't get your organisation the impression you need - we take a different approach.
We're an organisation that helps our clients boost their social media marketing by offering social media marketing on a monthly basis.
You might like these blog posts How to Right the Wrongs When Things Go Awry, 5 Social Media Selling Tips, Dictator-Esque Leaders and the Power of Thank You!, and How Has Social Media Influenced HR Technology?.