How to determine your social media aims & develop a cost-effective strategy to achieve them.
Becki Griffiths / November 12, 2015
I was recently invited to talk at a social media seminar, hosted by The Brew co-working company, on “How can you better determine your social media aims, and develop a strategy to cost-effectively achieve them”. This blog post is a roundup of my presentation, please get in touch with any questions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Define your objectives
The question is a bit of a mouthful, so let’s break it down into smaller chunks and go through it step-by-step. Firstly, we need to define your social media aims or objectives. You shouldn’t be trying to achieve something through social media that you aren’t trying to achieve for your company as a whole, and as such these objectives should be an extension of your business objectives. For example, if your business objective is to drive online sales of your latest winter raincoat, in time for Christmas, than your social media activity should support this. Whether you are just getting started with social, or are looking to reassess your social media strategy, always start by clearly defining your business goals. This way you have a clear end point to work your way towards, and a way to measure the success of your social activity.
Choose your networks
Now you know where you want to get to, next up is to decide which social networks are going to be the most relevant to helping you achieve your objectives. Not all social networks are created equally, and it’s vital to ensure that you aren’t just using a network because it’s available to use. Carefully consider each network and what you can achieve on there. For example, if you’re a B2B company selling medical equipment, you’re probably going to find that LinkedIn and Twitter are more relevant for you than Snapchat and Vine. Likewise, if you’re a fashion brand, you’ll want to be on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. If you’re a musician, then Soundcloud and YouTube will feature heavily in your mix. The key consideration is who is your target audience, and where will you find them? ‘Spray and pray’ marketing isn’t an approach we endorse for social. Once you know where your target audience spend their time, you need to understand how that social network works. Each network is different, and each requires you to learn how to use them, and how to effectively communicate on them. Effective content varies across each network,as does tone of voice, and you will likely need to structure content differently to accommodate each social network that you wish to be on. The number of social media networks can seem overwhelming and you need to consider how much time you have available to devote to managing each network. You have to craft great content, post content, reply to your fans/followers, and you have to do this diligently and consistently. Social isn’t a ‘quick fix’ or low touch channel, and takes more time and more effort to manage than most people think. The pressure on businesses to ‘be social’ is overwhelming, even for the big brands with large marketing departments and budgets. We recommend that if you’re short on time or budget, that you pick one platform and use it well, rather than spread yourself thin across many.
Define your results
Now you have chosen your platforms how do you measure how well you’re doing, in a way that is objective and aligns with your business objectives? On the surface the social media world is a vain one, with brands competing against each other on a very shallow level - ‘we have more followers than you’, or such like. While to an extent the numbers matter, they are by no means the be all and end all, and can be gamed very easily. Numerous brands ‘buy’ fans or followers to project an image of success, but the social networks are aware of this, and punish this activity accordingly, which is is detrimental to your brand. There is absolutely no point in having 1 millions fans and when you post only getting a handful of likes / retweets. All that shows is that you have a disengaged following who are probably not interested in your content and won’t be becoming part of your tribe. It is much better to have a 100 fans, who are actively engaged with your brand, are advocates, who spread the word and have high net promoter scores. That is what we want. Over time, we will build up our fan / follower count, and when we do, they’ll still be engaged with your brand.
What is engagement then, apart from a buzzword you’ll hear thrown around? It is a figure that will show you how much interaction your content has had amongst your social followers, and the wider social network audience. There are various types of interactions, from likes and shares, through to retweets, pins, and link clicks. It will vary industry to industry as to which interaction is the most important for your brand. If you are an ecommerce store you want people clicking through from your social channels to your products on your site. If you are a blog you want people reading your articles, if you are an information site you want to feed people the right information to cut down on calls to your customer service.
If we look here, Buzzfeed has a post with over 244k shares. For me, the shareability of content is a great metric. Why is this so good? If your content is great enough for people to personally share, your message is then spread to other people at a relatively low cost (your costs being any budget on producing the content or advertising you may have paid for on a particular social network.) A factor to consider here as well is the world of what is referred to rightly or wrongly as ‘dark social’ That content that we cannot monitor if it’s been shared because for example, someone copies the url and emails it to a friend or sends it via Whatsapp. If you want to know more about Dark Social, check out this article by Hootsuite outlining the basics. Unfortunately there is no secret recipe to content that will spark engagement, although if anyone is close to it, it has to be Buzzfeed. It takes time and patience when it comes to producing content that drives engagement. Sometimes things will just work and you will have no idea why and vice versa. But as a rule of thumb things that do well are answering people's questions - the how to’s and the why’s or product led posts.
Now if we look at this next post, from Ted Baker, it has 14 shares. On the face of it, the Buzzfeed post is more successful, but that’s where you have to be careful. We need to take into account the objectives for each post. For Buzzfeed, shareability and readership is their aim. For Ted Baker, driving traffic from Facebook to their ecommerce site, from where people purchase is their aim. This post could have driven tens of thousands of pounds in sales for Ted Baker, which would be a great success. So it’s important to keep objectives in mind, and not to judge social by its cover. Then just to layer something in on top of this - carefully consider the type of engagement you are creating. They have their time and their place, but competitions can be the devil. They can create huge engagement, but you have to consider who from. Competition hounds, that’s who! A competition should be run, with a purpose and only 3 to 4 times a year, maximum. You will not build a loyal fan base if all you do is run competitions. Think creatively. Quizzes are great for engagement - so think how could this link back to your business? If you are looking for a great tool for building quizzes take a look at QZZR by Boom box!
Choose the right tools
Now you are ready to analyse data and there are an abundance of tools out there for social media, varying from free tools to expensive dashboards that can do almost anything. However, particularly when looking at Facebook and Twitter, their internal analytics sections are pretty good and don’t cost you a penny, so I’d recommend starting with these. There will always be debate over networks skewing their figures in their favour, for example Facebook counts clicking on a post as engagement, and we’ve all accidentally clicked on a post while frantically scrolling through our newsfeed on a mobile. But what is so important is that you pick the thing that matters to you and you report consistently on that figure. So if it’s shares, pick a tool that works for you and report every month on that. Facebook has a whole treasure trove of data if you choose to export it via CSV and meddle through it yourself. This neatly draws me onto the next thing - too much data. We are almost drowning in a data driven social world these days. I’ve seen reports which are pages long on the intricacies of social accounts - which fundamentally mean nothing because of the way they are served up to the team. I cannot stress enough to you, to choose your stats which link to your business objectives and report on them. Make it clean and make it easy for the rest of your team to see what you are achieving, how and why.
Last but by no means least...the question of ROI! Again, the ROI of social links back directly to your business objectives. There is a clear way to measure social ROI for your business. If you’re objectives are to sell products through your site, then you can track social traffic to your ecommerce site, and measure the sales that are driven through this traffic. If you use social as a customer service channel, you can measure ROI via the reduction in support staff needed at your call centre. If you’re a bricks and mortar store, you can use social to promote in-store events, and pin a sales figure from that event to your social activity. However my belief is that social is a channel to amplify your brand message. Although social media is part of the purchasing journey it is most commonly found at the discovery stage of the purchasing journey, and then again at the bottom as people become advocates after purchasing products. The funnel then restarts with people listening to the advocacy and discovering your products. You cannot directly attribute social to a purchase at these stages of the journey and so ROI becomes a hard figure to define. You need to think of social as a brand building tool, as it can become a black hole for data. For example, unless you have the url in your Instagram bio set up with a specialised short url that is tracked in your GA account you won’t be able to tell what traffic is coming to your website from Instagram. So in summary:
- Define your objectives
- Chose your networks
- Define your results
- Choose the right tools
- Build your brand!