We all do it. We hear about the launch of an exciting new social media platform and we sign up immediately hoping and dreaming that this will be the ‘next big thing’ to boost marketing efforts. 9 times out of 10 though, it’s just a meaningless fling. You explore, check it out, and before you know it, you’ve forgotten your log in and have a constant reminder in your inbox of the little fling you had a few months ago. I’m all for experimentation and new social media discoveries, but honing in your businesses social media efforts with one to three key platforms is essential for a successful social media strategy.
This blog post will help to guide you to finding the perfect match for your business so that you can develop a long-lasting and profitable relationship.
A common problem that businesses have with social media is not knowing the channels they should be active in and why. With a good handful of new social platforms becoming popular every month (remember Ello, anyone?), it’s hard for marketers and business owners to understand where their audience is active and where brands can see profitable results on their social media efforts.
Whether you’re trying to attract a social media following or measure the ROI of your efforts invested in social media marketing, it’s critical that you outline with your team a) which platforms you are active on and b) what this presence means for your organisation. This will save hours of your team’s time in the long-run, and as your business continues to scale your social media, you will need to keep these considerations in mind. A carefully thought-out allocation of time and efforts will save you time and free up your resource for the big stuff such as social media campaigns and creating rich media.
Your audience is original and unique
No two audiences are the same; the preferences of your customer or client base are specific to your company alone. Your audience might be extremely active on Facebook, but not YouTube or Tumblr, for example. It’s all about being where your audience is active. It’s really important not to get caught up in the hype associated with joining the latest and sexiest new social network just for the sake of joining. Some social networks aren’t for everyone; some can even be a terrible match!
Even though your competitors are active on certain social channels, it doesn’t mean your business should be too! It’s important to monitor your competitors’ activities across social media, but don’t simply follow their lead. It’s important that you’re on a social channel to reach out to your audience online, not because you are obligated to by what everyone else in your industry is doing. Instead, watch what competitors are doing and react accordingly with your own unique approach to the platform – this will help you to stand out from the noise and spark your audience’s’ interest.
Where are my audience active?
You’ll learn where your customer base is active online over time by using a technique we social media marketers call ‘social listening’. By listening in on some of the major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, you can discover your audience by seeking out conversations which show an interest in your type of offering or product. GeoChirp, HootSuite, Tweetdeck, Topsy and Twilert are useful tools for this.
To ensure you’re monitoring the right types of users – i.e. those most likely to be interested in your organisation’s products or services, you need to have an accurate customer profile. Before embarking on your social media adventure, make sure you know who your customers are and what makes them tick.
Web Analytics just became your holy grail…
One of the most important factors that determine where your business should be active on social media is your existing data found in your web analytics.
If you have data to leverage from Google Analytics, Omniture or any other web analytics tools, then take a look at what social networks are referring the most traffic to your website:
Here using Google Analytics, heading to ‘Acquisition’, then ‘Social’, then ‘Overview’, we can see that my agency, Pixel8, had the most success of Twitter, with 819 sessions in the last quarter, followed by Facebook and LinkedIn coming in next. This tells our social media marketers how to prioritise social media efforts and how audience are finding the Pixel8 website.
This is typically the first step in helping your team focus on where your business should be more active on social media. Secondly, take a look to see which of the referrals that send the most traffic, are also driving the most engagement in terms of the most time on site, the largest amount of page views per session and the traffic that it is converting.
A conversion from social media could come in the form of signing up for an e-mail list; filling a contact form or number of downloads from quality content such as a whitepaper, report or e-book. These conversions are important because they inform which social channel’s traffic is taking the most valuable actions across your website with your business.
Now its time to find your inner Mr Motivator and get active! The data available to your team can help inform where your audience is active, and therefore where your business needs to be too! The philosophy is if you’re already seeing results from a particular social network with an active presence on that channel, then you’ll likely continue to drive results with more activity from your business using that social platform. Winner!
Your social media team can focus in, plan time for interaction, social listening and engagement as well as creating imaginative social media campaigns which capture your audience’s attention.
Every platform has its quirks
Respect the unique nuances of each social channel’s features and its user base. My latest whitepaper for SM Experts covers this in much more detail, but essentially, no two social networks are the same, which is why it’s important to treat your company’s activities on these channels uniquely in order to better understand if a particular social channel is right for you over time.
Every social channel has its own features and preferences amongst their users which impact how your company should interact on these platforms. For instance, Snapchat is a channel for sending time-sensitive photos and videos that eventually disappear. This medium has lent itself to a variety of brands who can take advantage of the quirkiness and speed of the platform – think Hollister, ASOS and McDonalds here.
Snapchat is for authentic moments, not necessarily visually rich, high-production quality photos and videos. These photos and videos are quick, funny and exciting since the audience is mainly a younger, hipper demographic. Although Snapchat has 100 million users who share over 400 million snaps daily, it doesn’t mean it make sense for every business to be on this social channel. A law firm taking on Snapchat as part of their SM strategy would be ludicrous, but finding their niche on Twitter or LinkedIn with a professional network would be the right channel for them.
Remember how I mentioned that having ‘flings’ with social media platforms was a waste of your SM efforts? Well, having a little flirt and experiment with them is advised for the seasoned social media marketer. Once you’ve found your niche, with your top three networks being a solid part of social media marketing strategy, you can then set time aside to research up-and-coming platforms which may be of benefit to your business.
It all comes down to how much time your team are willing to dedicate to a new social network that has the potential of becoming the next Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
If you’re willing to spend a minimum amount of time and resource on trying out a potentially relevant new social network when it first launches, then it might be worthy of the risk in the long-term. If the social network doesn’t become the next LinkedIn for example, then your team has only allocated minimal resource to experimenting with this network and then you’ll only be taking a small loss. Set time to review and rate the platform you don’t want to get a year down the line with no results.
Again, it isn’t important to be on every new social network, but it is important to experiment with the networks where there’s a potential opportunity to get in front of your audience. Begin by creating an account on the channel, even if you don’t end up using the channel, you can ensure no one else claims your particular businesses username – this is really important!
After you’ve setup an account, take time to observe and listen to the behaviours of users on this channel, whether it’s by reading content, viewing shares, analysing conversations, etc. Once you have good knowledge of the typical behaviours of users on this channel, then it’s time to come up with a strategy to better incorporate your content and social media offerings as part of the discussions happening on the network.
Begin regularly posting on this social channel to start building a relationship with the audience, while continuing to measure your social engagement to determine if this channel is worth a long-term investment.
If a social channel doesn’t appear to be driving results from your greater audience online, than it’s completely acceptable to stop dedicating resource and time and to focus instead on your core social channels and marketing priorities.
I hope you have found this blog post of use and hope you’re on your way to finding that dream match to concentrate your social media efforts. It would be really interesting to know your experiences on embarking on a new social network with your brand. Did you get involved with the Ello hype? Are you excited to use Facebook at Work? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @fox_creative_