Have you noticed competition is heating up? If the number of ads I’m seeing on the socials are anything to go by it seems like the pool must be getting smaller with the same number of people fishing. Many organisations are now putting extra effort into marketing. For small business owners it’s quite often social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn that get attention first. Usually a page and organic posting and then moving on to advertising. Whilst there will always be something new on the list of social media options, remember that social media is designed to be ‘social’ and marketing fundamentals still apply if you are using social channels for business.
So lets look at a couple of situations I see that can easily be improved when using social media as part of your online marketing strategy.
Planning socials ‘on the fly’ is less effective
Most business operators are either taking care of their socials personally or, handing off to an admin manager or assistant without a plan beyond the directive to ‘please post on social media’. The result (in both cases) is unplanned posting ‘on the fly’. You get a tick for posting at least but this probably isn’t going to deliver great results. When you are scrambling to come up with topics it’s easy to forget who you are talking to and why. Socials done this way likely won’t be delivering a consistent message or building trust or likability and you run the risk of losing attention fast if what you’re posting isn’t relevant to your market. Having a strategy in place helps to avoid this and allows you to schedule content in advance. This also means you can check spelling, grammar, messaging, market and ensure graphics are ‘on-brand’ before you post. Planning forces you to think about your audience and avoids the trap many fall into of posting content that is more appropriate for industry colleagues than building relationships with potential or existing customers.
Repetitive promotional posts are a turn-off
I routinely see business pages putting up repetitive promotional posts talking the business up or sharing a product or service with a call to action, you know what I’m talking about? Me, me, me. Unlike print, digital allows interaction so the one-way conversation is dead. If you think of socials as a conversation you’ll be on the right track. In fact it can be a really good test to jump onto your social page and read back your last posts as your introductory conversation with someone you’ve just met. How’d you do? See what I mean?
Repetitive promotional posts lower visibility
To start with, socials (the non-paid kind) are not designed to be a direct sales channel* . Whilst it IS good to share promotional posts on occasion (hey it’s a business after all), they quickly make your social pages ineffective if that is ALL you are sharing. Why? For a few reasons.
Facebook gives these posts less visibility. So if this is your main chunk of content expect low engagement and low visibility. This is pretty much across the board with most social media channels and I think it’s because advertising is for promotional posts. Remember that’s how these platforms make money so it’s not in their interest to provide massive reach on promotional posts for free anymore. But more importantly it’s also not what people want to see. A high ratio of commercial content lowers the time people spend on socials making them less effective for everyone.
Buy, buy, buy. You know? People get tired of constantly being told to buy something (especially if they already know you do that but just aren’t ready to buy yet). It’s annoying and boring. If it’s someone new coming to your page this kind of content is a dead end decision from there on. “I don’t need that now and there’s no reason to stick around here”.
Useful content builds trust (and your audience)
Now conversely, if you’re sharing content that is useful, or helpful, it’s a different scenario. People will follow you and people will stick around a little longer (or come back often) to peruse your content. This is the point of socials. The more people you reach the greater the chances you will connect with someone ideal for your product or service. And that’s the beauty of socials again – because if someone likes your post, their friends see you, thus increasing your reach.
Reach and engagement insights are your scorecard
Which brings us to the next important topic of reach and engagement. These stats are where you can see how you’re doing. Look at the reach of your different posts and the engagement levels. For example on your Facebook page click the ‘Insights’ link and then scroll down and click ‘see all posts’. I like to divide the reach and engagement levels into a percentage to see how I’m tracking. What percentage of people you reach actually engaged with your post. The things I’ve covered above are known because I look at reach and engagement stats to see which posts and tactics provide the best result. Once you see what kind of posts work best for your business (provide greater reach and engagement) you’ll be able to plan content better. But this brings me back to goals and strategy.
Don’t forget the actual goal
Whats the end goal? One thing I know is that it’s not to have someone scroll past or take a quick glance and leave to never return. You ideally want interaction that leads to a direct message, a visit to your website and ultimately a phone call or email. What you decide to post will depend on many things but a key thing to consider is who you are talking to and whether you are building an audience or serving an existing audience (most of the time this will be a mix of both making it even more important to have a plan).
If you’ve done some work with a social media manager or digital marketing strategist then you will have your ‘personas’ (also called avatars) worked out and a good idea of the language and messaging you should be using. It means when you plan content (or even when you post on the fly – which does have it’s place too) you can refer to a checklist and your personas and ask yourself a few questions along the lines of:
Does this really help my ideal client (or am I just talking about myself again)? Does this build trust? Did I use messaging and graphics consistent with my brand? There are more than a few more of course but you get the idea?
So if you do one thing this week, take a look at your socials and get a quick checklist of your own going and if you’re not doing your own socials personally have a chat with whoever is to make sure they know your end game and goals.
Have a good week!
*Note that advertising and shops with direct buy links are definitely for direct sales and we will see more of this in the coming months.