There is no excuse in today’s digital world not have some form of social media presence.
Creating a profile is easy to do. Gaining a following that engages and converts? Well, that’s another task entirely. Owning a social media profile can quickly become a numbers game, whether it’s for personal or business use, as we vie for more followers all in the name of vanity and popularity.
Yet, popularity isn’t everything; it’s the relationships that we create and pursue that are the true measurement of success.
However, numbers are often seen as the be all and end all when it comes to proving your social media worth, which while as a marketer I know this not to be true, I have had previous conversations where people have said to me ‘can’t we just buy our followers?’. Um, nope, no you can’t. Because, while you will gain an influx of followers overnight, they aren’t going to have any benefit to your business or campaign.
So, to avoid you throwing your money down the toilet in the aid of vanity marketing, here’s how you can ensure that your social following remains authentic and meets your goals.
Set your goals
There is no point setting up social accounts if they are just going to sit dormant or with little thought as to what you actually want out of them.
The State of Social report found that the main reasons businesses used social media was for brand awareness; followed by, community engagement, content distribution, sales/lead generation and customer support.
There are also objectives not mentioned in the list above which may be your goal, but without one, you are likely to post content which isn’t having an impact on what you want to achieve.
For more on goal setting, this post by Buffer Social has guidance on how to set goals and track them – and don’t forget to make sure that they align with your campaign and company goals also.
Okay, you have your goals. How are you going to reach them? Yep, you’re going to develop a strategy on how to get there.
Break down your goals, into more manageable chunks. For example, ‘increase brand awareness’, could become ‘reach out to industry influencers’ to create a social campaign, and ‘promote blog posts’ could become ‘social amplification’.
Are there any elements in your strategy that need to be made a key priority over others? If so, tag each task as to which order they should be completed in, and set deadlines against each task so that your strategy remains consistent.
Your strategy should cover the following:
- Types of content that you will post
- How often you will post and what times
- Your chosen platforms
- How you will measure and track success
Know your audience
Just like any other form of content, you need to know the audience that you are trying to reach and what types of conversation and content are going to engage them.
How do your audience use social media? When are they most active? What interests and motivates them? What is going to engage them the most? What questions are your audience asking on social media that are relevant to your business and industry? And how can you answer them?
Use your brand voice
Once you have your goals and understand your audience, it’s time to hone your brand voice.
The voice you use on social media will vary compared to the next business, but it is what makes you unique and what will gain you followers.
The voice you use should be consistent across all of your brand channels – social, website, advertising etc., and should be recognisable as you by your audience as well as your employees and be consistent across your internal messaging too.
A young fashion brand who is targeting millennials is likely to engage with content that includes emojis and gifs, yet a corporate brand may use a more formal tone – but that isn’t to say they don’t appreciate a fun voice too.
It’s all about knowing your audience and tailoring your tone of voice to suit, and ensuring that it remains true to your brand.
Your brand voice isn’t just present in 140 characters (or 280 as Twitter are now trialling), it should also extend to your bio, replies and direct messages. As well as visual content.
Include visual content
If you want to improve your engagement on social media, then images and visual content are a sure-fire way to do so.
Tweets with images gain 150% more retweets than those without and Facebook posts with images receive 2.3 times more engagement than those which do not have images. Consistency, is also key as 60% use the same filter on their images for all content.
While free stock sites are great for finding a bank of images which can be added to your post, be wary that there are plenty of other businesses who are using them too. If you can, use original imagery, but if budget doesn’t allow, try downloading some free to use images and editing them in Canva. Overlay quotes, statistics or tips to create a unique image to accompany your posts.
With many social media algorithms focusing on ordering posts for users based on the likelihood that they will care about it and engage with it, instead of in a chronological order, consistent posting has never been more important.
A profile which has only posted a handful of times over the past month, compared to one which posts daily is going to be more successful than the former – therefore, if you want to grow a loyal following you need to post regularly.
There are many studies which will tell you which are the best times to post on social media, including this infographic, but as a guide we’d recommend the following:
- Facebook – between 1pm and 3pm
- Twitter – between 12pm and 6pm
- Instagram – 2am, 8-9am and 5pm
- LinkedIn – 5-6pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm
- Pinterest – 8-11pm
- Snapchat – 10pm
Trial out the times listed above and revaluate your strategy in three months’ time to assess how successful those times have been and adjust accordingly.
Engage with users
Lastly, you can’t expect your following to be authentic, if you aren’t engaging with them in an authentic manner also.
If your audience responds to you or asks a question to you directly, then reply back. Or if you spot a conversation where your brand name has been mentioned (but not tagged) in a query or conversation then respond too. These engagements prove that you value your audience.
Follow these steps and your social media platforms should gain a following that is truly engaged with your business.
And while it’s never fun to end a bad note, these are the big no-nos that you should avoid at all costs:
- Buying followers – you’ll end up with 10,000 followers and only 10 likes on a photo – a big giveaway that your following isn’t authentic
- Automated direct messages – it looks spammy and shows little value to the follower
- Inactivity – no content, means no follows
- Being present on every platform – if your audience or competitors are active there, you should be too
- Self-promotion – a few promotional messages are fine, but your focus should be on building a community around your brand