Helpful Strategy Tips That Happen Behind the Scenes (and Why It’s Important to Not Over Think Things)
(Disclaimer: Many factors will be important in determining your actual results on social media and no guarantees are made that you will achieve results similar to ours or anybody elses, in fact no guarantees are made that you will achieve any results from our ideas and techniques.)
Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute… social media marketing can be daunting and time consuming, especially if we’re new to social media marketing for our business. There’s a lot we don’t understand or maybe even know how to implement, we just know we should “do” social media, whatever that means. And the more we read about how to implement strategies, or what we should know before implementing strategies, we quickly feel overwhelmed and wonder why it’s even necessary. Sometimes, we take the “easy” way out and hire an outside agency so we don’t have to think about it. But after a while, we realize that doesn’t always work the way we planned either: none of our posts went viral, we didn’t get 10,000 followers, or we ended up with 0 new clients or sales.
I understand your frustration, I do, so I’m here to disclose some secrets that I’ve learned that will hopefully make you feel better as business owners…..but before we get into that, I also have to say they’re not popular opinions held from other social media marketers. You will find other social media marketers who disagree with me and promise sales results, and that’s ok – just be aware that those results are achieved through social media advertising and if you don’t have a large advertising budget you cannot achieve large results! These insights are organic techniques from what we’ve learned along the way and are meant to be educational and helpful to you.
Secret #1: Know Who Your Target Audience Is
This is a necessary task that as a business owner is important to more than just social media marketing and should not be skipped under any circumstance.
Take a day or two just to think about whom your products are services will be best suited for, and really identify those people. You cannot be all things to all people so don’t try to be – create a detailed profile for your target audience so all of your business activities will be relevant and meaningful for your audience. If you try to market your products/services to everyone, you will waste your time, money, and in the end not be a good fit for anyone.
Secret #2: Identify Your Purpose for Being on Social Media
You shouldn’t be on social media just because someone tells you that you need to “do” social media. You still need to know what you’re trying to accomplish and every action should be in line with your goals. Will it be your main customer service platform? Will you provide free, educational materials? Or perhaps you want more brand awareness? How will your actions on social media fit into your overall business goals? Don’t let others tell you what you should do or your strategy won’t work in the long run – you have to choose something that you can get behind so you’ll stick with it. Remember: social media marketing is not a sprint – it’s a marathon! (See the “Secret #8” for more on this subject.)
Secret #3: Before You Do a Single Social Media Post, Know When to Post
Some social media experts will tell you that the best time to post is early in the morning or late at night, but that’s not true for every business! If you don’t have any posting history, you might choose to post in the morning or evening, but don’t “set it and forget it”!
You need to take a look at your analytical data and find out when your audience is on social media and post at that time for optimal engagement. Do what’s best for your business, not what others say to do. Again, don’t “set it and forget it” – go back every month and check to see if you’re still posting when the majority of your followers are online to gain the most engagement. Feel free to test different times, but don’t change it too often – people like to expect to see your posts, so maybe announce you’ll be changing the times for the next month; consistency matters.
Secret #4: Content Planning – What Should My Business Post?
The most important take away here is to post what your audience finds valuable as that will give you the most engagement on your posts. What does that mean?
Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience for a minute – think about their needs and wants. What are their main problems? What are they really looking for? If you don’t know, create a survey and ask them. You can do this on social media, through your email marketing, or better yet, ask them when you interact with them.
Have you been to the grocery store or other retail store and the cashier asks you, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Most people just reply yes, but if you ask, you might get a different answer and this is your opportunity to meet their needs and be a customer service hero!
Perhaps your business doesn’t offer the product/service they’re looking for – think about offering that product/service! What you think your customers need might not always be the case and it’s a good idea to check in with them from time to time. What would it take to offer that product/service? Maybe it’s easier than you think! Don’t sweat the small stuff – try not to complicate things.
Feel free to start off with a content calendar to help you stay organized. Content calendars can be helpful to know if you’re posting a good mix of media (videos, pictures, graphics, articles, etc.) Word of caution: Don’t fall into a rut! If you’re posting a review every Wednesday, maybe take a break and post reviews once a month and fill those gaps with other valuable content. We found that Loomly has a good resource to help you create a social media content calendar and plan your posts effectively. You can find that on their website.
Secret #5: Know How Social Media Algorithms Work, But Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Facebook (and now other platforms are following in their footsteps) use algorithms to determine what kind of content to show to their users. Did you know the average Facebook user sees over 300 pieces of content each day?! That’s a lot, but if Facebook showed every piece of content generated, there wouldn’t possibly be a way to read everything, so Facebook filtered it to around 300 each day. Don’t get mad at the algorithms – just learn how they work; knowledge is power! Facebook’s algorithm uses over 100 different weighted factors to determine which posts get seen, but in general, here’s what you need to know:
- The recent update in February 2018 said that Facebook will *not* show any business posts unless they get engagement (likes/comments/shares), which is why you should post content that is relevant and valuable to your audience – if your content resonates with them, they will engage with the posts; then when they do, other people can see the posts too.
- BUT … Facebook has also said that they will penalize businesses who implement “engagement-bait” tactics to try to game the system. If they catch you blatantly asking people to like/comment/or share your posts, you won’t get any of your posts seen! So instead, get creative! Ask people for their thoughts on what you posted, if they prefer A or B better, or simply ask them what they want to see instead. People cannot resist giving their opinions, so ask them for their opinions! It’s the easiest way to get engagement that is so desperately needed for business pages.
- That being said, live videos get 6x the engagement vs. any other type of post, and not only that, but live videos help you in other ways too. Facebook has said that if you can get people to come back to your page on a regular, consistent basis to watch a video, they’ll show your posts more often, so if you can start doing a weekly live video series, you will see an increase in engagement! Perhaps you can demonstrate how to use your products or services, educate your audience on a subject that they will find interesting, provide video tips, show behind the scenes videos, do live interviews with either your customers, employees, or other industry experts. Remember, these videos do not need to be perfect, and they won’t be when you first start, but THAT’S OK! People don’t want to always see polished, perfect videos because it feels too perfect – they want to see videos they can relate to, they want to see the human behind your business! But be sure to go back & add captions because 90% of people watching videos on Facebook do so with the sound off! They’re either watching them at work or library where they can’t have the sound on, or they’re watching tv at night and browsing Facebook at the same time. If they can’t figure out what you’re saying, they’ll skip right on by!
- If you can’t or don’t want to do live videos, do pre-recorded videos, but be sure to upload them directly to Facebook! Pre-recorded (or native) videos get the 2nd most weight in the algorithm. If you post a YouTube link, that post is considered a link post, not a video post. Native videos also start playing instantly as people scroll down the page, and movement catches people’s eyes; even if they aren’t interested in your video, they can’t help but stop scrolling and watch a few seconds. And then maybe they’ll find it interesting after all and give you a like! Again, be sure to have captions for the people who watch the videos with the sound off!
- The next weighted post is image posts. Create a graphic that has valuable/helpful statistical information, a relevant quote, or post an image that shows off your brand in some way. You can post images that highlight your staff, show off your community involvement, describe an event you’re at, behind the scenes, etc. the possibilities are endless. The key here is real, human images because again, you’ve got to give your audience a chance to get to know you – people want to do business with people, not machines, so show the human side of your business.
- Links to articles, your website, or YouTube videos are next on the list; and finally plain text posts will be the least on the weighted algorithm, so try not to do these as much. Of course, it’s great if you find a perfect article, by all means – please post that if your audience will find it useful! And of course, you want to drive traffic to your website, too, but just post these about 10% of the time.
Now that you know the ranking for the types of posts, you should also know that Facebook gives priority to pages who promote community and encouraging meaningful conversations between you and your audience.
- Facebook has said they will show Facebook Group posts first before regular business page posts because Groups foster that sense of community. So if relevant, create your own special Facebook group that your customers can freely communicate with each other and help each other out in some way. These take a while to grow when you first start out so don’t get discouraged – it’ll probably take 6 months before people feel comfortable taking amongst themselves, so just be consistent and try to start the conversation – you’ll quickly find people will start engaging.
- Facebook also likes to see community events and will show event discussions higher in the newsfeeds. If your business is participating in a beach clean-up, or a fundraising event, or any other event, create an event on Facebook & regularly post on that event page to encourage discussion amongst attendees. I’ve found that people will often tag their family & friends, and soon your event has more engagement than your page, but that’s ok! People will learn about you through your event, and then seek out your page to follow you.
Secret #6: Just Because Another Business Is Doing Something Doesn’t Mean It’s A Good Fit For Your Business!
This is perhaps one of the most important things I can tell you. Don’t let other business owners intimidate you into thinking you’re not doing what’s right for your business because you’re not doing xyz. You know your customers and your business better than they do, so trust your gut here. Of course you shouldn’t be resistant to all advice, sometimes they might have a good idea you can try, but just listen with your business filter on Don’t feel pressured, but don’t reject things outright either. Try not to compare your business to another business – Your business is not the same business as someone else’s so don’t make it the same!
Secret #7: Sometimes Social Media Marketing Gets Unnecessarily Complicated
Whether social media experts feel pressured to complicate processes out of fear of job protection, or some other reason, sometimes explanations get bogged down with jargon or other details that can overwhelm and complicate social media marketing. Let’s be real for a moment … but when you’re first starting out, you don’t need to do worry about everything all at once. Start out with one social media platform and learn how to use it well, do what you can do, then build from there, and don’t feel bad about yourself for not doing everything! Even if you’ve been at this for a while, be aware of analytical data and results, but again don’t let it consume your life – take away what you need to learn and improve, but don’t let someone who uses marketing jargon persuade you one way or the other. Being a business owner is hard and there’s a lot to do, so outsource when you can, and if you can’t do what you can; give yourself a break! Life is short, and you need to do what makes you happy.
Secret #8: If You’re Looking to Social Media to Solve Your Sales Problems, You’re Doing Social Media Wrong
This is perhaps my most controversial secret, but couldn’t be more accurate.
Sure, we all want more sales, more customers, but if you are looking to social media to solve your sales problems, you’ll sorely be disappointed.
Today, social media, especially Facebook, is no longer business-centric concerned with selling; instead, social media is customer-centric and is solely there to provide meaningful interactions between you & your customers. Social Media is all about building customer relationships, and if you’re on social media for a different purpose, you’re going to be frustrated, disappointed, and perhaps angry with your social media agency you hired.
Business owners who adapt to these changes and find their purpose on social media through providing the best customer service and putting their customer first before sales will find the most success on social media. Social Media should not be your only marketing avenue, but it will be your most rewarding avenue if you change the way you look at social media.
Final Take Away
Is social media more complicated than just creating a post? Sure! There is a lot of planning that goes on behind the scenes that is time consuming, but your attitude and goals surrounding social media marketing don’t need to be complicated. Your business should be on social media to provide value and education to your audience, solve their problems, and provide the best customer service by building relationships online. This takes time and you simply cannot expect the same sales results from social media marketing that once used to reign supreme a few years ago. Social Media Marketing has changed; your business goals on social media need to change too.