Going Social: What You Need to Know
So you’ve got a product or service, a great product or service, and now you need to get the message out to the right people. You’re likely interested in utilizing social media and may even be considering hiring a social media manager to run your social presence. Here are some things you should know.
Think it may be time to hire a social media manager? Here are some social media basics to understand first.
While the pervasive social media craze was built on a foundation of individuals connecting through media sharing and ease of communication, the space has evolved into a much more powerful and complex ecosystem, especially for businesses.
When putting together a social media strategy to maximize your company’s public-facing exposure and inbound website traffic, it is important to know your target audience and how each of the main social networks appeals, or fails to appeal, to that audience.
After identifying your target audience, consider the general personalities of the “big 6” social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+, and how they relate to your business. Some will argue that Google+ shouldn't be on this list, but I disagree. Staying consistent on G+ can, at a minimum, be helpful to your SEO.
Among all the social networks, Facebook is undeniably at the top of the pile. The network boasts approximately 1.39B monthly active users, 890M daily active users, and half a billion mobile-only users. These active user numbers give Facebook the furthest reach and widest attainable user demographic. Additionally, Facebook has the highest usage time per user.
While Facebook’s unmatched user reach is undeniable, that does not mean it will be the best place for you to focus your company’s social campaign efforts. Since their lackluster IPO in 2012, Facebook stock has rebounded, in no small part by increasing their ad revenue. In order to do this, Facebook has bottlenecked the exposure of posts made to your company page due to the excuse that “most users interacted with friends, not pages.” So now in order to wield the influence and reach of Facebook for your business, you’ll need a willingness to lay down your credit card to boost your posts and promote your page…especially if you’re just starting out.
So is investing in Facebook status boosts and page promotion worth it? That depends. Firstly, Facebook caters to a B2C audience. If your business does not sell a product/service directly to individual consumers/retailers or if you aren’t in legitimate need of brand awareness, this investment will likely show you little to no ROI. However, if you are a B2C company and/or have the marketing budget and need for robust brand awareness, then setting a Facebook ad budget could be useful for your company. This is another topic I’ll cover in more detail in a future post.
The main attraction of posting regularly to Google+ is that Google likes people using their social network. This can serve up a boost in your website’s Google SEO as a perk. Approximately 300 million monthly users access Google+, although that is a commonly disputed statistic. Regardless of this questionable number of active users, Google+ has material value for your business. Additionally, you can join and post to certain ‘communities’ that can help you spread your message to more targeted audiences. Be aware that the activity level of people connected to these ‘communities’ does vary. The type of content to post to Google+ is the same as that which you post to Facebook.
Twitter has been around since 2006, breaking ground as a micro-messaging social networking platform. It currently has ~284M average users. For businesses, this network is best approached as conversational…utilizing short, engaging and easily shareable content. It is advisable to keep tweets below 120 characters. This facilitates sharing without loss of message due to character overage.
For generating brand awareness and inbound website traffic, tweet 5+ times per day. It is also useful to know that users view tweets with pictures or photos over 50% more than tweets without. The ability to group your content with relevant hashtags is perhaps the greatest feature Twitter provides. Using related hashtags can help get your posts in front of the most relevant audience(s). Like Facebook, Twitter is predominantly a B2C and branding tool. However, using it to establish yourself as a thought leader can also help build credibility and gain inbound traffic to your site.
LinkedIn owns the business-oriented social media space with over 300M active users looking for networking opportunities. This channel warrants more serious content than that of the rest of the “big 6”. General best practices include focusing on posts highly curated to your industry, 4–5 times per week. It is useful to join LinkedIn ‘groups’ related to the interests of your business. You will be able to post in these groups and follow/contribute to discussions pertinent to your industry. This is the network to focus on if you’d categorize your endeavor as a B2B company or you're looking to promote thought leadership.
Like Facebook, you will likely not get much traction on your LinkedIn posts without paying to boost them. This became even more true after their acquisition by Microsoft in April 2016. You have to weigh your willingness to implement a LinkedIn advertising budget against your businesses’ activities, goals, and audience. If promoting purely B2B services, LinkedIn is the best social network to invest your marketing money and time.
Today, Instagram has some of the highest daily user engagement of any social platform with ~500 million active monthly users. Like Facebook, Instagram gears content most directly to consumers. For marketers and branding agents of products and services, B2C-focused companies can leverage Instagram best. The platform also targets a younger audience than the other platforms discussed, and has a strong focus on mobile engagement.
Much like Twitter, hashtags strongly influence organic user engagement on Instagram. It’s extremely useful for marketers to take note of the hashtags used within their industry and by their competitors. Additionally, you can run paid ads on Instagram. There are a number of different advertising angles you can take…but no matter which you decide, know it will focus on a generally younger consumer base.
Pinterest boasts ~150 million users. It’s a great platform for companies marketing products that have a strong visual element and is an incredible inbound marketing tool. According to Pinterest, it is responsible for ~5% of all referral website traffic. You can leverage a business account on Pinterest with both organic and paid marketing. “Promoted Pins” look the same as ordinary pins, but reach more users due to the ad spend applied to them. The platform offers 3 types of advertising campaigns: “Awareness,” “Engagement,” and “Traffic”. I will discuss this topic further in a future post, but to learn more about them now, click here.
Social Media Cheat Sheet
How and When to Post
–1 post or share to FB each weekday, between 1PM and 4PM. If posting more than once in a day, keep the posts spread out. You don't want to seem spammy.
–Share the same posts to Google+ that you publish to Facebook. This can bolster your SEO. Consider adding a second G+ post per weekday as well.
– Share/post to LinkedIn once per weekday, between 10AM and 11AM. Anytime you publish a blog post to your site, be sure to contribute it as an 'article' to LinkedIn as well.
–Attempt to tweet 5+ times daily. Spread tweets out as much as you can. Always leave at least an hour between any 2 tweets that aren't @ replies. During weekdays, aim to post around commute and lunch times. And if posting on weekends, shoot for 12PM and 6PM for the best CTR possibilities.
-On Instagram, the average number of times companies post each day is ~1.5. 1 post per day is plenty for most accounts. Try not to go more than 3-4 days without posting, however. It is more difficult to source and produce content on Instagram due to it's photo and video-based nature. Be sure to plan ahead for this challenge. Many reports show the highest engagement coming between 8AM-9AM and 3PM-4PM EST.
-The greatest time for daily engagement on Pinterest falls between 8PM and 11PM. 9PM is the period of peak engagement on this platform. You should still pin throughout other parts of the day. Studies suggest pinning more than 10 times per day is necessary for optimal results and referral website visits.
Make Yourself EASY to Find
Be sure to optimize your social media bios/profiles to best reflect your business and provide EASY access to contact information and website links. Never allow any of your information to become inaccurate
The 80/20 Rule
When posting, only directly discuss your company and/or products 20% of the time, while using the other 80% to create, share or curate posts you believe your target audience will find informative/interesting/fun to receive. This is true for all the platforms mentioned…but doesn’t apply to any paid social media advertising you may run. This keeps you from seeming spammy while ingratiating your business with potential customers.
I hope you found this information helpful and remember to stay tuned as I’ll be following up with more social media best practices and insights.