In one way or another, social media has formed a notable part of my everyday working life for at least the last five or six years. Probably more. Working with both enterprise clients and SMEs, as well as for individual companies and entire agencies, I like to think I’ve got a good grasp of just what’s needed to make a social media strategy a success.
But this understanding has come out very much through trial and error. Some things have worked, others haven’t, and although undoubtedly a frustrating process at times, it’s arguably the most effective of any when it comes to utilising a resource – it allows you to base your knowledge on genuine facts.
Whilst I don’t profess to be a ‘Social Media Guru’ (if not solely for the fact such words make me shudder), I do have a lot of information I’m happy to share to help everyone benefit more from social media in a matter of minutes.
Follow the 80 / 20 rule
And my favourite tip of all has to be to follow the 80 / 20 rule.
In essence, this means knowing that your audience doesn’t just want to see sales-based updates and after sales-based updates. Social media is called just that for a reason – it’s about being social. Sure, many people see considerable success when it comes to social selling, but it has to be a secondary consideration. Your first genuinely needs to be to engage with your audience.
With the 80 / 20 rule, you’re effectively saying that only 20% of your activity will be sales-based, or be of direct benefit to you as a brand. The other 80% of the time you want to be delivering updates that offer genuine advice, information and support to your audience, so to engage and interact with them effectively.
Importantly, the 80% of updates don’t need to be off topic or not talking about your brand. Instead, when publishing them, you just need to be asking yourself questions such as “Is this genuinely interesting to my audience?” and “Am I trying to directly sell something in this update?” – and the answers should be a resounding yes then no.
There’s been a lot of research carried out into the different types of updates you can make on social media, and you’ll sometimes find conflicting evidence. What you’re unlikely to find, however, is someone saying images don’t have a positive impact on your social media activity.
As humans, we’re naturally visual beings. We digest and retain information better when it’s presented to us visually, and so as soon as we see an image, we stop and look at it, even if it’s just for a millisecond.
As such, if you can get the right image to accompany your message copy, you’ll find your engagement levels increase – it’s practically a guarantee.
Use a link shortener
One of the most difficult aspects many consider about social media activity is tracking the success of it. How can you actually determine how beneficial a tweet, for example, has been, outside of the number of favourites and retweets it gets?
Whilst there are actually a number of ways to do this, one of the most notable is using a link shortening service, such as Bitly.
Providing you with the ability to fully track who has clicked and engaged with each of the links you push out, it’s a fantastic way to add an extra level of certainty that the updates you’re making genuinely are providing benefit.
Track your website traffic
Linked in with the above is the checking of website traffic in relation to your social media activity – and not just how many people have come from a social network, but what they actually did when they were on your site.
For instance, you may be getting thousands upon thousands of visitors from Twitter, but how long are they staying for? How many pages are they checking out before they leave? Are any of them completing the goals you have laid out (and in fact, have you actually setup any goals in Google Analytics?)?
It might sound like a simple and straightforward process, and that’s because it is – yet so many people fail to look at the huge amounts of website data available to them, thinking they only need to know how many visitors their site has had in general.
If you’re publishing – or aiming to publish – social media activity on a regular basis (i.e., serveral times a day), you’ll likely be able to save a huge amount of time by doing so in advance.
Whilst it’s recommended to still keep an active ‘live’ presence on the networsk, there’s no harm in scheduling activity.
For example, I use Buffer and every morning, I set aside 30 minutes to add updates to my schedule for the rest of the day. Then, I’ll login to the networks directly a handful of times during the coming hours and make a couple of ‘live’ updates as and when necessary.
Not only does this approach mean my feeds are continually updated, satisfying my followers’ needs and expectations, but it means I don’t have to keep jumping into each network every 30 or 40 minutes to make an update.
Having used social media to some extent for several years now, I like to think I’ve got a good grasp on what does and doesn’t work. And although, as I said above, I don’t consider myself a guru, I’m certain that by using the points mentioned here, I’m saving myself a huge amount of time every day – and you could be, too.