Before you can read the 6th step in the process of designing the perfect social media marketing strategy for your business, I advise you go through the previous 5 steps first.
Now that we’ve done our research and crafted our social presence, we’ve got to start interacting with our audience based on the data we’ve gathered previously (this is the cool part!). It’s true that if you understand your market really well, you’ll easily be able to craft messages that you know they’ll enjoy. However, going out there without a plan and randomly posting on social networks isn’t a good strategy since we want to track our efforts and improve upon them.
It’s true that in social media being casual from time to time is a good thing, but if you fail to put an effective posting plan, then you’re actually planning to ruin all of your social media marketing efforts. The difficulty that many business owners as well as social media marketers face is how to find the sweet spot when it comes to posting. What content type they should be posting on their social profiles, in what time they should post it…etc
What Worked For Them Might Not Work For You!
I see many studies today that each claim they’ve stumbled on the perfect formula for social success. One of them claims that if you post on Facebook between 1 p.m to 3 p.m you’ll get the maximum response and if you post after 8 p.m, no one will notice your post. Another one claims that Facebook posts work best when posted after 8 p.m. One study shows that posting once every other day is a must on Facebook, another suggests that posting 2 times a day is the best if you want to keep your fans engaged….etc. These days, I sometimes wonder if I’m reading the same blog as one week they show a study, and the other week, they sow another one which is completely the opposite. I don’t blame them. In a matter of fact, I encourage them to post studies like these, but what they should do more is letting people know about what kind of market these studies were conducted in so people get a clear understanding that these findings might not be the magic pills for their business.
As I always say, when it comes to social media marketing, you’re dealing with human beings with different needs, habits, interests, demographics…etc, and that’s the exact reason behind us going through segmentation in the 2nd step of this series “market research: finding your ideal customer”. People behave differently in each market mainly because they don’t belong to the same segment. Women between 25-35 of age and whose income is $50K behave differently from stay at home moms who are 45-50 of age. The first segment are probably workers and they’ll open their Facebook accounts after work. The second segment open their account first thing in the morning probably. Also, what works for the first segment in terms of post types might not work for the second one.
If I’ve learned anything from my social media marketing journey, it is THIS:
There Is No One-Fit-For-All Solution In Social Media Marketing [Tweet This]
If something has worked for another business owner, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll work for you!
So What Should You Do?
I know that you’re overwhelmed (because I am), but as I always say, the best skill everyone can have in today’s business environment is the skill of TESTING!!!
Yes you heard that right. Social media marketing is all about testing and improving. I know that this seems like a lot of work for you, but it wouldn’t compare the immense resources business owners spend on implementing studies that will never work for their businesses. I’m not obviously saying that you shouldn’t try some of their findings for your business; I’m just saying that you stop treating them as exact science, and start treating them as possible test subjects instead!
The last 2 steps (including this one) of this series are very crucial because they’ll be your indicator of whether things are working or not. The last step (which is all about tracking) will determine if all of our previous efforts from researching to implementing have been correct, if they aren’t, then tracking will save you time, because you’ll instantly know what’s not working and fix it. So remember again, this business is all about experimentation and results, TESTING and TRACKING!
Designing The Perfect Posting Strategy For Your Business
As you know, each social platform has its own audience. It’s true that many of them will be using more than one social network, but they expect a different interaction from each one of them. I believe that any posting strategy relies on 3 main factors. These factors will determine the effectiveness of each message, status update or tweet you put out there.
Time is a very important factor when it comes to social posting. It’s true that it differs from market to market, but you should determine when to post to each social platform at first so you can adjust later based on the feedback you’ll get from your audience.
What I want you to do, is to determine what I call your “Posting Sweet Spot”. I won’t bother you with studies that each claim a different best time for you to post on different platforms. What I’m going to show you is how to test and see which time slots give the most activity to your social profiles.
I see many business owners try different times and then decide that none of the times has performed well. If this happens to you, then there are 2 possible things that are causing this:
- You don’t have enough following:
This is very important when it comes to improving your conversions from each social network. Sometimes you find people complaining that they couldn’t get anyone to like their statuses, but when you take a look at their Facebook page, you’ll see that they have only 60 fans or so.
I’m telling you that if you don’t have enough following, then don’t you even bother testing because you’ll be wasting lots of time without any significant returns. I’m guilty of this as well. I spent lots of time on optimization in the past while I didn’t have the numbers that could give me a meaningful conclusion.
I’m not telling you that you just throw your messages out there until you reach enough following to start seeing results, because obviously, no one will follow you if they don’t get exposed to your messages in the first place.
What I’m saying here is to stop obsessing over optimization until you have good numbers to start with. Some experts say that you need to have at least a 1000 followers/fans before you can see significant results. That isn’t necessarily the magic number for everyone. What you should do is to focus on building quality following first, and when you start seeing good results in terms of traffic, retweets, likes, shares…etc, then you start your optimization.
- You’re not posting the right things for your audience
Sometimes the problem isn’t in the numbers. You start testing a time slot to see if you get the maximum response, and after a week or 2, you don’t see those good results you wished. Then what you do? Start testing another time slot!
If you’re posting the wrong things, then it doesn’t really matter when you post them. We’ll discuss what works best for each social platform in terms of post types, but I just needed you to test strategically rather than basing your decisions on poor tests. If you do your best at posting high quality statuses and tweets out there (and you know this from analyzing your competition and testing what is working for them), then you can start looking for the best time to post on each social network (you can also see when your competition is posting and try to test that as well).
Most people don’t give this much importance because they think that if they’re giving great value, then the frequency doesn’t really matter. However, I can tell you that there is a very thin line between educating/entertaining people and annoying them!
Each social network has its own suitable frequency, but again only for your business.
In some markets posting more than 1 status update on Facebook everyday is considered a lot. In other markets, some brands can get away with more than 4-5 posts without annoying their customers.
What about your business?
If you’re just starting out with social media marketing, here is how much you should post:
1- Facebook: 1 post a day.
2- Twitter: 3 to 5 tweets per day.
3- Blog: 1 article per week.
4- Youtube: 1 to 2 videos per month.
5- Pinterest: 2 pins per week (if you sell physical products, then you might share more than twice a day).
6- LinkedIn: 1 post a day.
7- Google+: 1 post per day.
8- Email marketing: 1 newsletter per week.
These initial post frequencies are good to start with. As you go along with your social media marketing campaign, you should increase your frequency and watch your stats. If you notice any complaints, unsubscribes or unlikes, then you should consider updating less to prevent annoying your followers.
What About Your Promotional Messages?
A general rule of thumb is to engage 80% and promote 20%. This isn’t the magic pill for every industry, but you should keep your audience engaged as much as you can, and occasionally promote your stuff to them. If you do too much promotion, you’ll turn them off, and they’ll start leaving your brand. This isn’t how marketing is done via social media, remember?
3- Post Type
When it comes to social media marketing, post type comes at the very top. Many people assume that everyone of their audience consumes content the same way. In a matter of fact, if you’re using more than one social network to promote your business, then you should customize your messages to fit each network. Here is what works on each social network in terms of post type:
I wonder why we always start with Facebook? It’s because if Facebook were a country……you know the story
The best performing posts on Facebook are IMAGES. Hands down!
The reason behind their awesome performance is that people don’t have to spend lots of time consuming them. On Facebook, people don’t want your geeky complex stuff, they’re there to chill out and make enjoyable discussions and interactions with their friends, family and favorite brands, so why would you ruin their mood?
So how would you promote your business if all it is your posting is funny images?
The images that you share on your Facebook page don’t necessarily need to be funny. Almost, all types of visual content perform better on Facebook no matter what the message it tries to convey. Whether they’re inspirational quotes, pictures of your dog, screenshots of your stats, photos of you in a conference…etc, if people consume and enjoy them in less than 5 seconds, you’ll get your desired engagement rate.
I know that these types of messages won’t directly be responsible for you getting sales from Facebook. What these photos do is to keep your audience engaged so Facebook doesn’t sink your updates with their EdgeRank. When it comes time to promotion, people will follow your links because they have now bonded with your brand through your constant engagement.
While images will get you likes, they won’t necessarily get you feedback. What I mean by feedback is comments from your fans. Comments are crucially important because they’re the ones that will help you better understand your market and better improve your targeting accordingly.
The magic formula of getting people to comment on your updates is just asking questions. However, there are certain criteria for your question to perform better!
As I told you before, with the short attention span of today’s user + the nature of Facebook, your questions should be as easy to consume as they could be. If you’re putting a mental challenge inside your question, don’t expect people to spend half an hour solving it to give you the answer, because they WON’T (unless you’re a math Professor who’s targeting other math Professors, although I doubt they use Facebook at all. Who knows!).
The best question you can ask on Facebook is the fill in the blank question. Why?
Because it requires the least effort from your fans to respond to.
If you post something like:
I use ___________ to manage my social profiles. Then people will only respond with one word: Hootsuite, Crowdbooster, SproutSocial…etc
People are lazy (or busy), so don’t make it hard for them to like or comment on your posts. The easier you make it, the more engagement you’ll get. GUARANTEED!
What About Links?
I don’t know about you guys, but from my own experience, links are the worst performing statuses on Facebook. Why?
First of all because people have developed immunity against them from the many fake links they’ve followed in the past. Most people don’t trust links, and that’s why you see brands today using their own URLs instead of using a URL shortening service. People like to know where they’re going.
Second of all because I told you before that people don’t like to go to Facebook to geek around. They know that if they click on a link, they’ll probably end up reading a 2000 words article. Most people connect to Facebook to get distracted from a long day of hard work, and you’re getting them to focus again! What a heartless person you are! Just kidding.
Third of all because if you send people outside Facebook, then you’ve moved/shifted their action taking to the external page you’re directing them to. After they consume the content on the target page or take whatever action you want them to take, they’ll forget to go back to Facebook and like your status, and that’s why Facebook don’t want anyone to go outside their platform, because the more we stay, the more it’ll benefit Facebook.
My Special Trick
If you want people to follow your link without letting them raise their defenses, then don’t use the link feature on Facebook where you just post the link and Facebook will pull a thumbnail, title and description.
Instead, you post your article as an image. You upload your post images on Facebook, you associate it with an enticing headline and you link to your website using your long URL. This way, you’ll be using the power of visual to your advantage to get people to visit your links.
Another thing I occasionally do when I have a long post that I want to post on Facebook is to break it into small chunks and post each information separately. I put a photo and I give one tip from the post without linking to the post. You won’t get traffic this way, but you’ll get engagement which will result in traffic with time.
I know that Facebook posting is a science itself. So if you want to learn more about this, check out my free report (The Facebook Status Formula: 19 proven status update formulas and templates to get more likes, comments, shares and lots of traffic back to your website instantly)
Twitter marketing is all about crafting your headlines! [Click To Tweet]
Yes you heard that right. The most important thing in any successful Twitter marketing campaign is strong headlines. The second most important thing is to deliver the promise you made on your headlines (no misleading here).
Remember, most people who use Twitter are either business owners, entrepreneurs, tech savvy people, journalists, reporters, celebrities, bloggers…etc. These guys won’t care about how funny you are (although it works sometimes), they mostly care about getting informed and inspired. What works best on Twitter is: inspirational success stories, case studies, quotes, how to tutorials, detailed articles, data packed articles, industry stats…etc.
Unlike Facebook, people need to go outside the platform to consume your content on Twitter. On Facebook, you mostly need to keep them engaged within the platform because of EdgeRank. On Twitter, you should do your best to getting people to follow the link to your content. For more information about how to write winning tweets, check out “The Art Of Writing Tweets That Stand Out”.
What About The Other Social Networks
It’s not actually very hard to determine which content you should post on each social platform you’re using to market your business. All you need is to learn more about the audience that is using each of them. I discussed this in detail in step 2 and step 3 of this series. If you’re on LinkedIn for example, your humorous Facebook posts won’t work, because people are there to make professional connection and improve their business. The type of content that works there is the one that offers high value to professionals. If you’re not able to either share or create a content that professionals in your industry may find helpful, then LinkedIn will never work for you.
What About Pinterest?
If you’re using Pinterest to market your products and services, then you must know that most of Pinterest’s audience are females between 25-35 of age. Product images that have a twist of creativity work like magic in there. Many people would compare Pinterest to Facebook, but I don’t think that the same content works on both. Think of Facebook as a photo album that you want to share and enjoy with your friends and family, and of Pinterest as a creative product catalog that people want to see to learn more about your products and services (don’t be too pushy or salesy though), and that’s why it’s working best for local businesses that are in the fashion, home decoration, food, lifestyle, health and beauty, art and crafts…etc industries.
What About Management?
If you think that social media marketing is a “Post It And Forget It” thing, then you need to find yourself another marketing strategy. The biggest reason small business owners hesitate on investing in social media marketing is that they think it’s time consuming, and they’re mostly right!
Social media marketing is time consuming if it’s not done strategically!
You could literally get lost in the social maze and easily throw hours in the road. However, if you set a specific amount of time to manage you social profiles, and focus only on the tasks at hand, you’ll be able to stay on top of every conversation that happens on each profile you’re using. If you can afford a social media manager, then go for it. If you can’t, then set 15 to 30 minutes to management each day and increase as you see value.
Managing your accounts includes: liking comments on your Facebook page and replying to them, thanking people who have retweeted your content, deleting spam, retweeting other people’s content, addressing your customers’ problems…etc. Remember, social media marketing isn’t a one way conversation, it’s ok to use some automated means to schedule your messages to go on specific times, but don’t forget the social aspect of these networks. If you don’t respond, thank, engage and reward your audience, then social media will never work for you.
Whether you’re posting on your social profiles or responding you should always keep 2 things in mind. The first is to always post something that is relevant to your typical customer (see step 2). The second thing will be responding with the tone you’ve designed for your business (see step 5). This way, you’ll get the most out of every post you make and every conversation/interaction you have with your audience. Don’t just post for the sake of filling your posting calendar, post strategically.
Now that you know how to design a social media posting strategy for your own business, we’re only 1 step apart from creating the perfect social media marketing strategy. The next and last step will be all about tracking, reporting and listening again. Stay tuned, subscribe below
Image Credit: stefan.erschwendner