The most frustrating thing for many business owners is putting time, energy, and money into a social media strategy only to have it fall flat, with little to no ROI.
The search for that perfect recipe for social media success helps keep the content marketing industry in business, but the fact is, we’re not holding out on you.
There is an ideal social media balance for your business, but it won’t be the same as other businesses, even in your industry. Why?
Because your business’s location, size, and branding isn’t exactly the same as other businesses. So in order to find your perfect social media balance, you have to do some legwork.
The four keys to finding your social media balance are research, engagement, curation, and analysis.
Although your business isn’t identical to other businesses, it does have a lot in common with other businesses — specifically, your competition.
Look at the social media accounts of nearby competitors’ social media accounts and investigate what seems to work for them.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find competitors who are doing well with social media. Make a note of their demographics, how often they interact with followers, and how frequently they post.
Look for posts with a high number of shares. Are they original posts? Longform content? Promotions?
You can use a lot of the information you gather from researching the competition as the basis of your own social media strategy, with some customization to fit the specifics of your business.
Of course, you’ll find that some of your competitors aren’t doing so well in social media, either due to lack of time devoted to it or poor planning.
When you see a competitor’s post floundering with no likes or shares, ask yourself what they did wrong. Was it posted at an odd time of day?
Did it lack a visual component? Did it have typos? Was it the only post made within a week or more? All of these things can have a negative effect, and you can learn from these mistakes.
Even once you’ve collected your initial data, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes every week or so to do some research on the social media goings on in your industry — this part will get easier as time goes on and you begin to network and interact with your professional peers on social media.
Which brings us to the second key:
Never underestimate the importance of engagement. You should be engaging with your customers/clients, industry peers, and potential customers with an interest in your field or a need for your services.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just posting and sharing content covers the bases as far as engagement goes.
Your content should open the door for your followers (and, if you play it right, their followers) to interact with you and each other, effectively building a community around your business.
The first step to creating such a community is to remember your audience when you create content. Ask them for their feedback, their opinions, their tips and tricks.
Don’t be afraid to have some fun with it. You may be running a business, but many of your followers are on social media on their downtime.
Relevant humor, contests, and other fun stuff have a very strong appeal on social media. If the fun side of social media isn’t natural for you, consider hiring or contracting a social media content creator to lighten your style.
People also respond to relatability. You need to come across as an authority in your industry, but avoid acting as if you know everything and have never done something wrong can alienate your followers.
A little bit of self-deprecation, especially combined with humor, will humanize you on social media and help build trust.
It’s not as tough as it might sound. Think about when you were starting out in the industry. You probably have some stories about your first experience with a nightmare client, a memorable faux pas, or a bad judgement call.
Tell the story, have a laugh, turn it into a lesson.
Stories in general foster interaction on social media. Any time you can interject an anecdote, whether in a blog post or a tutorial, you should go with it.
Simply put, stories create a connection between the storyteller and the audience. Again, if this is out of your comfort zone, find someone else who can do it. It will be worth the investment.
Most of all, engagement gives you the opportunity to hear what your followers think. That can go a long way with helping you in customizing your content to what they want and need.
Sometimes business owners are so focused on promoting themselves and creating their own content that they neglect to diversify their social media presence by curating and sharing outside content.
Content curation is important because it allows you to keep up with a large amount of social media activity without having to create original content 100% of the time.
It’s also a good way to connect with other people by giving them a boost — which they may reciprocate.
It also makes you look less, for lack of a better word, spammy. Yes, it’s completely within the rules to promote yourself on social media, but if you make social media all about you, you’ll come off as if you don’t care about anything but your bottom line.
And maybe you do, but coming off as a 24/7 salesperson isn’t going to help it.
The first place to look for outside content is on your social media channel, especially among your mutual followers.
Share content you think will appeal to your own followers, and add a comment of your own to encourage additional interaction.
It’s a good idea to share posts soon after they’re posted, if possible, especially on Twitter. If it’s real shareworthy content, you want to share it early, while it’s still fresh.
For outside content to fill your queue, an RSS feed like feedly (above) is a great way to find and curate content on the specific topics you chose.
Again, post hot news sooner rather than later (and add your two cents), but for the more evergreen content and hidden gems you come across, scheduling posts allows you to keep your channels active even while you’re away.
Most social media channels offer analytics for business pages, such as Facebook Insights. It’s a simple way to see how well your posts are doing and what your followers don’t respond to.
Check the data regularly, and adjust your strategy as necessary.
Some things you’ll probably find: Posts with eye-catching images do far better than text-only posts, timely posts do better than general posts, and high-personality posts do better than more generic posts.
But you’ll probably also find some surprises — maybe you have a sizable following from a geographic area that you weren’t aware of, maybe your posts get more attention at a time you didn’t expect, maybe one type of content, such as video, is far more popular than other types.
Pay special attention to shares — who is sharing your content, is there in increase in overall shares and new followers when certain people share your content?
You should be interacting with these people, whether they’re peers or potential customers. These are also the people you should be retweeting and sharing content from, to keep yourself on their radar.
If you’re not seeing a lot of shares, something is missing from your strategy. Ask yourself, are you posting frequently enough?
Are you responding to comments? Do you like and share other people’s’ posts and interact with people? Is the quality of your content at the level of your more social-media successful peers (be honest)?
If you’re just starting out with a new social media strategy (or business social media in general), it will probably take a couple of months before your analytics start giving you a clear picture of where you are.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for the perfect social media balance, you can find the balance for you by doing your research, engaging with people, curating the content they want, and following the data.
Have you found your perfect balance? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
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