By far the biggest mistake you can make when it comes to social media is not having a clearly defined strategy. In order to be successful, you first have to know what success for your business looks like. It could be gaining 100,000 new followers on Facebook. Or if you’re a smaller business, it might simply be signing up a few hundred more subscribers to your email list.
Not knowing what you hope to achieve from your social media posts before you post them is a sure-fire way to end up with unfocused, untargeted and under-performing posts.
If you want to achieve success on social media, then here are a few important steps you should be considering at the planning stages.
As just mentioned, knowing what you want to achieve with your social media posts is key to building success. Long before you start drafting tweets, Facebook posts, or thinking about hashtags, it’s essential to consider what you want your social media posts to achieve.
Your goals don’t have to be complicated or complex, but you should have some in mind, and preferably written down so that your entire team knows what’s expected.
Below are some common reasons why businesses decide to post on social media:
- To expand upon other marketing efforts (SEO blogs and PPC campaigns)
- Build brand awareness
- Attract new customers
Setting Specific KPIs
You’re probably already familiar with Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are routinely used in business to measure and evaluate the success of an individual, organization, or project in meeting certain objectives in performance. But KPIs are also vital when it comes to social media. They help with setting budgets, selecting which content to create, as well as evaluating your success on social media.
However, not all KPIs in social media are created equal or should be taken at face value.
Beware Social Media Vanity Metrics
It might be tempting to set a goal of attracting as many new followers as possible to your Twitter or Facebook accounts, but this might not be the right approach for your business. A decade ago followers were a very popular ‘vanity’ metric to measure. Inbound marketers HubSpot describe vanity metrics as, “data such as social media followers, page views, subscribers, and other flashy analytics that are satisfying on paper, but don’t move the needle for your business goals.”
In other words, they look like a sure-fire home run but usually aren’t. Adding new followers looks impressive, and isn’t especially hard to achieve. The problem though is that very few of these new followers are likely to translate into paying customers because content hasn’t been targeted specifically towards their wants and needs. So they’re likely either to end up bouncing or completely ignoring your posts in the future.
But the real trouble with vanity metrics is not necessarily the information they provide, rather what surrounds those numbers. As HubSpot point out: “[Vanity metrics] offer positive reporting, but no context for future marketing decisions — something actionable metrics can do.”
Know Your Audience
Here lies the rub. Follower numbers are good to know, but it’s what you do with that information that counts. You need to know more about your followers. Dig deeper.
For example, on Twitter, you could use a service like FollowerWonk to find out where your followers are located or when they tweet.
Or better still you could create content that would attract your target audience in the first place. You might end up with fewer followers, but they’re much more likely to actually engage with your content and convert into sales further down the road.
Focus on Actionable Data for Success on Social Media
Think carefully about your KPIs. And be sure to focus on ones that are actionable, rather than simply impressive looking on paper. Here are a few useful and actionable KPIs to take notice of:
- Engagement rate: instead of merely monitoring followers, try looking instead at what kind of content people are engaging with the most. Do they prefer infographics, in-depth articles, or videos? If you spot a trend, then you can lean into that by producing more of that kind of content in the future. Most social media platforms have their own analytics, which gives you access to detailed statistics. Facebook Insights, in particular, offers incredibly detailed demographics on its users: gender, age, education, job titles, and even relationship statuses. So take some time to really dig into the stats to see who your audience is and what interests them, and not just how many of them there are.
- Bounce rate: it’s good to know how many people are visiting your site, but it’s more useful to know how many of those people only visit one page on your website before leaving (bounce rate). You might think your website is performing well because lots of people are visiting it, but if they’re clicking away after reading only one page, then you have a problem that needs addressing.
- Social shares: social shares from platforms like Twitter and Facebook are now included in Google search algorithms. So the success of your business no longer relies merely on funneling an audience through
SEOblogs or PPC campaigns, but now also through the strength of your social media posts. If you can get people to regularly share your content on social media then search engines will take notice.
As we’ve seen, success on social media requires setting actionable goals. It’s not enough to merely know how many followers you have, but who those followers are. The more you know about your audience, then the better you can target their interests and convert them to your brand.
The methods I’ve explained here aren’t complex or expensive. The only thing that’s needed for success on social media is clear and well thought out goals.