Time, Investment & Understanding
Businesses often put off using social media as a strategy to grow their business for three reasons; time, investment and understanding. Time is an investment, and like all investments we expect, or hope, to see a return. Many business owners never invest their time or money into social media because they don’t understand how to use the various platforms and therefore can’t verify their return on investment. Getting started with social media isn’t a complicated process and in fact we’ve broken it down for you in bite-sized steps, but firstly you need to understand why you even need a social media presence.
Why Social Media Is Important
At Mission Ready Marketing we work with businesses across many different niches from pizzeria owners to real estate professionals. When we first get started, we ask one simple question, “How do you currently engage with your customers?”. Nine times out of ten they relate engagement to direct interaction with their customers, in person. While in person customer engagement is absolutely necessary, it is minuscule in comparison to the number of people that a business can engage with online. As a business owner you can’t be there to greet every person that walks through your door and you can’t shout at every person that walks past your store front. Social media platforms give us the ability to engage with new and potential customers at scale. Moreover, they allow us to them with the social proof they need to make the decision to eat in your restaurant, buy your product or service, or donate to your cause.
Picking a Social Media Platform
Picking a platform is simple and can be summed up in one sentence, “where are your customers hanging out”? Usually, the easiest way to determine this is to look at your competition. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn? Do they have a YouTube channel? I already know what you’re thinking… “Ok, so how do I research which channels they’re on?” – go to their website!
Analyzing the Competition
More often than not, business owners utilizing social media platforms to enhance their business want you to know about it. Check their website’s header and footer for links to their social media channels. Don’t just stop there though, visit their social media pages and check out what they have going on. How many followers do they have, how many likes, shares and comments are they getting on their posts? Take a look at what types of content they're posting, what time of day they're posting, & how often they're posting. As business owners we often think we need to reinvent the wheel… spoiler alert, you don’t. Keep it simple, see what’s working for your competitors, because it will probably work for you too, take note of what’s not and move forward. One word of caution! If you find your competitors are using multiple channels DO NOT attempt to move into multiple channels all at once. Determine which channel they are using most often and start building a presence there first. Only once you have built depth with one media channel should you start expanding your social media presence. Above all, when in doubt start with Facebook.
Picking a Platform Recap
- 1Grab your favorite yellow pad or create a spread sheet
- 2Make a list of your top 10 competitors and their website’s URL
- 3Visit each site and take note of the social media platforms they’re using
- 4Check your competitors’ social media channels and take note of the following:
- 5Review your data and see where they are moving the needle most
From your competitor research you know which platform you should focus on and what types of content your they are using to engage with their customers. The key to easily building content is variety. Often business owners think they need to generate unique content all the time which can be time prohibitive. Here’s a secret, you don’t. While it is important to generate unique content, your main goal on any social media platform is to provide value. For example, lets say you own a bar that focuses on mixology & high end cocktails. Yesterday you come across a blog post with a great infographic that shows how to make the perfect martini. Does this seem like something your audience would be interested in? If so, feel free to share it with them. Also, you don’t need to be a photographer to generate your own content. The phone in your pocket, or in your hand, is plenty for grabbing unique content and will probably resonate better with your audience because it is more personal.
Interruption, Value & Voice
Most importantly, when generating content, keep a few things in mind – Interruption, Value and Voice. Our social media feeds are full of people trying to grab our attention. Subsequently, your goal is to post content that gets someone to stop. Once they’ve taken notice you need to provide them value and/or voice what your brand is all about. Below are some content types to include in your social media strategy.
Social Media Content Types
- 1Customer Interaction Photos
- 2Employee Photos
- 3Interior & Exterior Location Photos
- 4Links to Industry Specific Blog Posts or Online Content
- 5Top 10 Lists
- 7Customer Surveys
- 8Go Live! Connect immediately with your customers with Facebook Live
- 9Client Testimonials & User Generated Content
- 10Local Guides
Search for your business on listing sites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, 4Square, etc… you might be surprised to find that your customers may have done a lot of the work for you. In addition to listing sites, search for your business on Facebook and Instagram. Often these platforms will create pages for your business without you even knowing it!
How to Build a "Rock-Solid" Social Media Posting Strategy
Building a social media posting strategy doesn’t have to be hard, and if you organize yourself just a little bit you can set yourself up for success in as little as an hour. First of all, you need to identify your posting frequency. To clarify, this is the number of times that you are going to post either per day, week or even month. However, if you’re just getting started, we recommend posting 3-4 times a week and scaling up from there as you see fit. Secondly, collect all the content that you have available to you right now and organize it into one of the 10 categories above. Do you have a lot of available resources for a different type of content? Create your own category. To sum it up, assuming you’re posting 3-4 times a week, you will need 3-4 pieces of content for each category. Take note of the content you have and generate the content you don’t, super simple right? Below is an example of a content calendar for those in the food and beverage niche.
Take advantage of the free tools you have available to you. Use Google to create your social media content calendar, schedule notifications, and use tasks to accomplish your goals!
Which Metrics Matter Most?
Social media is both an art and a science. As a result, it involves testing how your audience engages with different types of media, on different days of the week, and at different times of the day. The amount of data that is available to you can be overwhelming and with so many potential variables it can be difficult to determine what worked and what didn’t. In the early stages of ramping up your social media presence your main goals should be to increase customer engagement and your following. These two metrics are easy to track, and most importantly you don’t need a mathematics degree to calculate them.
A Metric That Matters - Average Interaction Rate
If you already have a social media presence record of the number of followers that you have on each platform. Next, add up the number of likes, comments, shares, or retweets that each of your posts has gotten over the last month or longer. This is your total interactions. Once you have the total interactions for each post take the average of your interactions. Now, divide that number by your total page likes. Thus, you have your Average Interaction Rate. In other words, it measures of the percentage of your followers that are engaging with your posts. Average Interaction Rage a very powerful metric because it tracks both growth and engagement while also providing a bench mark for future performance.
(Average Interactions / Page Likes) x 100
The Power of Interaction Rate
To truly understand the utility of this metric, take 30 seconds at the beginning of each day and record your total followers. At the end of each month go back and record each posts total interactions. Afterwared, take note of the time each post was posted, the day of the week, and which content category each post falls into. Now, instead of taking the average interaction rate for the month, calculate your interaction rate for each post using the number of followers you had at the start of the day when your post was published. Are you starting to see how powerful this metric is? Using Interaction Rate, you can evaluate which days of the week and times of the day you are getting the most engagement. Moreover, you can determine which type of content your audience responds to most! Super easy and extremely powerful. This is a metric we use to evaluate all of our clients' organic page performance. It doesn't matter if they have a hundred followers or a hundred thousand followers, this is one metric we always start with to get a high-level understanding of audience engagement.
How to Track Your Online ROI?
Understanding how your organic social media efforts are impacting your bottom line can be a difficult metric to track. ROI comes in many different forms, but in all cases, it is directly attributed to your goals. In the case of your organic social media following, your immediate ROI is growth, a product of your time. All that sounds great, but it doesn't really answer your question does it? Above all, you want to know how to attribute your time to real cash money, am I right?
Focus on Growth
In short, without advanced on & offline tracking capabilities organic attribution is a very difficult metric to track. However, we do have a "rule of thumb"! If you're looking at attach a dollar figure to your social media following, often we attribute a $1 Lifetime Value (LTV) to each follower. That is to say, that each follower is roughly worth a dollar to you. Certainly, this is by no means perfect and it could actually be more. A study by J Walter Thompson Intelligence, a center for provocative thinking, found that over 40% of men and more than 33% of women are more likely to buy something if it’s been recommended to them by a friend on social media. In conclusion, the benefits of creating an engaged social media following are a plenty and you should focus more on attributing your ROI to organic growth rather than dollars.
Tracking Social Media Sales
Now, if you have a platform where users can order your product or services online it is very easy to track where your revenue is coming from. To track this metric we use tracking scripts, UTM parameters, and a platform to send all the data to so we can analyze it. To sum it up, we need to understand where the link click came from that resulted in a purchase and we need to send the purchase information back to an analytic platform/s to record the sale.
Advanced Conversion Tracking
This is a bit out of the scope of this blog post but, at a high level, each platform that you are posting utilized tracking scripts. These are small snippets of java script that you load on your web pages. If one of your customers clicks a link that you posted on Facebook, when they land on your web page, a bit of tracking information is sent back to Facebook. Facebook then registers that a user clicked on a link from your Facebook page and went to a specific URL on your website. Similarly, if they make a purchase, we send another bit of tracking information about what they purchased and how much they spent. Most social media platforms include analytics, but often Google Analytics is used to track all online interactions. In addition, If you're using Google Analytics you can append UTM parameters to your links allowing you to accurately track your website's traffic and conversions from multiple sources. If you're looking for more information regarding this topic schedule a call with us today and find out how we can help.
Where You Should Invest Right Now
Posting organically to your social media channels are only going to get you so far. Most importantly, to really accelerate your online presence, you will need to incorporate advertising campaigns into your social media strategy. The ability for local businesses to cheaply advertise to a targeted group of potential and existing customers is quite frankly unprecedented. What would you say if I told you, you can tell 1000 people about your business for about $17? Does that sound like a good investment? Of course it does, and there is no other form of media that will allow you to syndicate your message cheaper than online advertising. Don’t believe me? Give the newspaper a call and ask them how much they want to run an ad and what their reach is. Then ask if they can run it to males between the age of 25-34 that have shown an interest in BBQ. I’ll let you in on a secret, they can’t. In short, no one knows more about their customer base than social media platforms and you should be leveraging that daily.