Social media amps up your ability to connect with people, build relationships, and gain business.
Since hitting the scene, social media has turned marketing on its head, changing the megaphone of advertising into a two-way conversation with customers. The real-time opportunity to tune up customer care and meet people where they are is game-changing and community-building.
And with the massive numbers of people online at all times and engaging on multiple social platforms each day, it’s no wonder businesses are finding their customers in the digital space, 24/7.
To make your business or brand explode, create a sustainable community around you. A community that supports you and your products/services, plus offers social credibility. Yes, it’s true your digital reputation indeed stands to grow with steady and effective social media marketing.
Social is a public display of your good work, and positive feedback, and best of all, you don’t have to focus on telling it because of this open opportunity to SHOW it. Most exceptionally, other people express it for you on social media platforms.
It’s fun (and good for business) when you find people sharing your content, sometimes on channels you aren’t even on.
The Social Media Grapevine is Your Friend
This social media grapevine helps amplify and distribute your content to attract new visitors to your website, create awareness and interest, and solidify your brand message. Because of these multi-functional capabilities when using social media, determining ROI or return on investment is difficult.
Further, changes in organic reach from social channels and platforms are (as usual) of concern to many, but as always, pivoting is part of business, and social platforms are in constant flux. Therefore, it’s not necessarily that they aren’t working; they just keep changing.
This post takes a look at social media from an organic growth perspective.
Social Media Growth, Organically
- Is it possible for social media marketing to help your business in all the ways mentioned above?
- Can you reach your goals organically, or is that a thing of the past?
- So what IS working now, or definitely not working anymore?
- Perhaps most importantly, how can you measure results to prove social media works?
When I started looking into social media, and not too willingly, in about 2015, I discovered this quote from content marketing expert Jay Baer, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.”
And since then, I’ve learned this to be true.
Lighting the match to start the social fire honestly works, I find. But it’s also usually a slow burn before it ignites or explodes, not only for my social channels (which often get the least attention) but from working with client accounts in a slew of industries over time.
Social media was the combustible first spark to help me get noticed for my writing work. And then to get clients. Social sends me an (oddly) high percentage of website traffic as well.
“Start pushing the buttons” is what someone suggested back then. (Still a good idea, once you select your core platforms.) But, there’s a better way to gain traction faster. As a step-at-a-time endeavor, things start happening by simply chipping away, testing a channel at a time, and participating.
Try this framework for building customers and an engaged community with social media marketing:
- Assessment/Review + Goals/Objectives
- Understand the Customer Journey
- Evaluate Channel Options
- Create a Content and Channel Plan
- Develop a Distribution and Amplification Strategy
Working in tandem with business goals and within your more extensive marketing campaign, make sure your social media plan aligns with your audience’s needs, making it value-added from the user’s perspective at every turn.
Align Social Strategy with Business Goals
In a recent interview with Ross Brand, Michael Kinney says that social media is still a fundamental way to get eyeballs on your work, but the idea is for people to want more of you. He explains that it works in tiers to build your audience, a community interested in your work.
“You have to take a sober assessment of what you’re doing.” ~Michael Kinney
And in the interview, Ross Brand reminds us, ”Social metrics and business metrics aren’t the same things.”
From Joie Gherraty’s point of view, “For my personal/professional brand, it’s [social media] a consistent billboard! I don’t think there’s a better microphone out there than social media, still.”
Joie suggests you:
+Share your unique point-of-view.
She continues, “I’m not promoting for anyone to get off social media, but understand it’s a two-way street, so it’s important to engage with people.” And beyond engaging with people, Joie also explains how it’s so important to put the spotlight on others. I agree with shining the light on others who inspire you. I do this all the time to share value and wisdom from others I learn from.
When you focus on and strategize your social marketing plan around key business objectives and goals, the content you create plays a part in moving people toward doing business with you.
A Novel Idea, Publish on the Platforms That Work for You!
I enjoy Kim’s calm, easy-come, easy-go take on the algos and other shifting grounds, typical in the business environment. Kim further explains, “The space has matured. A lot of what we’re experiencing is growing pains.”
And this is especially so in the speed-of-light digital space.
Assess and Review
But the first step to getting this right is to understand yourself. Do you have a solid foundational direction for your business and a widely understood mission to clarify your purpose and direction? Have you researched and assessed the bigger business or industry landscape and conducted a competitive analysis? Looking to what others do in your space helps you understand differences and highlights your business over the competition. Maybe you can leverage a gap to introduce something no one else is doing or has!
Whether you sell products or services, or anything else, a deep understanding of what you offer, inside and out, helps you communicate with your customers. It also allows you to understand and identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Unique Value Proposition (UVP) to distinguish how you stand out in the market and position yourself. And finally, it reveals how you serve people to effectively convey your value and paint the picture of the transformation someone feels because they picked you to do business with!
If you don’t set clear goals with a business purpose in mind and act without a definitive objective, you’ll never reach your target or achieve specific results. While working from a strategy with actual KPIs (key performance indicators) set by business goals may take a little extra thought and time upfront, it’s worth it.
Your traction and results from a thoughtful social media marketing strategy may surprise you! After learning and training with Agorapulse and using their robust social scheduling, listening, and analytics tool for social media for myself and clients, I was totally shocked and delighted. Using Agorapulse and its features helps put you on a strategic path, offering the insights you need to evolve. What a game-changer!
Understand the Customer Journey
Customers experience your business in stages, so you need to provide content assets to make them want to come back for more. And more. Hopefully, even more. Until they buy something you offer. You can do this by acting as a publishing house for your company. And by setting yourself up as a go-to resource for visitors interested or in need or what you can do for them.
I like looking at this process by combining the marketing “funnel” with the “buyer’s journey” for a melded approach to guide content types and direction. Seeing it in this overlapped view simplifies the concepts in an easy and sensible way.
When you stop and think about where the customer (or prospect) is and what content asset types apply in each phase, creating content for all the stages makes sense. Better yet, it trickles down logically, letting you build out content topics, getting deeper and more specific along the way.
Your social media also gains a framework to amplify and distribute for a targeted and bigger content reach from your valuable library of content assets.
And of course, essential to understanding the customer journey is the accurate description or audience avatar (customer profile) of your ideal client. I know, you know, this is a MUST.
Channel Options to Reach Your People
When businesses guess at the social channels to use rather than research them further, they often miss the mark for the audience they are trying to reach.
Beyond basic demographics, for example, user intent is a major consideration. What this entails is understanding why a person goes to a channel and asking what the person’s intent for being on any particular platform is.
Another piece in channel consideration is the type of content and platform specs for content that apply. There’s nothing more frustrating than content that gets cut off due to incorrect formatting. This means that content must be channel-specific for distribution and amplification on different social platforms. You may have to create peripheral assets around your original piece of content to share it more widely. Customize for leverage per channel.
“The best platform is the one working for you now,” says coach Jennie. But she also stresses the importance of inviting people back to your world rather than remaining only on social platforms. And I think this guest from Ross’s panel absolutely has it right!
Because the other part of selecting proper social media channels for your business is that YOU have to feel and be comfortable with the platforms you work with. So, if you despise doing videos, you may want to concentrate on a platform that isn’t primarily videos, like YouTube, for instance.
It’s all about finding the perfect match between audience, business, and resources with where you excel in content creation.
Social Media is What?
Annnnnnd. Speaking of YouTube and referring to it as a social media platform, I’ve been polling around in professional groups and Masterminds where I belong to find out if people consider YouTube a social media channel or not. My findings so far are split.
Because it’s functionally a “search engine,” second in size only to Google (who also owns YouTube), YouTube yields power to drive traffic and offers a free place to house your video content. But do you consider YouTube a part of your social media strategy?
Undoubtedly promotional and marketing videos for your business are part of your social sharing and content repurposing efforts. But is YouTube a social platform? Hmm. Well, you can interact on YouTube via LIVE presentations or through chat and comments. You can “like” a video with a thumbs up and share videos on other social networks. And, if your channel is big enough, you also get a community tab, which in some ways reminds me of Facebook Groups’ capabilities.
Pinterest is also a search engine. But it shows up as a social channels source on Google Analytics when it drives traffic to your website. Like YouTube, this social/search engine is an excellent eCommerce generator for many products and services. It was an early adopter for allowing users to buy directly from a “social” platform. Now, this is happening more universally across all channels.
Still, this is only the tip of the iceberg in the discussion and evaluation of social channels and platforms you may want to leverage. It also speaks to the many levels and layers of research to determine the perfect cross-platform strategy your business needs.
Don’t just take things at a surface level if you want to gain traction and best understand your market to reach and greet.
Create a Content and Channel Plan
Once you decide on the channel, or channels, where you want to focus, your content plan starts with any additional destination needs in mind right from the beginning. Doing so adds a dimension to content planning as you learn to see multi-use cases and work backward. Sometimes having multiple final outputs in mind helps spark creativity or a unique spin or approach to your content creation process.
Of course, your social content plan is based on your overall content marketing strategy and reflects your content framework, starting with cornerstone or pillar content on your blog, and flows from there. The content silos, clusters, pyramids, or hubs you set up to support your site structure and framework, dictate the content direction plus help identify the core topics to work with to propel and amplify your content.
Start with core topics to create “content buckets” for your social channels, focusing on core topics related to your business and website. If you don’t have a website or blog, you still have key topics you must cover, so you want your social content to reflect what you’re all about.
Working from your website’s core categories means having three to seven content buckets to start. Add at least one bucket for what you curate. Curation means sharing other people’s highly relevant content with your audience. But please, be particular about what you share. Stay on topic and confirm the quality and value before simply sharing any old thing.
When you curate, work within the same topic buckets. Or maybe you prefer to add related topics to what you are covering. From your buckets, you can drill down into more buckets to align topics with the stages of the buyer’s journey. Again, this can work for what you create and also for what you curate.
Your Buckets Runneth Over
To keep your content buckets (or content ideas) overflowing, add other things to your social feeds. Decide what to add depending, of course, on the platform and also the style/tone/personality of your business.
If you’re funny, let it show.
If you’re creative, let it go.
If you’re philosophical, that’s okay.
If you’re rainbows and sunshine, have a nice day:)
The point is to add human connection. To market with love, as I always say. And to add a touch of something unique or unexpected to what you create and share. Perhaps show a little more of a personal side, if you like. Holiday posts are an opportunity to play with something special. Or, if you want, select odd holidays rather than the typical, say, National Pickle Day or something like that.
Still, for more helpers, start with the months. Decide to concentrate on 12 things. Start with one per month, or four things, first. Then one per quarter, or go ahead and plan something as a daily dose or weekly recurring post. I love Twitter on Fridays because a couple of my friends do #FF Freaky Friday shoutouts. It’s fun and conversational.
For some clients, using quotes for social posting is a nice suggestion. However, there’s a way to make the right choice in the types of quotes to present. It depends on your business, values, etc., to decide what is best to use.
If you’re an author or in a leadership or mentoring role, using your original quotes makes sense. Or use quotes about a topic, say creativity or sales. Relevance to your audience and business matters if you use social media to build your business and brand. Yes, even filler content is strategic.
Distribute and Amplify
Multi-channel and cross-channel promotions require a little bit of thought. Each channel’s feed and algorithms are unique. So, discovering peak times to schedule and doing so consistently makes a difference in post-performance. Connections and followers impact reach and impressions, so don’t worry if things start slowly before you begin to grow.
For planning your social strategy, there’s no single best practice to follow.
Each business varies in what makes a successful social media distribution plan. The best way to learn what works is to monitor, record, and analyze results. Compare month-to-month, quarterly, and yearly results. Test often.
Honing in on your audience, your most valuable content, and the social platform or platforms you decide to focus on advises the distribution and amplification strategy you’ll want to create.
It’s okay to limit your social platforms to as few as one or two. Master them before expanding to the next one. One solid and effective channel is better than a few done poorly or sporadically.
Using social media to reach your specific goals and objectives happens much sooner if you are thoughtful in your approach, human-centric, and consistent. Scheduling tools are helpful to accomplish these things but are best if they’re not the main character but merely a tool. Because dear business owner, YOU are perhaps the most significant asset in your social media toolbox!
When people notice YOU via your social media efforts because you are present and talking to folks in your feed, and as people get to know you as credible and reputable from discovering and interacting with you, the real magic of social media starts shining. And the glow can keep you in business.
Management Tools for Social
I know you know I don’t mind telling you to check out Agorapulse! It is definitely one of the finest social media software scheduling tools in the business. Beyond scheduling, the ability to monitor, listen, and reply from one dashboard is a time-saver. But it also helps you see what’s happening at all times.
One of the richest capabilities of this software is the ability to grab stats and reports customized for your needs. Agorapulse is the best tool to see what’s working or not and how you’re progressing using social media.
With Canva integration, content creation gets easier from within the Agorapulse dash, adding new flexibility for posting visuals in your feeds. Or, now this is a beautiful thing, you can batch upload an entire file of visuals into the library, so grabbing brand-highlighting images is a snap.
Meanwhile, back on the analytical side of the brain, new UTM tracking functionality from within the app also gives you better trackability, setting up essential coding at the touch of a button.
One more standout feature you get when you are part of the Agorapulse community is ongoing training, continually evolving app capabilities, and a welcoming atmosphere so you can ask questions, stay up-to-date, and learn.
As an example, Stephanie Liu, the newly named Director of Communications at Agorapulse, teaches me so much! Starting with the Leap Into Live event, and Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing she co-authored, and via multitudes of industry interviews including one with prolific ad man, Allen Kay, (who I was compelled to include in a recent post), Stephanie Liu continues to inspire, train, and lead in the digital marketing space. I certainly appreciate her.
But, she’s just one of the many gems in the Agorapulse community! This software represents more than a mere social tool!
Reporting Social Progress
It starts with people like Stephanie and includes the Agorapulse Team. They work to make sure you aren’t just managing but successfully managing SMM for yourself and your clients.
The reporting functionality Agorapulse gives you is industry-leading and customizes to your specific needs. Helping you gain a picture of what’s working, or not, and seeing ongoing progress allows you to adjust and evolve to optimize your channel-specific posting.
Along with an aggregated dashboard for all your social channels (except Pinterest), you can also aggregate channel reporting, or separate reports to channel. Sometimes you’ll discover a high-performing channel is an unexpected one as Agorapulse’s founder discovered and shared in this recent YouTube presentation on measuring social results.
Collecting and reviewing your data is often eye-opening. More importantly, analyzing that data and using it to improve and optimize your channels to give your community of users a better social experience with you is smart and effective.
What’s working for you? How social are you?