No matter how tight we close our eyes and will it to be so, we can’t return to the glory days of landline phones, Blockbuster and the MySpace Top 8. Ah, the echo of simpler times.
That was a fun trip down memory lane, huh? Now it’s time to get back on track. It’s the second quarter of 2019 and regardless of your personal feelings about social media, you need to be able to harness the communicative power of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and their upstart competitors in cyberspace.
Sounds easy, but most marketers have chronic difficulty in maintaining a viable social media strategy. But with a little knowledge on your side, it’s possible to identify a few of the most common pain points and apply remedies that can bring relief. This is what we’ll explore in our third and final article on diagnosing your marketing health. (You can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.)
Symptom: Low Engagement From Followers
You post frequently but it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening. Few visitors are watching your videos, responding to posts or smashing that “like” button.
Prescription: Test All Types Of Content And Messaging
It’s time to mix things up. Experiment with different types of media to see what attracts your followers. Here are some suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:
• Visuals: To put it simply, people like to look at stuff. That’s why Twitter posts containing images are 150% more likely to be retweeted than those with just text, and video is pulling ahead of other types of content when it comes to generating engagement. In fact, according to the 2018 Sprout Social Index (registration required), 74% of consumers share social media video content from brands.
We could write volumes about everything that goes into video production, but here’s a small tip to help you get the ball rolling: Keep it short and simple (like our attention spans). According to one study, the ideal range for videos is 30-60 seconds long. These videos are watched, beginning to end, 44% of the time.
• User-Generated Content: Need more engagement? Ask for it. There are multiple ways to solicit user-generated content (UGC), like caption contests, where users post amusing comments on an image. After all, people are on social to be social. People love (their) opinions (think: testimonials, reviews and customer-response videos). And be sure to engage with them to keep the conversation going.
You don’t have to bombard your followers with a massive amount of media. Emphasize quality over quantity. Try for a few high-impact posts every day rather than a dozen random ones just to fill your feed. Nobody likes fluff (unless it’s on a peanut butter sandwich).
Symptom: Low Or Dwindling Follower Count
Your number of followers is stagnant or plummeting. Vitals are dropping!
Prescription: Pay-To-Play And New Platforms
Organic brand reach — capturing audiences via unpaid posts — is on a steady decline. As of early 2018, 55% of marketers were feeling the pinch as they watched their organic reach take a dive.
Facebook’s News Feed has become increasingly competitive in recent years. What can you do to break through this dense wall of content? Pay-to-play ads provide the battering ram you need to get ahead. You don’t even have to spend a substantial amount of cash to profit from this strategy. And Facebook has made pay-to-play easy with that handy “boost post” button. These are basically just like normal Facebook posts but with a “sponsored” label.
Have a write-up in a national publication? Boost it. Have a new client testimonial video? Boost it. Opening a new location? Boost it twice. The point is that brands on Facebook will need to pay a bit more to reach their audience when they need to the most. For the time being, if you want organic, stick to produce.
But what about other platforms? After all, there’s more to social media than just Facebook, of course. Many marketers fail to grasp important distinctions among the various platforms, and consequently, they don’t see that their ideal audience may be hanging out somewhere else.
If your business sells products, it’s hard to beat the advertising power of Pinterest, which has acquired a reputation as a showcase for cool stuff. Instagram offers similar advantages but its audience trends younger. Doing some demographic research into the different platforms — discovering exactly who is going where — can make all the difference.
Symptom: A Sudden Drop In Clicks And Impressions
Your impressions and engagement fluctuate or drop like a mid-afternoon sugar crash.
Prescription: Follow Algorithm Updates
For many, the phrase “algorithm update” sounds like headache-inducing mumbo-jumbo that’s hard to grasp. Most think it has to do with behind-the-scenes tech wizards making the platform better somehow. The end. But algorithm updates can tank your marketing campaigns if you don’t make necessary adjustments. If your engagement level has dropped recently without any apparent cause, this is your first stop.
In January 2018, Facebook announced an algorithm update that prioritized local news. That was a tough pill to swallow for companies that depended on clicks from a global audience. Instagram enacted a similar campaign in June 2018, releasing a much-anticipated algorithm to rank posts based on accounts that users engage with the most. This update effectively punished business accounts that relied on fake followers to unlock linking capabilities on Instagram Stories.
Algorithm updates like these can help or hinder your business, but failing to pay attention to them is begging for disaster. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to track algorithm updates from Google and other sites. It does, however, require some attentiveness on your part.
Simply said, when it comes to social media, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Like a diet. Or pants. What’s considered healthy social behavior for one brand could be a nail in the coffin for another. But with a little positive thinking and a lot of great content, you’re sure to find a healthy social strategy that works for you.