Amidst all the hype about social media marketing, all the noise and chatter about followers, likes and content, it can sometimes be a little bit too much. While there’s no shortage of information available online, sorting the good from the bad is becoming more complex. Finding tips that are actually actionable and relate to your business can be hard, as you’re scanning through the millions of blog posts trying to find that one nugget of golden info.
To save you time, we’ve put together a list of some of the top social media tips and tactics to help maximize your social strategy and take it to the next level.
Stage 1: Where is Your Audience?
1. Use demographics data to determine key platforms
You likely already know the age and basic demographic make-up of your ideal target audience – one way of utilizing this info is to cross-match your existing audience data with demographic info on which age groups are using which platforms. You can use research tools like Pew Research or eConsultancy, both of which regularly publish reports on social media audiences, or you can use the advertising options for each site, most of which have ‘Potential Reach’ calculators built into the ads process (which you can see without having to actually pay for ads). These will show you which platforms, in a wider sense, your target audience is present on.
2. Examine which networks the social shares from your website are going to
Understanding which networks people are using to share your existing content – or even your home page – can inform your strategy, as it shows which social networks are popular amongst your existing audience. To do this, you can use Social Crawlytics, a free app that examines your site and produces a report showing which social channels your content is shared on, for example, if 95% of your social shares are on Facebook, that’s where you need to be looking first.
3. Check which social networks are most popular amongst users discussing your focus keywords
If you know where people are discussing your key terms, chances are those are the networks where you’re going to get the most traction, as discussions around your industry are already happening. You can use BuzzSumo to do this – just enter in your focus terms and BuzzSumo will give you a listing of the most popular articles, along with social share counts for each across the major networks. You can filter the list by time, region, and even content type to get a better idea of what’s resonated and where.
4. Locate key influencers in your niche
Another function of BuzzSumo is the ability to search for influencers by topic (and by region). Just enter a key term in the Influencers tab and BuzzSumo will return a list of all the key influencers for that topic. From there, you can view the specific links they’ve shared as well as lists of other people who’ve shared that same content, again filterable by region. This is a great way to locate the key voices, and the people they influence, amongst your target groups.
5. Analyse your competitors to see what they’re up to
What’s more, with both Social Crawlytics and BuzzSumo you can examine other users, including your competitors. Crawlytics will show you the most popular content from their website and where they’re generating the most shares, while BuzzSumo will highlight their most popular content and enable you to view who, specifically, is sharing it.
Stage 2: What do They Want to Hear?
6. Find the most popular content for your focus terms
Staying with BuzzSumo, if you enter in your keywords, BuzzSumo shows a list of the most popular content, and content types, related to those topics. These are the posts that are getting the most traction amongst your audience and the questions your audience is seeking answers to.
7. Find relevant hashtags and conversations specific to your business
Using Hashtagify, you can enter in your business key terms and get an idea of the hashtags being used around those topics. Hashtagify will also produce a graph of all the hashtags most commonly associated with those terms, giving you a wider reference set to use when looking into hashtag conversations around your areas of interest.
8. Find out what people are asking about your products
Question sites like Quora can help when trying to establish what the most common questions are around your key topics or products. You can also use Google Suggest for this – when you enter terms into Google, the search engine will suggest various, commonly used search phrases based on the terms you’ve entered. These suggestions can be a good insight into the questions being most commonly asked around your industry.
9. Use your in-house experts to form an understanding of commonly asked questions
There’re no better resources on commonly asked questions than the people who are answering them every day. This is an often overlooked resource, but getting your key people to write down a list of FAQs helps give you an understanding of what your audience is asking about.
10. Find out what content is trending in your industry
Apps like PopURLs, Nuzzel, and even BuzzSumo have trending content functions that highlight the most popular articles within your industry or niche. Knowing what’s trending is a great way to inform your strategy and stay in-tune with what’s happening in real-time – and tools like this streamline the discovery process, freeing you from scanning through pages of blog posts.
Stage 3: What Can You Provide?
11. Work out how much time you can allocate to your social media efforts
Obviously, this will be largely dictated by other happenings and ROI, but it’s worth taking a moment to figure out how much time you can spend on refining your social media presence. The truth is it does take time, and without planning you can easily spend lengthy periods going through each nuance and setting and post, and lose hours as a result. Allocating a set amount of time will help you focus and frame your efforts in a more meaningful way.
12. Select networks carefully
The secondary purpose of Stage 1 is to determine which networks are worth your time. There’s no point having a presence of every channel if your target audience is only on one or two, and there’s no point focussing on platforms if your target market isn’t active there. Especially when starting out, it’s more important to select your key platforms and focus on doing them right then it is to create a presence on every platform and do all of them poorly. You can’t be everywhere – and the reality is, you probably don’t need to be.
13. Create a content calendar
Your content will be a key element of your social presence, and it’s important to have a content schedule set out in order to build a consistent dialogue with your audience. If people expect you to send out a new weekly newsletter or post, they can build that into their reading plans – that sort of consistency builds an expectation of reliability, and will strengthen your brand as a result.
14. Understand your mission
Another crucial element is to understand what you’re using social media for. For most, your efforts will focus on one of three areas – sales, loyalty or awareness. Focus on which of these goals you’re seeking to achieve with each process, then align your content and social efforts with that goal. There’s no point building followers and likes if you have no further goal in mind – having a set focus and plan will help you remain consistent in your efforts and build towards the target.
15. Establish your voice
Understanding how you want to communicate is almost as important as what you communicate. What tone do you want your social presence to have? How do you want your brand representatives to approach each interaction? What’s the core mission behind every response and post? Answering these questions, again, builds consistency and reliability, as well as scalability, as you can ensure all members of your team are delivering an on-brand response.
Stage 4: How Can You Manage?
16. Track mentions of your brand and brand key terms across the social sphere
By using tools like Hootsuite, Mention or Sprout Social, you can set up streams and alerts to monitor key terms, helping you stay on track of relevant mentions without having to be always online. You can allocate searches to specific geographic regions, ensuring you remain aware of key local mentions and trends, further filtering the process to save you time. You can also set up push notifications to keep you up to date while you’re away from your desk.
17. Schedule content to be sent out via your social profiles
One of the biggest time savers, and the easiest ways to maintain a consistent social presence is to schedule your social media posts ahead of time. When you create a new blog post, you can schedule it to be shared on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can share links to related content to go out at different times across the day. You can schedule your posts months in advance to ensure you’re active even when you’re not in the office. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite are perfect for this purpose.
Stage 5: How Do You Measure?
18. Check analytics via on-platform options
One of the greatest strengths of social media is that it’s all measurable and traceable. If there’s anything you want to track, it’s pretty likely you’ll be able to. It’s just a matter of working out what data is most valuable, then working out how you might go about it. The major platforms like Twitter and Facebook have their own inbuilt analytics tools that provide great oversight into overall page activities – ignore such data at your own peril.
19. Use tools to get a better understanding of your performance
There’s a wide range of social analytics tools available. Hootsuite has a range of data tools inbuilt. BuzzSumo can help you track performance by providing info on social shares and sharers. Twitonomy will analyze your Twitter account and provide in-depth data on performance while Fanpage Karma does the same for Facebook. Simply Measured has a range of free and paid tools to help rationalize and harmonize your on-platform activities. Using any, or all, of these tools, will greatly inform your strategy and you’ll move forward.
20. Assess, refine, repeat
The key to social media success is outlined in these three words. Individual results will vary, what works for others may not work for you. Because of this, the only way to truly maximize your social media success is to test, to see what works and what doesn’t, then learn for the next stage. While there are many guidelines and suggested processes available, the only true rule of social is ‘your audience rules’ – your individual followers and fans, they’re the ones who’ll dictate your ultimate level of success.
So there you are 20 key strategy tips that will help you better utilize social networks for your marketing efforts. Follow these steps and you’ll get a better understanding of how social works, how your competitors and partners are utilizing the platforms, and what your audience expects from your brand via tweets and posts. The only other truly critical step is to listen, to hear what’s being said, and to respond according to what your data and insights are telling you. The rest is up to you.