Internet users spend a third of their time on social media. Find out why a strong social media strategy is essential for organisations to achieve their digital goals.
Social media accounts for 33% of the time individuals spend online. This means your potential audiences are active on social media and are browsing their preferred social channels for inspiration before buying a product or signing up to a service. An effective social media strategy is essential to get the most out of digital marketing.
37% of shoppers use social media for purchase inspiration. A social media strategy is a great way of reaching potential new customers as well as strengthening relationships with your current ones. This might instigate repeat purchases or a positive review.
How should organisations go about planning and implementing a great social media strategy?
Set clear objectives for social media
The first, and arguably most important, step in creating a strong and successful social media strategy is setting objectives. Consider what it is your organisation is setting out to achieve and why? Often the reasons why organisations include social media as a part of their marketing mix include these aims:
- Generate a positive return on Investment (ROI) from the activity
- Generate more product sales and profit
- Generate more leads
- Increase brand awareness
- Improve brand loyalty
- Improve the reach and engagement of the content
Choosing the right social media channels for your business
Make sure the strategy targets the correct channels. Often, brands make the mistake of setting up multiple channels and just re-posting the same content across different mediums just to tick the box. Often this results in poor engagement. Each channel may attract different audiences with different demographics. Everything from what is posted, to when and how frequently should be considered for best results.
Across any form for marketing, content and messaging are tailored to specific audiences, social media marketing is no different. Its important businesses focus their efforts on the right channels for their audiences and goals, rather than trying to do it all. We’ve looked at a list of the most popular social media channels and highlighted the key differences and what each channel is best for.
Facebook is a great platform for reaching new audiences and advertising products. Facebook advertising platform offers a broad spectrum of objectives and creative formats, from images to video. The help generates product sales and also leads.
Best for: Generating leads and reaching new audiences. A popular channel if your goals include reaching a broad demographic spectrum.
Media options: Facebook supports a wide range of formats, including single image, image carousels and videos (15, 30 and 60 seconds long). You can get creative if you have multiple services or products on offer. Unlike the traditional methods of advertising, having multiple creative variations won’t cost you a lot of money. You’ll be able to test accurately which image or video works better with your customer base. Fashion brands like H&M, ASOS or Nike also use Facebook effectively to remarket to users who have expressed interest in their products.
Instagram is a visual platform with more than 800milion active users. It’s powerful to spread brand awareness, with 70% of Instagram users claiming they seek to follow brands. As a channel, it has a much higher engagement rate than Facebook and Twitter.
Best for: Visual brands that want to share images of their products. Brands that target younger audiences as its typically popular with users under 35.
Media options: Like Facebook users can post a range of video and image assets. Main difference? Users who visit your profile can see a full feed in a grid layout, which is an opportunity to get really creative and stand out from competition. Brands like Aldi UK invest a lot of time to create beautifully flowing feed design that is in line with their seasonal shopper calendar and flows all as one.
Instagram stories are another great form of sharing your content with Instagram users. Instagram stories get an average 7.2% engagement rate, with Instagram feed at 2.5%.
LinkedIn is all about building networks and connections, therefore it’s the ideal channel for B2B businesses. It’s a highly rated platform for lead generation and has the option to pay for sponsored posts that are a useful tool for highly targeted marketing campaigns. As it’s a ‘professional networking’ platform, recruitment campaigns also sit nicely on this channel.
Best for: B2B Businesses and recruitment.
Media options: LinkedIn allows you to share image and video content of up to 10 minutes.
Roughly 500million Tweets are sent per day, making Twitter a relevant platform for businesses to create online conversations. It’s a great space for conversing with customers which is likely why 85% of brands choose it as a customer service channel.
Best for: Brands that want to boost and sustain engagement. A good platform for building customer loyalty.
Media options: Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter is slightly more limited in terms of creative options out there – with no carousel option and only limited number of characters in a message (280). Frequency of posting on Twitter is also slightly higher than any other channels, making frequent daily posting key to brand visibility.
Even though the number of users is lower than Instagram, it’s the go-to visual channel for audiences looking for inspiration. Users who come across a brand on Pinterest are inclined to generate traffic to the company website.
Best for: Attracting audiences with product visuals and driving ecommerce sales.
Media Options: Pinterest allows both images and videos to be posted onto business channels – including videos up to 15 minutes. Perfect for brands keen to share tutorials of their products. Pinterest allows you to categorise all content into different boards by type or colour and also adds pins of users who have used your products onto your boards.
The latest addition is the advertising platform, which can help increase the visibility of pins as well as drive extra traffic to your website. Brands like IKEA have used this channel effectively in their social media strategy, inspiring their potential customers to purchase whilst reducing spend on catalogue mail outs. The IKEA Inspire My Home campaign used personalisation to make product recommendations based on participants’ Pinterest accounts and photos of home interiors they liked best.
YouTube is the largest online video platform with 42mlllion monthly unique viewers. It’s a highly valuable channel and growing in popularity. YouTube content reaches 90% of users aged 18-34 and 84% of users aged 34-55. Like Facebook – it’s a great platform if your organisation’s goal is to target a broader demographics.
Best for: Brands that prioritise having ownership of their identity across all mediums and want to use video content marketing to share instructional and product review videos.
Media options: As the leader in video marketing, it allows a variety of video and streaming options. You can choose to live broadcast your event or product launch, as well as upload tutorial videos or how-to guides of your products. These can then be neatly arranged in playlists and featured videos up to 15 minutes long. Like anything in your social media strategy, make sure that the video content is something that will resonate well with your target audience.
YouTube has 93% ad viewability – way above the 66% average in the online video industry. Organisations that are already investing in offline or TV advertising should consider this channel to maximise their visibility and engagement. Using shorter, snappier ad formats and product stories can used to achieve this, by targeting users who have previously engaged with your brand’s videos.
Mercedes-Benz Singapore demonstrate smart use of YouTube ads
Social Media as an advertising channel
Brands can underestimate the power of social media platforms as a form of digital advertising. The people that se your advert on offline channels are likely the same people that will search for your brand online. Make sure your social media strategy is aligned with this and supports your overall marketing aims. Read more about social media advertising in our article: Paid Social – why It matters for your business.
Plan your content
Balance of promotional and informational content is essential to social media success. Frequently we see brands make the mistake of using their social channels to predominantly share promotional offers and discounts. As a result the posts get poor engagement and can alienate their audience. Nobody’s primary aim of using social media is to get offers – users want to see good quality and attention-grabbing content that informs or entertains.
Content plans need a holistic approach to include alignment with seasonal events, products, user generated content and shared blogger content that’s relevant to your industry.
Do hashtag research
Using relevant, well researched hashtags can help brands reach wider audiences outside of their followers. Make sure you identify hashtags that are not only relevant to your business, but also what your competitors or users are using. For example, a furniture manufacturer shouldn’t only focus on using #furniture #wardrobe etc. They would look at areas like #homeinspo or #homeimprovements that can help gain a broader reach.
Certain platforms allow you to use up to 30 hashtags per post but, according to Hootsuite, using 9-10 hashtags will generally get you the best engagement. Although using hashtags can significantly improve reach, businesses should be mindful that engagement will drop off if it’s not relevant to the create content being used.
Engage with your followers, and those who don’t follow you yet
Just creating a great content plan and posting content isn’t enough to deliver great results. Social media is all about conversation and – being social. Engage with your followers and your potential audience to grow your organisation’s digital presence. Brands that have conversation with users and like posts that are their audience is interested in is one of the most important tactics that can help to grow a loyal following.
Social media listening tools like Brandwatch or Tweetdeck give an overview of what your audience and industry are talking about– and therefore are great to highlight any relevant conversations to join.
Fast fashion brands like Boohoo or Missguided succeed on social media not just because of the great content or products they provide – but because of this tactic.
Differentiate content from customer services
Customers go to social media to give feedback about products or services because it’s quicker and easier than spending 10-15 minutes in a phone queue waiting to get through to customer services.
Whilst visible online complaints can risk damaging a brand’s reputation and escalate it if other users start to contribute to other people’s negative feedback. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate great customer service and demonstrate how customer centric an organisation is. Businesses that acknowledge genuine comments and ask people to message directly quickly mitigates risk and keeps any negative conversations private.
42% of consumers expect a response within 1 hour – a reasonable expectation, after all you wouldn’t expect to be ignored in a physical store. Replying to customers queries as quickly as possible whether positive or not can be used to benefit organisations to maintain or increase positive brand sentiment.
Timing is key
Post your content when your followers are the most active. Sounds simple enough? But this might require some ‘testing and learning’ to be confident on what are the best times of day to post for top user engagement. Generally, Instagram and Facebook get the most engagement between 9am-3pm, with Twitter starting earlier during the week, at 8am. To get the most from your social media strategy, make sure you test and pick the times that work best for your brand and industry.
Get SEO advantage with Pinterest and YouTube
Google image search accounts for 22% of all queries and the content for these channels gets indexed and displayed in Google’s search results. Making both channels valuable for search marketing results. Visual search is becoming increasingly important for products across sectors. Organisations should take advantage by optimising Pinterest and YouTube content to significantly improve their SEO visibility in Google, that’ll help drive website traffic.
Don’t forget the numbers
A good social media strategy has the right metrics and measurements determined at the start. A common pitfall is to track too many metrics, businesses are best to keep focused on those relevant to objectives. For example, if your business wants to drive sales, focus on cost per conversion and number of purchases. If you’re looking to increase content engagement, measure the number of post shares and reactions.
Whilst planning is a necessity, remember that there’s is no guarantee that things will work as expected. Tracking results against your desired KPIs are the best way to see if you’re efforts are paying off but don’t forget to take learnings from each post and apply it to your future content planning.
Know what your competitors and others are doing
Insight on competitor activity and the wider industry is hugely recommended for any element of a digital strategy. Knowing what they’re doing well and where is a useful exercise when working on your social media strategy. Tools like Socialbakers are good for tracking competitor metrics, recent activity and its effectiveness. This process will give organisations the opportunity to identify any gaps to set your brand apart from the competition.
Tools to help you measure social media success
Each social media platform offers a set of analytics that give a good overview of how posts or adverts perform. In addition, tools like Hootsuite or Sprout help schedule the posts and measure the success of your channels. On top of channel and post performances, measuring referral traffic that your website gets from social media activity using Google Analytics.
How can you use social media to help your business?
We can help. Kagool is a Sitecore specialist digital agency and we have extensive experience in helping leading enterprises with their digital strategy. Our team can help your organisation set up a social media strategy that is right for your business and delivers meaningful results. Contact us today to get a free digital marketing audit and to learn more about social media with Sitecore.