Social media marketing is, on face value, one of the simpler aspects of digital marketing to get up and running. Open a Facebook page for your business, post regularly, earn yourself some followers and market to them. Easy, right? Well it might seem so at first glance but the reality is, it isn’t quite that simple to take your social media presence beyond merely posting updates to being a channel of value.
One of the reasons social media causes brand owners and those new to digital marketing so much trouble is the amount of freedom platforms such as Facebook and Instagram offer. Depending on the type of brand or business you are, you can take social media in a number of different directions - all with varying success. This can make it hard to determine a single course of action that transforms your updates into an effective use of time and resources with a measurable ROI.
Get your timing right
Timing really is key. The correct answer to “when should I post on Facebook?” is – whenever your target audience is mostly likely to be online in numbers. If you don’t know when your specific audience is online or your audience is simply very broad, the next best thing to do is to begin by posting at premium usage times for your chosen platform and then refine from there based on post engagement.
We recently covered this topic in our post, “When is the Best Time to Post on Social Media?” For those who haven’t read it here’s a quick summary:
On a weekday, Facebook’s busiest period is between 1pm-4pm
Across the week, Wednesday afternoon on Facebook is a sweet spot
Fridays not only show huge Facebook usage spikes but also a higher overall engagement rate
Instagram browsing is more fragmented but generally follows Facebook’s timing aside from at weekends, where Instagram remains more active
Another tip to do with timing that I like to give to UK brands using Instagram, is to post a little later in the afternoon where possible. The reason for this is that it gives you a better chance that your posts will also be seen by US users.
Post early UK time and virtually the entire US audience will still be in bed or wishing they were. Now I’ve heard the response many a time, “but Chris I don’t sell to the US…” and I totally get the objection, but consider it this way. While all likes and follows are not created equal if the user is from overseas, sheer volume is always your friend on social media. Likes, comments and follows mean greater exposure, increased share potential and the ability to create a greater authority for your brand’s profile and content. There is nothing at all to be lost by employing this timing tactic if your audience is known to be active on social media at that specific point in the day.
Social media algorithms are based on response and engagement. The more views and interactions your posts get, the greater chance the given platform will recognize your content as being worthwhile to show on users’ timelines and featured areas. Post for maximum engagement, whereever that may come from. If it’s not at a detriment to your core audience that is.
Embrace the power of video
Research shows that social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined.With fast internet speeds country wide and mobile streaming becoming increasingly seamless, there really is no reason to fear the use of video. As the introduction of live streaming has shown us, users don’t need high production value content. You simply need interesting, relevant and useful videos.
Volkswagen in Dubai used videos as part of their Facebook campaign to promote a 72 hour dealership sale, coupled with traditional text link ads and boosted posts. It generated 54% of its entire month’s sales during the three-day campaign and achieved 97,000 video views.
This tip is not a recommendation that you switch to a video only approach, of course. For most brands, that would be a logistical nightmare and sometimes a picture really does paint a thousand words. But consider adding a minimum number of video pieces to your posts every week to ramp up effectiveness. Some brands and social media personalities have had great success producing a regular video segment, which works almost like a TV slot. If you can’t create lots of video content, create something meaningful once a week that your audience can look forward to.
The same goes with advertising creative. The introduction of auto-play video ads makes the use of video for timeline promotional activity a great option to really make sure you’re making a maximum impact with those paid for impressions.
Don’t blanket advertise
By blanket advertise what I mean is producing singular generic messaging and social media post creative for your entire audience. With the exception of a few brands or businesses, not many companies have a very narrow, niche target audience who will want to see the same posts and messages reiterated time and time again on their Facebook and Instagram streams.
The chances are your audience comes from a diverse age range, both genders and includes a vast variety of living scenarios, interest groups and other demographic breakdowns.
The reason I love social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, is that the demographic data available to us as marketers offers so much depth. The nature of social media means users are willing to hand out personal information about themselves.
You can take this data and really get to know your audience by splitting it up into an unlimited number of geographic, demographic and social group segmentations. This allows you to pinpoint many small audiences within your wider target audience. All of these individuals have different reasons for wanting to use your products or services and they will all react to different creative stimuli. So why oh why, would you treat them all as one?
When you create your next social media content or advertising campaign, consider the breadth of your audience and try to break the wider audience down into four different segments. A simple starting point would be to split by gender to create two groups, then again by age (younger and older age brackets) to split two into four. Produce four sets of advert creatives and a series of posts which will resonate with each segment. Keep a close eye on the metrics that matter to you as you run these different ads, whether that’s likes or shares, comments, tagging a friend or clicks through to your site.
By taking a more measured, data-driven approach, you can make your social media investment perform better for you. Even if you don’t advertise often, just experimenting with targeted ads when you do have budget to allocate can give a new insight into where your organic post efforts should be focused.
What tactics have you used to improve the effectiveness of your Facebook and Instagram posts? Share your tips in the comments below.