Over the past few weeks, professional media for online marketing have been full of trends and predictions for 2017. Virtual reality, games on Snapchat and chatbots: the new year looks promising! But what do you actually need to know if social media marketing is new to you?
Firstly: the social media landscape is fragmented; every channel has its own added value, target audience and best practices. You therefore need to make a conscious choice of which channels are relevant for you. It is also important to develop an individual content strategy for each of these channels. Is your business B2B? Then you will probably become active on LinkedIn, where you can share cases, your unique vision or a ‘how to’, for example. On the other hand, that does not necessarily mean that Instagram – known for fashion, photography and food – is no place for your brand; for inspiration, take a look at the fantastic images on the Instagram page of the transport company Maersk Group.
2. Mobile first
80% of social media use takes place on mobile, in other words smartphone or tablet. Sometimes entirely mobile, as with Snapchat. Sitting at your computer in relatively calm surroundings at work, devising campaigns and creating content, it is easy to forget what this means for the recipients and the surroundings in which they find themselves. After all, when do people pick up their phone to look at social media? On the train to and from work, in the evenings during the TV adverts (or the 20 seconds waiting time for Netflix) or even during conversations with friends and family.
Your content therefore has to be immediately striking and it has to be suitable for a small smartphone screen. So do not use small print in your visuals or long texts; make it as easy as possible for the recipient to process your content. And don’t forget video subtitling: not many people will switch on the sound in the train or the bullpen.
All social channels use an algorithm to determine which content is displayed and which is not. It is therefore not the case that the most recently placed content is always at the top. This is because an awful lot of content is being produced. Facebook once shared that each time you log in, there are no fewer than 1,500 stories waiting for you. Naturally, you can’t get through them all, so an algorithm determines what you see. Algorithms are often a black box and consist of a great number of variables. For instance: your interests, the sender of the content, the content sender’s past results, the type of content and yes, when the content was placed as well.
The algorithm is also the reason why engagement on your content is important: when users show a great deal of engagement on a post, that is a sign for Facebook – for example – that the content is interesting. Facebook will then show the content to more people! Another example is video: Facebook likes to position itself as a video platform, so the algorithm gives precedence to video content in the newsfeed. And that could be a reason for choosing video as your format. This is how social media marketers are constantly endeavouring to beat these algorithms.
It is essential to include visuals in your social content. There are so many posts out there, that a piece of text alone is quickly overlooked. Add an image and you literally have a larger presence in the newsfeed. In other words, visuals get your content noticed more easily, but it also offers the opportunity to reinforce your message. After all, visuals also communicate; various studies have even shown that images are remembered better than text. When developing content, always think about the whole and make sure that text and image amplify one another. And do not forget that the optimal dimensions of a visual can differ from channel to channel.
To give your content the best chance of being seen (remember the algorithm) you have to consciously plan the timing of your publication. Most people are online in the evenings, but that does not automatically mean that you should always post in the evening. Consider these elements:
- When are most people (in my target group) online?
- Which moment is most suited to my content?
- Is it important for me to be able to take immediate action on the basis of reactions to the content?
Sensitive content is better placed early in the day, so that you can take action during the working day if necessary. Other good moments are: in the morning during rush hour and when people are beginning their day, around lunchtime and at the end of the afternoon when people tend to browse a bit before closing down.
These days, because of the algorithm, organic (unpaid) reach accounts for no more than 8% and often even less. You therefore need to reserve an advertising budget for all your social media efforts. Social media advertising is still relatively cheap (I have often seen € 0.01 per video view), so you can already achieve a lot with a small budget. Also make sure that your advertising budget is proportionate to the effort you are putting into the content: if you invest in a big (expensive) video production, then make sure you also reserve enough budget to reach a large target audience. Online advertising works like an auction: you determine what a placement is worth and, depending on your bid, other advertisers’ bids and the quality of your advertisement, you will get the placement.
7. Choose one objective
Finally: choose one objective for each piece of social content and optimise for that objective. Globally, those objectives are either reach, engagement or traffic. In a major campaign with various types of content, you will probably define KPIs in terms of exposure, engagement, advocacy and action, for example. Your recipient, however, will only demonstrate one kind of action in response to your individual content item. Do not, therefore, write a post in which you both share a link and pose a question; choose the most important objective for that specific content. Do you want people to read your article on the website? Then the most important thing is clicks on the link and you can consider whether you have achieved your objective with a lot of reactions and few clicks.
Would you like to use the power of social media to drive your business and are you curious how FleishmanHillard can help you? Just send me a message.