More than 4.48 billion people are actively using social media, according to Backlinko LLC, Cheyenne, Wyo., a search engine optimization training company. And grabbing their attention in an increasingly busy space is, to say the least, challenging. Do you have a solid understanding of how your company’s social media is doing? When analyzing social media presence, a variety of free tools can help determine what is and is not working for your business’s social media platforms.
Understanding algorithms, analytics, boosting posts and target ads will help you develop a social media strategy that works for your company.
Each social media platform has a different personality—what works on one site might not work on another. According to Amanda Triest, co-founder of Cardinal Communications, Salt Lake City, when creating a defined social media strategy, make sure your plan is pliable enough to pivot and react in a constantly evolving media landscape.
What users see in their social media feeds is determined by algorithms—sets of rules that rank and sort content. Algorithms sort posts based on relevancy as opposed to publish time, and they always are changing. The Wall Street Journal noted in a January 2021 article: “Ruled by robots programmed to keep our attention as long as possible, [algorithms] promote stuff we’d most likely tap, share or heart—and bury everything else.”
Social media platforms determine what users see based on previous social media behavior and with what they likely will engage. In 2019, Instagram posted: “What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.”
Do you ever scroll through your feed and see suggested posts? The platform has looked at what you have engaged with in the past and suggests content for you. There are many factors that can skew an algorithm, making this an imperfect system, and this can affect your post reach or the number of users who see your specific post.
According to Sprout Social, a social media management platform, on any given day there are more than 262 million posts and 28 million images uploaded to Instagram.
Triest says to be successful on each social media platform, you need to dedicate time to reviewing your accounts’ analytics to better understand what works best. As you identify changes and new trends, make sure to review upcoming content plans and make necessary changes.
Understanding algorithms can seem like a daunting task, but it’s important to break through the noise to get your posts viewed by the right audience.
Following are some tips to get your posts seen:
These general days and times are a good starting point, but the best way to understand your audience is trying different times and days on different platforms to see which posts are getting the most engagement. Experiment and see what works best for your audience.
According to Triest, engaging with your community is the best way to keep your account featured. For example, including a link directly in your Facebook posts reduces the average post reach. Instead, opt for posting the link in the comments, encouraging further engagement without reducing the reach of the post. Ultimately, trial and error works best. Experiment with different types of content and styles to see what works for your pages.
Collecting and analyzing data from your social media is the best way to measure what’s working and what isn’t.
There are a lot of fancy (and expensive) options that can give you insightful information. However, the social media platforms themselves offer free analytical tools that provide insight into your account to keep your pages successful. You can see engagement, demographic information, reach, top performing content and more.
The key takeaways when reviewing your analytics include:
Figuring out what works for your pages saves money and time. It’s important to continually revisit the analytics because social media is always changing. What works one month might not work the next.
TRY THE FOLLOWING TIPS TO GROW YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE:
TRY THE FOLLOWING TIPS TO GROW YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE:
Boosting a post
Boosting a social media post increases the amount of people who see your content. You are essentially paying for your post to show up as a sponsored post on nonfollowers’ feeds, which gives you more exposure. The more you pay, the more people see your post.
If you haven’t already tried boosting a post, it’s something you should take advantage of on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“It’s no secret Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are moving to a pay-to-play platform,” Triest says. “Currently, only 10-20% of your followers will see the average post on your page. As a result, boosting posts is a great way to ensure your posts are being seen by those most important to your message.”
What determines a good post to boost? That’s up to you and your goals for your social media account. Do you want people visiting your social media page or your website? The post should have a call to action that leads your followers where you want them to go. In general, it’s best to pick a post that’s already performing well because you’ve already won half the battle of resonating with people.
Stay away from posts that are text heavy, and use an image that catches the eye as users scroll through all the other content on their feeds.
“Don’t boost every post! Designate a small budget that can be used to maximize specific posts you want to ensure are seen,” Triest recommends.
A benefit of paying to boost your posts is you determine your budget. With Facebook and Instagram, you can pay as little as $1 per day for up to two weeks. Depending on your target audience, you could pay $5 a day for six days and reach anywhere from 4,000-9,000 people for $30. Twitter requires at least $50 per day, so you can’t be as flexible with this budget. But overall, it can be an easy (and cheaper) option to get your content seen by more eyes.
Target ads give you the opportunity to choose the people who see your ads. With Facebook, you can target people based on interests, gender, age, location, primary language, occupation and more. LinkedIn has options such as company size or industry. Twitter and LinkedIn can target based on keywords and hashtags.
“Using the existing data that a network provides to target a specific audience is a great way to ensure your resources are being used efficiently and effectively. If you have a limited budget and need to maximize your results, a targeted ad campaign is your best bet,” Triest says.
Each platform gives you the opportunity to target exactly who you want to see your ads, which should result in positive exposure for your company, social media page and website.
“To help your ads stand out, use bright colors and/or a striking image. Think of a digital ad as a small billboard. Don’t clutter the design with too much text or complicated design elements. If you can’t clearly read or understand the ad in three seconds, you need to rethink the design,” Triest recommends.
With the amount of people on social media, it may sound impossible to reach the right person at the right time on the right platform. Although there are no guarantees, if you choose a highly specific and detailed audience, target ads can be extremely beneficial to reaching your goals.
“The biggest mistake people make is thinking they can simply plan out their schedules for weeks or months at a time, resulting in dry, bland content. Your social media plan should be proactive and reactive to what is happening around you—online and in the real world. Remember, have fun and show your personality. Audiences are more likely to seek out and engage with content from accounts they connect with,” Triest says.
Create content people want to see. There is a lot of noise on social media, and you need to break through it. According to Backlinko, globally, the average time a person spends on social media per day is two hours and 24 minutes. So if someone signed up for social media at 16 years old and lived to be 70, he or she would spend more than five years on social media. The audience is there, and it’s yours for the taking.
Grow your presence
There is more to social media than just posting a few pictures and links a couple days per week. To have a successful social media business presence, you need a social media strategy. You don’t have to have a million followers to be successful, but you need an active community that engages with your posts.
According to Hootsuite, a social media management platform, social media marketing experts agree a good engagement rate is between 1% to 5%; the more followers you have the more difficult the rate is to achieve. The key is growing your audience and keeping them engaged.
“The best way to grow your social media presence is by building a community rather than treating social media as a megaphone for your brand,” Triest suggests. “Remember, the ‘social’ component of social media provides you the direct opportunity to interact with individuals in your community and beyond. Take the time to engage in post comments and show your followers they’re part of the community.”
ALYSSA DeSANTIS is NRCA’s manager of online communications.
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