Working in digital and social media marketing for more than a decade, one of the most common questions I’m asked is “What social media platforms should I be using? When and what should I be posting?”
With so much information on the subject out there, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by conflicting advice, or not know where to start. Rather than taking advice from friends, family, or this week’s ‘expert’, listen to the voices that matter most: your audience.
The greatest hurdle in building a tribe of loyal and engaged followers is to identify your audience and get to know them as intimately as possible; you should be publishing the type of content that your specific audience is actively seeking and habitually consuming.
Once you identify your audience, and understand their unique needs and desires, you can begin to engage them with content that solves their problems, speaks to them and helps to build an emotional connection with your business.
Every post should be adding value. I’ve seen social media accounts that exist solely to announce discounts and offers – this isn’t what I mean by value, not exclusively anyway. Showing people, places, shared interests, anecdotes, relevant news article, listicles, blog posts, quirky facts or behind the scenes photos and videos of your team in action are just as valuable. Here’s a quick guide to what, when, where and how to post to social media:
You’ve likely heard ‘content is king’ before. If not, this needs to be front of mind in any social media or digital marketing strategy. Every business is in the business of selling; the ones that succeed are offering something that others cannot. What is your unique business value proposition? What sets your brand apart?
Before posting, you need to first understand what the purpose of the shared content is – the action or response you are aiming to elicit. Is the goal to entertain them, educate them or direct them to your website?
Whatever the desired outcome, your thumb-stopping content needs to capture attention in 1-2 seconds. Think about the questions your audience wants answered, the shared interests you have, or what events or information they want to know more about, and then consider whether you are providing this with each post.
When you should post to social media becomes a little tricker. The obvious answer is to post when your audience is most likely to both see it and engage with it. This can’t be conclusively answered until you’ve begun to dive into the analytics; the analytics will come with time and volume.
If you’re just beginning, take an educated guess. It’s easier than you think. Consider your audience and how they behave. On average, I’ve found that 7:30-8:30pm is a great time to post; people have returned from work, maybe they’re relaxing and checking Facebook. I use Facebook as an example because it remains the #1 social platform people frequent.
If your audience are on social media, they are most likely on Facebook. In my experience, Thursday and Sunday nights are two of the most prominent times people are engaging with posts. However, every business and their audience is different; ultimately your timing should be guided by the data. Once you’ve been posting for a while, and after trialling different times, you should set aside a time each week to check Facebook ‘insights’. These show how and when people are responding to your content; use this to better optimise your timing in the future.
Remember though that the type of content you’re posting will also determine the level of engagement. Keep this in mind when you are observing patterns in actvity. When is your perfect audience online? What time of day are they most active, and which days? As you finetune your insights into their behaviour, you can schedule your content to appear at optimum times.
Fish where the fish are. Your audience may not even be on social media, or it may not be the most appropriate method of reaching them. So, before you even begin a campaign you need to identify what content they are consuming.
For example: are they reading the newspaper every day? Are they a select few high-level corporates who would be better sought out in person at a conference? If social media is appropriate, know that you don’t need to be on every platform. Hone in on the two or three most often visited by your audience.
Planning and scheduling content in advance will save time. Set aside an hour or so each week to look at the performance of your posts from the previous week, and schedule those for the week ahead. To better track your engagement, you can use bit.ly to shorten any links you post, and track the number of clicks on that link.
Scheduling on Facebook is simple. Once you’ve drafted a post, click on the drop-down arrow next to ‘publish’ and select ‘schedule’. From here you can select the day and time you’d like to publish. For other platforms, like Instagram, it may be worth investing in a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Sproutsocial.
Now that you’ve got the basics covered, it’s important to note that engagement is more than just ‘likes’. Would you rather speak to 50,000 people where only 500 were genuinely interested in what you had to say, or 1,000 genuinely interested customers? Buying ‘likes’ won’t buy you a genuine audience and won’t grow your tribe; this needs to be earnt by relentlessly providing valuable content.
For more information on digital and social media strategies, you download a free sample from my new book I Just Want It To Work here.
One of Australia’s leading digital marketing experts, Kevin Spiteri brings a refreshingly candid, crap-cutting approach to educating business owners, managers and marketers on the strategies to become dangerously good at digital. Starting his first business at 14, Kevin was heading up the marketing department of an ASX listed multi-national corporation at just 25. Releasing I Just Want It To Work: A Guide to Understanding Digital Marketing and Social Media for Frustrated Business Owners, Managers and Marketers in May 2017, he aims to educate business owners, managers and marketers globally about the digital and social media marketing space, helping them make educated decisions when either employing an internal resource or engaging a 3rd party agency.