Social media is a living organism. The social media giants are continuously finding creative ways to improve the user experience. They are the guardians of what's visible through the management and control of their algorithms. As a social media manager and strategist, it's my job to stay on top of the developments and filter relevant news to you at the earliest opportunity.
That means writing posts like this and updating you on a regular basis, so you can stay on top of your social media game.
The changes and developments are usually designed to improve your overall social media experience but I'm not naive to think some are commercially driven.
That's why, where I can, I share my hacks, so you can get the most from your social media marketing.
So here's my [abbreviated version - because I know you only have time to scan this!] list of things you need to be doing or at least considering, if you use social media to market your business (whatever business you're in) and stay ahead of the game.
1. Video remains king
If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that video and especially live video gets you in front of more people. It's an effective tactic for your brand awareness strategy particularly, if you have no or little ad budget.
Stream live on You Tube, Instagram and Facebook and you'll be rewarded by the algorithms.
Don't be surprised that Facebook content will mainly be all video based by the end of 2022! So if you're not yet camera confident, it's time to get a wiggle on.
If you're shaking in your boots as you read this, because you believe you will not look professional on camera, so was I 18 months ago.
I suffered with a terrible fear of getting in front of the camera, but I practised and today I love it! Confidence comes with practice. Be patient with yourself and STOP comparing your inexperience with the more experienced. They too were nervous or "flaky? around the edges when they started. Besides, in my view, the less polished, the better. Let your personality shine!
To reduce the stress, find other subject matter to film. It doesn't have to be you. There are workers, animals, pets, your clients, suppliers and business partners you could create stories with and put in front of the camera.
Start building your camera confidence by posting short 15 - 60 second videos on Instagram or Facebook Stories. Just be yourself and share a thought or film something relevant to your day. Stories are a fab way to reach new audiences and build you camera confidence at the same time. Have fun with them and bring your story to life with animated gifs and emojis. Remember to include your CTA!
If you're anxious about appearing and talking on camera start with baby steps. Begin getting comfortable seeing and hearing yourself on camera. Do this by filming yourself with your phone. Find a relaxed environment (I used to do this on my dog walks with no makeup and a bird's nest of hair). I practised 3 times a day and then when I got made up for he camera, the transformation was positive! My confidence grew after my 2nd facebook live.
2. Engagement Is The Secret Sauce To Success
No matter what anybody says, if you're not finding creative ways to engage with your audience, then what's the purpose of being on social?
I show my clients how to do this effectively and it works!
You need to be a conversation starter. I'm not the best at this - admitted. In fact I used to be so shy that I would turn red in the face if someone spoke to me. My business depends on me being comfortable talking with people. It's natural. Yes I know it's easier for some, but my best advice is just be yourself and relax.
If someone leaves a comment, then make the effort to reply. Show your appreciation. People get a buzz from talking to real people. especially when it's the face behind your brand. It brings people together and creates a deep emotional relationship and that's good for business.
Conversations also spark ideas and inspiration. If you're not initiating conversations on your social media, then start today.
The algorithms will love your account if they see it's getting social - actively. They recommend active accounts that engage in conversation, sharing and liking, so if you want to grow organically, you know what you need to do.
If you need creative ideas about what to post across your social media accounts, download my top conversation starters here. Take them, adapt them and test to see which works.
3. Invest In Paid Ads
There is a trade off across most social media platforms. Time in return for money.
If you want to grow your audience quickly (recommended!) you need to invest in paid ads. Paid ads will get your brand in front of more followers quicker than if you build your following organically. This is especially true for Facebook. There are always a few exceptions, such as the grumpy cat [now deceased] .
The best results are achieved when combining paid ads with organic growth strategies. For example retargeting a web visitor with a paid ad.
Even if you can only afford to invest $10 / £10 a day, I recommend you pay attention to paid ads. It will help you grow quickly and if you set them up correctly, you'll start building followers quickly.
How much can I expect to invest in order to grow my following?
I've created audience growth campaigns for as little as 19 cents a follower. Others have cost around a dollar per follower. Your target is to get below a dollar per follower.
So the answer is, it depends.
Factors such as your targeting, the niche you operate in and your ad creative will play a part in determining the price.
Paid ads remain affordable and effective, so long as you get your targeting and creative nailed.
If you have a healthy marketing budget, should you put all your effort into just paid ads?
The answer is no. Organic marketing tactics should still be used. It's important to keep your SM active with up to date content. The type of content you include is determined by your strategic direction.
I like to use a range of media from curated (3rd party) articles to my own videos. The subject matter also varies. Some days it will be industry news that I think followers need to be informed about and other times it might be my own reflections about the market. Other days, memes and quotes.
I like to keep my followers engaged with a variety of content.
Start by creating an ad to attract followers and likes. Run the ad for 4 days and review the results. After 4 days begin to optimise it. Watch how to create your first FB Like Campaign here.
4. Grow Your Community
Thriving communities attract new members.
They're also great places to start and continue conversations, establish relationships and understand buyer issues and motivations.
Facebook are actively pushing Groups. As online communities continue to grow, Facebook want you to build your on their platform
In fact Facebook have just announced updates (this week) to the features within Groups, placing more focus on them. We know Facebook are making Groups a priority as they strive to keep more people on their platform.
They've simplified group settings. If you're familiar with groups or manage one, I think you'll welcome the changes.
Effectively the Group privacy settings will change from Closed, Secret and Private to just Public and Private.
The level of privacy has been simplified to make it easier for people joining and for the group admins to understand.
Privacy settings include things like who can see who's in the group, the group description, what members post and much more.
Here's a statement from Facebook.
Soon, we'll update the names of group privacy levels to public and private to make it easier for you and your members to understand. You'll also see a new setting where you can control whether your group is visible or hidden from nonmembers in places like search. Nothing else will change with who can find the group or see the members and posts.
If your group is secret, it will soon be called private. So just like today, the member list and posts will be private so only members can see them, and the group will be hidden from nonmembers in search and other places on Facebook.
If your group is closed, it will soon be called private. So just like today, the member list and posts will be private so only members can see them, and the group will be visible to nonmembers in search and other places on Facebook.
If your group is public, it will still be called public. So just like today, the member list and posts will be public so anyone can see them, and the group will be visible to nonmembers in search and other places on Facebook.
You can view and update group privacy in your group’s Settings. You can also use the new Hide Group setting to control whether your group is visible or hidden on Facebook.
How Can You Use Communities to grow your business?
You are probably a member of a community whether it's on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. Let's look at some examples of how you can use them:-
- Since the algorithm updates on Facebook in 2018, Branded communities are popping up. This change saw business pages being pushed down to the bottom of news feeds and their organic reach diminish. Consequently brands began creating their own communities as a work around. By linking your brand page to your group you will increase the reach of your audience.
- The Food Hub is a growing community of foodpreneurs. It brings new and young brands together with service providers thereby helping each other to grow. They have just launched a mentoring program (which I'm involved with) to support and nurture the growth of new brands. The scheme is a win for both partners in the mentor relationship.
- Niche based groups are being created by business owners to connect with potential clients, create connections between people with shared interests and to provide consumer insight for brands. For example if you're a mindfulness coach, consider creating a public group to attract people with an interest in this subject. Mindfulness teacher Sean Fargo has created the Mindfulness Community Forum which he uses to promote his Mindfulness teacher training.
- Use groups to support your online Challenges and Courses if you are a course creator like myself, I created a private group for my students, so they can meet each other and support each other through the learning process.
5. Go Bananas!
Do you ever feel yourself looking at successful social media accounts and wishing you were them? It's easily done. I used to do this!
You are unique and your super power is what's going to set you apart from everybody else. Its your personality that make people take notice.
Being self aware of yourself will help your personality shine through to your brand and that's what audiences love.
Don't feel the need to behave as you think you should. If you want to add humour into your posts go ahead and do it! We all love to smile. In fact using humour is a sure quick way to get noticed and build engagement.
As soon as they made a conscious decision to "just be themselves", their fortunes turned around and their noteriety soared.
You can see from their website, they talk their own language and inject fun and comedy into their work.
Write down a list of your personality traits. If you can't list them ask a friend to do it for you. Consider how you can dial them up in a way that makes you stand out!
6. It's quality not Quantity
If you've been posting on your social media accounts more than twice a day (other than stories) in an attempt to increase awareness and engagement, I want you to stop!
The platforms only recommend quality content.
Furthermore, If you're not getting the engagement on your posts, the algorithms will see your account as one that isn't interesting to people and won't recommend it!
This spells danger for any social media account owner! If you're not getting engagement on posts it's usually because either:-
- your audience isn't large enough - only 3% of your audience will see your organic posts. In which case you need to focus on growing your audience
- your message isn't resonating - in which case you need to change the game. and switch tactics. You need to find, create, and publish content that will resonate with them.
When planning your content, put yourself in the position of your audience. Think about what will excite them. It's rarely what your product is about. it's usually about what your product or service will give them. It's usually about what goes on behind the scenes of your business. Consider the format of the content. We all love video. We all love a story! Some people are more auditory than visual. Mix it up!
7. Use Stories
This brings us nicely onto stories!
The stories feature in both facebook and IG are a great way of building brand trust.
In just a few seconds you can hold your audience captive with a short narrative about your business or behind the scenes of your business that actually becomes quite intimate.
I love this feature because you're showing your fans some cool content which is exclusive to them. You can make that a big deal. Your stories are only available for viewing for 24 hours which makes them extra special.
Create video or image based stories, whatever you feel your audience will resonate with. Video will perform better!
You can build engagement very quickly posting up to 10 stories a day. If you adjust your privacy settings in stories your best performing content will get recommended to non followers which makes stories a great tactic for building organic brand awareness.
8. User Generated Content
Getting other people to promote your brand is an excellent and quick way to build your brand image and audience.
This can be in the form of customer reviews, or incentivising followers to tag you in their stories. It could be asking your followers to take over your account for the day to promote your brand.
It could be incentivising your customers to create a recipe featuring your food product and filming it then posting it out on their social media. You could turn it into a recipe competition.
Have fun creating ideas where others can create content and publish it on your behalf.
9. Partner with associated brands
Creating strategic alliances is not new in marketing. We are seeing more and more of it across social.
Why - essentially it helps you get in front of new audiences and can often help you fund giveaways.
I've embarked on a few strategic partnerships recently. One with The Food Mentor, the other with Ainsley over at Engineer Your Brand and another with Food Speciality Magazine. Not only are they fun, but they provide stimulation and motivation to try out new ideas.
Make a list of brand you could connect with. You'd be surprised at how many say yes.
What are you doing to stay ahead of your social media game?
Tell me in the comments below. I'd love to know what's working for you!