What effective social media looks like in 2016

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Well, it’s February already folks. That means that we’ve probably already lapsed back into old diet habits and given up on the gym. We’ve forgotten all about the Christmas break and we’re annoyed that it’s still cold and miserable out.

It also means that the romanticized hopefulness we all go back to work with has taken a bit of a hit and we’ve come to realise that maybe our business doesn’t actually need to broadcast our team meetings on Periscope, or we don’t have the budget to splash on interactive video content no matter how much we’d love to.

We have to work with what we have, and look for the most practical solutions for the problems that will shape our workload for the next twelve months. In January, I read all the trend round ups so you don’t have to. This article is going to look at the issues that everyone seems to agree on, and what to do about them.

Problem #1: Organic reach is dying

Solution: Work smarter to spread word of mouth

We’ve seen this coming; organic reach has been slowly shrivelling away the last few years. But now it’s an unavoidable truth and we all have to bite the bullet and up the social advertising budget. Invest in a social listening report for your company so you know who to target, where to find them, what interests them and what doesn’t. Use this information to dictate who you target with your advertising, and to help you know how to catch their eye.

Next: Empower your staff. Train them on social media best practices and how to be a brand advocate. Write a solid social media policy so that everyone knows what is expected and get them regularly boosting the company account’s posts. Anytime you produce content, shout about it internally and encourage your staff to share it through their own accounts - write the posts for them if you have to, but get them sharing and retweeting. It helps your content reach further, as well as having the added benefit of making your brand look better. As Gracielle over at Mass Planner says, “Having employees promote, push and talk about your business in social media gives people the impression that not only are they your paid workers, but they are people who truly enjoy working for your company and at the same time believe in your business.”

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Would you rather engage with a brand with engaged and knowledgeable staff that are happy to join industry conversations and are proud to work for their company? Of course you would, no question. So make that brand your brand and get your staff out in front.

Also, don’t forget other branches of brand advocacy: outreach, influencer marketing and curated content. Look for ways to bring bloggers or industry influencers into your social media strategy, through guest posts, tweet discussions or Q&As. Is there a way for you to stimulate user generated content? Or to harness what’s already out there? Look for it, share it, build on it. “Thanks to social media, everyday consumers have built an undeniable follower base, giving them stronger voices and the ability to impact public opinion and sales” says Layla Revis over at The Huffington Post. “In fact, consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase, making user generated content even more powerful than before.”

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Don't be a social media bore
 

And for goodness’ sake, make sure that you’re curating industry relevant content as well as sharing your own pieces. If you’re stuck on broadcast mode, you’re not engaging with people - so how can you expect them to engage with you? Social media is about being social, after all. Quid pro quo, Clarice.

Problem #2: A general feeling of putting more effort in but getting less in return

Solution: Work smarter, not harder.

Repeat after me: no more campaigns without KPIs. No more championing stats because they look high, and no more shooting from the hip when it comes to overall strategy.

Be honest with me now: Do you actually have a proper, honest-to-goodness marketing strategy? Does it include social media as part of your content marketing ecosystem, or as an afterthought?

Don’t think of social media out of context, embed it into your overarching marketing strategy and things will start to get easier. Write your campaign strategy out clearly (not sure how? Download our ebook Your content strategy made simple). Decide your goals from the beginning, and it should be easy to know which figures you want to increase. Make sure to look at the data in context; know your benchmark stats and how to interpret any spikes in your analytics will suddenly seem clearer. Take regular temperature readings of how well your campaign is doing but also how healthy the social media accounts are in general, and feed all of this back into your overall marketing strategy. Focus on your content marketing as an ecosystem. Look at your metrics, and what content did well, make more of that and shout louder this time. Rinse, repeat.

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It’s very easy to get distracted by new platforms or tools, or to feel pressure to generate new kinds of content. But which platforms you position yourself on and which content types you use to do so should all be dictated by your strategy. Look at working more efficiently, and see if that frees up some time later on to experiment with a gifographic or interactive content. After you have the utmost confidence that all your basic elements are as strong as possible; not before.

Problem #3: Customers have come to expect service on social media

Solution: This one is easy - build customer service into your social media!

That old line about trying to never keep customers waiting has never been truer. Problems should be addressed as close to real time as possible if you want to keep your social media presence strong and your bottom line healthy.

Andrew Hutchinson agrees that customer service is going to be a big focus for social media this year, something everyone should be striving to get right: “Social media customer service requests have increased more than 2.5X in the past two years, with the vast majority (80%) coming in via Twitter. Questions are being raised on the platforms where people are spending more of their time - so it makes sense, then, for brands to be paying attention and meeting customers where they are.”

So, if customers expect customer service through social, give it to them. Make sure your accounts are monitored during office hours at the very least, by someone who knows how to direct queries. Make it clear who gets asked what when it comes to internal escalation, and build customer service into whatever social media training you roll out to all staff when it comes to your brand advocacy push. If you have active social media accounts, they should be being monitored regardless for engagement and any issues or trending subjects your account can wade into. So just train that person up and agree an internal workflow on handling queries. Hire a customer service rep that’s knowledgeable on social or a social media expert with customer service experience. There’s loads of us!

Start considering social media as an extension of customer service. If you get FAQs, let that inform your content - write a fix, tweet the heck out of it and thank people for flagging the issues. You’ll look like kings.

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So there you have it. No shiny new tools, no win big quick kinda tips. Just honest to goodness practical guidance. If you think I’ve missed something, or if you’ve found something really helpful in concept but want more detailed guidance on how to get things off the ground, tweet us @AxonnMedia with the hashtag #socialmedia. Talk to us, we love hearing back from people!

How your marketing can be more effective in 2016 - free download

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