More than any other communications channel, social media is subject to change – often fast and unpredictable change. As an important part of any Inbound Marketing strategy, it is essential that your use of social media is evaluated on a regular basis. Not only to ensure that your implementation is up to date with the latest techniques and technical changes, but also remains fully aligned with your overall Inbound Marketing strategy.
Start with the basics – are your profile pages up to date?
Circumstances change and so do company logos, colours and corporate messages. So check that all your social media profile pages are up to date with the latest company information and branding.
The format of images and backgrounds on profile pages can change too, check that everything works with any changes that the social networks have introduced. Most of the major social media channels have changed their image sizes or added images – if you don’t keep up with these changes you may be in danger of having an unsightly blank area on your profile.
Choice of content and post format
Techniques that work on different social platforms change, and the features that platforms support change too.
For example, Twitter has recently added better support for images, allowing bigger images and better display of multiple images ‘attached’ to a post.
Going back further, once Twitter was a text only service; now it’s essential to have an image in your post, as a post without an image just gets lost in the stream.
And on Facebook what elicits the most engagement has changed over time; whether it be links, images, videos or statuses – make sure you are familiar with the latest research on ALL channels you are participating in as your approach will have to change from time to time.
Targeting and strategy
Your social media strategy should be integrated into your overall marketing strategy as part of your inbound process. If you haven’t done so already, set up a regular review date – say quarterly – just to check that this is still the case and your original strategic thinking still holds true.
And revisit your buyer personas (who are, in large part, the audience for your social activity):
Take a look at your social output over the period between now and your last review: does it fit well with your strategy? Is there anything missing?
Time to look at your reporting now and the first thing to review is your engagement. For each social network you are involved with look at the levels of engagement – likes, follows, comments and shares. Are you seeing an upward trend? Look at the posts that worked and those that did not. Does the format of post – eg photo, video, shared link – make a difference? Does the content? Again, are you seeing your buyer personas reflected in those who are engaging with your social posts?
Timings and lost followers
Using the reporting, take a look when you are getting the most engagement – what times of day, what days of the week? And use tools such as Followerwonk to see when your followers are online.
From this information analyse when the best time of day is for maximum engagement.
Take a look at what actions caused you to lose followers. And what actions gained you followers.
Knowledge and expertise
Take time every so often to keep up to date with the latest ideas on social media. Read blogs and news articles on the current trends and research. Hunt out the success stories / disasters. Always take a look at how other organisations are using social media, read articles and follow commentators on Twitter; this all helps to build up an idea of best practice. Keep a notebook handy so that any time you see something you think is great, you can record it, and any time you need to make note of a post idea you can.
Review your resources – ie your personnel (which may only be you) – are they up to speed on the latest techniques and information? Do they need some booster training to improve their knowledge or performance?
Finally, take a long hard look at the channels you are using now, new channels that have been launched in recent months and the popular channels you are not using. Don't worry too much about the latest brightest social network until it has real numbers and a way to actually market your business. Given the amount of time maintaining a social presence takes, ask yourself if your existing channels are worthwhile, and are there any channels you should be considering? You need to look at this from the perspective of your target market – are they present? What is their level of engagement in that channel? (But temper this review with the knowledge that some channels will take a considerable investment in time, over a significant period, in order to show returns).
In social media more than any other area of marketing the saying “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong” rings true, so make sure to evaluate your efforts on a regular basis.