Around the time I picked up Twitter, businesses did too. They started to realize the value of social media marketing. Consumers could keep up with brands they loved and provide feedback in real-time. Companies began to feel omnipresent.
If you didn’t meet your sales goals in 2020, it’s likely because you lacked a social presence. Chief marketing officers predict that social media spend will double by 2025 and make up 25% of marketing budgets. And because of the pandemic, it will grow faster. Instagram wasn’t projected to reach one billion users until 2022, and they crushed that by mid-2020.
Social media strategy is far more than pressing “share.” For the most part, it’s quality over quantity. But if you want to build awareness for your company, it has to be both. I’m not a social media expert, but I’m learning as the market grows. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
The social media world is dynamic. Every year, there are new platforms with new features. Or at least features recycled from other platforms (Twitter’s new fleets may look familiar to users of Snapchat or Instagram stories). Many companies need a full-time employee dedicated to developing and posting content, not to mention engaging with other companies’ content for networking and visibility. To plan, develop, post, and interact in a way that achieves your brand’s goals, you must keep your finger on the pulse of emerging social trends. You can stay informed by setting setting Google Alerts or following accounts talking about social strategy, like @innovative_influence on TikTok.
Creating goal pillars can help you plan your content. Whether your goal is to showcase client results or educate your audience, categorizing posts enables you to see where your strategy is strong (and where it’s weak). Sometimes, a post’s sole purpose is to be shared, and that is ok. Developing posts that people reshare or add to their stories can boost interaction and engagement. There’s an endless amount of accounts creating shareable content like @quotesbychristie (my favorite) or @morganharpernichols — you can swipe on every post until the post matches your aesthetic.
It is crucial to plan content that resonates with your audience. Although all platforms are different, one thing holds true: the more your audience interacts with your content, the more the algorithm will push it. Because platforms prioritize popular content, a wide audience leads to a wider one. An impression is just an impression, but it can turn into so much more with a call to action. We’ve seen more traffic to our website when we add a simple “check it out” to the end of a tweet.
One of the fascinating aspects of social media is the content we choose to interact with. Photos of people can humanize your posts and remind followers that you’re not a robot. They like to see that real people are behind your content. @umichathletics did this well in January, and their engagement benefited.
Adding alternative text, or alt text, is a hidden social media strategy. Alt text is important for accessibility, and it boosts SEO. Including rich keywords in alt text can dramatically impact your account’s activity. Check out this blog post to see step-by-step how you can be more inclusive with alt text, from LinkedIn to Instagram.
Prime posting times will optimize your strategy. And consistency with this schedule is key to meeting your audience where they are (more on this later). Here, scheduling tools are helpful — you can add a month’s worth of content to Planoly or Later and not have to worry about a post going up on time. Just be cautious with third-party applications; algorithms can pick up on their use and may suppress your content.
What you do after your post can be just as important as the post itself. Getting your team to engage can lead to more engagement. This is something I have struggled with since I started working with social media professionally in 2018. But when your coworkers support your work, those interactions can boost work culture and collaboration.
Remember, people want to know that there is a real person behind your account. Be sure to engage with people who comment and direct message you. Social media can help build long-term relationships, even if they are over the internet. You never know who might mention your company because you’ve been going back and forth with them online.
Analytics tell us a lot. I am a geek when it comes to tracking social media analytics — even with my personal accounts. After a post, you can access most insights in-app or with third-party platforms like Sprinklr. You can determine your best posting days and times depending on your audience’s activity and follower demographics. Most importantly, you can evaluate your strategy. If a post gets significantly more likes — why? What elements were in your graphic? When did you post it? What did your alt text say?
Social media is a powerful marketing tool if we use it intentionally. A consistent strategy can generate new business leads, raise awareness for your company, and create long-term relationships with your customers. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the details, keep the bigger picture in mind. It all starts with a good first impression.
Written by Olivia Zidzik.
Olivia recently graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Integrative Strategic Communication. She currently is the Interactive Media Coordinator at the Better Business Bureau in Cincinnati.