How can you optimize your social strategy? A look inside the numbers

The mere fact that, in 2014, you should be using a social media presence for marketing your business is obvious and doesn’t require much justification. But within that broad point, there are so many more specific questions worth asking about what exactly your strategy should be.

social1Where are you posting? How are you doing it, and how often? What are you hoping to get out of the whole experience? All of these questions can be topics of endless debate if you want them to be – or, perhaps, you can take a look at the numbers and find some cold, hard, statistical answers.

Marketing Tech Blog recently reported on the state of social media marketing by looking at a few key metrics. The research here, conducted by Software Advice and Adobe and dubbed the “Social Media Content Optimization Survey,” looks at ways you can optimize your current marketing strategy. You’re already going strong, no doubt, but are there tiny little sources of inefficiency that you can shore up?

Let’s dive into the stats and find out.

What are your goals?
There’s one all-important question that just might govern everything you do in content marketing, be it social or anywhere else – what are your goals, anyway?

It sounds simple, but different companies vary in their objectives. Some are trying to deliver the hard sell and turn Facebook posts directly into revenue, while others are more taking the long view, starting from a position of brand awareness.

The Adobe data shows that simply gaining followers is the most realistic goal with social marketing. That’s an area where almost 90 percent of companies have had success. Other areas where 80-plus percent of companies have made progress include building brand recognition, nurturing customer relationship, increasing engagement and driving up web traffic.

Here’s the beauty about all of the above –  they’re measurable. If you want to know whether you’re gaining followers or page views, all you need to do is check out your latest numbers and find out. According to Unbounce, it’s very important to set social media goals that are imminently measurable. This way, you’ll know if something isn’t working, and you can switch up. Here’s how Danielle Prager, social media marketer at Rival IQ, puts it:

“If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told how important social media is, I’d be off vacationing in Bora Bora right now,” she joked. “My frustration with the ‘social media pitch’ is that people are making very strong claims without backing them up.”

If you want to back up your social strategy, you need stats. So set your goals, and measure your progress every step of the way.

social2How many sites do you use?
The next question is how many different social media sites your business plans to use. Be forewarned: These days, there are a ton of them out there. According to Tekkbuzz, it’s important to be discerning as you pick and choose your social platforms.

“You might think because I’m a social media person that I’m going to say you need to be on all of the big social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus, Pinterest or Instagram,” social guru Deborah Richmond writes. “But that is not my advice to most people. If you are struggling with learning social media and using it effectively to market your business, my advice would be to cut back on how many sites are using.”

It’s important to keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed. You want to be using a variety of social sites so you can connect with a diverse range of customers, but social media marketing tends to lose its effectiveness when stretched too thin.

The Adobe statistics show the right balance. According to the survey data, 64 percent of companies are using somewhere between three and five social sites. This is enough to appeal to the right demographics (for example, capitalize on Pinterest if your audience slants young and enjoys visual content), but not too much to burn you out.

How often do you post?
The volume question is an interesting one. Once you have your social presence up and running, how will you use it? Post too seldom and people may forget you exist; too much, and they’ll think you’re just a spambot. So where’s the right balance?

Adobe’s respondents have found the sweet spot. The plurality of companies – 22 percent – say they’ve found success with posting on social media once per day. Almost as many, 20 percent, post twice per day, while 16 percent post less than once a day and 14 percent have no consistent schedule.

You may need to do some experimenting to find that perfect middle ground, but somewhere around one post per day is probably the best answer. With that one post, you should make it could – provide people with content that’s cutting-edge and timely, addressing whatever the biggest issue of the day might be. Don’t worry about heavy volume – you can always save that next post idea for tomorrow.

How much do you plan?
social3Finally, it’s worth exploring another questions about your social media posting time commitment – how much time do you put into planning any one given post?

This may sound silly because after all, a tweet is just 140 simple characters. But planning time does matter – if you want to craft a sound social marketing strategy, you need to consider a lot of moving pieces. There’s the content tastes of your customers, the capabilities of your staff and the creative elements that make social content truly memorable. Don’t just toss a tweet out there aimlessly – take some time to plan the best approach.

Adobe found that when asking companies how long it takes to plan a good social post, the most common answer was “several days to one week,” tabbed by 41 percent of marketers. This shows that if you want to compete with the best, you’ll need to put a little extra care into your content.

Social media takes a minute to pick up, but a lifetime to master. What are you currently doing to optimize your strategy?

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