It can be very difficult to know what to post on social media as a business or organization. On the one side the content should be interesting and result in engagement. On another side the content should promote what is new or interesting with the business. And on another there is this desire to create something really amazing which can actually hold back the inclination to post anything at all. All while controlling cost... In this article we explore the types of posts that work, don't work, and provide specific guidance for figuring this all out.
A Quick Refresh On Social Media
Social media, from the business perspective, is made up of the profiles and content placed on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. The leading platforms change from year to year and people spend more or less time on platforms over time. These platforms are all places where the brand can be represented and a following of people interested in what is being shared, can be created. Beyond the profile photos and headers and business descriptions the thing to remember is that the content posted on social media is for the followers, not for the business. Posts should represent the brand and generate engagement so that more people wish to follow the brand.
This is AssetLab Academy Member content!
How To Measure Social Media Interaction
When a post is published to social media and the opportunity is given to followers to see it and interact with it we can measure its effectiveness through what we call the "Interaction Percentage". This is quite simply the number of people who interact with a post divided by the number of followers on that social platform. This is a critical indicator of success through you may be surprised how small the measurement is for successful brands. We set three thresholds on this number: Needs Improvement, Generally Successful, and Successful
Each social media platform is different and so the thresholds that determine whether an account needs improvement or is generally healthy vary. Here's our current thresholds we use as of March-2018. Note that these are updated based on changes to the social platforms themselves. For example, when Facebook started suppressing business posts when they reach a certain number of followers to promote more advertising spend... the Facebook success percentages went down.
- Needs Improvement: <1%
- Generally Successful: 1% to 3%
- Successful: >3%
- Needs Improvement: <10%
- Generally Successful: 10% to 15%
- Successful: >15%
- Needs Improvement: <5%
- Generally Successful: 5% to 10%
- Successful: >10%
Note: If a business is paying for advertising on a social media platform, these thresholds should be thrown out because they are totally irrelevant when paying for exposure.
Other platforms vary wildly and we suggest that if you want to assess a profile that a simple comparison to other profiles will give a good idea of where you are at today. We specifically exclude Pinterest and YouTube even though they are extremely popular because the way people use these platforms is not "follower based", it is "searcher based".
Some Basic Social Media Guidance
So, now that you can make an assessment of a prominent social media profile to understand where it is in the scale of success, it is time to explain our philosophy on social media content and what makes a good post. This guidance is focused on helping small businesses be successful in social media in practical ways, and so it is different than what is found elsewhere online.
First, there are two types of social media profiles: those that pay for ads and "boosts" and those that are "organic". We call them "Boosted Profiles" and "Organic Profiles". Before that though, I want you to understand the value of a "Following"
The Value Of A Social Media Following
A Folllowing is a group of people who have agreed to see future social media posts. A Following grows when there is interesting content and shrinks when content is less interesting. A Following is expensive to create since it is either purchased through direct advertising spend or built through organic discovery of great content over time. Once the Following exists it may be considered a low cost advertising channel but until it exists, it is not cheap.
Guidance for Organic Profiles
The key here is to provide really useful posts on a very narrow topic. In doing so, people will naturally "follow" the profile who are interested in that topic.
For example, a beekeeper who posts about bees on a consistent basis will attract a following of people who like bees and are likely beekeepers. Whereas a beekeeper who posts about bees, gardening, their kids, vacations, and other topics will struggle to generate a following since other beekeepers generally are not interested in those other topics.
Another example is a sprinkler company. A company selling sprinklers should be posting pictures of beautiful gardens, lawns, produce, and corporate landscapes with subtle product placement. On YouTube, post a video of kids playing in a sprinkler that is in the product line. On Facebook do a FB Live of someone lounging in an amazing lawn watered by the product line. People who love landscapes or gardening or lawns will start to follow the channel and will be exposed to the brand with every post. A sprinkler company that posts about installations, sales, special offers, and product images will find that building a following is difficult because people don't really care about all that. They want the lawns.
It is also important to post new content consistently. We recommend using a specific pre-determined schedule and generating content ahead of time to help with meeting that schedule. Once started, the schedule should be held and not changed. By doing this, followers will learn when to make time in their schedule to check out the latest social media content... they will actually look for it, instead of just being notified from time to time or seeing it randomly in their feed. This is a growth multiplier.
And now for what to post. Let me be the person to explain that social media followers aren't really interested in the latest sale price of a product unless it is something they buy each week. In almost every case we recommend that social content should be considered indirect advertising for the purpose of brand exposure, not for direct sales. If someone wants to become a customer they will seek that out. And so it is advantageous to have products listed on Facebook, for example, but we don't recommend hard-sell posts pointing at those products.
- Choose a narrow topic
- Post on a schedule
- Post content, not sales and prices
Guidance for Boosted Profiles
If you haven't read the Organic Profile guidance yet, do that first, then come here for modifications to that guidance.
For boosted profiles you can mix in hard and soft sell posts with great content, and this is important because it helps generate a more direct return on the advertising investment. The audience for the different post types can be different and the direct following will only sometimes be the target audience.
We still suggest:
- A narrow topic for content posts
- Use of a schedule
- Posting great content
With a budget however, experimentation can occur to figure out ROI boosters...
How To Figure Out What Your Followers Like
If you're still reading I know something about you: You are interested in growing an Organic or Boosted social media following... And so, I need you to know how to tell whether an individual post was a winner or a flop for the following. This is a little different than determining it from the business perspective, we'll cover both.
Winners For The Following
You'll know if a specific post is a winner with the following when its Interaction Percentage is higher than most posts you publish. The lesson here is to do more of what the following likes.
Winners For The Business
Business winners are the ones that generate one of the following:
- A bigger following
- Increased sales
- Reduced cost (i.e. a customer service tip that drops labor for the CS engagement channel)
- Broad brand exposure
These two motivations: Winners for the following and winners for the business are different and over time it is important to mix them in. Always remember though that social media posts should honor the following, not the business. Followers have granted you some of their future attention... honor that.
Thank you for being an AssetLab Academy Member!