Social media has grown up over the last several years and become a key component to almost all marketing and communications strategies and plans. It’s no surprise given the volume of social media users, time spent on these platforms and engagement potential. With social being such an important communication channel, it’s critical that organizations take steps to increase returns, drive effectiveness and efficiency. Below, I’ve outline 4 steps organizations can take to boost social media performance.
1. Align social media strategy with business and communications objectives.
Use your business and communications objectives as your North Star when evaluating and determining your activities. If your social media activities don’t support your overall objectives, stop doing them and start doing activities that do support them. Remember, social media is a component of overall communication plans. Social must work with the other channels and support the greater mission.
2. Put your audience first– their needs, desires and preferences.
You may have previously done work to better understand your audience and that’s great. Depending on when you last did research, it may be time to do a refresh as audience preferences shift over time. Dynamics within specific social channels can shift causing your efforts to miss the mark. If you haven’t recently done audience research, it’s highly encouraged and will be extremely valuable and help inform your social strategy.
Use this step to gain a clear and deep understanding of audience preferences, needs and desires. What channels do they use? How do they use these channels? How often? What content do they desire from you? How do their needs and preferences match up with your goals and content?
Three ways to mine for this information are through surveys, social listening and competitive analysis. It’ll take some time and resources to gain these insights but is worth the effort.
3. Define clear goals and key metrics. And, measure your activities.
By putting in place specific, measurable goals you have a guidepost to determine how well your efforts are performing relative to some type of benchmark. By measuring and evaluating performance you can more objectively determine areas in need of improvement. Publish your goals and performance. Discuss how you’re doing against your goals. Make adjustments as needed.
4. Test, test, test. Fail, learn, grow.
The idea here is that you should always be trying new methods to learn and improve. A subset of your budget, content, and resources should be devoted to a well thought out test plan. An example of a test is to test variations in your messaging. This could be as simple as an A/B test where you test two creative versions and measure the difference in response or engagement rates. This type of test will yield insights into the content that resonates with your audience and allows you to develop future content that’s more compelling and engaging.
Many organizations devote roughly 10% of their budgets to test efforts. The amount you dedicate should be a level that works for your organization. Start small and adjust as you go forward. The key is to have a dedicated test plan and associated budget. And, use it!
By following these steps you’ll be on your way to boosting your social media performance.