Some people would’ve spent 2014 digesting every blog on social media marketing tips, ever best practice eBook, and every enlightening industry interview that was published. Great, but did you really have time for that? What if you haven’t unearthed the best slices of wisdom, insightful quotes, or planet-shaking theories on social media marketing?
Don’t worry, because we’ve been keeping tabs on the things that have been working for the best brands this year. From that we’ve noted ten core pieces of advice that no social media marketer should boldly head into the new year without.
Focus On Posting What People Care About
As people spend longer on social networks, their community expands. With every person followed, page liked, or friend added, we have a whole new set of posts and stories vying for our attention. The competition to be seen will be fierce, and brands who have little respect for what people want in their newsfeed will find themselves further fenced off than before. Facebook have spoken to some of their users about what they want to see, and have used that to inform changes which will be coming onto the platform in 2015. In a recent post on their newsroom, they highlighted the kind of posts that will receive less space on newsfeeds. Avoiding posts like the ones they list below, and focusing on the opposite, will see your social channels perform far better than businesses who aren’t careful.
People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content. According to people we surveyed, there are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:
Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
[Tweet "Focus on posting things on social media that your audience are actually interested in."]
Make Plans & Set Goals For Your Social Channels
If you haven’t yet, it’s time to look at what you want to achieve on each channel. For example, some of your target personas may be more active on some social networks compared to others. This means that the precise personas seeing your Pinterest activity may be different from the ones following your Twitter profiles. Therefore it’s worth figuring out which of your target personas are most active on which social channels and tailoring your output on those channels to suit them. Think about why you are there, what your objectives are, and set some SMART goals to help you fulfil your aims for those channels.
[Tweet "Before starting a social media campaign, ask why you’re doing it and what you want to do. Then set your goals."]
Keep It Simple
There’s nothing wrong with the odd spot of verbose loquaciousness every now and then, but remember there are no points for being unnecessarily clever on social media. If you want to make sure your brand’s message is delivered to the optimal amount of people, it’s best to keep your wording as basic as possible. The Tweets with the most engagement by the top 15 brands on Twitter could be read and understood by someone with the reading age of an average 8 year old. Could you say that about most of your posts?
[Tweet "The most successful Tweets by brands could be read and understood by the average 8 year-old, could yours?"]
Make Creative Competitions That Fit Your Brand
While “RT/ To Win” competitions may still work for minor contests or promotions, if you really want to strengthen your brand you need to think outside the box to make competitions that are well-matched to it. They can be integrated with wider campaigns, they can solicit user generated content from your community, or even get people to find something in real life. It could even be a game, like the one below from Marks & Spencer, which uses an app to help its community play pass-the-parcel to win prizes. Whatever you choose, it has to be easy to enter and enjoyable to partake in. For more inspiration, we have some ideas and examples here.
Be Consistent With Content Sharing
Why should you share content? It helps you to be an interesting, valuable member of your social community and establishes your brand by associating yourself with content your followers enjoy. Set up a regular schedule of useful, relevant content to share among your community and include some thoughts or observations of your own to show you’ve actually understood it. It doesn’t have to be all of your own content. In fact, sharing the content of other people - who aren’t competitors - shows you’re aware of what’s going on in the industry outside of your bubble. It also gives an opportunity to connect with other content creators, who may be willing to repay the favor in future and expose you to their audience.
[Tweet "Regularly share high quality, interesting content from reliable sources to establish yourself as a clued-up brand."]
Make Your Targeting As Accurate As Possible
With the growing wealth of targeting options available on platforms, the percentage of disinterested people you could be advertising to and communicating with is falling. If in the past you have advertized to people with “food” in their bio to get them to visit your tapas bar, in 2015 it’ll be worth being more specific, and aiming for people interested in “spanish street food” and “cocktails”. You may reach a smaller audience with this approach, but it will contain people who are more likely to be interested in your brand than if you’d gone for generic, broad keywords.
[Tweet "In 2015 there will be no excuse for lazy, generic targeting. Be thoughtful and specific to make better connections."]
Look At Ways To Break The Fourth Wall
Social media marketing has grown up. As more people begin to understand how it works, those who are marketing on social media need to be a little more inventive with their campaigns than in the past. Depending on your brand, it may be worth taking an approach that acknowledges the brand-customer relationship, or looks to break the fourth wall in some other way. This transparency can help to build brand trust, while also creating head-turning campaigns that will get people talking about you and sharing your campaign.
Use Social Channels To Inform Content Creation
It’s no good guessing what your audience might want to see, some market research can help and where better to find out about your target audience than your own social community? Asking them what they like is a start, but you can also use social analytics tools to get under the skin of large groups of your followers to discover what they are interested in. It’s also worth using tracked links to see what people are actually clicking, and take note of their responses to help you decide what to create content based around. These insights should also be used to help inform the curation of your content sharing as well.
Get In The Habit Of Checking The News
If you’re not already doing this at least once a day, you must start. Social media covers all aspects of people’s lives and interests - the more you understand about that wider context, the more you can understand where your brand will fit into your followers’ timeline. Before you begin work for the day, get in the habit of checking news from both the wider world and your industry. You don’t need to read an entire newspaper and multiple trade journals before breakfast, simply bookmark a few key sites or blogs and skim the headlines at the very minimum. This will also help you to find real time opportunities and avoid a social media faux pas.
[Tweet "When representing a brand, you must know what’s happening in the news to understand where to place yourself."]
Learn To Manage Your Time Effectively
Ever find yourself quickly going to post a quick Tweet, but find yourself scrolling endlessly through your mentions for the next hour? We’ve all done it. With 64% of marketers already spending at least 6 hours a week on social media, you need to be careful that the time spent on social channels is appropriate and doesn’t impact your other duties. As more social channels are added to your strategy, along with more tools and features being added into your marketing mix, timekeeping skills will become even more vital for an efficient social media marketer. Make sure you’re getting everything done by creating checklists for regular tasks, use social media tools that help you work smarter, and use a time tracker like RescueTime to monitor how long you’re spending on each activity.
Those were the key skills we think that social media marketers will need to have in 2015. But are there new skills that you think will be even more vital? We’re always keen to learn, let us know in the comments below.